[RFI] Re: Copper clad or Galvanized steel ground rods???

Dr. Robert C. Smithwick w6jzu@rf.net (Dr. Robert C. Smithwick)
Fri, 1 May 1998 11:02:24 -0700

At 8:49 AM 5/1/1998, k0il@qsl.net wrote:
>W5MEC-Mitchell Carson wrote:
>>Several of my friends have mentioned using 3/4" thick wall copper
>>pipe as ground rods.
>>Attach a garden hose to the pipe (with a hose clamp),
>>turn on the hydrant, and start shoving the pipe in the ground.  I can
>>see how this might work in sandy soils...but it may prove to be difficult
>>doing this in clay.
>BAD idea!  You wash away the "soil" you're wishing to make good solid contact
>with!  Easy to install.  Bad for conductivity overall.
>>So much for the installation method, but what about the effectiveness
>>of copper pipe vs. copper clad or galvanized steel ground rods?
>Copper pipe will probably bend and fold going into clay past 3-4 ft deep.  You
>need to go 8 to 10 ft at least!  It'll never get there.  I removed some old 6
>ft copper clad rods a few years back.  Only the bottom foot or so was making
>contact with "wet" conductive soil, and that's within 2-3 ft of my house which
>probably hold moisture better than farther away.  Not much of a safety ground
>I would guess.  Worked okay for RF though.
>For "ease" of installation: (These instructions come with Radio Shack Rods and
>actually wroks pretty well):
>  Dig a 1-2 ft deep hole.
>  Fill with water and wait till it soaks into hole.
>  If really dry, fill with more water and wait.
>  Repeat if really, REALLY, dry in your area. (Not that dry around here)
>  Now install rod.  It'll push into ground easy for a few feet.
>  Use rod driver with handles if you don't have a pneumatic type driver.
>  Sledge hammer in the final couple feet.
>  Attach tinned copper radial ground wire 4-6 inches deep using clamp.
>  You can use CadWeld, but clamps are pretty darn good.
>  Fill in the hole and compact soil.
>You can and should install a cap/cover so you can check the grd connection
>Good place to order ground rods, CadWeld stuff & asoorted grdg hardware is
>Harger Lightning Protection, Inc. in Grayslake, IL.  (800)842-7437.  I don't
>know if they'll give free catalogs to hams, but maybe to your work name and
>address will work!
>de ed -- K0iL
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On the subject of driving in long copper rods, let me tell you how ranchers
deal with such a job. Ranchers often use prefabbed steel rods, serrated in
order to hold barbed wire. These are often 6-8 feet long, and looks like a
"T" in cross section of about 1 - 1 1/2" diameter, solid - not a pipe. To
drive 'em in they/I use a device I had a machine shop make for me at
minimal cost consisting of a steel, thick walled pipe about 4" diameter,
maybe two feet or so long, but with one end sealed with about 3-4" of some
solid metal, heavy, either driven in or sized to fit the inside diameter of
the pipe - then welded in place. Result is a heavy driver which slips over
the end of the steel post.

This can drive the post into the ground without the need to stand on a
ladder at the beginning, and will not slip and glance off the post as does
a sledge hammer. Usually a post can be driven into the ground in only a few
minutes with little sweat or danger. No need to soften the ground with
water, altho that is ok, but water only penetrates the first 2-3 ft. anyhow
and rarely beyond, so it is of minimal value in my opinion.

I hve driven in many ground rods, as well as hundreds of fence 'posts' with
this simple device. A radio  club could get one made as a project, and
available to members, much as some clubs do with  gin poles, etc. But it
was not expensive to have made by a machine shop.

"Smitty", W6JZU

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