The KD4WIW Tower Construction page...

Page under construction

- Please come back for Photos of each phase !!!

Welcome to my tower construction page! I have made many references to my tower and the construction problems I went thru. I Decided that the best way to allow everyone to get a first hand look. So I devote a page to the construction. If you have any questions please feel free to email me from the button at the bottom of the page.

The tower was formerly located in Rocky Mount, North Carolina at the North Carolina Highway Patrol station. It had to be removed, transported, and reassembled. The following will be a "how to" and "how not to" buy and relocate a tower.

Used towers are not bad investments ... if you check them out and plan ahead. This is a guide to planning ... professional help is the only way to make such a move. Your first stop should be your communities planning office. Even if you live in an area that has on need for building permits the County or City planning department might have requirements.

The Purchase ...

I located the tower on State surplus listings ... contact your local State Surplus materials department. They dispose of everything from paperclips to autos. Most are on sealed bid basis. I purchased the tower for less than the same height of Rohn 25G would have cost brand new. But how many self supporting towers 145' tall can you buy for that price. The purchase price is the smallest price of the project!!! You need to do your home work before entering your bid. It is important to know your bid is a legal offer to buy and you must complete the purchase or you risk paying the difference between what they can sell the item for and your bid price.

Once you locate the item inspect it as early as possible. You must plan the whole project before submitting your bid to know your estimated project cost. If in doubt have someone look over the tower and let you know if it is a "good buy" or an "expensive pile of junk". If you decide to bid you should know the following:

1. Can permits be secured to erect the tower,

2. How much does the tower weigh (How much crane is needed to move it to the ground,

3. How much will the crane cost, (a) Get size crane needed (reach of boom and lifting capacity), (b) Try to contract the job ... not by the hour. Cranes work on 8 hour days. You pay travel time to and from. Any time over 8 hours is time and a half !!! (c) Do you have to provide riggers, (d) Do you supply permits for removal or to shut down a lane of a busy highway as I had to do. (e) READ CONTRACT BEFORE HIRING A CRANE COMPANY - most have a clause that holds you responsible for both time while crane is stuck and for removal in the event the crane gets stuck. MORE ON THIS LATER !!! (f) Get quotes from several crane companies ... let them compete between each other. (g) Make sure foreman or crane operator arrives at site with you present and looks over the site and job. Best the day prior to job. MORE ON THIS LATER !!! (h) Never agree to any problems that occur during the job and take video or photos of the operations.

4. What will the cost to transport the tower to the final site be: (a) Will Over Height/Over Size permits be required? They are very explicit to time of travel and route of travel. (b) Is transport based on total time or road miles traveled? (c) Again sign no agreement for stuck equipment.

5. Construction equipment cost, metal work, rebar steel, concrete, permits, fill in for site, and etc.

6. Lighting, grounding, wiring, etc.

7. Insurance requirements

8. Finally will you be able to do the maintenance on the tower?

A Crane Education ...

And I mean an education!!! We used a crane company that a friend had used on several occasions at his place of employment. (Mistake #1) I only contacted one crane company. They said the tower estimated at 5000 pounds. It weighed just a little over that. They suggested their 150 ton crane. Major over kill ... we finally put it up with a 65 ton crane. Difference between the two (65 ton - $95.00/hr 150 ton - $225/hr). (Mistake #2) They said they looked over my site... later discovered they "Could not locate the site", but never told me. Wet weather and an inattentive driver stuck the crane when he left the road way. Photos of tire marks in path (No Sinking) helped in renegotiation of final cost. Used their 105 foot low-boy trailer to haul largest section $125/hr. Total time of crane on moving day 14 HOURS !!! and a $500.00 wrecker bill !!!

I however did use their contract and the fact that I had not paid them to negotiate a fair settlement. FIRST - their contract was offered to me at the site when they were hooking up to the tower. NEVER AGAIN - get the contract before committing to the job. SECOND - the contract said ... that I am responsible for the crane while on my property site ... they were on my father-in -laws property when they got stuck. The moral to the story MAKE them preview site and say that they can, without any obvious problems, complete the job on schedule and safely ... and in your presence.

Moving Day ...

On moving day have plenty of help lined up. The more help you provide the less it will cost. Contract your own hauling company if you plan to transport the tower in sections. Remember that large towers may require special trailers and permits. You may be able to rent a trailer and just hire someone to pick-up and drop-off at your site. Have several 6" by 6" or 8" by 8" - 10 foot long beams and a chain saw. This along with an assortment of 2x4, 2x6, 2x8, 4x4, etc blocks to shim up the tower when hauling. Remember you are paying for stationary time also. Have the area ready for the crane. If trees need to be removed do so. "Time does equal money!!!" Document times well, including break and meal times. Well now more on site preparation.

