Topband: Guy wire insulators (was Thunderstorm)

Donald Chester k4kyv at
Wed Mar 29 15:33:36 EST 2006

A few years ago, after a severe thunderstorm, I noticed that all the 
johnny-ball insulators in the bottom set of guys on my tower were shattered. 
  I have 4 sets of guys, and the upper sets were all intact, but every 
insulator in the lower set was destroyed.

The original insulators are the small "500" size, military surplus about 3" 
X 1 1/4" in size, connected using 3 u-bolt clamps at each termination with 
the strands wrapped (served) in addition.  I replaced the shattered 
insulators with larger "502" size from the power company, and used Guy 
Grips, aka pre-forms, which are much easier to install than the cable 

I still have the 500's on the upper guy wires, but have never had any more 
lightning damage.

My insulators are all the older brown glazed ceramic.  I notice that 
insulators made the past 30 years or so are light bluish-grey. I  was once 
told that the newer blue-grey power company insulators are not the best to 
use as guy wire insulators, because the ceramic is not designed to be 
rf-transparent, and that currently, insulators are made in two grades, for 
rf and non-rf applications.  Supposedly, the older brown glazed ones from 
the power company are OK, because back then they used only one grade of 
ceramic. Wonder if anyone else has heard this?  I had always just assumed 
that ceramic strain insulators were ceramic strain insulators regardless, 
and in never even occurred to me that any insulator might be unsatisfactory 
for rf use.

I do recall reading about special strain insulators manufactured with some 
impurity added to the ceramic to make them have a very high electrical 
resistance, but not infinite, in order to bleed off static charge build-up 
in the insulated sections of guy wires, thus avoiding noise that would 
interfere with reception.

Don k4kyv


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