AM Ground Systems Company

WTBC
Transmitter Site

August of 2000

A Batman type story.

We received a frantic call for help from a tower contractor who had contracted another
ground system installer.  The ground system contractor had PROMISED to be at the site on several occasions for over 2 months. His excuse was always that this piece of equipment was somewhere else or that he couldn't get that piece of  rental equipment for X weeks or etc., etc., etc. He even came to the site with materials in his truck.  He left for breakfast... and never returned!  The tower crew finally found him a couple of days later in Arkansas.  About 300 miles from where he was supposed to be.  He promised to come back in a few days but never appeared.
 

He had/has a substantial amount of their money for a "deposit".  (The deposit had not
been returned as of 09/29/2006.)

Due to a property issue the old transmitter site had to be abandoned by a certain date.  The tower was up, the building installed and everyone was ready to proceed... except for the ground system contractor.  Finally, with the eviction date drawing near, the transmitter was moved to the new site and put on the air using 6 temporary radials.  With the station owners getting more  _displeased_ with the situation every day, the tower contractor rented a trencher and started work themselves.  This is the point at which the fly by night ground system contractor showed up with materials in his truck and then left headed for McDonalds... and never returned.  The tower crew continued digging for a full day.  Tired and beat  to death by the trencher, they only had about 10 trenches dug in a full days work.  At this rate it was going to take 24 days (240 radials /10 per day).

The next day the tower contractor started searching for a new ground system
contractor.   And quickly found AM Ground Systems Co.

We received the call on a Monday and had the ground system completed the following
Monday.  We had several thousand feet of copper wire and strap in stock and obtained
the remainder from a local warehouse on Friday.  Friday we traveled to the site and got everything setup for the next day.  Plowing started early Saturday morning and was completed Sunday night.   The site was cleaned up and all work inspected Monday morning.
 
 

A look of quite contemplation.
Actually this is a look of a bald, overweight, approaching 40 radio engineer who has been out in the August in Alabama heat (106F 95% humidity) all day.  We drank 8 gallons of water the first day and about 5 gallons of water and 5 gallons of Power Aid the second day.
 

The new site.
The soil in this area is usually red clay.  However, this site is a sand and silt mixture.  To the right of this
image is a vein of almost beach white sand.
 

Ground radials coming in to common connection point.  Notice fence posts around tower.  It had been so long since the site was put on the air that the station had to go ahead and have a fence built.  We took the fencing down and worked around the posts.
 

Shelton holding wire and talking on radio.  If he backs up any further he is going to learn what a gerbil in a microwave feels like... Cooked.
 

The plow.  Notice how close together the radials are.  We had to put them this close together to work around the fence posts.
 

Beginning the second day about half complete.  We brazed the completed radials down each evening.
 

More me, more fence, more sand, more dust, more heat.
 

Some of the trenches that the tower crew had dug are visible here.  We ended up having to fill in their trenches and start over.  The tractor tires would get in a trench and go the wrong direction.  Station Manager Johnny Prince (far right) admires our work.
 

Working at the site, station engineer Herbert Connellan, Jr., (fat guy on the left) stepped on a sharp stick and rammed it about 3 inches into the lower part of his leg.  One of my helpers (Shelton, skinny guy above) is a full time fireman.  He and I (fat guy on the right) administered first aid and cut the stick off (it was about 24 inches long) with a pair of bolt cutters.  Station personnel then carried him to the hospital for treatment.  He was back at the site later that day. 

We are sure that Herbert's quick recovery was entirely due to our dedication and skill.  

Oh yeah... The ground system turned out good also.






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