Valid materials for a mast?

Discussion in 'Antennas, Feedlines, Towers & Rotors' started by N4FFL, Dec 19, 2018.

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  1. N4FFL

    N4FFL Ham Member QRZ Page


    I was wondering what would be valid materials for a mast (say 40') or more to the point, what *shouldn't* I make one out of?

    Here is my point...I considered creating one from Max-Gain or DX Engineering fiberglass tubes, but the friggin' shipping alone is $84. That is nuts to me. Yes, I know they are 8 foot tubes and all that, but it still sucks. So, I checked Home Depot & Lowes and none of them carry fiberglass tubing. They do, however, carry PVC. Would that be a possible option?

    Yes, I know I can go with the metal fence top rail and all that, but I'm actually trying to stay away from using metal if I don't absolutely have to. I'd like to basically make it telescopic if I can with some sort of plastic or fiberglass.

    I tried to Google local places that might have fiberglass tubing but I didn't see anything. Everything has to be shipped. Ugggghhh. So, my only bet is probably like a Lowes or Home Depot. I will try other "building" supply stores around here, but I don't think anyone is going to have the fiberglass tubing.

    Would PVC be too inflexible for this type of installation?

    Thanks all,
  2. KI4ZUQ

    KI4ZUQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    This may not help but I saw some telescoping masts at the Huntsville hamfest that had to be 40 feet or more! Building your own would be way cheaper but will mean you have to improvise. PVC is probably too flexible BUT large diameter schedule 40 stuff could work. Would you consider guy wires/rope? Since you are in Louisville, KY Electric Park may have some salvage sales of scrap non-conductive tubing that might work. Been mid-80s since I been there so GE may have closed it! Do they make irrigation pipe with non-conductive stuff?
  3. N5ST

    N5ST XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Get a channel master or rohn telescoping mast. I have a channel master. PVS or fensing products are going to be very flexible. At 40ft, you will have to have atleast 2 levels of guys so plan on guy rings or Yeasu thrust bearings
    NN4RH likes this.
  4. WA7ARK

    WA7ARK Ham Member QRZ Page

    WB5YUZ, AK5B, N4FFL and 1 other person like this.
  5. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    ^I sure agree with this, but much prefer the olive-drab painted thickwall aluminum masts instead, like these:

    The Army surplus thickwall aluminum masts are very strong but quite lightweight and although they do not "telescope," they do fit into each other to make an easy-up 32' or 36' or even 40' mast using 8, 9 or 10 of them. This will require some sort of base foundation to prevent it sinking into the ground (a cement block may be enough) plus perhaps two house brackets if it's next to a house, or 3-4 levels of rope guys to guy anchors; but they're not expensive, and since they're "short," shipping cost is low.

    I've used them for at least 40 years at various locations. I've even made radiating vertical antennas from them (they're good for that, as they're all aluminum) just using a glass Coke bottle or something as a base insulator, and rope guys. My last monoband 40m vertical was made from eight of them.

    I'd stay away from fibreglas, PVC or standard EMT (too thinwall). Good fencing top rail can work, but you still need a base anchor point and guy ropes, and it's heavier.
    AK5B and N4FFL like this.
  6. KI4ZUQ

    KI4ZUQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    How 'bout chain link fence top rail INSIDE PVC pipe for insulation. That would deal with the power lines if it blew over or upom erecting....both cheap(relatively) and local.
  7. N4FFL

    N4FFL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Oh, I'm expecting to put up guy wires on whatever I put up, so that shouldn't really be a problem. I was considering building it very similar to how the fiberglass telescoping masts are built. I might look into Sched 40 and see if that works. Stuff like that they have locally that I can get. I tried looking up building stores and such, but all they have is wood or what not. Nothing in the way of even tubes, let alone fiberglass tubes. I'll try and check to see about Electric Park. Never hurts to ask.
  8. N4FFL

    N4FFL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Aren't these metal? The ones I saw were metal. Plus, I would still have to do shipping. I think I can get the Channel Master shipped to Home Depot and pick it up there, so that might work, but again, I think they are metal and I was trying to go with fiberglass, if I could. Plus, I was going to use two levels of guys as suggested. :) I figured that was probably a given no matter what I put up. I should have put that into my original post.
  9. W0KDT

    W0KDT XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I just went through this thinking process and ended up buying new mil-surplus aluminum mast sections. I am very pleased with these. They are easy to work with and fit & finish is excellent. I decided against fiberglass because of UV vulnerability and generally poor long-term performance reported by people who have experience with it. I had a thread similar to this back around September and got a lot of good input. You might benefit from doing a search and reading the wisdom there.

    Re agonizing about freight cost, as a confirmed cheapskate myself I occasionally re-learn the lesson that the cheapest initial outlay is sometimes the most expensive choice over the long haul. YMMV, of course.
    N4FFL likes this.
  10. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    They are metal. The Rohn telescoping masts are all galvanized steel; however the 9H50 is short enough that it's UPS shippable, making it fairly cheap to ship.
    Rohn 9H50.PNG

    If the purpose of the mast is to support a wire antenna, rather than guy "wires," I'd use guy "ropes" to keep the support system as RF-transparent as possible. The 9H50 can be installed, telescoped out, and guyed by one person in an hour or two.
    KC8VWM likes this.

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