The Force of Ice

IMG_3950A new year with new challenges just started. This weekend we got snow and temperatures below the freezing point for the first time this winter. On Saturday I spent some time making sure antennas where in shape for the colder season. I checked and adjusted tension of the 160 meter vertical guys and everything else about it was looking just fine.

On Sunday I made a last check of the Topband vertical and made a disturbing discovery. Ice had been building up overnight inside the bottom pipe and with enormous force pushed the whole antenna upwards.

On the photo you can how the antennas has risen almost 70 millimeter! When discovered there where only 15 millimeter margin, then the antenna would have jumped off the insulator. The force cut the stainless steel bolt securing the pipe to the insulator and the guy lines where tense like banjo strings.

The fix was quite easy, I strapped a heater tight to the pipe and a drilled a couple of holes for drainage. After about an hour the ice had melted and I was able to get the pipe back in place. A new hole was drilled a new bolt it put in place.

The Topband vertical is the most challenging antenna to keep in the air at SE0X. It is exposed not only to heavy wind, but also to the sea. In wintertime that means icing is a big threat, and at least two times icing of guy lines have brought it down. It happened last season and three seasons ago. This was a very close call! Lets see if it will survive this season.

Happy New Year!