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Tower Trailer Progress:





Started tower trailer research.


Purchased US Tower TMM-433ss 33 ft crank up tower.


Obtained a used trailer frame from a Light tower.  Complete except for missing Axle.


Started the first Auto Cad tower trailer drawings.


Hauled tower and trailer frame to shop in Rancho Cordova.
Welded up an axle, using hubs from a car hauler, and a 2 inch round steel pipe for the axle.  One of the hubs ended up being bent; causing the wheel on one side to wobble back and forth about an inch.  Temporarily attached the axle to the springs on the trailer so it could roll around the shop.  The tongue weight seems to be good with the tower on the trailer frame and the axle on.


Found a different set of Hubs. They are a little rusty but not too bad. Now I have to find new studs for them. It took a 10lb sledge hammer to pound the studs out of the hub. Planning on putting 17" rims off a Chrysler 300 on the trailer, because they are cheap and wider than a normal tire.

4/4/2009 Got a lot of work done today. It turned out that the hubs and spindles were not bent. It was the old junk rim that I was using that was bent.
We removed the axle. Welded the hubs to the axle permanently. Then remounted the axle on the springs. Installed two nice 17" wheels. Found a base plate that was about 75lbs, and really thick. We welded that onto the frame. Then we cut the upright for the tower. It is made out of the boom of a boom lift, and is 6 inches wide. Did a full weld to the bottom of the plate. Added a brace that goes all the way across on the back of the trailer. Welded 2 gussets to strengthen up the upright. Then we mocked the tower up on the trailer.
4/11/2009 We got a lot of work done today. The main task was making the pivoting bracket and plate that the tower rests on. We cut out four pieces of 10" wide by 5" plates, clamped them together, ground them so that they were level, and welded two 1 1/4" X 3" long tubes between them. Making sure that the 1" solid steel center pen was inside the pipe while welding so that it would stay straight. I welded these four plates to a large base plate that the tower rests on.
After completing that project we fabricated the forward tower brace. It is welded to a piece of angle iron and is bolted with four grade 8 bolts to the frame.
Installed an adjustable jack stand on the tongue of the trailer with a wheel for easy moving.
Then we temporarily mounted and chained the tower to the trailer to do a test fitting, and check the pivot point and clearances. The weight and balance of the trailer is great so far. One person can move it around and it has enough, but not too much tongue weight. We pulled it outside and raised it a little bit to check everything.
4/18/2009 The bearings and races on the axle are completely shot and rusty. Need to be replaced. Also need new lugnuts as the old ones are too small. Went to CarQuest and bought 10 new grade 8 lugnuts, wow $2.14 each :(
4/19/2009 After a 2 hour google search I finally found a place that sells the bearings and races for the axle. Kragen Auto Parts sells them. I had to drive about 20 miles round trip to two different stores to get all four bearings and races.
4/21/2009 My dad pressed the races into the hubs with a press at work. The hubs are reassembled and ready to go back on the trailer.
4/23/2009 Waited on hold for 20 minutes with DMV to ask questions about registering the trailer. The person I spoke with didn't know anything, and said to take the trailer to the CHP... Baah.

Did a lot more work on the tower trailer today. We packed the new bearings, installed them into the hubs, then installed them on the axle. We then re-installed the wheels on the hubs and put on all the new lugnuts.

Next we worked on mounting the tower to the trailer. We bent two strips of flat steel into an A shape and welded 1" threadall to the ends of them. Then we drilled a 1" hole at the edges of the pivot plate for the threadall to go through. We then cut a piece of tubing at an angle so that when the nut was tightened it had a flat surface to tighten against.

After that we worked on the pulley and winch system. We fabricated two brackets that pullies would mount to and welded them under the trailer on the bottom of the frame. We tested the system with a comealong and it worked ok except for the cable rubbed on the bottom edge of the trailer. We will have to put a roller back there so that edge won't fray the cable.

