Maintenance at 1700 feet

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Watch this video. I'm sticking with my ground job
http://www.impomag.com/scripts/ShowPR~RID~15333.asp
I cannot imagine how much these guys get paid, or else they get a couple of rednecks with a few beers.
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There is a show on NatGeo (National Geographic) called "World's toughest fixes". One of the episodes he had to go with a crew and replace the top of a tv/radio tower. Pretty interesting, they go to the top, hook up some cables that they bring up, then they hoist up pieces of a crane that attaches to the top of the tower and then lower the antenna at the top of the tower.
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Many years ago, I spent my summers working on the ground crew of a suspension bridge. We had a rigger who's job in part was to climb and inspect the towers every Friday afternoon. For lunch on Friday, he'd buy and drink a half pint of whiskey, then he'd inspect the bridge. Besides the occassional suicides, the only deaths while I worked there were a couple of painters that fell off.
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When I was in the Coast Guard, we had guys that used to *climb* (no elevator) the 1300' LORAN towers, but they climbed inside and didn't spend a lot of time outside the tower. I don't recall there being any "free climbing" either. They had racheting hooks that slid up and down a pole.
Either way, you ain't getting me to do it!
Check out the part right after 4:10 where the climber seems to hesitate as he tries to figure where to put his hands so he can keep going. At that height, I wouldn't want to be wondering "Hmmm ... will this work?"
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DerbyDad03 wrote: ...

Thing is, after about 40-ft or so, it really makes little difference other than the time it will take (and generally less than that unless really fortunate).
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re: "after about 40-ft or so, it really makes little difference other than the time"
True - physically - but that doesn't mean our brain processes it that way.
Before we moved to an office park in the suburbs, I had a 12th floor office with floor to ceiling windows. Even though falling from that height would certainly have killed me, I could stand by those windows all day.
I recently took a trip to Toronto and went up into the CN tower and stood over the glass floor. I wouldn't be any deader if I fell from there vs. my old office, but the knot in my stomach was awfully tight.
Part of my brain knows that dead is dead, but some other part stills says "This deadly height is more scary than a lower deadly height."
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I dunno. In the few serious car crashes I've been in, time really does s-l--o---w----d-----o------w------n tremendously. I can remember the car spinning in slow motion, the doors blowing open, stuff on the seat next to me rising up in the air like it was weightless and floating, not flying, out the open doors. I remember seeing bright white lights, then bright red lights, then white lights again as the car spun, facing away from traffic (red tail lights) and then towards it (white headlights). It was remarkably slow. The car was totalled, but I didn't have a scratch on me.
A poem by the guy who wrote "Deliverance" (the "squeal like a pig" movie), James Dickey, is about a stewardess who gets sucked out of a plane at high altitude and the thoughts she has on the way down. It's called "Falling."
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id 1431
Dickey used to guest lecture at my uni - until his drinking became too serious for the administrators to ignore. As someone said "He drank oceanically." Those southern boys can really do some world class drinking.
I am surprised OSHA lets these guys free-climb considering the regulations they impose on window washers for office buildings. My dad, who used to be a forensic engineer, investigated many window washer accidents. Quite a few were sabotage jobs from rival firms (there are allegations that in big cities like NYC there's a big mob influence in the janitorial services industry) but many were just plain stupidity like tying the motorized scaffold to an AC unit that wasn't bolted down and thus slowly walked to the edge of the roof as they were washing and got pulled off the building and right on top of them. Those poor guys. Their fall was only a few stories but soon after they hit the ground, the huge AC unit came hurtling down on them. That's got to be a REALLY bad day.
Another time, one of the ropes on one side failed and the whole scaffold broke free, and one of the workers was left swinging about 10' off the ground in a huge arc, getting dragged through all the treetops at the base of the building. He was scratched up badly but survived with only a broken ankle, which had gotten caught in the rigging and probably saved his life.
I suspect when something goes wrong on a 1,700 foot tower, the certain outcome is "splat." I'm betting there's some serious evisceration as a result of such an impact. I've seen what happens when Letterman tosses watermelons off the NBC building. Vertical motion quickly becomes horizontal splattering.
-- Bobby G.
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I got a case of acrophobia sitting in my desk chair just watching these guys. JoeG
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re: "I cannot imagine how much these guys get paid, or else they get a couple of rednecks with a few beers."
I know a family in which 4 sons and the Dad were high steel workers and/or high crane operators.
I don't know how much they made, but they are pretty well off as far as I can tell, and all doing much less dangerous jobs now.
2 own their own auto salvage business.
Dad's retired and travels the country in his bus (motor home), 2 of the 4 sons own buses. They all have motorcycles, trucks, snowmobiles and multiple cars.
BTW...you could also consider all of them to be "rednecks with a few beers" or at least "rough necks with a few beers".
They love to party, they're the nicest guys in the world, but you definitely want them on *your* side when the going gets rough.
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Bill wrote:

helmet mounted camera, although he did have a partner below him.
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wrote:

My pucker factor meter pegged out...
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That's a damned long climb. Guy must have arms like steel cables.
Occasionally my husband straps himself into a tyler mount: <http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&q=tyler +mount&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=zXGSTPCkEsOAlAf40KCpCg&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=4&ved=0CDMQsAQwAw> in the door of a helicopter and goes up to 5000 feet to do some photography. At least he's strapped in. (He's got some amazing pictures of Stonehenge and the USS Arizona memorial.)
He's found at least one helicopter pilot who's afraid to fly so high-- he finds it disorienting to be so far from the ground. This guy was much more comfortable hovering over a roof installing air-conditioning and stuff like that.
Cindy Hamilton
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Ed Pawlowski wrote:

Here's what the "owner" of that video says caused him to take it down from where he originally posted it:
http://www.theonlineengineer.org/TheOLEBLOG /
But it spread like wildfire and is up on numerous other sites now.
If you look about half way through this OSHA page you'll see that they rate tower climbing as the most dangerous occupation:
http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=SPEECHES&p_id 67
Looking elswhere I found commercial diving was right up there with tower climbing, at 180 deaths per 100,000 workers per year.
Jeff
--
Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)
  Click to see the full signature.
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wrote:

re: "Some facility owners are pretty uptight about liability and such and may not hire him if they think he does not take safety seriously."
What in the video would give anyone the impression that safety is not taken seriously? I didn't see any horse play and I saw them hookup on numerous occasions.
If free climbing is indeed allowed by OSHA, what in the video would make "some facility owners" uptight?
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wrote:

re: "Some facility owners are pretty uptight about liability and such and may not hire him if they think he does not take safety seriously."
What in the video would give anyone the impression that safety is not taken seriously? I didn't see any horse play and I saw them hookup on numerous occasions.
If free climbing is indeed allowed by OSHA, what in the video would make "some facility owners" uptight?
========== They must've been doing SOMETHING against the rules, since the climbing partner's face was blurred out in the video.
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On 9/16/10 4:56 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

Did you see how many breaks that guy took? If viewers saw it, they'd sue the station for missing their programs.
One evening in the Coast Guard I walked to the local tavern for a chef's salad and a pitcher of beer. The executive officer walked in. He had the complexion of an alcoholic. When I finished my beer, he asked me to try a cocktail. I drank it and he told me it was a double daiquiri. I didn't like it, so he insisted that I drink two more.
He left, and I had another pitcher of beer to wash that awful taste out of my mouth.
I felt better in the morning. I was so drunk that my hands tingled as I climbed the mast to fix the radar. That dangling tool bag in the video looked hazardous. I kept my tools snugly under my arm in a newspaper carrier's bag.
Before I finished, the XO sent for me. He appeared hung over. Apparently he'd plied me with liquor so he could accuse me of being a drunk. "They call me a bummer and a gin sop too, but what cares I for praise?"
He was bluffing. He knew the crew would contradict him. As far as they were concerned, the stunts I'd pulled the night before proved beyond a doubt that I hadn't been drinking. They said a stranger would swear I was drunk when I hadn't had a thing to drink, and it took a few drinks to sober me up.
I returned to my work aloft. Our round-bottomed, shallow-draft ship used to rock when an outboard putted by. Aloft, the rocking was enjoyable. Aloft drunk, it was fantastic!
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DerbyDad03 wrote:

My guess is doing anything out of the ordinary, like sticking a camera on your head and the clip ending up on youtube. It just speaks to a younger generation, more concerned with their gadgets and gizmos, than it does to the small community of mast workers.
If nothing else, it is the appearance of being cavalier.
But remember, that is just the opinion of the guy who was climbing the mast. He obviously takes his job very seriously, and does not want himself misinterpreted in anything other than a professional manner, hence his apprehension, and subsequent request to have the video taken down.
Jon
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wrote:

A bunch of years ago Spectrum magazine (Published by IEEE) ran an article showing a company that did maintenance on *live* very high tension lines from a HELECOPTER! Mostly they were replacing the spacers that keep the bundled conductors on each phase together. The pilot and repairman had to wear chainmail like suits because the electric field near the lines was high enough to give them a lethal shock just from the field differential across the length of their bodies. The metal suit equalizes the drop and prevents them from getting a shock.
And get this, the first step is to bond the helecopter (and themselves) to the power line with a tether, to avoid drawing arcs. The repairman sits out on a seat attached to the landing frame of the chopper and works from there.
There truly is not enough money in the world to convince me to do that job.
I still have the article.
Paul F.
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On 9/16/2010 6:17 PM, Paul Franklin wrote:

They show that process on various Discovery/History channel shows every few months. Impressive, yes, but I'd drive a honey wagon and empty out porta-potties before I would even think about doing that job. Shudder! Fluttering helicopters, heights and lethal power all rolled up into one activity.
--
aem sends...

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