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Author Topic: Looking for advice on tower budget  (Read 2450 times)
W5PUG
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« on: October 26, 2010, 04:37:19 PM »

I'm currently QRT.  I have to stay in this house about 5 more years, then we move to the house of MY choosing (life, family, aging parents, schools and XYL influenced the choices before) of at least a 2 acre non-deed restricted lot. 

My county required that a tower can only be as high as the closest lot line, so if I go 2 acres, I can probably put up an 80-90 foot Rohn 45.  Winds here along the Colorado Front Range make a free standing pretty costly and limit the height to a max of 60 feet.  Same with Rohn 25, just not enough in a 110 mph wind gust with clay soil.

But, I digress.  I am doing the financial planning for the future (and the NEXT sunspot cycle).  Outside of the cost of the tower hardware and guys (planning Phillystran), what other costs am I going to incur?  I figure concrete for the base, someone to install (I'll be over 60 by then, and while I have climbing gear, the wife says no), and possible a crane or lift to install the beam.  If I go below 70 feet, it'll be a quad.  Above that, I'll go Yagi, probably Bencher Skyhawk or Force 12 beam.  Also plan for a 40 m rotatable dipole and probably 80m 1/4 slopers off the tower.

I figure I need to add at least $2K to the cost of the delivered tower, beam, and rotator.  That for concrete and installation, and a lift of some kind.  This system looks to cost close to $9K or so. 

Am I planning enough or too much money?  What curve balls have you experienced?
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2010, 11:09:35 AM »

The $2K might be a bit on the low side.

Remember an "installation" requires at least two separate visits:  One for the foundation, and then another one 28 days later for the installation, if the foundation includes a concrete pour.

Add in the cost of three or six guy anchors (for a guyed tower) and their installation, which may or may not require concrete; but if it does, those should be done at the same time as the foundation.

Erecting it, guying it, and tensioning the lines takes several hours, probably a day.  So installing the topside hardware might be "the next day."

This leads to the possibility of three days' work by somebody(s) who probably have to travel a little bit to get there, and maybe stay overnight.

I'd budget a bit more, for a guyed installation.

For a motorized telescoping tower which requires no guys, although the tower itself is heavier, the "job" is actually a bit less work.  The foundation will require a larger excavation and a lot more concrete, but no guys or anchors to dig, install and adjust; plus without guys, planting antennas on top is less work.

Sounds like you have a long time to plan this, so call around to the installers and see what they say.
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W5PUG
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« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2010, 12:22:30 PM »

Appreciate it.  Wish I could go telescopic....no climbing.  But the winds here are brutal (I'm in Fort Collins, CO, and will end up buying probably in a 100 or 110 MPH 3 second gust area, with clay.  I think maybe this is going to be a $10K minimum project.  Or $12K.

Reason I'm asking now...we're doing retirement planning, and I want to make sure I have enough cash salted away. Still got one in college, paid for a wedding last year for the other...Have to figure out how much to save.

Never again am I going through the drill of getting the house, then never having the cash for the tower and compromising with push-up masts. etc.  This will hopefully be the last one. 

Forgot about digging for and pouring the guy anchors.  They definitely need concrete bases.  Could do it with a wheelbarrow and a shovel, but while the truck's there...finish the job right. 
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AB4D
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« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2010, 04:12:29 PM »

I believe your budget for 12K is closer to the total amount you are looking at for your tower project vs. 9K. It may be more since you are contracting out the foundation work.   When you dig, you never know what you are going to run into. I just finished digging/pouring a tower base that was supposed to be 5x5x8, it ended up being 5x8x8.  I hit an unstable shale deposit that had to be removed, the remedy was 3 additional yards of concrete.  Don't forget to factor in the grounding system components, feed lines, static discharge units, rotor, rotor mounting plate, rotor control cable, antenna mast, etc., the additional hardware costs add up fast.

Shipping costs are severe too, about four years ago I had 5 sections of Rohn 25G, a hazer, mast, and house bracket shipped from Texas to Virginia, shipping was around $600.00 FedEx freight.  The tower I just ordered (U.S. Tower HDX572) shipping was over 2K.  I suppose in two years when you retire, things will not be any cheaper.  For everything except the foundation, I would just add everything up at their current prices, and then add 15%.  For the base, you are probably looking at close to 3K-4K, if you are going to pay someone to do all the digging/rebar/concrete work.
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KC7YRA
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« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2010, 06:32:13 PM »

Plan several hundred ($500 ish) for lightning protection and grounding.

