Certainly a candidate for
the project from HELL.
January 2006 consulting engineer Jim Stitt called AGSC and asked the
age old question, "How quick can you build a ground system?".
It seems that WCIN had filed bankruptcy for $955K and had been
handed over to receivers... With only weeks left to finish building
a 5 tower array.
say the bank and other debt holders were a bit stressed. The
station had been operating ND under an STA for (reportedly) 10
years. The CP had been issued over 10 years earlier. The
new FCC policy of issuing CP's for 3 years nonrenewable had finally
forced the station to get serious about getting the new TX site
built. Sadly they had apparently wasted over a million dollars
somewhere along the way and decided to call it quits. The
towers had been up for about 10 years but had been built such that
the base insulators were partially underground. A ground system
had been built at the same time but was promptly stolen (or maybe
never installed). Someone had gotten the great idea that high
tensile galvanized steel horse fence wire was metal so it would
work... Yea, Right... There was miles of this horrible
stiff steel wire stretched across the site. It was rusty and
at most of the towers was connected via rusty U-bolt clamps.
Someone had actually Cadwelded some of the steel wire to existing
copper wire at the tower bases. The transmitter building was a
RENTED shipping container. Between the time that Jim Stitt
asked AGSC to get involved with the project and when we arrived, a
bad feed line and worse was located.
We signed a
contract with the receivers and quickly got down to work.
February is not exactly the favored time to be building a ground
system in Cincinnati, Ohio. Weather was terrible. It
snowed almost every day. Finally the temp dropped to 16
degrees and we yelled UNCLE. We came back home for a week and
returned after the weather improved. This is one of the few
projects that we have ever had to leave before the project was
complete. It just didn't make sense to stay around for a week
waiting for the ground to thaw. We returned and finished the
project only a couple of days past our projected completion date.
one of those projects that was totally ruled by old Murphy.
Weather, tower locations problems, tower accident, site problems,
bad feed lines, crooked contractors, you name it.
It was anywhere from 60 to 16 degrees. Sunny to snowy.
Rain showers to dusty. All in the space of 2 weeks.
location... The FCC specifies that all array azimuths be
referenced to TRUE north. Whoever originally laid out the
array did so referenced to MAGNETIC north. In some areas of
the country the difference between TRUE and MAGNETIC north (Magnetic
Deviation) is negligible. In other areas it must be
calculated and may be as much as 20 degrees. In Cincinnati, MD
is around 4 degrees. Some of the tower locations in the wide
spaced array was over 50 ft from the true north location specified
in the CP. The array had to be rotated around a ND tower to
correct the 4 degree error. As you might suspect, the feed
lines to the misplaced towers required replacement (good thing but
more on that below).
accident... While moving a tower, a tower crew not affiliated with
AGSC, incorrectly installed a guy insulator and caused a 40ft
section of tower to fall. With a tower worker strapped to the
top. He was in critical conditions but as far as we know has
survived and will recover.
problems... Whoever laid out the site, just stopped the
radials at a waterway/ditch around the south and west side of the
site. This limited the ground system dramatically in those
directions. It was determined that the needed area would be
cleared. After we arrived at the site. The clearing was
eventually done and ended up making a pretty nice site. The
site was built on an an area of dirty fill left from the
construction of the Ronald Regan Cross County Highway. There
was areas of decent soil. There were areas that were under
water. There were areas of solid rock. Areas with HUGE
chunks of concrete. Pieces of steel. You name it.
line... Just before we arrived a bad feed line was located.
Jim (with the help of a great track hoe operator, Shawn) had dug out
the cable pit to expose the buried excess cable. We located
the bad line. Someone had SPLICED one of the lines
UNDERGROUND. It of course was full of water. We also
noticed that most of the buried cables had suspicious orange and
white paint on them. Someone had employed USED cables for the
array. The ATU's were home made and were built in Mil surplus
weatherproof 19 inch rack cabinets. We ended up having to excavate
and install the new feed lines with the help of Shawn on the mini
contractors... A local excavation contractor bid on clearing
the site and doing other work. He apparently was already in
financial trouble and then quoted the job at about 25% of what it
required and was soon in deep deep financial trouble. Shawn
was working for this contractor and either didn't get paid or
received bad checks for payroll for 3 weeks straight. Shawn
came out to the site to tell us that he had just left the
contractors office without pay again and was going home. I
(and a couple of my crew as well) am reasonably proficient with a
track hoe. We had a lot of other work to be doing without
spending time digging trenches. I ended up subcontracting
Shawn directly to dig the new cable trenches and as well as a number
of other excavating chores. He is a great operator and became
a good friend.
to adapt amazes me sometimes.
wonder where the million(+) bucks went...
be posted later...