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View Full Version : What it the safest way to disassemble a tower?



KE5CCA
04-06-2008, 08:43 PM
I may have the option on a tower that is 60 to 80 feet high. I have not seen it yet, but I wanted to entertain some comments about how to safely disassemble it.

I am assuming a boom truck is a must. However, do you lash the boom to the tower and then lay it down? Do you lash and then disassemble from the bottom up or from the top down?

From what I understand it is guyed at the tower's midpoint and then again towards the top.

Thanks!

KC0BUF
04-06-2008, 08:51 PM
Top down. The way we've done this in the past, is to use a gin pole to drop one stick at a time with a rope. If you've got a boom truck that can reach that high, you can drop it one stick at a time that way, but it's a pain in the neck.

If I were you, I would consider getting somebody who has quite a bit of experience with towers to help you out. Otherwise, somebody's likely to get hurt.

Whatever you do, don't try to take more than one stick at a time down... that's a good way to kill somebody and/or damage your tower.

W6GQ
04-06-2008, 09:39 PM
Top down. The way we've done this in the past, is to use a gin pole to drop one stick at a time with a rope. If you've got a boom truck that can reach that high, you can drop it one stick at a time that way, but it's a pain in the neck.

If I were you, I would consider getting somebody who has quite a bit of experience with towers to help you out. Otherwise, somebody's likely to get hurt.

Whatever you do, don't try to take more than one stick at a time down... that's a good way to kill somebody and/or damage your tower.

AGREED!

A few suggestions I have found helps as well:

SAFETY HARNESS, SAFETY HARNESS, SAFETY HARNESS!!!!!!!!

I use a cordless impact gun I bought from Snap-On. You dont need a Snap-On version, look at cordless tools everywhere. Some will say the impact gun is overkill, but when it comes to stubborn/rusty/corroded nuts and bolts, it sure makes life easier and, the less time standing on the tower the better :D.

Take a bucket up with you with your tools inside, loop a rope around one of the tower rungs connected to the bucket so if you forget something you can lower the bucket to someone below and they can pull the bucket back to you.

WB2WIK
04-06-2008, 09:53 PM
Having assembled and disassembled a lot of towers, I'd say this question can't be answered without knowing what kind of tower it is: You didn't say.

What kind of tower is it? (Manufacturer, model?)

Some towers *cannot* be disassembled top-down, it would be a recipe for disaster if you ever wanted to use the tower again.

Need to know the details of the tower model.

WB2WIK/6

KC9JWA
04-06-2008, 09:57 PM
AGREED!

A few suggestions I have found helps as well:

SAFETY HARNESS, SAFETY HARNESS, SAFETY HARNESS!!!!!!!!

I use a cordless impact gun I bought from Snap-On. You dont need a Snap-On version, look at cordless tools everywhere. Some will say the impact gun is overkill, but when it comes to stubborn/rusty/corroded nuts and bolts, it sure makes life easier and, the less time standing on the tower the better :D.

Take a bucket up with you with your tools inside, loop a rope around one of the tower rungs connected to the bucket so if you forget something you can lower the bucket to someone below and they can pull the bucket back to you.
You crack me up, defintally love your motto, thats what i call the phrse thingy under the line at very bottom of page.

KA0GKT
04-06-2008, 09:59 PM
There are a number of questions when it comes to used towers. There is a reason why tower crews more-often-than-not just break the guys and let an old AM broadcast tower fall in a safe direction. After a number of years, towers are worth only the scrap value, and would be unsafe to tear down and erect in another location.

I believe that antenna towers might be #2 on the list of accidental fatalities among Amateur Radio operators right after electrocution. I know of one Amateur, now a silent key, who nearly killed his teenage son while disassembling an 80’ tower. The young man was in therapy literally for years, and still walks with a severe limp.

Be sure of the condition of your tower. Antenna structures which have not been professionally maintained can have serious defects caused by the accumulation of water in hollow tower legs, improper (or non existent where necessary) guying, improper installation, etc. ad nauseum. The list literally can go on forever.

In the end, a used tower rarely is the bargain which, at the outset, it may seem.

If you go the route of a gin pole, be sure that the rest of the tower is structurally sound and will withstand the stresses placed upon it by the disassembly. You will want to install temporary guy wires or ropes at the level to which the gin pole is attached. And properly tension them to help support the tower during disassembly.

