After about a year of helping a client with our part of the planning, preparations, and procurement of antennas, feedlines, hardware, etc. for the “Swap and Drop” replacement of the approximately 450′ Auburn communications tower, it’s about to start going up. The tower sections were delivered this morning, but due to rain in the forecast and a delay in the delivery of some of the guy wire hardware and other materials, it looks as if the first section won’t be going up until next week. It is anticipated that erection of the new tower will take about ten days. This one is going to be cool to watch, since the gin pole system will be rigged in “Chicago Boom” fashion, which means that once it’s up and the gin pole/boom system is at the top of the new tower, the old tower will be dismantled and lowered to the ground by literally reaching across from the new one, similar to a tower-mounted crane, which is essentially what it amounts to. Can’t wait to see this shiny piece of hardware go up, although seeing the old tower — built back in the 1960’s — being dismantled and hauled away has a bittersweet feeling to it. I suppose that’s a “broadcast and radio guy” sort of thing. There’s just something nostalgic about some long-standing towers which have provided many, many years of service, weathered all sorts of storms… hmmm… kind of makes me wish I could have the old one reassembled in my back yard. 😉
We have been monitoring the status of a tower in a community south of Opelika which was supposed to have been taken down a while back. This
tower has been (not so affectionately) nicknamed “Uncle Wobbly” because you can watch it precariously sway with the wind. It is also bowing and leaning very badly. All of this is because it only has three of the original guy wires still intact, and only two of those are actually supporting the tower. The guy wires are old and extremely rusted and six of the original nine guys have broken. Two guys remain on the back side of the tower at approximately the 60′ level, and one on the front at approximately the 80′ level.
The guy wire at the front (from the vantage point of the road — and utility lines — is the only top guy remaining, and it’s slack. That “slackness” is actually a good thing in this instance, because with the other two top guys missing, one can venture a pretty accurate guess as to what would happen if someone put much tension on that top/front guy.
This tower is only about 50 feet from the utility lines running parallel to the road. That has created a seriously hazardous situation. The tower is 110′ tall (including appurtanances.) Obviously, if it falls in the direction it is leaning, there is a high likelihood it will fall across the utility lines and the roadway. This decommissioned tower was slated for dismantling in the Fall of 2017 according to the tower owners, but that work has not yet been done.
We will not be the least bit surprised to get a call at any moment letting us know the tower has completely failed. We also would not be surprised to hear that it damaged the utility lines (and quite possibly the utility pole nearest the tower) and caused interruption of utilities for a lot of folks in the area.
Earlier this week, we had to go and do a little forensic inspection of a tower which was severely damaged by an electric company bushhog operator who was cutting and clearing the right-of-way. Here are a few photos of the damage and how the tower failed as a result of the incident.