Collins 21E Adventure

Paul K2ORC                                                                                                                       Click on thumbnails to enlarge

Chapter 4

       The 21E Meets its New Home

Due to its nine foot wide by six foot high size, the
Collins 21E is probably not on the list of broadcast transmitters most hams would put in their homes. We've seen the steps Norm took to make sure this big transmitter could be gotten into the basement of his house where there'd be plenty of room for the 21E's three cabinets.  The basement's poured concrete floor will naturally have no trouble supporting the nearly ton and a half of radio.  So, after a month and a half of measuring, planning and carpentry, two of the transmitter's three cabinets were finally on their way from Owego to Endicott, New York and the story resumes.

As Don, N2IVW, backed his stake body truck, bearing the PA and power supply cabinets, onto Norm's lawn and up to the front porch, the sun was shining, the air was mild, and there were still donuts left in the kitchen -- all excellent omens for the task ahead.
Inside, Norm had already bolted a winch to the landing between the first and second floor.  The winch is a trailer winch that, until the 21E project got the green light, had been up on Norm's roof where it was used to raise and lower an antenna mast.  Now the winch's multi-strand steel cable dangled above the access hole to the basement steps created by Norm's removable stairway.
Norm's plan -- and as we've seen, he is a thorough planner -- was that the cabinets would be offloaded already strapped to the appliance dolly, the dolly providing not only mobility, but extra hand holds as well.  Once each cabinet was through the front door, it would be wheeled through the dining room and laid flat at the edge of the basement access hole.  The winch cable would be fastened to the cabinet and Norm, manning the trailer winch, would slowly, with guidance from above and below, begin to lower the cabinet, on its side, to the basement steps.  Once the cabinet was resting lengthwise at an incline on the basement steps, cable would be paid out from the winch and the cabinet, assisted by gravity, could be guided to the basement floor.  But first, the Weasel who knows how to do this sort of job to a tee was called upon to secure the load and allocate the Weasel-power: Joe,KC2GXG.

With an eye honed by decades of experience, "Rigger Joe" as we'd started calling him during the move, again looked the situation over.  Unlike what commonly occurs during many do-it-yourself moving jobs, nobody there seemed inclined to offer advice to Joe on how things ought to be done.  Joe went out to his car and returned with several sturdy ropes and a block and tackle.  He began to lay out ropes, across the dining room floor, up through the block and tackle which he secured to the winch, and down to the basement.  Only when the ropes were laid out to his satisfaction and instructions and location assignments were made, was the first cabinet strapped to the appliance dolly and removed from the truck.

First to enter would be the PA cabinet, the larger of the two cabinets we'd taken from WEBO's transmitter site that morning.  With more grunting and groaning it was brought through the front door.  A break was taken while Joe secured the ropes and the steel winch cable to the cabinet, which was to remain strapped to the appliance dolly.  This caused some discussion as you will recall that Norm had not planned on dropping the cabinets through the access hole while they were strapped to an appliance dolly.  Would the cabinets still fit?  The feeling was they would, but the fit would be tighter.




.We went to our assigned locations and Rigger Joe went to the basement where he would use a pair of ropes to guide the cabinet as it made the perilous descent to the basement steps.
With Joe, N2YR, and I stationed at the head of the basement stairway, and Norm manning the trailer winch up on the landing, directly above our heads, the rest of the Weasels in the dining room began to guide the heavy cabinet to the edge of the basement access hole.
Ropes and cable were kept under tight control as the cabinet edged out over the drop.  As the load slowly began to lift from the floor, it had to be kept from swinging.  A swing to the left would damage the wall beside the stairs, while a swing to the right would ding the wood trim, or the newel post or the banister and rails.  It seemed like a long time before cabinet was free of the floor and suspended above the access hole.  Now began the chore of lowering the cabinet to the basement steps.

Slowly, one click at a time, Norm began to roll out cable and line and the cabinet slowly start to drop toward us.  We could still see Rigger Joe down in the basement with his guide lines as he called out instructions, but the cabinet now almost entirely blocked our view of the access hole and what lay beyond.

The cabinet continued to drop, and then we had to guide it back towards the wall opposite the head of the basement steps so the cabinet would clear not only the edge of the dining room floor, but that head bashing "I" beam beneath it.

Suddenly, Joe and I found ourselves pinned against the wall by the cabinet, struggling to guide it downward, as we tried to tip the end furthest from us toward the steps.  Was the cabinet going to make it, or would the appliance dolly have to somehow be removed?  Minutes passed as we sweated and grappled with the unwieldy piece of metal.  The door to the kitchen opened and
someone appeared on the steps above us to assist.  Someone else tried to come through the backdoor to help, but there was simply no room to get inside.  The cabinet was in our faces, blocking out the light and any chance of escape if disaster struck.  Should the landing above us give way, or if the winch cable or one of the lines broke.... 

Slowly, the cabinet resumed its descent to the
basement steps just as planned. Rigger Joe continued to shout an occasional instruction or a word of encouragement from below.  What seemed like an age passed before the  thing finally came to rest on the basement steps.  Now,  Rigger Joe was on his own until the cabinet reached a point on the steps where someone could get past it to assist him.

Thankfully, from that point on, it was all clear
sailing.  The cabinet came down the steps with no further difficulty and the cabinet was moved to the place where it would rest while Norm worked on it.

We took a breather then went out after the power supply cabinet.  This one, because of its size and lighter weight, proved far easier to get down into the basement.  All that remained was to bring doors, meters, tubes, and other parts that had been removed from the cabinets that morning down to the basement. This was quickly accomplished, and then it was beer and pizza time.

Next up:  Why?

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