If you can find a bucket truck which has sufficient working height to remove the tower sections, and sufficient carrying capacity to handle one section of tower at that extension, it may be a good choice; however if you must rent a boom truck, consider contracting for an actual crane which can handle the load. You sill still need to add temporary guys when there will be cantilever forces upon the tower for which it wasn’t designed.

Because we live in a litigious society, I suggest that you purchase additional insurance to cover any liability you may incur during the dismantling and reinstallation of the tower in question. If you damage someone’s property, or heaven-forbid if someone is killed or injured to the point of permanent disability, you would be personally liable. You need to protect yourself financially, and there may be some question whether your homeowners’ insurance will provide sufficient coverage, if any at all under these circumstances. Buy as much as you can afford. Lifetime care in a nursing home isn’t inexpensive.

There is no such thing as a “Free” or Inexpensive used tower unless it comes with the real estate upon which it sits…and even then I’d question if the land were worth it. Also, remember that SUED is an anagram for USED, especially when it comes to antenna structures.

WB2WIK
04-06-2008, 10:11 PM
>There is no such thing as a “Free” or Inexpensive used tower unless it comes with the real estate upon which it sits…and even then I’d question if the land were worth it. Also, remember that SUED is an anagram for USED, especially when it comes to antenna structures<

::I couldn't agree more. My take on this is: If you have to ask how to take a tower down, that means you don't know nearly enough to actually do it. Nobody has a second life coming up. If you don't really know, don't do it. Hire a professional to do it, or live without that particular tower.

My tower's used (I took it down and moved it here), but I've done this many times before and the first few times I worked with professionals, just assisting and watching what they did. Without that experience, I wouldn't dream of trying it.

WB2WIK/6

K7MH
04-06-2008, 10:51 PM
And of course you better know what a boom truck or the like will cost and it isn't going to be cheap!! It is also easy to damage some tower sections like Rohn if they won't come apart easily rendering them uselessly bent. Got a tower jack?
Gin pole?
Consider the cost of new stuff before you commit to the project.
Also, historically at least, it is usually a "take it all down and haul it away and it's yours" deal. It can be a heck of a lot of work and that usually overshadows any sale price short of a tilt over tower which is much easier to deal with.

K9STH
04-07-2008, 02:04 AM
Where used towers are concerned it usually costs more to take down the tower than what the tower is worth on the ground. Now if there are some good antennas on the tower and if you get the tower for just taking it down then it may be worthwhile.

Having been involved in the commercial two-way radio business for over 4 decades I definitely have a lot of experience where towers are concerned. In most of the applications I was fortunate to be able to use professional tower workers and therefore could keep my feet on the ground. However, I do have some experience off the ground and that knowledge serves me very well when working on my own tower. I have worked with a number of professional tower people who insisted that I be present when they were working on a tower because I did have in-the-air experience and knew just what was going on up the tower. That way if something happened on the tower I would be in a position to assist or to direct other workers in any rescue operation, etc.

Let me echo those who are saying that if you are not well experienced in working on a tower then definitely get help from those persons who are experienced. A tower can be a dangerous place if you do not know what you are doing.

Glen, K9STH

W6GQ
04-07-2008, 02:29 AM
Funny story, but true, :D

I was walking around the local community when they had their weekend garage sales.

Me and my buddy had walked up on a house and noticed they no longer have anything on their tower, Rohn, so while we looked at the items in the garage sale we asked if they wanted to sell the tower?

The owner and his wifes eyes got wide and said "If you take it down TODAY, its free!

We had tools in the pickup truck and got to work. The tower was practically brand new. Apparently the old owners of the home bought it and had a wifi system installed. They moved and took the wifi antenna but left the tower.

Well the new owners had cable installed so the tower was of "no use to them" they said, only their daughters :confused: We were confused.

The tower was mounted to the house which ran along side of the 2nd story window of the daughters. Apparently the daughters would sneek out at night by climbing down the tower :eek::eek:. One of the neighbors seen "someone" climbing up the tower one night at 3am and called the police. Mom and dad quickly found out what the daughters were doing. We just happen to come by the weekend after it happen and got a 40 foot tower for free :D

K9KJM
04-07-2008, 09:51 AM
Check out the April, 2008 issue of Popular Communications Magazine for a big article on how to take down used television type towers (And which ones to avoid)
As already mentioned, Finding a good used Rohn 25 type tower can be recycled into a ham tower fairly easy in most cases.
Some older towers (And for the novice, Most commercial type towers) should be avoided.

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