Foundation Work ...

If you purchase an old tower the manufacturer may not be in business. My tower is as old as I am. I used Rohn's foundation requirements and increased them 25%. I used their 160' tower specs for a three legged tower for my 145' four legged tower.

I had a backhoe dig four 4'x4'x8' holes that ended up being 5'x8'x8' holes. That means a lot more concrete. So I had to build up a mud dam to fill in the extra area. My project started in the fall of the year, the Rainy Season, so I had four very large holes that were full of water. I estimated 8,000 gallons of water in the holes when they were full. As the holes filled up the side walls kept falling in ... MUD !!! So I had to pump out the water and shovel out the mud. Mud dams worked very well. Just shore them up well ... that much mud is heavy and deadly if the dam breaks. Cave-ins are also a possibility. Make sure to shore up all holes while working in them - remember OSHA!! We had to buy tarps and make a tent over the site to keep rain and SNOW off the site.

Next came the column supports. I chose to use 2 20' galvanized 2' road drain culvert pipes. They were cut in half to make 4 10' columns. Holes were cut to allow for rebar cage to be made and rebar wired together that provides support both inside and outside of the column. They were then lowered into the holes by hand and steel L-channel was used to hold them up-right, square, and solid. I was concerned that when concrete was poured in the holes that the columns might try to float out. So I first poured the outside pad. Now measuring 5'x5' square and 4' to 5' deep. The next day they came and poured the columns. No movement at all. I used a water level to find level in the columns and cut a weep hole at the level site. This allowed concrete to be poured to that level and the excess just ran out. Final finished columns were found that 2 were 1/4" and 1 was 1/2" lower than that of the highest column. This was shot by a local surveyor with a transit. I then used stainless steel shims to level the columns. We then back filled the holes and allowed them to settle and poured a slab of concrete to provide a pad that will hold the equipment shack and support the columns. Now for the Tower!!!

The tower had to be mounted on 1" anchor bolts, eight total, that had to be exactly spaced. Take several rolls of film of every aspect of the tower. Make drawings and measurements of every leg, support, bolt, pad, etc. They will pay for themselves in the future. Measure every thing and reference them to a common point. Set up that point at your location and reconstruct the tower around that point. I did not have the information that I now have ... if I had it to do again I would use 6' galvanized anchors. I used 18" ones and welded 5' extension to them. I then sprayed them with cold galvanizing paint.

Grounding Work ...

Grounding is an important necessity. With 145' of tower and 21' of mast and antennas its important to properly ground the tower. I added 2 runs of 1 5/8" hard line and 4 runs of 7/8" hardline. Since the original tower only had 1 run of 1/2" heliax and a run of 9913 it had no weight problem. I wanted more support for my tower and hardline. I constructed a hardline ladder out of unistrut and L-channel galvanized steel. It is 18" wide and I attached it to the tower with stainless steel J-shaped clamps. I then used the unistrut clamps to hold the hardline. To avoid crushing the hardline we always slip a piece of pvc pipe cut in half under the clamp. The hardline is then grounded at the top of the tower and at the bottom of the tower. Grounding at the base of the tower is thru a solid sheet of copper where PolyPhaser units are hooked to the hardline. Then the hardline is connected to more hardline running to the shack in the house. I plan to put in 50 ground rods 8' long and ring the house, tower and set up a ground field running away from the house. See the diagram below.

I even bought a PolyPhaser strike counter to keep track of possible strikes or near by strikes. So far the grounding has warded off all strikes. The counter is still at zero (0000000).

Safety First ...

Safety is a necessity especially for your satisfaction. A dead man tells no tales ... or talks on radios!!! We as amateurs are exempt from OSHA requirements. But if an employer must protect his employees why aren't we as important to ourselves? I added the previously mentioned safety items: platform, accent/ decent cable, safety belt for my protection. A small additional amount to the total cost of the project !!!

If we keep accidents and bad press to a minimum maybe we can reduce governmental intervention to a minimum. OSHA acts on what Congress tells them to. So if we police ourselves and practice safety first no one will have a need to place restrictions on us. Prevention is easier to achieve than correcting problems that have occurred.

Have Fun !!! ...

Have Fun ... Amateur Radio is a Hobby for young and old alike. Have fun with your Hobby. Spread the word ... The Hobby is constantly being threatened. Numbers and good press will assure us of Hobby we can enjoy for many years to come!!!


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