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Friday, June 26, 2009

Today's blog is all about the long history of attempts to secure decent television signal at 4896 Hobbs Road, Fall Creek, Wisconsin.

When we first moved here, we found that we were too far out of town to get cable. The next option was to put up a small dish. the installer came out and shot azimuths every which way. the verdict? You can't receive a clear signal here because we can't get a clear shot at the horizon because of the virgin pine.

Cutting down these magnificent trees was out of the question.

Now, this was still back in the day when the huge C-Band dishes were very popular and got you all the television you would ever need. So, TV-aholic that I am, I was not to be thwarted. Why not get a C-Band dish and if we can't get a clear shot from the ground, well, let's take it UP above tree top level so that we CAN!
So I approached my oldest brother Bob who at the time was still running the family farm south of Menomonie. I asked him if I could have the old wind mill that was no longer in use, as it stands 40 feet tall.

We made the arrangements and I met with a crane operator one fine morning, hooked a lifting chain to the top of the wind mill, then unbolted the whole she-bang and had the crane lower it to the ground.

The next step was to dismantle the entire wind mill, section by section and load each section into the old 49 Ford panel truck I had at the time and transfer each section to the site of its new home.

I shall never forget my father , who always had a lot of faith in me (NOT), standing there in his bibs, observing me ratcheting away on the first section -- he watched for a while and then he said: "You'll get it apart -- but you'll never get it back together again."

This of course, pissed me off. I went and got a huge black marker and carefully marked each piece as I dismantled it.

Within a week, I had reassembled the downed structure. I was having trouble getting the last sections to come together so I called my truly mechanically gifted pal, Gary Spaeth, who took a look at the situation and immediately knew what was wrong.
We had to loosen each section up and make it "sloppy" enough to be able to get all the bolts in place.

Next I called up the local telephone guys and they were good enough to come out and auger out four holes for the base angle irons. I don't know how I did it, but I managed to cement the angle irons exactly where they needed to be. I again gained the employ of a crane and we did a reverse procedure, swinging the huge structure into place and then bolting it onto the waiting angle irons. FIT LIKE A GLOVE!

There was one anxious moment when the crane operator jockeyed the big dish into position with yours truly clinging to the "crow's nest" , forty feet above ground. We couldn't get the damn thing to drop onto the pole so the operator tried "wiggling" it a bit -- it came free at some velocity, swung into the trees beyond my perch, whirling like a top, came right back at me -- I ducked and it went wheeling right past my head in the other direction.

It was then that the crane operator decided we had best put a guide rope on it. My dear mother was in charge of keeping me from being killed and we got it to drop on the first try.

Over the years I enjoyed way more TV than I could ever watch but eventually, the little dish manufacturers started putting their lobbyists to work and they managed to all but eliminate the C-Banders. for a while I went to Direct TV but in addition to bad service they kept jacking up the prices - so when I found that General Instruments was manufacturing an HDTV decoder to use in conjunction with my C-Band dish, I dropped Direct TV like a bad habit.

I am proud to say that I am still a C BANDER!


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