Taking Down an Antenna Tower
Dropping a Tower
Safely Lowering an Antenna Tower
Taking down an old or damaged antenna tower can be a difficult job. If you can afford to hire a crane, do so, but if the tower isn't more than 25 or 30 feet you can safely lower the tower if you take some simple precautions.
Start by finding a pair of separated hard points on one side of the tower to tie your lowering ropes to. A post or tree or other solid attachment point gives you a place to hook up a come-along. If you don't know what that is, it's a hand winch with cable attached that allows you to tighten and loosen the cable by cranking a lever back and forth. Get one with enough cable to equal the height of the tower. If you don't have a large enough come-along to hold that much cable, you'll have to use temporary braces and reattach the come-alongs as you go. You don't want to do that. If you have a 40 foot tower, have a winch that will handle 40 feet of cable.
Once you've rigged up the lowering ropes and come-alongs, tie down the legs to a stake or hardpoint on the opposite side toward where the tower will fall. This way the legs don't slide toward the guys on the lowering ropes and hurt somebody when you lean the tower over. Now unbolt the legs from the base or cut them free with a metal cutting rig or torch. Leaving the guy wires in place prevents the tower from falling when the legs are cut.
Now, cut the guy wires on the same side as the lowering ropes and leave the guy wire attached on the side toward which the tower will fall. Begin letting out the come-alongs and let the tower begin to lean over. Work the come-alongs simultaneously if you have help or let out a few turns at a time on each side.
Lay the tower all the way down and then cut it free and haul it away.
A Note on Safety:
Do not skip steps or use less wire or fewer come-alongs than you need. A tower like that, however lightly constructed it may seem can do a lot of damage to you when it falls. During the last 45 degrees of lean, the stress on the come-alongs can get pretty fierce. You might consider using a scaffold or brace under the tower top to reduce the weight. Lower the come-alongs a few inches a time and the reset the brace. Putting a big log or something heavy directly below can help prevent the tower from crushing your foot if it drops on you. Better by far simply to stay out from under the tower when it's being lowered. If it falls it falls.
Also stay clear of the sides of the wires. If one parts suddenly, it can cut you up badly as it pops loose. That's why you want to make sure you use heavy enough wires to handle the load. As the angle between the wires and tower become narrower as it comes down, it puts a lot of pressure on those support wires.
Better to use too strong a wire and come-along than ones that are too light. Rent equipment heavy enough to more than carry the load. Or rent a crane. Cranes are good too.
Good luck with that bad boy!
Tom King - Flint, TX
© 2009 twayneking