[AMRadio] Fatal Accident at W0ZUS

Donald Chester k4kyv at charter.net
Tue Aug 5 11:30:13 EDT 2014

Readers may remember the auction a couple of years ago at the estate of
Dewey, W0ZUS, in which loads of parts and equipment, including numerous
kilowatt size homebrew and converted broadcast transmitters went for pennies
on the dollar, largely because of the remote  location near Rapid City SD,
too far away for most of us to attend.

Gary Peterson, K0CX, reports that a person was killed in a tower accident at
Dewey's QTH. He was taking down Dewey's 120 ft. 160m vertical when it went
over with him and another fellow belted on. He was an experienced climber
who had done tower work for his employer for many years. Apparently, he
overestimated the strength of the powerline-type base insulators; the
remaining 30 ft. of tower went over when the last set of guys was removed.

This makes Dewey's passing a double tragedy. I can't imagine how Dewey's
widow must feel, nor the lawsuits his estate is likely to face.

Not to speak ill of the dead,  but there was no excuse for that accident.
Sounds like Dewey had three insulators, one in each leg of the tower near
the base. Personally, I would never use that type of base insulator,
although this is a common method hams use to put up a tower for a vertical.
A single insulator on a pivoting base, like the ones used in broadcast
service, is much to be preferred. Rohn used to sell three-legged insulators
for the 25G and 45G, but they were very specific in NOT recommending this
type of insulator for an AM type vertical. But  regardless, I can't conceive
of an experienced tower worker removing the last set of guys while belted to
a tower like that, without first securing temporary guys immediately under
each of the last sections before that section was removed. Of course, with a
single pivoting type base insulator, temporary guys is a given, because
otherwise there would be nothing to hold the tower up until the rest could
be dismantled, and this kind of accident would have never happened. Without
guys, a 3-legged insulator configuration wouldn't have much more holding
strength than a standard pivoting type insulator to keep the tower vertical.

This person may have been an experienced CLIMBER, but I suspect he had zero
experience erecting and dismantling towers. 

This proves another point, that there is little reason to be fearful of
climbing a tall tower, 100 ft. or more, as long as one is physically fit,
equipped with proper safety gear, and the tower structure is secure. You're
just as dead after falling 30 feet as from 150 feet. Just because you are
only climbing 20 or 30 ft. up on a tower is no reason not to take the same
safety precautions as you would climbing all the way to the top.

Don k4kyv

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