K9ZW Island Tower goes from Horizontal to Vertical

My trusted Tashjian Towers LM-354HD tower with its Tennadyne T-8 and T-28 log periodic antennas came down September 2018 when we moved our home QTH.

I’ve written about the replacement home QTH’s TM-370 Skyneedle and the new T-12 larger HF log periodic.

This former main setup uses an AlfaSpid RAK rotator and also had a W9INN half-sloper for 160/80/40m action.

In 2019 the setup was transported to our Washington Island QTH, to be stored in the woods waiting for the base to be put in and the tower erected.

Between usual Island-delays and our focus on the main QTH, progress was slow.  Adding the virus-game lockdowns to the mix greatly lengthened the transport to erection time frame.

Tower and erection-fixture as stored

Local island contractor Tom Jordan and his crew installed the base in July.  A suitable tower base hole was hammered into bedrock and trees cleared, though somehow one tree too close to the tower escaped and will be removed shortly.

Installed new concrete base in some 7 yards of concrete set into bedrock

With the help of fellow island ham Tom K0TTC and his handy mid-sized tractor the ground around the base was leveled, the tower erection-fixture put up, and the tower itself fitted pointing to the sky.

Kudos to the Tom Jordan crew as the base is level enough that no further tweaking looks to be needed. Unfortunately I could neither be on the island or offer very coherent advice/instructions during the case installation, as I was down with the CCP-19 virus during their work, leaving them to figure things out on their own.

And a big tip of the hat to Tom K0TTC, who helped innovate the actual tower installation using a very capable but just not quite high enough lifting tractor to get things put in place right!

I later drove this tractor back to his workshop and learned how much practiced skill Tom K0TTC brought to the undertaking, as there is less fine control of movement with this tractor than I expected.  Usually I use a hydrostatic skid-steer for my work, which is a ballet dancer compared to a Morris Dancer with the tractor.

There is a bit of transport rigging to remove as well as leaves that filled the tower heavily, but the tower is up!!  Yea!!

LM-354HD finally pointed skyward after move!

In the install, we had to remove the tower main winch as it would have been smashed into the ground and concrete base if left in place. I bought new hardware to reinstall it and devised a rope cradle and hand winch method to lift the winch back into place.  There was no way I could life it and install bolts on my own.

One-man plus cable come-along replacement process for the main tower winch

The majority of main bolts holding the tower and erection-frame were replaced with new stainless hardware. There are a couple bolts that are special sized or uncommon configuration, so for these the originals had to be retained.

A lot more to do to reassemble the rest of the setup and to get it wired up. I am hoping to try and get the underground conduit in place this fall, based on equipment availability.

It seems my preferred special rotator cable is out of stock nationwide, so my order will be delayed. Not thinking this a real issue, as if I have to wait until next Spring to finish the project up and get it on the air, that actually corresponds with when we will again be on the island every other weekend. As usual I worked with Steve K1PEK at DavisRF for my cable needs.

As I have another TM-370 Skyneedle in storage, I was asked why I didn’t bring that tower to the island?

Simple reason – The LM-354HD can be tipped over in its erection fixture, which means I can service the tower, antennas and rotator using a couple rings of scaffold, rather than the expense of bringing a man lift to the island for any tower service.

If you look carefully there are spacers in the base to take the smaller LM-354 erection fixture and tower, as we installed the next larger sized base, where I could in theory replace the LM-354 with a LM-470 tower in the future. This would take my main beam height from about 60 ft up to 76 ft. Depends if my checkbook is flush and I feel the added height is important.

Future upgrades is also why I prefer to put in conduit than direct burial. Becomes much easier to add/replace lines.

I have enough LMR-400 (actually an upgraded commercial variant by Times Microwave, the usual LMR-400 manufacturer) to make the 280 feet of drop & feedline a low loss situation. I have decided to not invest in Belden 9913F7 like used at my home QTH at this time. Plus the Belden is a much more difficult coax to pull, as it is basically a “semi-hardline.” At my operating frequencies the drop back to  LMR-400 is around 0.3 dB over the run, which is not enough that usually I would chase after the improvement.

I do have to decide if I will bury a separate 110vac conduit/line or pull it in the same conduit as the rest of the cables?  My present vision is that power only needs to be energized when the tower is being lowered or raised, or perhaps if I would need power for non-battery tools while working at the tower. Trying to think if there would be a compelling case to leave the AC circuit energized while using the antennas?

And should I pull a large enough AC cable to perhaps switch to 220vac in case I would upgrade to the 70 foot tower down the road.

Much progress made, and much more to go!



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