[TowerTalk] W7IX--More Info

RICHARD BOYD ke3q at msn.com
Fri Jun 9 10:41:51 EDT 2006

I hesitate to comment at all, since this is clearly a tragedy...

"There but for the grace of God go I..." comes to mind, though.  I have done this same sort of takedown -- and installation -- not of a 60' boom antenna, but of a fullsize 48' boom 3-element 40, which is heavy enough but no doubt not as heavy as this one.  And many others.  And sometimes solo.  Another time a friend and I were raising a 2-element Swan 40M and apparently didn't have some of the boom bolts tightened enough and half of it fell to the ground, off our haul rope.  Fortunately, neither of us was on the tower or in the drop zone.  Well, I say "fortunately" -- maybe we were smart enough, at least in that one instance, to not be.  It did hit the Phillystran guys but they didn't break.  But it was a lot smaller antenna than the W7IX one.

My first couple reactions are that I, personally, would be very nervous having an antenna that big on a 200' Rohn 45.  From personal observation of what I've had myself on Rohn 45, I think it's not enough tower for me to feel comfortable about it.  (My old QTH had a 8-element Telrex 15 and a 6-element Telrex 20, on a 3" mast, on 118' of Rohn 45 -- and a second tower, a 160' Rohn 45 with a 6-element Telrex 10M.  I had thought of putting a big 40 up there with the 10 and eventually thought better of it.  Then I thought of putting a 2-element Telrex or Cushcraft up there and never got to it -- probably at least partially because I was nervous about it.  The Rohn 45 holding the 15 and 20 -- which is a lot of windload and a lot of weight, those two combined, or either one alone -- snapped right below the flat top plate in a storm.  It's still up, cocked at about a 15 degree angle, mast and antennas and snapped off Rohn 45 top.  I'm having a crane come in to remove it.  Rohn 55 or, better yet Rohn 65 or equivalent strength, would be a much better choice.  And another good idea, only put one yagi on top, not two or more.)

Second, I don't know if guying 50 feet apart is close enough on Rohn 45.  I think I'd guy it closer, like 33 or 35'.  Better yet, go to a huskier tower -- and then you might be able to guy farther apart and still be within spec.

Third, that's a pretty heavy, and large antenna.  It seems another person on the tower would have made sense.  Then again, if mistakes had been made, two might have died instead of one.  Sometimes it's best to hire professionals -- and let's assume it's "professionals" who really know what they're doing -- and often a crane is best, to avoid these kinds of risks.

My condolences to the dad and rest of the family.  May the rest of us who are, as yet, "survivors," learn our lessons and not suffer the same fate someday.

73 - Rich, KE3Q
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: john at kk9a.com<mailto:john at kk9a.com> 
  To: TOWERTALK at contesting.com<mailto:TOWERTALK at contesting.com> 
  Sent: Friday, June 09, 2006 9:12 AM
  Subject: [TowerTalk] W7IX--More Info

  This is a very tragic event and it must have been horrific for the father to
  witness.  I have the same antenna and I installed it myself using a crane on
  a 160' Rohn 65G tower about a decade ago with my father and mother watching
  below.   I removed it soon afterwards for mechanical reasons and I currently
  have the monster beam in storage.   The antenna was made by N0XX's DX
  Engineering and the model number is 40DX-4.  It is a full size 4 element 40m
  beam on a 60' boom,  it weighs 385 pounds and it has a 28 square foot wind
  surface..   This antenna is very large and heavy and the 3 inch diameter
  boom will not support the element weight without the many trusses attached
  making it pretty difficult to disassemble on the tower.

  John KK9A / P40A

  To: towertalk at contesting.com<mailto:towertalk at contesting.com>
  Subject: [TowerTalk] W7IX--More Info
  Date: Tue, 16 May 2006 19:35:44 +0000

  I obtained the following in a telephone conversation with K6SOJ whose
  property borders the site where W7IX was killed.  Dave was present when Ray
  Balch SK, the former owner, built his contest/DX station.  Dave also
  responded to the site shortly after the accident and has since spoken to the
  property owner who was there at the time. The property is now owned by a
  California Highway Patrol officer and it was from him that W7IX had
  arrainged to buy the antenna he was removing at the time of the accident.

  The tower (per info given to me and based upon my recollection having
  visited there when Ray was still alive) ) was Rohn 45, nearly 200 ft tall
  and guyed at 4 levels.  The objective was to remove a long boom 4 element 40
  meter monobander from the top of the tower.  The gameplan was for W7IX
  (working alone) to loosen the boom clamps and rotate the boom so that the
  elements were vertical.  Then he was going to remove the elements he could
  reach from the tower and lower them to the ground.  Next he was going to
  rotate the boom clamp tp bring the director and then the reflector close
  enough to the tower to remove them and lower them to the ground.  Finally he
  would remove the boom and lower it.

  Prior to climbing he checked the tension on all of the guys.  Each was
  nearly max on the gauge.  He climbed and was at the top.  Somehow as he was
  loosening the boom clamps and securing the boom to the tower with rope the
  entire entire antenna got away from him and dropped vertically.  When it hit
  one of the upper level guy wires (remember this is a big and HEAVY antenna)
  it snapped the guy.  With one of the guys now gone the tower folded over at
  the upper guy point.  As the top portion of the tower dropped it struck
  several of the lower guy points snapping guys which caused all but about 60
  feet of the tower to rapidly accordian into the ground with W7IX belted to
  what had been the top of the tower.  Killed instantly according to the CHP
  officer-property owner who was there.

  This almost sounds like a boom to mast clamp failure or too many (or the
  wrong) U clamps were removed in the process of re-positioning the antenna
  for removal.  Tragedy no matter what.

  Jerry Boyd


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