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Tramline question for raising and lowering antennas




 
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Author Topic: Tramline question for raising and lowering antennas  (Read 963 times)
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K1JJ
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« on: June 08, 2022, 07:31:06 PM »

I've been real busy designing and putting up some new antennas and repairing some of the old ones. Put up two stacked 40M wire dipoles at 60/130' for 0/180 switching.  Plans for a new 10-20M dual Lazy H array are coming along.  The winds have been brutal here over the last year so there are some repairs required...

I have a question about using a tramline for raising and lowering a big antenna for side mounting on a tower...

My 40M triple Yagi stack needs repairs.  The middle one destroyed itself after the boom to element u-bolts loosened up. The top and bottom Yagis are OK.  It lasted for 13 years, but the winds tore it up and the two elements fell to the ground.  It was my fault for using u-bolts too wide for the job on the middle Yagi. So I lowered the remaining boom pieces to the ground. Each full size Yagi weighs about 250 pounds and stacked at 60', 125' and 190', fed in phase with plans for 180 degree phase switching.  

I should take some pictures of the destroyed elements. The friction movement actually cut the elements in half after two years of neglect in the wind.

I just rebuilt it and almost ready to raise it again, but it will require a tramline to avoid the lower Yagi.  I've used tramlines before and they work well, but it's been a few years and I cannot recall if the rope pulley goes above the tramline or below the tramline on the tower.

Picture this for example: At 100'  a fixed steel cable connects to the tower and runs down at a 45 degree angle and is anchored on the ground. The Yagi and its pulley ride on this tramline cable.  The Yagi is in turn pulled up using a rope that connects to the Yagi, up to a tower pulley and back down to the ground to the tractor pull.

My question is does the rope pulley mount on the tower ABOVE the tramline at say 105' or BELOW the tramline at say 95'?    I know it makes a difference and the rope can interfere with the tramline as the Yagi approaches the tower  -  if the rope pulley is mounted incorrectly.     Especially when the Yagi weight sags the tramline close to the tower.

Anyone know for sure and why?

T




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W1ITT
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« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2022, 08:18:44 PM »

Hi Tom...
The pulley should go below the tramline.  It's better to use a stout snatch block to ride the tram, wheel up and attachment loop down.  This has less friction than just using a big carabiner and dragging it along.  The rope from the pulley pulls the block up the inclined plane.  Then, when the yagi gets where it's going you can lower it onto the mast mount without having to rassle it around the tram.  If the yagi is suspended under the snatch block with a small come-along, and the tram is attached just a bit higher on the tower, you can neatly lower it straight  down without much of any physical exertion and everything is under positive control. 
I don't know what you have for a tower but, if the attachment point is not is not pretty close to a guy level, it might make sense to run back stay(s) behind the tram attachment point.  The tram with a load hanging off it makes for a fat vector in one direction.  This sort of seat of the pants hammy hambone setup would drive my civil engineer friends batty as they'd want to do a structural analysis, but we all know that most hams aren't going to do that. By the way, are you familiar with the Maasdam Rope Come-along?   It uses half inch rope of as long as you want to pull things.  It only gets about 4 inches of travel for each pull of the lever, but there's a lot of mechanical advantage and control over the load.  It's time consuming but slick as all-get-out for running the load up the tram.  And you can also just haul on the pull rope to go up faster if you have a prime mover or scroteful ground crew.  Let go and the Maasdam holds the load and you can use the lever for finer positioning when it comes close to the tower. 
Sounds like it is going to be a swell aerial!
73 de Norm W1ITT
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W1ITT
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« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2022, 08:28:16 PM »

Here's a video of a tree surgeon demonstrating the Maasdam puller.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZE6MjmBJk20

73 de Norm W1ITT
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K1JJ
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« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2022, 08:39:47 PM »

Thanks for the FB info Norm!  

So the pulley goes below the tramline...  That pretty well answers my concerns.

Interesting about mounting a come-along between the Yagi and pulley.  

The tower is an old broadcast free standing 190'er with no guy cables. Solid steel construction, no pipes. I was thinking of back guying it for the job as you suggested.

Below see a link to the installation and testing back in 2009. Homebrew Yagis. It sure was a fun project.  

