Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Trip up north.

     I just returned from another trip on the road that took me up to Minnesota, down to Ohio, and ended in Illinois. Seven of us went to Minnesota to install a brand new lighting system on a 550' tower. It took us three days to get the job done, one of which I spent fourteen hours on the tower. After the job was completed, Jake and myself stayed up north to continue doing service to other towers in the area. Since the majority of our jobs were night jobs we had time to go play. That gave us a day to play in Minneapolis, so we spent a few hours at the Mall of America (which is huuugggeee!!!). We went from Minneapolis to Madison, Wisconsin. The job in Wisconsin took us all of five minutes to plug in a battery. We then hit the road traveling towards Cincinnati. On the way to Cincinnati we stopped and spent a few hours in Chicago! I had never been to Chicago and can't wait to return. We divided the drive to Cincinnati into two days because all we had to do is a night climb on a 1,000' self support tower. We drove up to Dayton the day after our climb. We had two climbs while we were in Dayton, one was about a 600-700' climb we did the afternoon we arrived, and the other was a 1,200' night climb, which was the scariest climb I had ever done. When we finished in Dayton we headed over to Evansville Indiana to meet Johnie and install eight new lights on a smoke stack at a power plant. The install took us two days. From there Johnie and I went to Springfield, Illinois for four days worth of work on two different towers. Both towers were 1,200' and I had to climb to the top of the first one two nights in a row, and climbed to the top of the second only once. From there we finally headed home.
      All in all I was out for 18 days. One week I ended up clocking just under 80 hours. I climbed above 1,000' six times, and was scared for my life only once. I got to visit Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ohio all of which I had never been to, as well as six new cities; Minneapolis, Madison Wisconsin, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dayton, and Springfield Illinois
     Now about that being scared to death. So while we were in Dayton Ohio we had to fix a light on the fourth tier of the tower. The tower is about 1,200' tall and the fourth tier is right under the antenna on the top. When we arrived at the tower we could hear the wind roaring through the top of the tower.It sounded like a jet was flying over head! When I started climbing I stopped about 50' off the ground and while I am hanging in my harness I can feel the tower lurching and shaking. At this point I have been on several towers in some pretty intense wind but I have never felt one shaking while I was so close to the ground. We decided to go ahead and as we started climbing we could feel the wind getting stronger every 50' or so. at about 900' we were experiencing continuous wind between 30-40 mph with gusts reaching 50+ mph! I could actually stand on the rung of the ladder, pull myself into the ladder, let go and the wind would hold me against the ladder! I had only heard stories about wind that strong on a tower. When we reached the top of the tower, we could actually feel the tower swaying and as we looked at the tower beside us we could tell that the tower we were on was swaying about four to six feet! We fixed the light and promptly got off the tower. When we reached the ground the engineer in charge of the tower told us that his company had not wanted to fork out the money to have the tower properly maintained. He said the guy wires had not been tensioned since he started back in '98... The guy wires are supposed to be tensioned every two years!! That is one tower I will not ever climb again if the wind is blowing at all!
     Enjoy the photos below!  The first is from Iowa, and they go in order to the last day in Illinois.

Somewhere in Iowa. I love the texture and color the fields provide.

The following 5 images are from the install in Minnesota. 
This is the tower we installed new lights on. Note the FM antenna at the very top, all the other smaller antennas are cell phone antenna's which make the tower a pain to climb. Also notice the change in color of the top guy wires, the last hundred feet of the guy wires are actually fiberglass so that they don't interfere with the radio signal. The two lines at the top of the picture are the rigging lines we used to pull everything up to the top of the tower.

Jake's shadow from 300' up.

Jake wiring a junction box. We are only about 300' up here.

The guys at the end of our first day of the install.

It looks like the clouds are getting ready to attack the tower.

You never know what you will find at a tower site! Some tower site in Wisconsin.

Jake working on a light with the Cincinnati lights in the background.

Cincinnati from the top of a 1,000' tower.

Looking up through the center of a self support tower.

1,000' self support in Cincinnati. These towers have three legs and at the base the legs are about 150' apart and the legs at the top are only about 4' from each other.

