Prepare and Raise the Mast

A PUSHUP MAST CONSISTING OF COUPLERS AND 5 FOOT SECTIONS OF MAST TUBING and using the DIY WINCH-IT-UP MAST SUPPORT

DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS FOR PREPARING AND RAISING THE MAST

Figure 1

There are a lot of small details covered for this install.  Their purpose is to get you through the process knowing most of the challenges you will encounter ahead of facing them.  Take it one step at a time. By this time you have chosen the mast material you intend to use.  The following instructions cover both the 1.9” OD Fence Rail and the 1.740” OD EMT (industry size 1-1/2”).

GENERAL

  1. Purchasing BEND-GARD® items and 1.9” OD galvanized fence railing or 1.740” OD EMT.  Check for good fit. Make sure the ends are not dinged or out-of-round.  9” OD is commonly used as fence rails and posts-available locally to most.  EMT is available at home supply stores.
  2. Purchasing any guy rings, guy rope, anchors, etc.
  3. Assemble all necessary tools including ladders, saw horses, drill and 5/16” drill bit, tool to cut mast lengths into 5′ pieces, file, center punch, ink marker and tape.
  4. Cutting the mast material into 5′ lengths, marking and drilling holes, cutting guy ropes to length.
  5. Vertical assembly-see instructions and follow all necessary safety practices.
  6. Stop and check to be sure all pieces (including guy rings) are in the correct position and ready to go while still within safe reach.
  7. Two able bodies should be sufficient for the antenna/mast raising.

Figure 2

SPECIFIC

Location of mast and mounting of mast support:

You need to locate a safe place for the mast especially away from your power service. Can you attach it to your house or garage or will it be detached from any building surface?  I used a Winch-It-Up Universal Mast Support on the end of my 15′ high garage. (Click on link: Mast Support). See Figure 1.   I found at least one wall stud (two is better) and bolted a cross piece securely.  I did this for an upper and a lower cross piece.  Then I attached my mast support to the wall.  Every setup is different, but the standoff brackets must be facing left as you face the wall so your winch handle will be free to turn without hitting the wall (see Figure 8).  You can line up the upper and lower brackets by dropping a plumb and shimming a standoff bracket, if necessary, until it’s plumb.

Determination of number of 5′ lengths of mast needed: Your desired height divided by 5.

Determine quantity of couplers, guy rings and guy ring retainers needed to order.
Figure 2 shows Coupler, Guy Ring Retainer (GRR) and a Guy Ring.

COUPLERS: Every 5′ of mast needs a Coupler.

GUY RING RETAINER (GRR): one at the top guy level is needed, maybe more depending on guy ring locations.  In most installs, the Couplers act as the lower level Guy Ring Retainers so only one GRR is needed.

GUY RINGS: This system is designed for GR-175 or GR- 2 guy rings, of Max-Gain Systems,  using only guy rope.  Do not use with any abrasive material or metal.  Generally, one ring for each 10′ of mast unless otherwise supported.  They can be ordered from us with our other items-no additional shipping charge.

Cut mast material into 5 footers as you determined you needed.  The straighter the cut, the better.  A metal cutting saw is much less effort than a hacksaw.  If using a power cutting saw, observe all safety practices and wear goggles.  Secure the ends before cutting.   After cutting pieces, file the rough edges or the Couplers won’t fit properly.

Figure 3

Preparation of sections – numbering the pieces

Having determined how many 5′ sections you will need and having cut them, lay them out on the ground in order from the top section to the bottom section.  Starting at the top, place your couplers  and guy ring retainer where they will be placed along the mast.  This is a good time to mark the couplers starting from 1 to 14 or thereabouts (see Figure 3).  Starting at the top, mark the top most coupler’s top half and the bottom of the top 5′ section with the number ‘1’. ( I used an ink marker).  The bottom half of this coupler goes into the next 5′ section of the mast pipe.  Mark the number ‘2’ on these pieces.  Continue on down the mast until all couplers and 5′ mast sections have corresponding numbers.  Now, having marked all couplers and 5 footers with matching numbers, you are ready for the drilling process knowing the pieces will be matched correctly during the drilling process and the mast raising.

Note: when drilling holes, drill bits will last longer if they are lubricated with oil during the process.  A cheap brush and leftover motor oil works for me.

Preparation for joining sections together:

COUPLERS and mast pipe drilling.