After the middle Yagi's elements fell and tore itself up, I didn't know what the proper phase polarity was for the coax inner conductor to put them all in phase.  So today I put a 9V battery on the  coax feed and climbed up there with two aluminum poles attached to a VOM to sample one of the Yagi driven elements.  Sure enough, I found the proper polarity to rebuild the broken Yagi.  Anything to get 'er done, right?


The adventure started here, building:
http://amfone.net/Amforum/index.php?topic=21086.0

Testing:
http://amfone.net/Amforum/index.php?topic=21151.0

T
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« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2022, 05:40:38 AM »

That's a nice looking tower.  The concrete supplier must have been happy to see you walk through the door.
Call me a wooss, but I'd want to have a couple back stays, ideally 120 degrees apart, more or less, to counter the resultant force of the tram with the weight of the yagi on it.  Using only a single back stay opens the door to the tower bowing and putting asymmetric strains on the members.  Years ago, at a supplier of large HF curtains on the west coast, I worked with a civil engineer who had a CAD program that calculated the forces in all the members of a tower when various things are added or hung onto it.  It had a graphic output that visually showed the magnitudes on each member as well.  What I learned was that it isn't intuitive and that forces translate to other parts of the structure in ways that one wouldn't expect.
73 de Norm W1ITT
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K1JJ
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« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2022, 11:56:03 AM »

Norm,

The concrete base is 18' X 18' X 4' deep. To duplicate it today would cost a small fortune.  I did all the rebar and base anchor bolt placement myself in 1998. What a job that was. Twin towers spaced about 150' apart.

You cornvinced me to add the two 120 degree spaced back stays for the raising.  I have raised plenty of antennas on those towers with no stays in the past, but the 40M Yagis are especially heavy and I'm much more careful these days.   In fact, some days I want to call a tower company to do the work due to fear.  But the last quote I got was $2500/day for a crew to come out. That  always gives me the balls to do the work myself.... :-)    It really takes a calm mind to climb up there and work.    Climbing is like a spacewalk... it requires rehearsing every step in your mind over and over. If you forget one tool or mess up a procedure, it can waste a lot of time and energy.    As John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”   :-)

T
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« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2022, 12:31:15 PM »

A bit of fear on a tower is not a bad thing.  It keeps you thinking.  One tower crew that I worked with down south had some t-shirts that said "If you scared, say you scared!"
 
That being said, my ideal tower for aging radio amateurs would be something on the order of the Stainless G5.  (It's carbon steel but the corporate name is Stainless.)  It's a 5 foot face triangular tower, X-braced.  A ladder fits nicely in one inside corner so you get a warm cozy feeling, yet it's not too large to work around in or on the face.  With a safety-climb cable on the ladder you'd be as safe as in Grandma's arms.  Maybe a short stick of Rohn 55 out the top to mount something on a rotor would be swell.  I've climbed them to 500 feet and felt safe.

But we climb what we've got, as long as we can.  I have a safety climb cable with a Sala cam rider for my 70 footer with an 18" face and it makes me feel better.  I have two trammable jobs for that this summer, but nothing over a 32 foot boom and about an 85 pound total lift. I fell 22 feet, measured, off a test tower at work about 36 years ago and it was educational.  Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.  (Ben Franklin)
73 de Norm W1ITT
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« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2022, 03:00:43 PM »

W1ITT said:
Quote
I fell 22 feet, measured, off a test tower at work about 36 years ago and it was educational.  Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.
Not to derail the thread but I have to ask this question Norm: Was that with a lanyard that 'pays' out? I do a lot of 'elevated work' at my job. Usually from the safety of a 'high reach'. We had Ark Safety come here for a demonstration and they always said no lower than 18' when using a 'paying-out' type of lanyard. Also because some of my work involves working around electricity, I have an insulated Miller harness with deployable foot rests in case it takes a while to be rescued, (I never need them and I hope I never do!)
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« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2022, 04:06:11 PM »

Mike...
No, I had no safety gear on, free climbing up toward a work platform  at an antenna pattern range with small tool(s) in each hand.  Totally dumb but I was "in a hurry".  I  missed a rung, went over backward, remembered to tuck my head like they told us in gym class and landed in some clay mud which made for a slower stop.  Another 5 feet and I would have rotated more backward and landed on my head, to my eternal detriment. It was months before I could stand up straight but I kinda walked away, with some help.  The company had no safety program for elevated work spaces.   I now have a full body harness, gorilla clips, lanyard, and I do total tie-off at all times on the tower.  Now in my 70s, I know I couldn't repeat that mistake and get away with it.
73 de Norm W1ITT
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K1JJ
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« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2022, 06:46:17 PM »

Wow, that's quite a message, Norm!   That's like getting belted by 1000 volts at an early age. We never forget.

