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Author Topic: Shall I get a new or used beam?  (Read 3768 times)
VE4BLB
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Posts: 31




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« on: July 15, 2011, 11:21:12 AM »

I am a senior in a wheelchair. I have arranged for the tower and I am shopping for a small beam.
Since I cannot climb the tower for maintenance, should buy a used TA33M (reportedly in good shape) or spend almost four times as much on a new one?
73 de me BLB
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73 de me BLB
K2DC
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« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2011, 12:29:38 PM »

Depending on the condition, there's nothing wrong with a used beam.  Mosely still offers replacement parts for all of their products, and the TA-33M is in their current catalog.  Their web site says that everything is pre-drilled and color coded, so assembly should be easy.  If it doesn't come with a manual, they offer those as well.  I would inspect the traps closely to make sure they haven't been filled with water, bugs, etc.  I would also consider replacing all of the fastening hardware if it's in less than the best condition.

There is another trick I've used for a long time on fastening hardware that's worked very well.  Before putting nuts on bolts, I put a very thin coat of silicone grease on the threads.  When everything is tight, I coat it with clear Krylon acrylic paint.  Every time I do any maintenace on the beam, I overspray with Krylon.  My beam is 13 years old and all the fasteners still look new.

GL & 73,

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AB4ZT
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Posts: 172




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« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2011, 02:05:09 PM »

I have a decades old TA-33 that I got second hand and it works as intended.  If the used beam truly is in good shape there is nothing to be gained by buying new.

73,

Richard
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N1UK
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« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2011, 03:08:31 PM »

Just make sure that you get the right beam and all the right parts. A friend got a TA3JR and could not get it to work and it eventually turned out that it was a WARC band beam.


Mark N1UK

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W7VO
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« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2011, 04:08:07 PM »

I was GIVEN a 40 year old HyGain TH6DXX about 4 years go. I cleaned it up, replaced the rusted hardware with stainless, replaced the plastic bits, and now for about $50 I have a $700 antenna. It has been up in the air now for about 3 1/2 years without a problem.

I would not hesitate at all to buy a used "name brand" antenna. As said, parts are still readily available from Mosley, Hygain, etc.

73;

Mike, W7VO
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VE4BLB
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« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2011, 06:23:11 PM »

OK folks, I will have the traps and hardware inspected before committing. Now, the same person has two rotors for sale as well. A ham ll ana a Ham lll with a Ham lV control box.
What basically should I look for in a used rotor? Or should I just get it and send out for refurbishing?Huh?
73
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73 de me BLB
K2DC
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« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2011, 12:46:47 AM »

Bruce,

   The Ham III will ahndle a bit more wind load than the Ham II, but the TA33M is only 5.7 sq. ft. of wind load, so as long as the rotor is tower mounted either should have no problem handling it.  I would lean to the Ham III, simply because it's newer unless it appears to be in worse shape.  The Ham IV controller is fine with either.

   What to look for in a rotor?  Other than the general condition of the casing and hardware, that's a tough question unless you're prepared to open it up and do a close inspection of the motor and bearings.  I would consider having it refurbished.  I've used The Rotor Doctor in the past and was very pleased with the results:

http://www.rotor-doc.com/

Norm's Rotors also does similar work:

http://www.rotorservice.com/

If you can afford it, I would buy them both and have them both reworked.  That way if you have a problem, you will always have a hot spare on hand.  Which reminds me, my spare in the garage needs to go in.

GL & 73,

Don, K2DC
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AA4PB
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« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2011, 04:54:13 AM »

Or should I just get it and send out for refurbishing?Huh?

In your situation I'd recommend getting it refurbished unless the seller has done that recently. The biggest problem with those rotors is the direction POT getting worn and intermittent connections causing the meter to jump around. You could check for that on the bench by hooking it up and operating it while twisting the housing with your hand.

You might also want to check the prices for a referbished rotor from the shop.
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N0HR
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« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2011, 06:44:01 AM »

I have a decades old TA-33 that I got second hand and it works as intended.  If the used beam truly is in good shape there is nothing to be gained by buying new.

73,

Richard

Ahhh - I love a good unintended pun.

 Wink

73
Pat N0HR
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KA5N
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« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2011, 12:30:59 PM »

I think you miss a lot if your beam doesn't cover 17 meters  and a beam that covers
20,17,15,12 and 10 is a lot better.  So I would favor the 5 band Hex (I have one and it does a excellent job on all 5 bands and weighs only 25 lbs.)  Delivery is quick from either
KIO Technology or DX Engineering.  Leo K4KIO's version is easy to assemble as all the measuring etc. is already done and assembly only takes an hour or two.  The DX Engineering version requires a bit of measuring and cutting.  Results seem to be about equal and the prices are similar.
As for a new or used Mosley, the Moslys are built tough and hold up well.  If you order a new one you generally will have a long wait as Mosley makes a lot of antennas for the overnment and they are first in line. 
You pays your money and takes your choice.
Allen
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AB5Q
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Posts: 202




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« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2011, 02:12:44 PM »

In my opinion the best all around low maintenance, well performing antenna is the Tennadyne or KMA log periodic. A Tennadyne T6 would be a good choice no traps, coils or UV sensitive components to deal with. Although a quads perform well, they do require a certain amount of maintenance depending on your climate.Since you indicate that you're ability to get around is difficult I'd recommend purchasing a new antenna. Although there's nothing wrong with used antennas, the refurbishing process requires a reasonable amount of mobility.  I've refurbished antennas of all flavors, the process can be time consuming and challenging depending on the condition of the antenna. 

