Author Topic: Pros and Cons of military surplus 48" fiberglass mast sections  (Read 843 times)

Online Smurf Hunter

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Recently through a local ARES contact, I got a complete kit of 16 48" poles plus extras for only $10.00.

My hope was to use this as an emerency/field portable mast for wire antennas and possible VHF/UHF Jpoles.
For this thread, I'm only talking about fiberglass.  There are also aluminum poles, but that's a different beast.

First off, the absolute highest I could erect this using a very tall and sturdy tripod was 6 sections are about 24 feet total.
Allegedly, with a special collar and guy wires, you can get 7 sections up (28 feet and change), but my goal was a one-man setup, and by my estimate I'd need two friends to reliably get the advertised 30 feet stable.

For reference here's an online retailer that sells what I tested.  I've no affiliation or knowledge of that seller, just the product description conveniently matched what I have.

https://frrl.wordpress.com/2009/09/20/emergency-preparedness-30-ft-fiberglass-mast-and-base-for-40/


For visual reference here's what I was able to setup, by myself, using a bicycle repair stand as the base.




Here's the big obvious problem: even with lots of hardware and friends to help if you manage to get 7 mast sections to safely remain vertical, 30 feet is only so useful for HF.  I had good success on 20 meters using the W3EDP zeppelin.  But if you have ambitions for bands lower than 7mhz (40 meters), most of your RF will be hitting the dirt and not move through the air as intended.

Also, 3rd parties make these tripod joints with the idea being the mast sections can make up both the legs and the verticals.  While the milsurp fiberglass and aluminum as the same diameter, the fiberglass has an additional "ring" making it impossible to feed through the center of the tripod joint.



In summary, if you come across a deal I found ($10 for everything) it's worth playing around, but the fiberglass poles aren't rigid enough for VERY tall masts up to 50 feet and taller.




Offline Carl

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Re: Pros and Cons of military surplus 48" fiberglass mast sections
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2017, 05:03:39 AM »
Have some Karmic corn for your good find  :popcorn:
Stop complaining about life and start Celebrating it .

I've reached the age where there is little left to learn the hard way.

If you had only one year,one month,or one day...Would you live your life differently?

Offline iam4liberty

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Re: Pros and Cons of military surplus 48" fiberglass mast sections
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2017, 05:57:25 PM »
That is a screaming deal!   These are really good for rv'ing.  They are short enough to easily stow. Ussually you mount them to the rv (fender and near roof line).  Of course, in an RV park you only need to go 20 feet to clear structures.

In a field they can go up to 40 feet with three sets of guylines.  And this can be set up by one person with a tilt base instead of the tripod.  I cant find a picture of a tilt base but it is a plate with a spike on the bottom (to drive in ground) and on top it has a tube section with a screw through it so it can only rotate in one dimension.  The first pole fits over this tube.  Then the full mast of poles is laid out on the ground with two of three guylines in top ring secured.  The third guyline will be in the direction of the base tilt.  So this guyline is used to pull the mast up vertically.  Then that guyline is secured, the other ones of that ring tightened.  Then the screw is tightened on base so it no longer rotates.  Then rest of guylines are deployed. 


Offline iam4liberty

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Re: Pros and Cons of military surplus 48" fiberglass mast sections
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2017, 06:11:54 PM »
Found an image  on an ebay listing:




Online Smurf Hunter

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Re: Pros and Cons of military surplus 48" fiberglass mast sections
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2017, 07:15:00 PM »
Found an image  on an ebay listing:






That would certainly aid in deployment, and with the guy wires would get a bit more height. 

If you all lived closer, I'd buy the dozens of extra sets and sell them off at cost.

Offline armymars

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Re: Pros and Cons of military surplus 48" fiberglass mast sections
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2017, 11:06:38 AM »
  I use a weighted base. A 2X2 foot piece of ply wood with a 3/4" pipe flange and a 8" pipe nipple. I lay everything out on the ground including the guy ropes on three sides. When I was still strong I could walk it up, grab the forth guy rope and walk it out to it's stake. Instead of adjusting the guy ropes to make the mast vertical, I slide the base around. I use 3/4" nipple because it's the right size for the old weights from my bar bell set. I used 40 lbs for a 30 foot mast. Before I found the military masts I used three 10 foot sections of 4"PVP  drain pipe.
  Now days I use the aluminum poles on the bottom half and fiber glass on the top and I get some one younger to help me.( Do most the work )  8)