It seems when we are young we like to cut corners and pride ourselves in how quickly and efficiently we can do things and what we can get away with.

As someone recently said to me, "I'm not afraid of heights; I'm just afraid of falling."

What gets me fearful is not falling, cuz I'm always clipped on -  but getting hit by or getting slammed/trapped by a big Yagi, or other piece of hardware. If trapped, you will probably die from a leg artery induced heart attack before they could ever come up and get you. I'll bet finding a crane or man willing to go up over 100' would take many hours to organize.

Also, digging out and putting on nuts and bolts with the risk of dropping them rattles me for some reason.  But, standing on the ground it's easy!

I once had a 300 pound 14-30 MHz log periodic break its tug rope and slide all the way down the tramline into the dirt 120' below.  I was on the tower and watched it go by. The rope had gotten contaminated/ rotted by UV exposure.... my bad. That was a lucky day and probably instilled my use of steel tramlines and overkill ropes.

I use a fall arrest device on all towers so that I never free climb anymore. The arrest device is like a pacifier to me. However, though unnerving, there are times when I need to unclip the arrest and climb around the tower to reach something using the gorilla hook and lanyard.  Sometimes I need to hang off the tower standing on these lousy foot cross bars that are on a 45 degree angle. It starts to hurt the feet quickly.  The nice flat steps around the tower are placed only every 20', unfortunately.

Something that drives me nuts:  Ever see those peg bolts that they make climbers use on pole cell towers?  Those design bastards have no heart for the climbers. You gotta be a spider monkey to climb them. And I see many without fall arrest wires. Look on YouTube under cell tower climbers and you will see how they suffer.  I thought OSHA required fall arrest gear these days?

I wonder what is the limit and signs not to climb anymore for your own safety?   Does the subconscious start to tell you in the form of fear?  Do you start forgetting what you climbed up the tower to do?   Grin


T
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« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2022, 09:11:55 PM »

Tom...  You and I and most of the rest of the lads on this site are getting up there in dog years, getting a little weaker every year, and perhaps a little porkier than we were in years past.  I'll climb as long as I think I can still do it safely without making a fool of myself or putting someone else in danger.  What I'm doing now is trying to get everything on the tower updated and shipshape so it'll run as long as I do, without having to redo the work in another 5 or 10 years.  It's nice to have beams and be loud on the air but, if I have to, I can probably get by with wire antennas shot over the treetops if all the tower stuff goes defunct before I do.
I've worked with tower crews all over the world and have a lot of respect for them.  Some have been felons, druggies and drinkers, but somehow most of them manage to get their stuff together on the tower and do good work.  I've had to call probation officers and tell them that their boys are doing fine and working hard.   And many of them are good clean Christian lads who start the morning off with a prayer at the truck tailgate.  They all have my respect.  And yeah, they mostly all hate those bolt step pegs too, but they don't bitch about them like we do.  I think all new towers have the safety-climb cables, but old ones are grandfathered.  One rigger outfit I had on a job had an interesting life insurance policy:  If you fall off the tower because you were free climbing, your wife gets $10,000 death benefit.  If you were clipped in, but your safety gear or the tower member fails, she gets a Million bucks.  That improved compliance by a whole lot.
73 de Norm W1ITT   
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K1JJ
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« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2022, 11:24:30 PM »

Norm, interesting comments from a pro like yourself....

Yep, towers can last a long time.  I still have up my original 150' guyed Rohn 45 tower that I put up in 1987.  (35 years)  I painted all the towers with that galvanized paste and the glove routine some years back.   I decided the same as you... to make the antennas more manageable. I've built, used and taken down at least 50 homebrew Yagis and logs over the last 30 years. But the 40M stack breaks that rule. I figgered that it may be the best performing antenna system I have, so why not keep the unruly dragster still running?

Towers and antennas are a thing of beauty, no doubt.

