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arrow1.gif (893 bytes) Time Line - 1985: Otter Tail Power Uses Captive Columns...
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Note: The only photos of the Captive Column Emergency Tower being used were taken by Otter Tail Power. They are therefore protected by copyright and can not be shown here. Some of those pictures appeared in the October 1985 issue of Transmission & Distribution magazine. The most striking photo showed the installed tower standing in about 8 feet of water (basically in the middle of a lake).

Otter Tail Power Company used it's supply of Captive Column Emergency Restoration Beams to replace downed power lines due to flooding near Lake Preston, South Dakota.

On April 29th, 1985 the Captive Column came to the rescue. Otter Tail Power pulled its supply of Captive Columns from inventory and transported them to the site. The flooded plain posed the major obstacle facing the installation of a replacement tower (about 8 feet of water stood at the location of the downed lines). This made it impossible to use a crane, which is a necessity for installing a conventional tower by land. A traditional tower could have been put in place with a helicopter, but the cost would have been enormous. Fortunately for Otter Tail, the light weight of the Captive Column Emergency Restoration Beams made it possible to do an end-run on the limitations of traditional technology.

The Captive Columns were used in an elegant and straightforward fashion.  The tower system was assembled at the shore using 6 Captive Column sections. Floats were then strapped to the tower and the entire system was then literally floated to the site. After arriving at the downed power lines, the floats were removed but the crew had trouble installing the tower because the Captive Columns were so light that they refused to sink! This problem was overcome by attaching weights to the bottom of the tower. After the tower was in place, the power lines were hoisted to the top. Only man power and simple tools were used for the entire effort.

A senior engineer at Otter Tail Power later told Mr. Bosch that this tower stood undamaged in this location for 7 months through blizzards. He was also told that this Captive Column product saved the utility at least $50,000.00 on this one use alone.

Transmission & Distribution magazine, a utility trade journal, did an article on this event and had this to say about it:

"It would have been impossible to accomplish this same task with a wood structure because the weight would have been prohibitive. Permanent wood poles will be installed at a later date, when the water has receded. When the Captive Column emergency restoration structure is taken down and disassembled, it will be returned to stock to await its next use." --  Transmission & Distribution, October 1985

The article quoted above was well written, stated the facts, and even had the inventor's full name and address printed at the end of it. The author was an Otter Tail Power engineer (Myron Broschat, PE). Here was a situation where two articles had been printed on this Captive Column product, the first one predicting how it should work, and the second one proving it. Mr. Bosch received no inquiries as a result of the second article.


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Copyright 1998-2004 by Lawrence R. Bosch.