[Top] [All Lists]

Re: [TowerTalk] Was Guyed vs. free-standing, now aluminum towers

To: <>
Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] Was Guyed vs. free-standing, now aluminum towers
From: "Roger (K8RI)" <>
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2007 13:38:31 -0400
List-post: <>

> In a message dated 10/16/2007 2:48:49 P.M. Greenwich Standard Time,
> writes:
> I had a  9-50 up for years with a KT34A on top.  Moved it once to a new
> location.  Tower was okay but won't last "forever" as the bolt holes  at
> the leg junctions elongate over time and sections become  useless
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Same experience here.  I had two aluminum towers, one from Heights and 
> one
> from Universal.  Both developed "eggholes".  I also found and  sold 
> several
> aluminum towers with the same problems.

Likewise I've run into the same problem. Actually I've never seen one of the 
smaller aluminum towers without egg shaped holes in the legs.

> Past opinion on this reflector was "do not drill out the eggholes and
> replace them with larger bolts".  The solution to counter the egghole 
> development

I'd not drill them out except to cure a *slight* egg shape, but we have to 
remember than once this condition is present the legs have been weakened. By 
how much? I don't think any one knows, so the tower strength has become an 
unknown at this point.

> was to guy these usually self supporting towers.  That was also  a thumbs 
> down
> on this reflector.

I do guy them, but with some caveats.  I build a triangular bracket that 
fits around the tower with the leg bolts going through the center of the 
brackets. I'd recomend a center drilled saddle bracket at the leg bolt or a 
U-bolt/saddle bracket just above or below the leg bolt while trying to keep 
it on the area where the leg is double thickness. The U-bolt only needs to 
be snug, not tight enough to leave a mark in the leg.  This also means a 
relatively light guy line tensioned appropriatly so as to not over stress 
the tower. This ends up moving the guys to a position perpendicular to the 
faces of the tower rather than the legs. Also the two Aluminum towers I'm 
using are light duty and I treat them as such.
The total pressure on the legs at the base including the amount from guy 
tension should not exceed 1/2 (50%) of the rated vertical load for the 

> One other careful how tight you tighten the bolts on the
> aluminum tower.  If you tighten them like you would normally tighten  Rohn 
> 45/55, it

The bolts need to be properly torqued. Too light and the sections will move 
which hastens the "egg making" process.
Too tight and it not only bends them making them difficult to get apart, it 
substantially weakens the leg.  Again, I've not found a small tower then 
hadn't had the leg bolts over tightened, not tightened enough (most were 
over tightened), and had rotator plates installed with the U-bolts WAYYYY 
over tightened.

Hams in general *seem* to be a bit smarter than this, (there are outstanding 
exceptions ofcourse)  whether it's due to the towers being better built, so 
much more expensive, or the hams in general are a bit smarter,  I don't 
know. I do know I don't consider the small Alunminum towers suitable for 
anything more than supporting a small vertical or wire antennas. The big 
"and expensive" ones are a different breed, but they don't last forever 

> will be very challenging to get them apart since the aluminum  bends 
> together.
> This, coupled with oxidation from the joint makes taking  them apart 
> "fun".

I use a "come along" and a 1 1/2" or 2" nylon cargo strap, a board (3/4" 
plywood cut to fit)  that is a good fit between the sections, PB-Blaster on 
the joints and pull them apart although it sometimes takes a bit of tapping 
with either a "dead blow" or rubber hammer on the joints. Generally a 5 
minute wait after the PB-Blaster application and they come right apart. 
Otherwise a few taps on the joints while they are under tension and the 
things literally fly apart.

Normally the mating surfaces are no longer smooth and shiny but look like 
some one had thrown a hand full of coarse sand in the joint before putting 
it together. The things can be as difficult or even more difficult to put 
back together than  they were to take apart.

I'm putting a "page" together about my AV- 640 that includes the working 
with a couple of small aluminum towers. It shows how I get one apart and put 
it back together and No, there aint no way I'm climbing one of those. <:-))
BTW I put them together the same way I take them apart. The come along, a 
board, the nylon strap, and tapping on the joints. I haven't found one yet I 
could just slip together like my ROHN.

> You can't hammer and beat the sections apart like Rohn  45/55.  If you do,
> plan on making a trip to the local welder.  Or  worse, to your local scrap 
> metal
> dealer.

Typically I spend more time using a 5# "dead blow" hammer to straighten 
braces than trying to get one apart. Most of the free ones (32 and 40') 
appear to have been climbed by the local power lifter who needs to go on a 

With these old towers (Steel or aluminum) I've also found it pays to lay the 
tower over some supports to keep it out of the dirt, remove the bolts, tape 
the joints and bolt holes, and then apply water under pressure (LOTS of 
water) to clean out the legs. The last one yielded over a pint of shelled 
corn and about a pint of something that looked like rust. Don't know what 
that suff was, but it wasn't used corn that had been through the mice.

The design for many of these towers has the legs "up-side-down" to what we'd 
expect and that makes them good water collectors. The top section usually 
has the tube open at the top so water running down the mast goes right into 
the legs. *Anything* in the legs such as dirt, spider webs, nests, and such 
is going to lead to split legs when freezing weather arrives. I've found 
split legs not only at the botton but in the curved portion of the top 

Although the big Aluminum towers we use are much more resistant to these 
problems (better built out of better material) they are not immune. They are 
still at the mercy of the guy with a wrench, the nature of Aluminum, 
critters, and the elements. OTOH a properly built, installed, and maintained 
aluminum tower should last for many years. HOWEVER I must hasten to add that 
I helped remove a 20 meter monobander from a friends living room after his 
new Heights fold over tower "foldeded over" under a load of ice and put the 
monobander through the roof. I'll add this was over 25 years ago.


Roger (K8RI)


TowerTalk mailing list

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>