Sad that young tower climbers are paid near minimum wage - a pity... unless someone is very valuable with specialized skills like a lineman, etc.  I always talk to them when I can. The common comment they make is that they want to get their own crew someday. They seem to fade away before 35 years old. Most seem in their early 20's.  I wonder what happens to older tower climbers?

There are a lot of strange feelings and mental dialog that goes on in my head as I plan a solo climb. Some is fear, dread, excitement to get a new system working, etc.  But the very BEST feeling is the EASY process of climbing down (with gravity) after a long and difficult work session and touching the ground.  Then taking off the body harness and doing that bad ass strut afterwards.  We feel invincible, like a cut above the average bloke.  It's a great feeling to have conquered our fears and avoided having to call in an expensive tower crew.  Then looking up at the latest addition knowing you don't have to go up there again - hopefully for a long while.  The next night's sleep is very sound, the body hurts a little and some weird dreams of relief occur.  Gee, that climb wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be.  The next day most of that is forgotten as we dream of the next project.  

I notice that when most people find out I climb towers, they first smile, then look at me with a contorted face and start a nervous laugh routine - then immediately say they are afraid of heights and then do the nervous laugh again... Grin

Tower climbing and risk is a challenging thing; I find it a fun thing to do. The mental conflicts and battles are what makes it very interesting and can improve the brain functions. It certainly helps keep me in shape.  They say as you get older you eventually have to exercise twice as much just to maintain your strength.  I think this is true.

T
 
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« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2022, 06:25:29 AM »

Tom...
You ask what happens to older climbers.  I've known some fine fellows who climbed and worked well into their 60s.

"Old tower hands never quit.  They just keep working to maintain their erections."


73 de Norm W1ITT
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« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2022, 07:45:56 AM »

You ask what happens to older climbers.  I've known some fine fellows who climbed and worked well into their 60s.

Something seen around the internet over the years:

W2OY is calling CQ
No lids, no kids, no space cadets, no phonetic fanatics
No school bus riders please, no
Class A Operators, S9 signals only need apply
To W2OY
Make no mistake about it, W2OY is calling

And then variations on that theme.  Mike loved kids but he couldn't let
that be known and keep up his reputation as a curmudgeon.  So he would
listen in and then every now and then dump in a comment--an unmistakable
comment.  But he wouldn't join the conversation unless you replied to
one of his CQ's.  And then he would usually answer and proceed to jerk
any chain you left hanging out.  Ho Ho--as Big Al would say.

Mike got in a fight with a group of AM ops on 3830 called the pig
farmers.  They were certified nuts.  That used to drive him nuts.  One
of the pig farmers had a second microphone attached to his clock so that
you could hear the clock mechanism ticking.  That drove Mike (and me)
nuts.  One night the propagation was wrong.  And Mike got run off the
air.

The next day he got Dick, WA2BQL, to come over and help him with the
antenna work he wanted to try to get that extra dB or two.  Mike had a
heart attach and died on the tower strapped to the tower with his
climbing belt.  They finally had to get the fire department to bring a
ladder truck to recover his body.

Now that's my kind of ham, died on the tower in search of the last dB.
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« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2022, 09:05:18 AM »

Wat a story!
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K1JJ
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« Reply #15 on: June 15, 2022, 06:33:54 PM »

Update:  6-15-2022

Solo effort... no ground crew - climbing done on the 190' self-supporting tower.

Over the last few days I got the repaired Yagi finished, installed the tramline and back-stay guys and ran some stress tests.  The bottom of the tramline (1/4"  steel guy cable) is anchored to the Dodge Dakota. The lawn tractor did the pulling.

Today I pulled it up to the middle position, at 125'.  The pull was sporting since I rode the tractor and used the tag lines to keep it straight at the same time. From the ground I was able to position the Yagi exactly where it needed to be.

The climb was uneventful until I found the boom was hanging on a slope. It took a few trials to position the come-along where it needed to be. I was starting to get a little mentally rattled when it became a wrestling match to get the 250 pound Yagi centered correctly. I was hanging off the side of the tower with poor foot steps - just 45 degree angled bar to stand on.  I kept getting thoughts of calling in the pro crew. But after two hours it was all bolted in, including the overhead trussing.

I need to do another clean up climb tomorrow to get rid of the tramline, pulling rope and better align the Yagi to horizontal; as well as solder and weather proof the feedline connection..

