Fence top rail as a mast?

Discussion in 'Antennas, Feedlines, Towers & Rotors' started by K7VIZ, Jan 17, 2018.

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  1. K7VIZ

    K7VIZ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Any thoughts on using a fence top rail as a mast? I saw these at the local Home Depot yesterday and thought they might make good masts for dipole antennas....maybe using two or three together to make a 30 foot mast. I have some 4x4 posts on my fence that I could attached these top rails to for bottom support.

    Here’s the link to the product: https://www.homedepot.com/p/YARDGAR...Gauge-Galvanized-Top-Rail-328913DPT/100322532


  2. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Used to be good stuff when it was made here in the USA. Now it's imported and just bends over like limp spaghetti.

    A better choice is something like 2" EMT tubing instead.

    However, I wouldn't recommend going 30' with it.

    Why not buy a Rohn push up pole instead? It's made for this purpose and can go up to 50' too.


    I'm not sure, but I think they have free shipping for anything over $99?
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2018
    NL7W and K2CAJ like this.
  3. WA7ARK

    WA7ARK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Back when I lived in SLC, United Fence on 33rd So sold 21ft sections of galvanized fence top rail with one end swaged so that it fit in another. I remember hauling a couple of them home slung under my Ford P/U. Guyed at a couple of levels, they held up the center of a 40m inverted V.
  4. KE0EYJ

    KE0EYJ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Just get a 12m HD (40 foot) fiberglass pole from Spiderbeam US. Cost you around $115 shipped, and it is collapsible. I have two, and use them for tons of projects.

    They even do well in icy conditions, as KC8VWM is about to tease me for.
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  5. AA7QQ

    AA7QQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have been using 2' toprail for 3 decades or so. Never had an issue with it. Get the 21footer & start there. When you learn more, maybe higher with guying.

    NH7RO and AG1W like this.
  6. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Only the masts with more sections that retract down to 6' long overall are shippable by inexpensive common carrier like UPS. The full-length Rohn telescoping masts are too long for that and must go by motor freight which is much more expensive and I don't believe DXE will pay for that. Their tallest "cheaply shippable" mast only extends to about 37' or something although it's still part of the H50 series.

    Still, not a bad choice: These are strong and designed to be guyed the proper way; and also really easy to use.

    I'd think "top rail" can work if it's high quality tubing. "Decades ago" when they all were made in America they were really good and well galvanized. "Today's" stuff, maybe not so much. But anything that can take a lot of compressive force from serious guying should work.
    KC8VWM likes this.
  7. N1RND

    N1RND Ham Member QRZ Page

    It's the two or three sections that might be the problem. I'm using one 21ft (I got it for free ) attached to the side of my house to support an Alpha delta dx cc and even with some nasty storms lately the mast does move much.
  8. WA7ARK

    WA7ARK Ham Member QRZ Page

    The swaged overlap is not that tight, so you need an intermediate set of guys right at the joint...
  9. WE4E

    WE4E Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I use top rail for a couple of antennas and it works great. I buy it from a local fence company in 21' sections for about $23 a stick. I don't use it unsupported however. One piece holds up a 2m vertical and a 6m moxon, but it's attached to the house at about the 12' level. The other uses some house brackets to hold up a SP500 10m vertical, but only about 6' is unsupported above the roof line. Both installations work fine.

    To go 30' you will almost certainly have to guy it off and secure the nested sections some way, bolt or muffler clamp or something.

    I have never considered EMT tubing as it is soft and intended to be bent.
  10. K2CAJ

    K2CAJ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Some fun facts I've discovered about home depot railing:
    1. The metal galvanized fence post---not the top rail, but the posts---has just the right internal diameter to chuck the base of a 40' Spiderpole.

    2. That same fence post has just the right internal diameter to slide over "2 inch" emt conduit you find in the conduit section of the store.
    I've used this to build a "cheapo depot" tipover mast that is half metal and half fiberglass on a concrete footing. The post gives you a 10' tipover base, then a 10' length of conduit. An extra sleeve of fencepost interfaces the conduit to the lower 20' of a 40' Spiderpole, which is strong stuff.

    You can do other fun stuff with this knowledge. For example, if you set a few feet of galvanized fence post in concrete, you can use it as a rock-solid base for a 40' Spiderpole, or you could use a bit of that post it for a temporary base. Just make sure to file the edges of the fence post, and then pad the interior so that it doesn't scratch up your Spiderpole. I did this simply by laying in a bunch of strips of electrical tape.
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