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[TowerTalk] SSV Foundations

Subject: [TowerTalk] SSV Foundations
From: Howard Hoyt <>
Date: Sun, 16 Jan 2011 12:38:28 -0500
List-post: <">>
Message: 1
Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2011 14:25:06 -0600
From: "Marvin Gorden"<>
Subject: [TowerTalk] concrete base for Rohn 140 foot SSV

Looking at the Rohn base specs, I am quite surprised at the requirements,
assuming I read it right.  For a base, without piers, the specs call for a
14'-3" X 14'-3" X 4' concrete base ( 30.1 cubic yards).

To me that seems like considerable over kill.

My tower has 8N, 7N, 6N, 5N, 4N, 3WN and 2W sections.

I looked at a 140' SSV installation a few miles away from here and that base
is 7'-9" square.  I don't know if that sets on piers or how deep it maybe.

Any qualified comments would be appreciated, before I start digging.



I have been involved with SSV installs and have been surprised by the huge 
foundation requirements myself.  However, if you run the loading numbers you 
will see that Rohn's recommendations are not overkill or spurious.  Based on 
the Rohn recommendations, what you saw had to be a pad poured on top of a pier 
foundation.  This is often done at cell sites to give an equipment cabinet 
mounting surface.

As one rough example, for a 120' SSV 8N>3N Rohn's engineers calculated a total 
OTM of 270,300 ftlbs at 90mph.  This is a huge number which is easily 
understandable by thinking of the self-supporting tower as a big lever.  The 
overturning force is input into the end of a 120 foot lever and translated into 
a uplift and download force 59" (~5') from the center of the OTM at the 8N base 
(the center of a 119" diameter circle circumscribed by the legs).  The uplifing 
force generated by this lever is quoted by Rohn at 35,400 pounds, which has to 
be resisted by mass and leverage in the soil.  The mat foundation has virtually 
zero leverage against the soil in uplift, so the uplift is entirely resolved by 
the mass of the concrete mat.

If the mat is assumed to be rigid, the OTM is resolved by lifting the mat at 
the upwind edge, so there is a 0.5 derating factor of the mass of the concrete 
opposing the uplift.  If you were only designing the mat to resist the wind 
coming from one direction, the minimum mat would be 16 feet (Rohn spec) in the 
axis of the wind direction, 188.8" wide (The width of the tower leg circle), 
and weigh 70,800 pounds.  Most standard (non-lightweight) concrete weighs about 
4000lbs/yd., so this would be 17.7 yards of concrete.  Since you don't know 
from which direction the wind will attempt to overturn the tower, there must be 
this equivalent mass at all radials.  Making the mat square gives roughly twice 
this amount (minus the 1.8 cubic yards, or 7200 pounds) under the tower 
itself), so the 30.1 yards Rohn specifies looks in the ballpark to me.

The cost of this concrete is a good reason to go use a pier (9 cubic yards) or 
belled pier (7.8 cubic yards) foundation.  Of course, this is for a 90mph wind 
zone.  If you are somewhere with lower winds, you can use the Rohn 70mph spec 
which calls for considerably less reaction mass.

I used many over-simplifications in this example (such as neglecting the 
influence of the download on the down-wind side of the leg circle).  The actual 
formulas used by the structural engineers take far more factors into account, 
with different overload margins for each element.  However as a ballparking 
general illustration, I think this one gets the point across.  Allowing any 
sort of margin of safety for overloading and transient wind gusts, the Rohn 
spec is certainly not overkill.

I would like to comment on the statements by hams who ignore manufacturer's 
recommendations, and when the towers don't immediately fall out of the sky, 
conclude the recommendations were overkill.  (Marvin, I'm not pointing a finger 
at you, you seem to be looking for the correct solution to your tower 
foundation)  It is like hearing a cigarette smoker justify smoking by stating 
that their grandfather smoked for 70 years and never got cancer.  Tower 
foundations are specified to take transient conditions (wind gusts, soil 
characteristics) particular to locations into account and still stay safe and 
in service.  Just like the decision to smoke, if a person decides to ignore a 
tower manufacturer's recommendations, they accept the risk inherent in their 
decision.  And seriously, if someone clearly evaluates the situation and finds 
the risk acceptable,/and they alone will bear the cost of a failure/  they 
should go for it.  I have absolutely zero problem with that, and hate it mysel
 f whey others dictate what I have to do.  I do however have a problem with 
dealing with the fallout associated with a failure due to incorrectly assessing 
the risk.  I have had my station knocked off of the air by another engineer's 
failure to limit the scope of risk to their own equipment.  I have also had to 
take care of people who have gotten emphysema and can no longer take care of 
themselves.  Therefore these individuals incorrectly assessed the risks./

Just my $0.4 worth/


*Howard Hoyt - WA4PSC*

*CE - WXYC-FM 89.3*

*UNC Chapel Hill*



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