5/2/2009 Worked on the tower trailer more today. We mainly worked on the tower winching system. We got all the pulleys mounted and tested it with rope first. Once we finally got all the clearances right we cut the cable and installed the winch. This winch may not work because it has a really wierd gear ratio, and it takes like 10 minutes to crank the tower from horizontal to vertical. We also have a problem, at one point when the tower is almost vertical the cable goes slack and the tower wants to go to full vertical position by itself. We've determined that we need a spring or something to provide loading on the tower at all times so it won't go slack at any point. Still lots of work to go. There are a lot of gussets that have to be installed.
5/9/2009 Didn't get a chance to go out and work on the tower trailer today. Went up to a friend's house in Iowa Hill, CA and installed an antenna and radio for him.
5/16/2009 Worked on the tower trailer today. It sure was hot. It was about 100 degrees outside and it was hotter inside the shop. We had a fan and a swamp cooler running full blast to try to keep cool. We finally solved the tower freefall point. We added two garage door springs attached to the tower and to the frame of the trailer. This provides enough pull to keep a load on the tower and keep the cable from going slack. It took about 3 hours to get the placement correct. We decided to remove a pulley and attach the cable directly to the base of the tower. This cut our raising time in half. The winch is rated at 2000 lbs so it has no problem lifting the tower. We then built two stabilizer jacks for the back of the trailer so that it won't tip over backwards when the tower is raised to a vertical position. We then fabricated and installed braces on the front tower support. That strengthened it up quite a bit. We also painted several parts to keep them from rusting. We then installed two lights on the back of the trailer.
Still to do: wiring, build a box for parts, and build fenders. Its getting a lot closer to being done.
5/22/2009 Went to DMV today, they said that all I had to do was fill out a REG 88 form and bring a picture of the trailer and they would give me a Special Mobile Equipment License plate. So I went home, typed up the form and printed out a picture of the trailer. I went back to DMV and had a lot of fun :( It was about 25 minutes before my number was called, I showed the the form and the picture, and the guy said this is not a special mobile equipment trailer. I told him it was. He went to talk to a manager. About 5 minutes later he came back and said that the manager said it was not a special equipment trailer. I told him there was no other category for it, it must be one. He looked up the fine print DMV book of regulations, and finally agreed, that there was nothing about my trailer that would disqualify it as a special mobile equipment trailer. The then went to talk to another manager, that manager said to talk to the other manager. After about 10 minutes of discussion they came over and said that they can't do anything for me because the trailer doesn't have a VIN number. They would be able to issue me a VIN number but I would have to tow the trailer to DMV so they could inspect it first. They also said that I didn't need a trip permit to have it towed to DMV.
So I'll have to tow it to DMV and go from there.
5/24/2009 What a super long day! We arrived to work on the trailer at 6:40 am and left at 8:20 pm. In the morning we fabricated the fenders, and welded them on to the trailer. In the afternoon we did the wiring of the trailer. We added 3 marker lights to the back of the tower itself, and wired up the brake lights on the back of the trailer. We then made up some safety chains and installed them on the tongue of the trailer. At the end of the day we fabricated the stay poles, they attach to the tower and go out to the sides to stabilize the tower when it is errected. We also added stake holes in the feet of the stay poles so they can be pounded in the ground for a solid support. Finally we raised up the tower infront of the shop to check all the alignments, and that went very well.
The trailer is 99.9% done. All we have to do is fabricate a hanger for a longwire, install a bolt on the end of the tower, and make up a ground clamp for the ground rod.
5/25/2009 My dad and I drove down to the bay area to pick up my new antenna. I got a Force 12 C3 tri-band beam used but in great condition. It is a monster. It is 20ft long by 37 ft wide. It has really good gain on 10/15/20 and also works on 12/17 with a tuner. I laid out all the elements and checked to make sure they were there. The antenna looks brand new, and all the pieces are labeled. I will add some extra labeling that will last longer than permanent marker. I'm thinking of using colored electrical tape.
5/26/2009 Today I assembled the rotor and checked the rotor plate. Of coarse it wouldn't line up. I had to drill 4 new holes in the rotor plate to get the Yaesu (Metric) rotor to fit. We did a test fit with the rotor installed on the tower and cranked it up and down. It worked great! It is really close, but doesn't hang up on any of the tower rungs.
5/29/2009 Turns out that the rotor was not aligned properly, and the connector prevented the tower from retracting all the way. The holes on the rotor plate needed to be re-drilled to re-align the rotor. I worked on it for half a day, trying different drills and drill bits, but couldn't get the holes lined up correctly.
5/30/2009 Got out the air powered drill and found the right size and type of drillbit. Re-drilled the holes in the rotor plate so that the connector didn't stick out. I drove to Ace Hardware and picked up three new bolts and washers for the rotor plate. I installed the rotor on the tower, and this time it finally fit with the rotor cable attached. I installed the mast on the tower and secured it to the rotor. I completed the final assembly of the antenna on the ground. With my dad's help I raised the antenna vertical and moved the tower trailer into position so that the antenna could be clamped to the mast. The holes lined up and we tightened it up. We then raised the tower vertical. We set the staypoles, and the saftey plate and raised the tower up to the full 33 feet!
It has been a long time coming and its finally done. All I have to do now is solder the PL-259 on the end of the coax and test the antenna and rotor out.

Finished up all the loose ends like the coax and put the tower trailer on the air. The CQ WPX CW contest was going on, so I decided to give it a try.