73,
John - AB5Q
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NJ3U
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Posts: 123




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« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2011, 06:43:46 PM »

I would definitely buy used Mosley antennas,I did and what a great value.  Essentially 50% of the cost and Gary from Mosley was excellent with support and spare parts.

Check out my photopage to see the used antenna refurbishment process I did for my Mosley Ta33jr.  It worked like a champ during this years field day and will be on the garage roof inthe next weeks.

http://tinyurl.com/43kpspw
« Last Edit: July 19, 2011, 05:53:21 AM by KC2UML » Logged
KD5FX
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Posts: 39




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« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2011, 06:54:16 PM »

My first HF beam was a TA-33M that was at least 15 years old, I kept it up for another 20+ years! It survived many Oklahoma wind and ice storms. I had to fix a couple of minor things here and there along those years but nothing major and all the parts are still available from Mosley. If you can get it cheap enough (under $300) then that is a good plan.
On the other hand, I also had a 5 band hex beam which I build myself. I had that after the TA-33 when I moved to another house. It was a very nice beam also, smaller but about the same performance with the extra 2 bands. Cost was around $500 to build it myself and they are over $600 for a kit now. I don't think you'll find a used one on the market for cheap so that would be in the favor of a cheaper used TA-33M.
Either way, both are good antennas and will perform very well for you. Get them up as high as you can afford! Use some low-loss coax too.
73, Dave
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WA8UEG
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« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2011, 05:15:31 AM »

While the technology for rigs has changed dramatically over the years antennas have changed little, if any, since the 50’s. Our choice in antenna’s today remain the same as decades ago; mono band beams, multi band beams, quads, verticals, dipoles, trap dipoles, G5RV (designed and first used in 1946). But wait you say, what about the SteppIR now that’s new technology! Welllll not really just an old concept with new technology. Back in the 50’s New Tronics (Hustler) manufactured an antenna called the cliff dweller, it was a 80/40 meter ratable dipole the idea being the same as the SteppIR that is a multi band antenna with mono band performance. The way it worked was like this: there was a control box located in the shack that had a band switch for 80 & 40 meters, another switch on the control box was connected to a motor at the antenna end that would extend or retract the element. You could switch from 40 CW to 80 SSB then extend the element until a 1:1 swr was achieved, no traps were used. Sound familiar??

Today a new 3 element tri band beam cost’s around $600.00 a new trap vertical costs around $400.00 and that’s without taxes and shipping. Scouring through the classifieds on Eham, QRZ & Ebay over the past few weeks beams and verticals can be found used for a fraction of the price, heck I found TH6DXX (6 element tribander) KLM’s, M2’s, TA34’s, Force 12’s all for less then half the cost of a new 3 element tri band beam. Same was true with verticals. With a little TLC a used beam or vertical can be made to last and perform as well or better then a new one.

The bad news is that if the antenna is 20 or so years old the insulators, element stand offs and other plastic or molded parts may be in need of repair or replacement along with the hardware. The good news is that most, if not all, of the parts are still available or are easy to repair or homebrew a replacement. It’s a very simple process to refurbish an old antenna and save a lot of money. First inspect the inside of the traps and clean if necessary, next repair or replace any parts that are showing signs of fatigue or aging and finally use some Never Dull on the boom and elements to make them look like new again. When putting the beam back together replace all the hardware with stainless steel and use Penetrox or equivalent when assembling the elements, the same process is used for a vertical. My TA33 was bought in the early 60’s and I did replace some of the molded parts as well as replacing the hardware with stainless steel and it looked and performed better then new 50 years later when I sold it. The Hy-Quad I now use was acquired by getting pieces and parts from WTB ads placed on QRZ and from finding parts in barns (N8BHL’s to be exact) and is way better then when it was new, I figure a savings of at least $900 compared to a new quad of equal performance and durability.

Refurbishing an antenna is a simple project that can be successfully accomplished by even the newest ham and can give you a great deal of satisfaction as well as saving a pot full of money while not comprising performance one bit. Of course as with buying anything used take your time choosing and carefully inspect or have a great deal of confidence in the seller before handing over your money.

A used antenna can be refurbished even from a wheelchair and might be a great project.

You can view some pictures of the quad being refurbished by going to my homepage on QRZ and following the link.

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KA7NIQ
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« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2011, 07:17:30 PM »

I agree that much money can be saved by buying a used triband beam, but be careful. I have a used Cushcraft A3 I just bought, and the traps are not marked anymore! They once had a decal on them, but it has worn off. I must use a grid dip meter to figure out what is what.
Cushcraft is long gone as far as service goes, since MFJ bought them, and so is Hy Gain.
If you must buy used, consider Mosley instead, as far as current support goes ?
 
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