Brad
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2010, 07:26:23 PM »

  The tower I just ordered (U.S. Tower HDX572) shipping was over 2K. 

Holy crap!  I'm so happy to be within driving distance of the plant.  My "shipping cost" for U.S. tower products is the cost of gas to make the 300 mile round-trip (about $40 or so), since I have a van and a flatbed trailer to tow behind it.

$2K is really a lot!
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K9KJM
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« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2010, 11:02:23 PM »

Costs to build a tower can vary wildly.   
I just finished putting up a guyed Rohn 25 at 100 feet for just under 1500 bucks.  BUT that was good used tower that I bought at a pretty low price, I already "had" the guy wire, Turnbuckles, Anchors and almost all grounding supplies here "in stock" from previous projects.
My major expense was for the concrete. As this tower was back in the woods where the big concrete truck could not get to, I hired a mason with a tracked skidsteer to pour the concrete. His labor, The skidsteer rental, And the concrete (4 yards) blew 750 bucks alone.
I (And my son) dug the holes, Cut the trees in the way, And built the tower. 
I did have to buy a few 1/2" X 8 foot heavy copperclad ground rods for the guy anchors, I did not want to use up all the 10' X 5/8" rods on this project that I have, So I just used those at the tower base. 1/2" X 8 foot rods now sell for just 7.50 at my local home supply store.
RustOLeum "Zinc Galvanize" to touch up the tower cost another 30 or so bucks. 

Check Popular Communications Magazine, April 2008 for tips on how to build a tower on a low budget, And the May 2009 issue for tips on how to do lightning protection on a low budget.

I installed torque arms on the top set of guys on this tower, Which really stiffens up the tower twist to be able to handle larger antennas. (Four sets of guys on this one)

I think the best bet is to plan out just what antenna loads you want to put on the tower, And work backwards from there.

A properly guyed Rohn 25G with torque arms will handle a small to medium size HF beam with no problems. For larger antennas, A 45G IS a good idea.

Dont forget you can sometimes find them good used if you shop around. Check with local two way radio dealers, etc.
While I had lots of the supplies here already, If you shop around it can be done for much less than full retail.
(1/4" EHS guy wire and the grips can usually be had from your local cable TV construction crew.)
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W5PUG
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« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2010, 10:01:46 AM »

To: K9KJM  ..outstanding advice.
I will probably be able to get deals on the backhoe work.  I can build my own rebar cage. 
As time gets closer, I'll start shopping and storing items, watching for sales.  I'll also try to find Rohn nearby, although I've yet to locate a Colorado dealer.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2010, 10:17:51 AM »

To: K9KJM  ..outstanding advice.
I will probably be able to get deals on the backhoe work.  I can build my own rebar cage. 
As time gets closer, I'll start shopping and storing items, watching for sales.  I'll also try to find Rohn nearby, although I've yet to locate a Colorado dealer.

I don't know stuff about Colorado; however you might try contacting Mike K6AER in Elizabeth, CO.  Mike has a bunch of Rohn tower (I think he just put up a tall 45G or 55G recently to supplement his other stuff) and has lived in the area for many years -- probably has some connections.
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W7ETA
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« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2010, 04:20:25 PM »

"I'll be over 60 by then, and while I have climbing gear, the wife says no."

That is a severe restraint on what towers you can select from, unless you have easy access to some one who can climb your tower.

You need access to the top of your tower and access to the rotator motor, especially if you want to change or add an antenna.

In your considerations should be a mast that will not bend; rotator that will handle more than you plan on putting up. and a tower that will handle more than you plan on putting up, from my point of view.

Many house lots are rectangular rather than square shaped.  For my 1 acre lot there was only 155 ft in width,  As it turned out that was perfect for my 67ft Rohn 45 fold over tower.

Have FUN with your planning
Bob
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W3DIY
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« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2010, 06:24:01 PM »

Try Craigslist.org. and enter ham radio tower. The entire US will appear but you may find one near your QTH. I have recently obtained 200' of Rohn 25G from 2 SK estates...30% of the price of new. Be patient, the deals are out there.


