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Report on Incident Snow Blow
R:901231/1855z 12502@GB7NEM._121.GBR.EU Middlesbrough

From : G4OLK @ GB7NEM._121.GBR.EU

As arranged, I parked up in Guisbrough High Street at about 04:00 hrs on the Sunday morning.  At that time it was not known which, if any, of the roads to Whitby were open.

Our Controller suggested that I try to get through via the moor road. The rest of the group would follow some distance behind and if I got stuck in a snow drift they would go back and try the coast road.  There seemed to be a snag with that plan somewhere but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

I got to the Aislaby Moor car park just outside of Whitby and waited until the others caught up. The talk-through device (TTD) was put in my Land Rover and I went to Whinstone Ridge, a high point on Goathland Moor. The rest of the group went to the Highways Department depot in Whitby. Some set up a station in the depot.  The remainder of the group installed themselves in snow-ploughs and blowers, then set off to help clear the county's roads.

In the meantime, I was parked on a high point in the middle of a road with a huge snow wall on either side of me. Beyond the snow walls, out into the darkness of the open moor were miles of snow; deep and crisp and even.

Our controller called in, "Have you got the mast up yet?".  "No", I replied.  No way was I driving off the road, as beneath the deep and crisp snow lurked boulders, ditches and bogs waiting to swallow Land Rovers whole.

A snow-plough arrived and cleared a small space for me where a car park was hiding under the snow.  I pulled in, so I was no longer blocking the road.  "Ah good", called in our controller, "Now you can get the mast up. We want a better signal from the TTD."

The guy pegs for the mast were made from lengths of 2 inch steel angle. I paced out across the snow the length of the coax to the mast. Then I tried to hammer the pegs into the ground beneath the snow. Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to hammer 2 inch steel angle into the surface of a stone and tarmac car park?  "Have you got the mast up yet?", called our Controller.  "No", I replied, "I am going to wait until daylight."

By daylight, Colin G4MCF had arrived to give me a hand.  We prodded around until we found the edge of the hardstanding and the start of the peat bog.  I moved the Land Rover as near as I dared to the soft ground into which we hammered the steel pegs.  Next we assembled the mast and pointed it to the sky.

We had a problem.  The guy lines were the same length as the mast, so that when they were out at an angle they would not reach the ground.   I think Pythagoras said something about this.  I suggested digging a hole to make the mast lower down but Colin (who knows about these things) pointed out that it would be easier to remove one of the mast sections, so making the ground higher up.  At least I think that's how it worked.

At last the mast was up.  Colin then spent some time tuning up the cavity filters on the TTD while I made things difficult for him by transmitting on an adjacent frequency and relaying messages from the snow blowers to Whitby HQ. Colin then left.

When it was all over and I asked for someone to help take the mast down, he sent his brother Rod, instead of coming himself.


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Page updated on 09 January 2017

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