Here is what is left of VE1DX's tower and antennas after the 1 March 2005 storm
These pictures were taken around 4:00 PM on 1 March 2005 . . . the wind blew the tower over and it snapped at the joint of the 1st and 2nd section. This was a Delhi DMX-48-HD tower (48 feet - 14.6 metres) in height, and it had a Wilson SY-2 HF tri-band Yagi beam on the top. It also held two VHF/UHF antennas, a 4 element 2-metre Yagi and a dual band Comet GP-9 vertical.
Delhi DMX-48-HD Tower Diagram
Bolts on one leg worked loose during the night
It appears that either over night during 80-90 km gusts (or in during the week or two following up to then) the nuts threaded off the bolts on one tower leg due to some sort of vibration or harmonic oscillation. While the loose bolts were the primary cause of the problem, there was some ice build-up that morning due to a period of freezing rain, and that may have contributed to the stress on the tower. Exactly why it fell will likely always remain a mystery.
This is looking end on, "up" the tower
This is where the Wilson SY-2 beam, Comet vertical and 4 element 2-metre Yagi ended up . . . in a tree! And all bent and broken.
This is all that's left! Oh well, I still have a 30 metre dipole, a Windom and a 3 element 2-metre quad on another pole. They will have to do for now.
Life goes on, and on 6 March it got up to about -1 C and the wind went down. Mike, VE1TK, and I decided the first thing to do was to remove the Yaesu G-800SA rotator. This had to be done as soon as possible because it was laying almost sideways, and the first time it rained we felt that water would get inside and short out the electronics or rust the gears. We managed to climb up the tower and brace off the mast with a piece of wood. This took the sideways strain off of the mast, and allowed the rotator to be removed.
While we were working on the rotator, we also removed the 4-element 2-metre Yagi beam that had been used for EchoLink. This just leaves the destroyed Wilson SY-2 HF beam and a Comet dual band vertical whip on top of the 20-foot aluminium mast. The vertical whip seems to be OK, but it will be a challenge to get it down without damaging it.
The board is taking the pressure of the aluminium mast pressing against it.
There had been a lot of stress on the rotator, and we were afraid that it had been damaged. However, it worked fine! As soon as it was retrieved from the tower, we wired it to the controller and it turned just like it did the day it was new. This speaks well for the quality of Yaesu rotators, as a standard CDE HAM-IV would never had stood the sideways stress and almost certainly would have been destroyed. I had always suspected that I had made the correct choice when I picked the Yaesu G-800SA, and now I know I did.
The Yaesu G-800SA - A true survivor!
The next step will be to wait for a couple of weeks for the weather to clear up, and access my options. The tower is stable as it is, and no further damage will occur. Once the weather warms up, we will remove the damaged tower, etc., and decide how to proceed.
As things turned out, it was a good thing that I was not in a hurry, because we had either cold weather, snow or rain for the next three weeks. There simply wasn't a single day where it was safe to remove the tower. Finally, after about 3 weeks we got a fairly nice day with temperatures around 6-7 C. My son Michael (VE1DUN) and I decided to try to take the tower down ourselves. The initial plan had been to ask some fellow amateurs for help, but we decided to give it a try ourselves first. The first thing we did was unbolt the bent portion, and to push it off on to the ground.
Push it off of the Bottom Section
This was the hardest part, because the entire weight of the remaining 5 sections were pushing back against us. We used a chain to ensure that it didn't drop all of the way to the ground at once, and to make sure it didn't slip sideways while we were pushing it off. We were moving about 275 pounds (about 125 kg) as well as any unknown amount of force the trees could have been exerting back against the bottom section. It took us awhile to get it pried off and lowered to the ground. In the end, it all went well, with no damage to the tower (or us!)
Carefully Removing a Section at a Time
After that, we used boards and ropes to take the weight of the tower, and the removed the next section. We still weren't sure how we were going to get the antennas off of the top, but we knew that the best plan was to remove one section from the bottom at a time. This made the remaining tower lighter and shorter, and also allowed the bottom to tip in closer to the trees. Each time it became more vertical.
Each Section Makes it Shorter!
After we had removed the next section, we began to see how we would free the top from the trees. Michael, VE1DUN, was of the opinion that perhaps the best idea would be to try and pull the top back out of the trees with a rope. I felt fairly confident that if we could get three sections off, it would be safe enough for me to climb up to the top and tie a rope to the mast. This would allow us to pull the top back toward the tower base, effectively reversing the direction in which it had fallen in during the storm as VE1DUN had suggested.
Pulling it out of the Trees
This worked as better than we expected. We managed to get things untangled from the branches. The remaining portion of the tower was heavy, but not so much that we couldn't handle it. The Wilson SY-2 HF beam was destroyed beyond repair, but the Comet GP-9 dual band vertical on the very top of the mast was still in good shape. We wanted to make sure we could get it off of the mast without damaging it. As it turned out, this was relatively straight forward once things were free from the trees.
We managed to tip it over so that the mast was leaning out over the pond, and so that the base of it was still within reach. I managed to reach out and unbolt it from the mast and get it safely on the ground. After this was completed, we were able to take the remains of the tri-bander apart and remove the mast from the rest of the tower. We carried the sections away and stored them in my garage. As far as I can tell they are in good shape, but I will have to look at them a lot closer before I will know if they can be re-used.
Nothing Left but the Base!
The last job was to remove the bottom section from the concrete base. This was the heaviest section of them all, but it was simply a matter of removing the 9 bolts and lifting it straight up. I don't think it can be re-used because the tops of the legs are bent and stressed severely. It might be possible to straighten them out, but I do not think it would be safe to put it back up. This left us with the concrete base, complete with tower legs and ground cables . . . but with no tower! At least we had removed it, saved the vertical antenna, and now I am ready to re-build.
VE1DUN and VE1DX holding the Comet GP-9 Vertical
This is my son Michael, VE1DUN, and myself, VE1DX, after cleaning up the tower mess. It took us 5 hours, but by 4:00 PM we had everything taken down, and now it is a matter of deciding how to get the same (or another) tower back up. I feel the tower is structurally in good shape, but will need a replacement bottom section. Over the next while I will have to try to find a bottom section for sale, or perhaps an entire tower. Also, I will need to find a HF antenna to replace the Wilson SY-2. This may take a few weeks, but we hope to have something going by the end of April or the middle of May.
Update! VE1DX is back on the air with a tower and a Yagi beam. Click here to see the results.
[Main Page] [Amateur Radio]
Last updated on Thursday, 12 April 2007