To: K9KJM  ..outstanding advice.
I will probably be able to get deals on the backhoe work.  I can build my own rebar cage. 
As time gets closer, I'll start shopping and storing items, watching for sales.  I'll also try to find Rohn nearby, although I've yet to locate a Colorado dealer.

I don't know stuff about Colorado; however you might try contacting Mike K6AER in Elizabeth, CO.  Mike has a bunch of Rohn tower (I think he just put up a tall 45G or 55G recently to supplement his other stuff) and has lived in the area for many years -- probably has some connections.
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W5PUG
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« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2010, 11:38:02 AM »

thanks for the K6EAR contact and for the craigslist suggestion. 

As to the issue of climbing, I haven't given up on the idea.  I was a rock climber for years until a few years ago.  Got the harness, biners and slings. 
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KB1NXE
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« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2010, 08:48:22 PM »

I just finished putting up 69' of Rohn 45G.  The tower was used, only needed paint (3 coats of Rustoleum Aluminum) and new bolts.  Here's how it broke down:

Tower 6 X 10' sections and 1 Top Rocket (used):  $570
Torque arms and mounts:  $175
Rotor shelves:  $150
Thrust Bearing:  $90
Paint:  2 Quarts - $30
Rotor (used T2X):  $350
Parts to bring Rotor up to shape and modernize the controller:  $260  (Idiom Press Rotor EZ, new pot, motor cap, cable, connectors)
Lightning Protection:  16 X Alpha Delta Transitraps @ $10 each (eBay for these), Ground Buss Bars 2 X $15, Copper Strap $180, copper wire (6 Ga) 350' $95, 16 X 8' 1/2" Ground Rods @ $7.50 each, split bolts to bond ground system together 16 X $6
Hardline to run up the tower: (1/2" Andrews) $1 per foot (eBay roll ends) and connectors 24 X $10 (eBay as well - these were new and in the box)
Rebar: 210 feet @ $.35 a foot
Pipe to bend rebar:  $10
Tie Wire:  $8
Concrete:  5 yards at $102 per yard delivered
Concrete Pump:  $500 fixed fee
Backhoe:  $100
60' Lift for a weekend:  $720
Mast:  $120 (used off a swap page on one of the popular Ham sites)
Misc Cables, Bolts and Connectors:  $150
Phillystrand, Big Grips, caps:  $820
Turnbuckles:  $80
Guy Anchors:  $75

So before any antennas I spent about $5900.  I did the rebar cage myself.  I also bought all the parts for my own Gin Pole.  That ran me $120 for the 12' aluminum pole and $250 for the clamp and pulley.  You may be able to borrow/rent this, or not need it at all.

Watch eBay for hardline.  Lots of 75' roll ends you can get for less than the price of LMR-400.  Also, do the same for hardline connectors.  I've had them shipped from as far away as Alaska.  One purchase of connectors was for $8 a connector.  Heck, 'N' connectors cost almost that much!  The Transitraps were a bargain.  I bought a bunch off a retiring LMR installer.  I paid $8 each for them with N connectors.

Renting the lift was the best investment and the single most expensive item.  The prices I've shown included shipping from wherever I purchased it. 

The Internet is your friend.  Look for the best prices.  Like the Turnbuckles.  They cost me 12 bucks each.  They came from a cargo and tie down company.  I think the sell mainly to truckers to secure loads.  These were 5/8" X 18" turnbuckles.

It took me 3 years to assemble all the pieces/parts.  If you're patient, you can do the same.

BTW, you can see a pic of the tower on my QRZ profile.  Good luck.

73 - Jim
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K6AER
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« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2010, 10:22:34 PM »

Call me. I do tower work in the Front Range and can give you some guidance.

Mike - K6AER
Elizabeth, CO
303 246-3518
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KB9CRY
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« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2010, 10:48:12 AM »

I just finished putting up 69' of Rohn 45G.  The tower was used, only needed paint (3 coats of Rustoleum Aluminum) and new bolts.  Here's how it broke down:



I was going to say the same thing.  Towers, combining both new and used purchases, are about $5,000 each.  That's also if you do some of the work yourself (dig holes, build rebar cages, pour concrete, etc).  Then you'll have the cables, rotator and antenna to add onto that.

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