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Amateur Radio Station WCEM
(Formerly: WFGM)

My Tower Installation
(Page 2 of 4)

 

Now that I knew my chosen location was away from the buried cable, I marked the spot on my site plan, took the tower plans I had obtained from GME and submitted them to the county. It was looked over and accepted within 3 days. So on May 1, 2007, I paid the $70 fee and picked up my permit. I was finally in business!

 On May 3, I ordered the tower along with a Yaesu thrust bearing and a messenger line kit. The messenger line is a stainless steel cable that attaches to the Hazer and the base of the tower. It is used to tie down the feed line and rotor control cable. This keeps them from blowing around in the wind, and helps support the weight of the cables.

 


On Friday, May 18, the tower showed up to my QTH via Con-way Freight. The truck driver backed up to my pole building and was nice enough to help me unload everything. My tower was the only thing on the truck, packed in a crate that was 3' 8" H x 4' W x 10' 6" L. The tower was delivered as 5 separate ten foot sections.
 
The Hazer arrived assembled and mounted on the bottom section.

 
The miscellaneous hardware.

An 8 foot ground rod came in its own box, the base parts in its own box, and the 4 foot screw-in guy anchors, stainless steel guy cable, guy brackets, turnbuckles and the rest of the hardware came in the last box.

 


Yes, you guessed it, I called my electrician, and on June 4, 2007 he dug the hole and moved the dirt to a location on the other side of my fence line where I was having a little bit of an erosion problem anyway. A hole that is 4' W x  4' L x 5'  deep makes a very large pile of dirt. I can almost feel the avoided back pain! That was the best $125 I have ever spent!

 


We had very hot and dry weather and I was fearful that the sandy soil would dry out and cave in on the sides. So after the hole was dug, I cut two sheets of plywood in half. I then used the four pieces to support the four walls of the hole by jamming some 4x4's horizontally between opposing sides. I then covered the hole with a tarp. Each morning and evening I sprayed a light mist of water on the walls of the hole to keep it moist, and hopefully prevent a cave in. Fortunately I was very successful in this regard. A cave-in did not occur!

 

Now because I was inexperienced with building a tower, and because GME had provided me with inaccurate information regarding the tower base section, I encountered a little frustration trying to figure things out with regard to the foundation. A few days after the tower arrived, I finally had the chance to open up the box containing the base parts. Inside I found parts that did not match the drawing of the hinged base I had received from GME's web site prior to purchase. The drawing I had originally received showed cross bracing and angle iron bolted together along with the 7/8-9 anchor bolts. So my impression was that the parts that get buried in the concrete would not require any rebar, and indeed I was told by one of the engineers that I would not need any rebar. But what I really received were just three 7/8-9 x 30 inch long galvanized rods, six steel cross straps (three for each end to form a triangle) and fifteen 7/8-9 galvanized nuts. I also noticed at this time that I would need 3 more nuts so that I could level the hinged base once it was embedded in the concrete. I was not comfortable with the idea of not using rebar to reinforce the base. The base assembly did not give me the feeling that it would be sturdy enough. I was not very happy at all with GME on this account.

 Also, it was at this point that I realized the Hazer is electrically isolated from the rest of the tower. It rides up and down the length of the legs on Delrin bearing blocks. Therefore the antenna and mast would not be grounded. So I needed to install a lightning rod on the highest point of the mast, attach a copper ground wire to it, and run it all the way down to a ground rod near the base of the tower. On June 8, I ordered three extra nuts for the base plate, and also the lightning rod kit. In hind site, I should have made my own lightning rod. The kit I bought from GME cost me $110 and all that was in the kit was a 1/2" piece of aluminum rod 18" long, filed to a point on one end, with a U-bold clamp on the other end, and an 8 foot ground rod. It did not come with the 60 feet of copper ground wire I would need. GME wanted $3 a foot for #6 twisted strand copper ground wire, so I decided to purchase it somewhere else. A friend of mine told me about a place in St. Paul, MN (Thompson Lightning Protection) that sells tower ground wire. I don't believe one should take grounding lightly. I bought 150 feet of 29 x 17 gauge (twice the size that Glen Martin offered) braided copper wire for half the price per foot. This gave me plenty of extra wire to use for grounding each leg of the tower, with some left over for station grounding as well. And I also bought a ground rod for the third leg of the tower from my neighborhood home improvement store for $12.

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