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August 2010: tower installation
The tower arrived by truck about six weeks later, in two pieces: the MARB rotor base with MAF-40 winch, and the MA-40 tower itself, with parts and accessories securely attached or strapped alongside. I took this photo standing near the bottom end of the tower:
After securing the base to the foundation bolts, it took only two (strong) construction guys to lift the tower and slide it into the tilt-down bearing for me:
They attached the raising winch cable, and pushed it up 15 or 20 degrees. From that angle I've had no problem tilting the tower up and down by myself, using the MAF-40 manual winch.
You can see the winch attached to the right side of the base in the next picture below. (The other crank is for raising the top section of the tower.)
I'll post pictures of the winch in action when I mount the antenna, but here's a nice shot of the completed installation gleaming in the setting sun, with only a small portion of the top section extended, one of the coax standoffs mounted up there, and the mast inserted into the top:
Below is a close-up of the MARB base rotator bearing, which includes a grease fitting (Zerk fitting) for attaching a grease gun. N2CSA's eHam review of the MA-40 noted a problem with this fitting. I contacted him and learned that his bearing turned out to be defective, and that he'd eventually purchased a replacement. Even though it was a manufacturing issue, US Tower made him pay full cost because he was not the original owner.
My grease fitting is OK, but the bolt holes securing the tilt-up bearing housing to the base were drilled too low, leaving the entire assembly at an angle. It should be even with the base bracket.
The "rotator drive stub" (left), a pipe that the rotator will grab onto, should attach to a projection sticking out of the bottom of the tower, but the bolt hole was too low and the hole on the projection too high, so a bolt could not pass through.
Also the holes in the rotator platform (below my hand in the photo to the left) were not far enough apart to allow attachment of a very common Yaesu G-800SA rotator that US Tower claims in writing to support.
I obtained a warranty replacement for that rotator drive stub, but only after much back-and-forth. I was left on my own to live with or repair the other two defects myself, which I don't think is right, especially the thrust bearing angle.
It was also difficult to get complete installation and maintenance instructions from US Tower, but I eventually obtained those directly from the QA manager of their main factory a year and a half after delivery. My impression is that individuals should not purchase direct from this company. Let Texas Towers, HRO, AES, etc. deal with them for you, and your experience may be a little better than mine.
Maybe not, though. I've posted fair warning in my eHam review of the MA-40. And now on to mounting the antenna! »
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