November 29 - December 23, 2005

On November 29, 2005 at 10:45 pm. we lost the AC power to our building unexpectedly. We made a trip up to Tiger Mtn to investigate on Wednesday, 11/30/05 and discovered we had no AC power in our electrical service panel. At this point we reported the outage to Puget Sound Energy and with some negotiation managed to get their crew up there later that day in a 4 wheel drive vehicle. They opened up the transformer vault and verified that there was power on our wires which meant that we had a break in our lines somewhere underground in the approx. 200 foot run. Indications are that all three wires are affected. There was 8" of snow at the top making things a little difficult.
On Friday, December 2, 2005 we made another trip to Tiger Mtn to troubleshoot and see if we could detect anything on or around the lines using a cable tracer that we borrowed on Thursday. We were unsuccessful making any determination along these lines. We were also unsuccessful in finding anybody with a TDR to help us locate the underground fault. Between Wednesday and Friday another 8" of snow had fallen for a total of 16" at the top.
On Monday, December 5, 2005 we made another trip to Tiger Mtn in the afternoon for a photo and planning session to see what would be needed to install a temporary power line. A trip to Olympia was made in the morning to obtain keys for the recon trip.
A work party for Saturday, December 10, 2005 was tentatively planned at this point and we began to gather the materials needed for this installation. In addition we gathered materials required for underground splicing in the event we were able to find the underground fault. We also had lined up a TDR (Time Domain Reflectometer) and an operator to assist in locating the fault. December 6-9 was used to obtain materials required. Another trip to Olympia was made to obtain the wire for a temporary installation. A rush hour trip to Kent was made to obtain crimp splices for the 1/0 wire in case we located the fault. A circuit breaker had to be shipped via next day air from back east for this temporary installation.
On Saturday morning, December 10th, the nine work party participants met at the lower gate of Tiger Mtn at 8am to install chains on all four wheels of the four vehicles that were going to make the trip to the top. Three of the four vehicles made it to the top with one being left near the upper gate area due to technical problems with the four wheel drive system.
Work party participants were Bob Amos, WA7HTJ; Barry Simpson, WA7HJR; John Hokenson, WA7NLD; Mike Reid, N7NEW; Hal Goodell, N7NW; Scott Cortesi, KD7YQT; Mike Sterba, KG7HQ; Ralph Javins, N7KGA; and Lee Dully, KD7WGN.
When we got to the top several jobs were started at the same time. Mike Sterba, KG7HQ hooked up his Tektronix TDR to the defective wiring and proceeded to determine where the fault was located. At the same time, ground was being broken for installation of a temporary underground power line to a nearby building, etc. Mike Sterba, KG7HQ was able to determine a fault area (an open) and there was a lot of discussion on how much off one way or another the exact location might be and the amount of time required to dig down to a live set of wires (there is another site owners' wires in the same trench, and ours are probably live up until the break, etc) since extra care has to be taken. It was decided the best sure thing solution was to proceed with the temporary wire installation for now and make plans to correct the fault at a later date when the weather gets better and we can get a backhoe up there.
By the end of the day we were able to get a temporary power line installed and connected at both ends and power restored. All repeater and link systems in the building were back in operation.
You can see by the rocks in the one photo (photo without snow was taken on 12/23/05) why it might have been a problem to hand dig down 30-36" trying to locate the fault and what we would have been in for if the location was off by three or four feet, etc.
There is still a little cleanup work needed on several items in this temporary installation to get through the winter. This work is currently planned for 12/28/05.
We want to thank all the work party participants for their hard work during the day. It was approx. 9 hours or so and a very cooperative effort on everyone's' part. We especially want to thank Lee Dully, KD7WGN who spent the entire day at the bottom by himself guarding everyone's' vehicles so they did not have to worry about any vandalism or thefts, etc. We also want to thank the nearby site owner that helped us out with the temporary power.
We believe with a little cleanup work on 12/28/05 that we should be in a position to get through the worst part of the winter until the weather starts to improve enough to move on to the next phase. That will require us to get a backhoe up there and attempt to locate and repair the fault.
So far the cost of this operation has been $825.90 not including the cost of making the trips to Tiger Mtn and other places to obtain the needed materials. We are aware of $187.00 worth of gasoline use. We are roughly estimating it might be in the $600.00 range for backhoe work later on but that could go either way depending on the circumstances discovered.
In the photo's below: (left) shows Mike Sterba, KG7HQ on the left and Mike Reid, N7NEW on the right looking at the Tektronix TDR for fault location; (middle) shows from left to right, Hal Goodell, N7NW, Scott Cortesi, KD7YQT, Ralph Javins, N7KGA, John Hokenson, WA7NLD, Mike Reid, N7NEW, and Mike Sterba, KG7HQ; (right) shows the completed ditch across the road and the rocks left over about two weeks later when the snow had melted.

Puget Sound RTTY Repeater Group