Figure 4

Using sawhorses, chairs, etc, to elevate the mast pieces, slide the coupler with the number ‘1’ on it  halfway onto the end (about 4”) of the mast piece with the number ‘1’ on it and mark the spot for the hole-to-be.  Center punch the spot (keeps the drill bit from wandering when drilling).

Slide coupler off and with a drill press or regular hand drill, drill a 5/16” hole, one side only, in the mast piece.  File off  the burr.   Slide coupler back on and line up holes.  Try to screw a 5/16-18 x 1” pan head bolt all the way through both pieces.  If slightly misaligned slide the coupler off and elongate the 5/16” hole a little with either the drill or a small round file.   Slide coupler on and check for fit.  Note: Be sure to slide coupler off when drilling/elongating 5/16” holes so not to damage the coupler’s threads.

With the bolt still in place, slide the next piece of mast, with the number ‘2’ on it, into the open end of the coupler, with the number ‘2’ on it, all the way until both mast pieces touch.  Mark spot for drilling as before.   Remove the mast piece and drill the 5/16” hole, as before, and slide it back into coupler.  Thread bolt through or elongate, if necessary, as before.

Continue this process until you finish drilling and fitting your last piece of mast.  Separate couplers from mast after fitting, as necessary, for convenience during the drilling process.

During the raising process, you will be adding 5′ sections to the bottom of the mast.  These 5 footers should have the appropriately numbered coupler already attached at the top and bolted in to make the raising easier.  See Figure 4.

Figure 5

GUY RING RETAINER (GRR):

If you are erecting this mast for use as a center support for wire antennas, you will probably install your top guy ring retainer a foot or so under the very top of the mast, so the guys won’t interfere with a balun or other centerpiece.  However, if you are placing a rotator at the top of the mast with a beam, consider the following thoughts.

The area directly under the rotator is going to be the weakest link on most masts, generally,  because there is no guy support above this spot. Thus, the wind loading bending effect will be maximized here.  To virtually eliminate any unsupported pipe exposure here, mount your GRR an inch below the lower rotator clamp or the beam itself, if no rotator is placed here.  This leaves enough clearance for the guy ring to move freely with the guy ropes installed. (See Figure 5).  So with negligible clearance allowed around the guy ring, it will be much more difficult for the pipe to bend here.

Back to the GRR…mark the hole location on the mast pipe and center punch the spot.  Slide the Retainer out of the way and drill the 5/16” hole-one wall only.  Slide Retainer into place and fit with a 5/16” pan head.  Also, make any other necessary holes on this section at this time while it’s still convenient.

Figure 6

VERTICAL INSTALLATION.  Finally- Raising the mast/putting the pieces together.

If mounting to a building side or end (as I have) with a Winch-It-Up Mast Support or equivalent, have a ladder on the wall. On the ground join the 5′ section with the number ‘1’ on it with the 5′ section having the Coupler 1,2 attached to it and insert and tighten the 5/16 x 1” pan head.   Make sure you have the top guy ring installed and sitting on the Guy Ring Retainer and have drilled any other holes needed for your type of antenna.  Also, slide a guy ring up from the bottom a foot or so of this now 10 footer and temporarily tape it there.  This guy ring will eventually rest on the coupler of the next 5 footer you are about to install.  Stand this now10 footer upright in your lower standoff bracket with the front strap loosely holding it.  Now, manually, push the 10 footer high enough to clear the top standoff.  You can do this by adding the next 5 footer (having Coupler 3,4 on it) or just temporarily placing a short piece of 4×4 upright at the base to support the mast.  The purpose of this step is to allow the guy ring to clear the top standoff so you can connect your guy ropes to it and perform other tasks (attaching coax, control cables, etc.) while that guy ring is still handy to reach.  If you are placing a beam/rotator on top, the process to add the 5 footer (with Coupler 3,4), may vary.  It may have to be installed at an angle like in Figure 6.

Note on guy ropes: Make sure you have your guy ropes cut to the appropriate length needed.  I use the Pythagorean Theorem to figure my lengths and added several more feet.  Attach them as you proceed, but do so before the guy ring is out of your safe reach.

Note on cabling: I used zip ties and electrical tape every few feet on the mast to secure them.

