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write your own review of the Universal Tower 9-30.
Oct 12, 2011 09:54
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9-30 aluminum tower
Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I just finished installing a Universal Towers 9-30 aluminum tower. The tower is free standing and folds over and has an optional 5' mast at the top. The base section has 18 inch sides, the middle section has 14 inch side and the top section has 11 inch sides. The construction and welding are of excellent quality.
I chose this fold over tower because it had a 9 square foot wind load and I wouldn't have to climb it. I mounted a Diamond X50-A dual band 2M/70cm vertical antenna at the top of the mast and a smallish TV antenna about 4 feet below the top of the mast.
I ordered the tower from Amateur Electronic Supply Milwaukee. AES is just a dealer and passed the order on to Universal. The lead time from order to delivery was about 2.5 weeks. The tower arrived on a semi. The sections were nestled together and the whole package weighed about 65 pounds. Shipping was quite reasonable, $160, from Michigan.
Excavation of the required 3'x3'x4' hole was done by hand by me and a buddy. I live in Iowa so after 1 foot of dirt we had to dig out 3 feet of clay. It took the two of us 2.5 hours to dig the hole. Again, being Iowa it started raining when I picked up the shovel and stopped raining when the last load of clay was dumped out of the wheel barrow.
Universal provided three steel legs to set in the concrete base. Each leg is numbered and is to be set in a specific pattern. The screw holes on the base legs didn't quite match up with the holes in the bottom section of tower. Much cursing and a large mallet later, everything was connected. I set the base/bottom tower section into the hole and it immediately sank into the clay. Universal's drawing showed the base legs resting on the bottom of the hole with the bottom of the hinges 1 inch above the top of the concrete. I had to rig some 2x4 cross supports to lift the tower up so the hinges would be at the right height, but this left the legs unsupported at the bottom of the hole. I used zip ties to attach an inexpensive small level on each side of the bottom tower section and set temporary guy lines using tent stakes and para cord.
The concrete plant 4 blocks south of my house delivered 1.5 yards of concrete for just under $150. A heck of a deal. The truck was able to back into the yard allowing me to make a continuous pour. Unfortunately, because the bottom of the base legs were not fixed in the hole the mass of the concrete hitting them caused a slight shift of the base/bottom tower section. No matter what I tried I was unable to get the assembly fully centered in the concrete. After awhile I gave up trying to move it sideways and concentrated on making sure everything was level.
I waited 16 days from the day the concrete was poured to have a tower party. I attached the mast to the top section and ran into another problem. There were threaded screw points welded into the top tower section but there were no holes in the mast. I wanted more support for the mast than just lateral pressure from two screws. I drilled two holes through the mast that would line up with the screw points in the top section. But the supplied hex lag bolts were too short to pass all the way through the mast. The only hex lag bolts I could find were not threaded the full length of the bolt. I ended up using a carriage bolt on the bottom hole, passing the screw all the way through the mast to the other side of the top tower section. For the top screw I used the supplied bolt and tightened it down hard to keep the mast from flapping around. I also added a nut on each screw, tightened against the screw point to keep everything locked in place.
Some ham buddies came over and helped me connect the sections and set the tower up. We had a difficult time connecting the top and middle sections of tower. I sprayed the joints with white lithium grease to act as a lubricant and anti-oxidant but that didn't really help the alignment. Much grunting and threats of violence finally got one set of holes to line up. Once the first bolt was set the other two were fairly easy. I removed the four bolts necessary to fold over the bottom tower section. Attaching the top/middle tower sections to the base was easy since it was set in concrete. We then attached the coax to the antennas and ran it down the in side of the tower zip tying about every foot. We walked the tower up easily and I secured the four bolts. Then we discovered that the TV antenna wasn't unfolded all the way. The bolts came back out, we unfolded the tower, fixed the TV antenna, and set the tower back up.
Universal does not have a grounding kit for this antenna. I connected my copper ground wires to lugs and put them on the bolts that hold the base to the bottom section of tower. There was plenty of threads left for two washers and a nut.
All things considered I would buy another Universal tower. Knowing what I know now I would secure the base legs so they wouldn't move during the concrete pour. I would hire out the excavation (my back still hurts). I would connect the sections in order of base, middle, top for maximum leverage. I would probably do what I did for securing the mast. I think Universal intended a mast to be attached through a thrust bearing and a rotor, not fixed. Now I just have to talk my wife into another tower for an HF beam.
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