The most scared I have ever been on a tower happened while on the tower to the right. Notice the candelabra on the top of the left tower.

A little closer look at the candelabra. It's kind of hard to really see the third leg on the right side, and notice the bright orange digital antenna on the left leg.

The inside of a smoke stack. Believe it or not it is quite dirty in there!! Yeah, I would never have thought that either!

Looking down from the top. The white at the bottom is actually only half way down. It is concrete that is about four feet thick that is there to keep the actual smoke flu or chamber stable and in the center of the outer ring. Note the ladder on the left side, it is fully enclosed although you could still fall about thirty feet to the next landing.

Finished up with a beautiful sunset about an hour outside of Springfield Illinois!

I hope you have enjoyed. I am currently in San Antonio Texas and will bring you more of my life next time I return home.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Photos from my first three weeks out.

So on my first trip out I flew to Dallas and picked up the company van that was left at the airport from the crew that was out a week before. We promptly drove to Louisiana. Then over the next week and a half we bounced around from different locations in Louisiana back to Texas, to Mississippi, and eventually up to Indiana for one day then home for the night. We promptly left again the following afternoon back to Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana. I have been taking photos the entire time, and now I am going to share some of them with you. I will try to explain what I am doing, why I liked the photo, and where I am at. Enjoy!

In the picture below I am at the top of the first antenna I climbed. The antenna is a digital television antenna on top of a 1,300 foot tower. The pegs are all fiberglass so that there is not a lot of metal interfering with the signal. You can see my shock absorbing lanyard (the red lanyard with the big hook) in the image. I took the photo to give some perspective of the heights that we work at.

The next two images are both from Texas and actually within just a couple of miles of each other. The tractor was sitting right next to a 2,000 foot tower that we had to service, and I loved the image just because of the simplicity, and the different textures provided by the field.

I like the image of the tree because of how lonely it looks on the edge of this barren field yet it is thriving, I also like that there is another 2,000 foot tower in the background to give some dimension and scale.

This is Johnie rappelling off the side of a tower we were working on. I love this image because of all the details. I captured him swinging out, kicking his legs as he swings back to the tower, I love that having him in the image gives some perspective on the size of some of the towers, and I love all the lines that are in the image created by the rope, and the tower itself.

This image was taken of a 900 foot tower in Shaw Mississippi. We arrived at the site and there was a strong wind so we decided not to climb and we were able to reschedule for the following morning. I used a 30 second exposure to capture this image which was enough to capture the ambient light on the tower, the strobes, and the stars. The clouds were moving fast enough that there is a little motion blur to them.

This is the same tower as above. That is Jake replacing a transformer and wiring harness that burned up. We were working on one of the lights on the very top of the tower, so for this image I actually sat on top of the tower and used my 16-35mm lens to capture the image.

This is a candelabra. A candelabra is used so that more antennas can be placed on top of a tower to position them farther from each other. Three antennas can be stacked on top of each other. The candelabra shown has 6 different antennas on it currently. Three sets of two antennas. I have not had the chance to climb an antenna like this one on a candelabra but I have gotten to climb a double stacked antenna on top of a tower with a T, which is like the candelabra pictured except it only has two legs extending away from the tower. Kind of scary none the less.
This was taken in Cedar Hill, Texas.

I was at tier two (about 600') when I shot this image. This is purely for perspective, and to show what we are standing on while hundreds or thousands of feet off the ground.

This is a 900 footer about 15 miles southwest of Houston, Texas. The big globe/dish looking things are used for telephone I think and are line of sight. The little vertical white things are actually much larger than they appear, about six feet long and a foot wide. They are cell phone antennas.

This is Houston from about 600 feet up on the tower above. This was taken with a 70-200 about thirty minutes to an hour before sunset. There was quite a bit of haze in the air but with the setting sun it created a nice pinkish/purple sunset.

Below is the city of New Orleans taken from the southeast side. I was about 1,000 feet off the ground, and I used a 70-200 with no tripod. It took several frames and laying the camera down on the platform to get a sharp image.

I hope you enjoyed the images, I hope to bring you more in the coming weeks. If you have any questions or comments feel free to let me know. Thanks