Figure 7

ATTACHING WINCH STRAP TO MAST PIPE

Caution on winch hookup to mast (Figure 7): Lower the strap to the bottom of the lower mast section.  When attaching the winch strap to the mast pipe, I used a 2”  muffler clamp.  Clamp it in the web area just above the winch’s hook to a spot about 6” up from the bottom of the 5′ section you are adding.   You can see the 2” clamp attached about 6” up from the bottom of the mast piece.  Don’t over tighten the clamp and don’t place it in the zone where the next Coupler will be placed as the muffler clamp may ding the pipe and then the Coupler won’t slide on to the pipe.  Also: When winching up, try to keep the winch strap in the center of the 1” opening.  If it rides to an edge, a slight adjustment of the winch’s base lag bolt (play in the winch’s bottom mounting groove) will help.

BACK TO ADDING ADDITIONAL 5′ SECTIONS

Now raise the winch to a point where the next 5′ pipe section (with coupler already attached) can clear the bottom of the installed mast.  See Figure 8.  Place the top of this next 5′ section into the mast bottom, line up the holes and insert and tighten the 5/16 x 1” pan head bolt.  Note: if  there’s not enough clearance to install that 5′ section, simply remove the lower pan head and let the coupler slide down on the pipe for an extra 4” clearance.  Then slide the coupler back up into position and install and tighten both pan heads.

Figure 8

Now you need to reverse the winch’s direction and lower the mast until it touches the ground to take the weight off the winch.  Put a board under the pipe to keep it clean.  Now with no weight on the winch, loosen the winch strap and remove the 2” clamp and lower the winch strap back to the ground area and install the clamp at the mast’s bottom up about 6” as you did on the previous section.  Reverse the direction and continue raising the mast another 5 feet.

At this point you need to be tending your guy ropes and watching for any natural leaning.  Also note that you need a guy ring every 10′ of mast so at every other 5′ addition, you need to slide a guy ring on the pipe.  Tape it to the mast pipe, if need be, to hold it until the next coupler is attached below it.

PASSING GUY RINGS THROUGH STANDOFF BRACKETS (Wall Mounts)

When using the Winch-It-Up Mast Support, you will need a 3-4” set of standoff brackets.  These are available from many online sellers.  I found that 3starinc.com had the best selection.

Make sure your purchase can accommodate a 2-1/2” diameter mast and my advice is to stay away from the U-bolt type as they are more difficult to work with in our setup.   When passing the guy rings through these brackets, it is necessary to have as much free play as possible. See Figure 3.  Even then it will be necessary to remove the strap to pass the guy ring.  If so, you or someone else must have positive control of the mast during the procedure.  This is very important on the top bracket, especially if there is a beam antenna and rotator on top to keep in balance.

Figure 9

To help a little, I replaced the stock ¼” bolts with longer 4” ones.  Be sure your bolts are threaded all the way.  The Home Depot’s bolts work well.  Also, when working by myself, I have used a small utility chain and wrapped it around the 4×4, the top standoff and the mast and secured it with bolt and nut.  I allowed just enough leeway in the chain to allow the guy ring to pass through.  This kept the  mast with beam and rotator from  leaning too much to control.  Of course, an extra helper to hold the mast works even better.

CAUTION: As with other standoffs, they are not designed to support the weight of the mast when it is off the ground.  They simply hold the mast in place to a vertical support or a wall.  The strap winch in the winch-it -up mast support acts as the support for the mast and can be operated by oneself.

BACK TO ADDING 5′ SECTIONS

You now have 20′ of mast up with a guy ring at the top, one down 10′ and another down another 10′.  You should have the ropes attached to the top guy ring by now.  Continue adding 5′ sections until all are used up.

You should, if at the 50′ height, have three levels of 4 guys (90°) attached and anchored.  And, of course, two standoff brackets tightened on the Mast Support.  I used an equivalent to the Buckmaster Line-Grip™ three ball rope anchors at all anchor points. Note: they are available at hardware outlets.  At Home Depot they were the least expensive.

Figure 9 shows my portable install.  Mast is 40′ high with K4KIO hex on top with rotator.

Figure 10

Figure 10 shows my permanent install at home.  It’s the 1.9” OD (0.090” wall) mast at 50′ with K4KIO hex and rotator on top.

Read all the safety and installation information you can find on other web sites on proximity to power lines, guying, wall mounts, mast raising and grounding-don’t take any chances.

Secure standoff brackets and your guys, hook up cables and grounds and take it for a test!!!

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