View Full Version : Looking for advice.
03-27-2010, 01:57 PM
Hi everyone, looking for a little advice here and was hoping the many years of varied experience here could help me out. Here is the problem. I am responsible for a small Line crew here in Newfoundland. One of our many responsibilities is to climb a very odd structure, a 6" in diameter 80' aluminum pole. Without getting into too much detail, it is part of a huge communications system that includes 110' wooden stepped poles and various antennas. The majority of the antennas and poles are quite simple to climb but the aluminum poles are a pain in the ass to say the least. Like I said, they are approx 80' high, 6" in diameter and they have fiberglass stand offs every 8' or so. Over the past 20 years or so many things have been attempted to ascend these things. The Book (Written in the the 50's) suggest a cinch/slip knot of some sort and the Safety Rep is not so keen on that. We have also used a 4' aluminum ladder with 2 hooks at the end. We would simply reach up and hook it over the stand off and climb up and stand on the stand off and reach down grab the ladder and carry on up the pole. The problem is the stand offs are not meant to be stepped on and will break. We also devised a split clamp with a step welded on that wraps around the pole with rubber on the inside. Simply put the clamp on tighten it down and up you go. The problem with that is the last time we went up one of the guys was at the top and the glue holding the clamp gave away. He slipped down to the next clamp and that one too started to give way. I climbed up underneath him and helped get him down. He was belted in the whole time and only slipped down to the first stand off but he had nothing left to stand on and was just hung up with no where to go. I will attempt to post picks of what we have made up so far and a pic of the structure. I have also spoken with our construction and engineering team and they estimate it would cost between 20 - 40k to get an approved engineering design step made. The cost for this is extraordinary and I am looking for other options. The obvious answer is to use a boom truck, the issue with that is the whole system works on a large ground screen that is only covered with crushed rock. We can only drive an atv in the area.
The question is this, can anyone think of a item on the market that I could simply buy? I know, hard question but it is a shot in the dark hopefully someone has an idea. Thanks. Ask away with the questions, i will try and clarify.
03-27-2010, 07:15 PM
Is not in a place that you can use a bucket?
03-27-2010, 07:19 PM
Can you change it out to wood?
03-27-2010, 08:02 PM
Even if it is off road, a used track bucket with 110 foot reach can be had for about $65,000 bucks. If its on the road it'll be even cheaper.
03-27-2010, 09:43 PM
If you really cant get any kind of equipment to em I would maybe consider drilling a hole thru em and using an all thread bolt with nuts on both sides of the pole. This would be time consuming but once a pole was fitted with these homade steps it would never again be a problem to climb. Just a thought and may not be acceptable with the top brass.
03-28-2010, 09:00 AM
drilling through the pole is not something that I had considered as it would dame the integrity of the pole. At the 80' level the thing leans well of vertical as it is. Driving on the area with something bigger than a quad is out of the question. It would damage the ground screen. The whole system is linked to together to form a huge antenna system that works off the ground screen. When we have to change out the 100' sticks we bring in a crane and put down 2 x 8 boards and plywood for it to crawl on. We cannot do that for the 80' poles as they are in the middle of the system and all the guys are in the way. I will try and post picks tomorrow.
03-28-2010, 09:19 AM
Maybe drilling would affect the integrity of the pole, why not hire a welder to attach steps. I can't believe MIG welding steps to that pole would be costly nor would it affect the integrity of the pole.
I've never seen anything out there on the market that could help your situation. Unless you can train a monkey to do the job.
03-28-2010, 10:22 AM
type climbing would work.
As I mentioned before Ray Keppler of AB Chance had some of this gear that he had collected on his travels. Maybe try and contact him and he could instruct you on how to make some.
It's been 30 years plus since I've seen the stuff. We got it out and tried it. Takes some practice to do it well but Ray seemed adept at it.
It was shop made stuff and he said he used it while doing demos. in Guatemala or somewhere down there as that's what the natives used.
It (as best I recall), consisted of two small hammock devices made of tow with a loop of rope on each one. You choked the ropes around the pole and sat in the hammock devices. You pushed out with your toes and as you leaned forward you moved each rope alternately up the pole by turn until you reached your work location. Then one was manuvered into a position where you could stand in the hammock part with your feet and the other placed where you could lean back in it like a belt. You could climb a bare wood pole or steel pole with it. I'm sure safety people would have a stroke over it but I imagine you could use a fall device with it. It's really pretty simple. I had a guy tell me he had climbed substation steel with a similar technique.
There's a guy on here who still works at Chance and knows Keppler and probably could tell you how to contact him.