96 QSO's and 11 different countries including Russia and the Azores islands.

Now just a few more things then Field day 2009!

Tower Trailer Budget


Item Description  Price  Place where purchased Total:  $  1,566.71
Colored Electrical tape  $      5.35 Ace Hardware
Nuts and bolts for Rotor  $      6.00 Ace Hardware
Yaesu G800 Rotor  $  354.99 Amateur Electronic Supply
US Tower TMM-433ss  $  450.00 Bay Area, CA
Force 12 C3 beam  $  400.00 Bay Area, CA
10 lugnuts  $    23.49 Carquest
130' Belden Ultraflex coax  $    10.00 Ham Swap
1000 Watt 4:1 Balun  $      3.00 Ham Swap
Pulley and winch  $    41.09 Harbor Freight Tools
Welding wire 030" 10# spool  $    29.51 Harris Welding
25' extension cord and GFI tri Cord  $    46.46 Home Depot
100 ft rotor control wire  $    24.13 Home Depot
Chain link fence top rails for staypoles  $    21.43 Home Depot
Wheel bearing grease  $      1.99 Kragen Autoparts
Wheel Bearing kit  $    28.10 Kragen Autoparts
Wheel Bearing kit  $    30.26 Kragen Autoparts
100' 450 Ohm ladder line  $    30.00 Radio Supply Co.
4 conductor wire  $    12.96 Walmart
Trailer Hitch  $    20.23 Walmart
5 Cans of spray paint  $      7.72 Walmart
17" Rims and tires   $    20.00
Light tower frame  $           -  
Scrap Metal  $           -  
Used Trailer Lights  $           -  
Garage door springs  $           -  
6/27/2009  Had a wonderful field day! I couldn't have asked for a better setup. See the my contesting page for details. 
7/3/2009  My dad finally got a day off so that we could use his truck to tow the trailer down to DMV. We arrived 15 minutes before DMV opened, and there still were a dozen people waiting outside the door infront of us. They opened the doors at 8:02am. We waited in line then got a number. About 15 minutes later they called our number. I gave them the paperwork that I had and a picture of the trailer.
I was applying for a special mobile equipment license plate. This way I wouldn't have to register the trailer every year. The lady looked over the paperwork and said, "hmmmm... I'll have to look this one up". After searching the big DMV regulation book she said, "Ok, now what kind of trailer is this?" I said it was a tower trailer, then she said no what kind of special equipment is it? I said it is a non-commercial radio tower. She then read the statment of facts on my form and finally understood what she was looking at. She then tried to process it without a vin number, she kept saying, hmmm this is not working. She then went over to another DMV person and asked them some questions on how to process the trailer. They said something like process it like a generator trailer. She gave that process a few tries, but gave up. Then she went to see a manager. She was gone for another 5 minutes. She then came back with a form, which was a statement of construction of a custom vehicle. She said fill this out and we'd be closer. I filled out that form the best I could, but had to leave a lot of it blank because it didn't have an engine or transmission. While I was filling out that form she came back with another one. I signed and dated it and put my name and address on it.
She left then came back with a VIN tag in her hand. I knew we were getting a lot closer to being done then, and 45 minutes had already passed. One more paper to sign and date, and confirm my name and address... Then she said lets go put the vin number on the trailer.
She said she had to put the VIN number on the trailer herself because if she gave it to someone they could put it on practically anything. We had to go back in the office, she said that the Rocklin branch DMV office didn't actually have any special equipment plates, and they would have to be sent by mail from the Sacramento branch. I said that was OK as long as I can tow the trailer around.
She said if I was going to be towing it I would need a temporary permit. She whipped out another bunch of paperwork and issued me a temporary moving permit good for 60 days. She didn't even charge me for it.
And that concludes my DMV saga, we towed the trailer home and are awaiting the plates in the mail. It took a total of 1 hour and 15 minutes.  
8/23/2009 Went back to DMV to check the status on my license plates, because I still haven't received them. I waited in line for 1 hour and 30 minutes. They told me that everything was still ok, and the paperwork had been processed. They told me that they might be a little behind because of the furlow days. It is hard to do 5 days of work in a 4 day work week. Hopefully I'll get the plates before my temporary tags expire.
9/7/2009 I still haven't got my plates yet. My temporary tags expired August 31st. Right now I'm not going to renew the temporary tag, because I don't plan to tow it within the next month. I'm just going to wait for the plates to come in the mail.
9/23/2009 I finally got the license plate in the mail. It is a small special equipment plate. Surprisingly it expires on December 2010. I didn't think I would have to renew it every year. But you know DMV, they have to get thier money from you :(