Tower Removal

The long awaited last of the spring chapters, Tower removal!

Saturday March 26 – While the Mountain was busy, you likely would not have noticed the crews pre-cutting all the tower bases and removing the communications line (comm line). These towers were installed back in 1978 by digging the foundation hole and setting the tower at length into an alignment plate at the base of the hole. Then concrete poured into the excavation, at the very top a form was used to create a collar to soil grade level. This photo from what I am guessing is the summer of 1978 soon after tower 1 was poured, notice the front of Cuzzins and the big boulder in front.

Because of this install method our only logical choice was to cut the tower tubes just above the concrete line. The pre-cutting left a 6″ tab or uncut section on the downhill side and two 4″ tabs uphill or in thirds. This allowed a short cut when we arrived to actually drop the tower, leafing the downhill 6” section of steel to act as a hinge when we lower the tower.

Here Chris Burke is cutting tower 4 in preparation.

Affectionately called “Fred”, our 1986 LMC is outfitted with oxygen/acetylene cutting tanks for the job.

Meanwhile the Electrical staff began the task of removing the 7000’ of Comm. Line. This bundle of wires is the communication from top to bottom as well as communication to every tower safety switch. When installed, the comm. line with its steel support cable is pulled tight with roughly 1500lbs of tension. Cutting the comm. line from atop the tower, the tension is released rapidly making for a exciting ride atop a 40’ tower. Hank, our lead electrical guy took on the bulk of the task.

The climb is a good workout alone.

Handling the heavy ratcheting cable cutter is another bear of a job.

On Sunday Bemis Line Construction out of Jacksonville brought in a Digger Derrick machine, basically a small crane on tracks. We wanted to run a test on a few towers at the base of the mountain prior to towing the rig all the way to the summit. With a background of Reggae Music from Cuzzin’s deck we set up and removed Towers 2 through 4 and all went just as planned. First set the crane in position and secure the tower, then cut the remaining tabs of steel on the uphill side. With a snow cat on the downhill connected by rope, a gentle tug gets the tower headed in the right direction and the crane slowly lowers the tower. Sheave trains are then removed to an awaiting snow cat and trailer. The top of the tower is secured to the forks of the cat and towed backwards downhill. Averaging 10 a day or better this job would be complete in just under 2 and a half days without a hitch.

Chris sets the lifting slings in position.

Elia secures the tower head to the forks on his cat and skids the tower off to storage.

The towers all look a little less ominous lined up on the snow.

The last tower drops on Wednesday morning March 30, Dennis in the foreground.

For now the major work is done for now until the snow melts. In the next few weeks we will prep the chairs for shipping and complete disassembly of the towers.

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