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Utility Pole

Hole The other morning I was on my way out the door when a fleet of bright yellow trucks came up the driveway.  It was Helco (Hawaii Electric Company) ready to install the new utility pole.  Nobody had called first so it was a good thing I was running a bit late.

I never realized how much work goes into a single utility pole.  The whole process started a couple months ago when the engineer came out to make a site inspection and decide where the pole would go.  That part was easy.

The next step was to dig the hole for the pole.  The hole needed to be five feet deep.  That's no easy feat since the selected location was solid rock.  It took one guy with a jack hammer two solid days of digging and a third day to put in the ground rods.

Pole Once the hole was dug, then the pole could be put in.  That's the step that required six trucks and over a dozen guys.  One truck had a large crane that simply lifted the pole and set it in place.  With a 30 foot tall pole it's important to get it straight up and down.  So how do you get it perfectly plumb?  You can't simply eyeball it because sloping ground or trees that lean sideways in the background can fool your eye.  You can't put a level on the pole because the pole is tapered.  The answer was surprisingly low-tech but also quite accurate.  They stood back a ways and held up a string with a weight on the bottom then made sure the pole lined up with the string.  Then another guy standing 90 degrees to the side also held up a string to make sure the pole was straight in both directions.  Fast, accurate, easy.

Crew Once the pole was vertical, they simply shoveled the extra gravel back into the hole.  No cement required.  They didn't even pack down the dirt.  It seems to be enough because the pole hasn't budged since.  Without hesitation, two guys shimmied up the pole and started attaching the hardware.  Apparently the two guys on the pole were in training so they didn't get to ride on the bucket crane.

Within an hour, the entire Helco caravan had finished the job and went rumbling back down my driveway.  The next step is to get the telephone and cable companies to move their lines to the new pole and remove the old pole.  Hopefully that will all happen soon so I can put the top story on my barn without having utility lines running through the middle of it.

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