On the climb up the weight of tools and hardware was overwhelming. I needed the come-along, torch, hammer, tool bag, nuts and bolts, tag lines, u-bolts and misc stuff. It's like a spacewalk.

I'm just glad the main risky part is over.  It's been stressful just planning the climb. Big relief.

Here's some pics of the setup and me after the climb. Great exercise. I do need to lose 15 pounds and this is a good way to do it... Smiley

T

Pic #1:   Notice the cable fall arrest device at my chest area.  The gorilla hook is at my waist.  On my right side, hard to see, is a double lanyard with a cushioning fall pay-out.   IE, three redundant safety precautions.  Not to say you won't get banged up hitting the tower if you have a short fall... Wink


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« Reply #16 on: June 15, 2022, 06:38:08 PM »

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These are full-size 40M Yagis, no coils, stubs, etc;  70' long reflector elements.


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« Reply #17 on: June 15, 2022, 06:41:18 PM »

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Pic#2: Middle Yagi installed. Almost back in business.  These homebrew Yagis are so stout, they are worth repairing and maintaining.


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« Reply #18 on: June 15, 2022, 06:43:34 PM »

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« Reply #19 on: June 15, 2022, 08:11:06 PM »

Here's some pics from the last hurricane. The Yagis survived.   Notice the 160M dipole being pulled like a sail.   No problem with the NE ice storms over 13 years... so far.

The winds are coming from the NE (nor'easter) while the antennas are facing NE broadside.  Not a good situation.


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« Reply #20 on: June 16, 2022, 10:02:33 AM »

Tom
That's a FBOM installation, and a nicely rigged lift.   I know that we are always admonished not to climb and work on towers alone but, with proper safety equipment and a cautious habit, it can be done.  It takes forethought as to what tools will be needed and I always take a spare wrench of the correct size as well as spare nuts, lock washers and usually a U-bolt as I find that those items are often affected by gravity.  I have a hard bottom canvas rigger bag that goes up as it's easier to find tools and hardware in that than just dropping them into a floppy bag.  It probably makes sense to have a cell phone up there in case of a situation that goes sideways.  Good tower help or ground crew is hard to come by.  I find that I'd rather work alone, slowly and deliberately, than with "help" that wants to run the job from below. 
I learned a good apres-tower refreshment from some riggers in Texas.  It's called a "Red Draw".  Take a tall glass, put in about an inch of tomato juice and then fill slowly with beer.  It sounds awful but tastes great and is just the thing for replacing fluid and electrolytes after a big day on the tower.  I have been known to enjoy another in sequence.
73 de Norm W1ITT
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"Let's go kayaking, Tommy!" - Yaz


« Reply #21 on: June 16, 2022, 09:22:39 PM »

Yo Norm,

Yep, the safer way is to pay for a crew or at least have someone watching the operation to call for help if needed.  The problem is that after 30 years, at $2500/day cost for pros, I would easily have spent over $1 million by now.  That's only 400 days and I've been out there way more than that...  Grin   The alternative is to hire part timers/ free lancers with no insurance and get sued if they screw up.  

Solo climbing is a lot like taking a solo camping trip into the wilderness. If you break a leg or get mauled by a bear, you're toast.  I used to do that in Colorado years ago. Yaz and I would drive into the Rockies and look for a mountain with white capped snow. We'd spend the next few days hiking to the top and camping along the way. Very risky business, now in hindsight.

FB on packing extra tools like wrenches and stuff.  I'm good for at least one mistake a climb. This time I thought I was untying the rat tail connected to the hammer. But instead I dropped my tag-line rope to the ground used to lower the tramline later.

OK on the magic potion. Yes, we should not underestimate the necessity of electrolytes for the body after exertion.

Well, next, I'm working on a 10-20M array of some kind.  I may make it a stacked aluminum tubing  2 X 2 X 2 el Yagi system for 20M, unidirectional... OR, four stacked 20M tubing dipoles fed with open wire on 10-20M. I already have up gates on the tower for manual rotation.  Been listening in to the higher bands and if the sunspots keep increasing as quickly as they are now, it could be sporting.


T
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Use an "AM Courtesy Filter" to limit transmit audio bandwidth  +-4.5 KHz, +-6.0 KHz or +-8.0 KHz when needed.  Easily done in DSP.

Wise Words : "I'm as old as I've ever been... and I'm as young as I'll ever be."

There's nothing like an old dog.
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