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Tips on vehicle maintenance and wasps and bees
If you have a remote van or truck with a pneumatic mast, now is the time to do some routine maintenance before the warm weather and remote season starts up. Maintenance includes a general cleaning of the sliding sections with a non-abrasive cleaner (such as lacquer thinner or alcohol) and lubrication. The mast should be slowly extended a section at a time, inspected and wiped with the cleaner. Care should be exercised not to scratch the surface of the tubing sections. Then put the recommended lubricant (or light machine oil) into the lubrication holes with the pressure removed. Oil should never be rubbed onto the outside surfaces, as this will attract dirt, eventually causing binding and expensive repairs. The mast should be stored with the drain valve open on the bottom to prevent condensation inside the tubing. Ice inside the tubing can cause complete failure and ruin a mast. A canvas cover is available to protect the mast during down times, which will lead to much longer service life.
Check for leaks
Another chore for the spring at the transmitter site is to check the transmission lines for leaks. A quick and cheap way to look for leaks is to spray a joint (or suspected leak site) with foaming window cleaner. Any leak will cause the foam to bubble, making it obvious where the leak is. If your system uses a dehydrator on the air intake, the desiccant jar should be emptied and changed. Desiccant pellets can be redried in an oven and saved for reuse. Store them in a tight-sealing container such as a paint can. Any compressor pumps should be checked for noise and wear. If it needs to be replaced, a quick and inexpensive replacement is available from McMaster-Carr: part number 8280K26 oil-less air compressor. If you don't already have a spare on the shelf, now is probably a good time to get one.
A dead bug's life
The coming of spring and warm weather also means the return of birds and bees. While birds aren't a big deal, bees and wasps seem to love transmitter sites! Who hasn't surprised at least one nest of them when opening a transmitter building or an ATU doghouse door? And since stings are no fun, take time now to make your site wasp-proof. Buy a case of wasp spray and make sure a can is always near the door. Spray the perimeter of the shack door each visit during early Spring. If you have windows or insulator bowls on your shack, spray the outside and inside edges of them. Wasps and hornets have a keen sense of smell and don't like the smell of the wasp killer. Frequent spraying keeps the smell strong enough that they'll find another spot to build. If you have time, get some caulk and make things airtight. Any obvious holes from old feed lines or conduit should be filled. Good Stuff, a plastic expanding foam, will temporarily fill smaller holes and cracks. Make as many visits to the site as you can before the warm weather sets in, and if you do see a nest under construction return at dusk to spray it.
Landry is an audio maintenance engineer at CBS Radio/Westwood One, New York.
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