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Re: [TowerTalk] material testing Re: 2" OD pipe.. again

To: <>
Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] material testing Re: 2" OD pipe.. again
From: "Steve, W3AHL" <>
Reply-to: "Tower and HF antenna construction topics." <>
Date: Sat, 20 Mar 2010 15:23:01 -0400
List-post: <">>
If all you want to do is determine deflection under a static load, yep, that's 
all you need to do -- hang a weight on it.  But that is the least of the 
issues.   What is the composition of the steel?  How brittle is it, will it 
fatigue with cyclic stresses?

But the major issue in pipe is the weld joint.  In electrical resistance 
welding, there is no high tensile strength filler used.  The joint is made of 
what the pipe is made of.  If the machine speed is too fast (to cut costs) and 
the current too high (because the speed was increased) then you have poor 
penetration, a brittle weld because of the impurities of the base metal and the 
improper  heating / cooling gradients, porosity due to cheap flux and 
martensite formations if it wasn't annealed properly.  After a few tens of 
thousands of cycle swaying back and forth the weld joint develops 
microfractures.   One strong gust splits the seam someday, ruining a couple of 
thousand dollars worth of antennas,coax and installation.

If the submittal form for the material doesn't say it was tested, it probably 
wasn't, because it wasn't intended for an application that required it.  
Hydrostatic testing of pipe at 2X its working pressure isn't worth much peace 
of mind in a structural application.   

It just doesn't make sense to use pipe instead of real mast tubing to save a 
$100 or so.  Buy tubing from a reputable supplier, manufactured and TESTED to 
the correct spec for the application.

Steve, W3AHL

Date: Sat, 20 Mar 2010 07:48:22 -0700
From: jimlux <>
Subject: [TowerTalk] material testing Re:  2" OD pipe.. again
To: "Tower and HF antenna construction topics."

Steve, W3AHL wrote:
> In my opinion, there is no way to do any stress analysis of pipe
> without a material testing lab, and then the results only apply to
> the specific batch of pipe sampled, at best.  Pipe is not a
> structural element.  Even if you know the yield strength of the
> steel, the manufacturing process does not result in a predictable
> structural component.  Ask a P.E. to certify a mast using "pipe"....
> Hundreds of hams use pipe successfully for years.  But it isn't a
> sound practice that I would ever recommend to others as "safe enough,
> most of the time".

Actually, one doesn't need a full-up lab, if you know what you want to 
measure and have some ingenuity.  For instance, you could buy your piece 
of pipe, and test just that piece of pipe as a single instance in a 
purpose built jig.

For instance, you could set up a piece of tower or some blocks of wood 
with holes in the appropriately places horizontally with sand 
bags/concrete blocks to hold it down, shove in your would-be mast, and 
hang weights on it to simulate the antenna loads and measure the deflection.

One can even "proof test" by overloading it.

This is pretty common when you don't have enough information about 
material properties, or where the properties vary a lot (e.g. hand layup 
of composites).

High performance experimental sailboat masts get tested this way (attach 
them to the wall, hang weights), as do composite airplane wings and 
such.  There's an interesting video on youtube (I think) of a full size 
wing being tested under load.

However, designing the test to meaningful also requires some cleverness 
and knowledge.


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