Also those clamp around climbers used in europe and elsewhere might work.
03-28-2010, 10:36 AM
Junior Member Join Date: May 2006
You are right, Ray did retire about 4 years ago. He and I have worked together since he started with CHANCE in about 1973 or so. He was a Product Demonstrator and I work in HLT Product Engineering. Hope I can retire in a couple more years.
Ray traveled all over the world and has pulled his trailer more than a million miles (documented) for us.
He did some consulting work but the economy caught up with him I think.
He still lives here in Centralia and has built a "summer home" a few miles north of here near Mark Twain Lake. Spends most of his time doing wood work and fishing (lying?). I talked with him yesterday and we was cutting firewood. Must be nice.
We have two great demonstrators on the road now that are every bit as good, and we are looking for another.
03-28-2010, 04:43 PM
Well short of building a scaffold at every pole I have no clue how to help ya, Doesnt sound like much planning went into building this mess.
03-28-2010, 09:57 PM
I am not sure if there is anything like this around but I very vaguely can remember a climber that straps to the bottom of your foot and out the front is a "C" clamp that as you go up wedges itself on the pole/structure. So on an 8" pole if the distance between the top and bottom of the "C" would be just over 8"s, you slide it in level then step down with you foot and it creates the wedge. Your own body weight is what keeps you there. For some reason I am thinking it is called a European Climber..... but I was not able to find anything online by searching it real fast. Maybe this will jog someone's memory and know what I am talking about.
03-28-2010, 10:01 PM
This is not exactly what I was thinking about but it will give you an idea what I mean. Here is a patent from 1981 on a climber that might work with pictures at the bottom of it:
03-28-2010, 10:54 PM
called Scandinavian Climbers. You can google them and it'll show you a picture. I don't know how to post the picture etc.
03-29-2010, 10:48 AM
Lets try this, this is the pole in question. We take a ladder to the 40' level and then have to shimmy the rest of the way. We designed some steps but the process to get them APPROVED by the safety clowns is very expensive.
I will try and add more pics.
03-29-2010, 12:03 PM
You need to rig those poles with a pulley at the top like a mast on a sail boat, then a Bosons chair or harness and a couple of tugs and you would be up there in no time. What the heck is up there to work on?. . I'm curious now
I like the steps you rigged those look pretty good from here.
03-29-2010, 01:18 PM
Not much to work on up there really. The copper down leads go right up to the top and bust on occasion due to wind, ice, etc and have to be changed out. Also the guys are made from fivberglass rope we call it Glasstrand rope. We are switching it all out to a more modern rope material. Name is is slipping my mind right now. We are talking about 80 of these antennas with 2 set of guys each so by the time we switch it all out it is time to start all over again. Plenty of reason to climb these bad boys. It is easy work once you actually get up there.
03-29-2010, 09:15 PM
to me like you have it under control.
03-30-2010, 12:15 AM
Spend the money to get them approved then sell a patent to the company that builds the towers, might break even or maybe even make some money......
04-02-2010, 12:03 AM
I take it the antena array is off/dead when ya have to climb them...why not 'Dope on a Rope' slung under a chopper................
or as mentioned...rig em with rope and use prussic knot ropes or rope ascenders..jumars, I think they are called, used in mountain climbing.....
04-03-2010, 06:04 PM
Chopper would be awesome but I do not see it happening. To dangerous, variable heights of antennas and guy wire everywhere. I like the Mountain climbing idea however, maybe I could convince them to sign off on the mountain gear and simply say the steps are foot rests?
04-09-2010, 09:13 PM
place a rope at the top of all of them and have a tree climber show you how to tie a taught-line hitch to get up there. it then will be very easy to get down and just inspect the rope or change it out when it gets bad. how ever it will take some skill to get used to (park and ride) with a taught line hitch to get up those poles but it is very safe.
04-15-2010, 08:26 PM
Never use rope for use in fall protection if it is going to be left over night.
You've all heard a rope hitting a flag polein the wind (sometimes without wind), the only reason it doesn't get cut into 3 foot lengths and fall to the ground is because the pole has no steps and is otherwise smooth.
From the picture of this tower it's anything but a smooth tower.
What your company should purchase is a stainless steel aircraft cable (probably 3/8") lifeline system with the proper standoff brackets so that the harmonics don't cause it to chaffe.
This system would go from top to bottom and you put your grab onto the cable before you leave the ground. Once you arrive at your work position you use your lineman's belt to belt in. It's the same as free climbing.
This system has to be engineered and will last the life of the tower.
Check the web for these systems. DBI Sala has a good one and so do others.
The Old Lineman
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