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What would you do with this fifty foot tall climbing tower that has no utility?

 
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This is a climbing tower, which was on my property when I bought it.  As best I can tell, it was erected in the early 90's but is still pretty solid.  At 50 feet tall, it is impressive.

I have no desire to climb it, nor do I want to open a climbing school or open it to the public.  My inclination is to take it down, assuming I can find someone who can do it safely.  I don't like having it on the property, as it probably falls into the category of an attractive nuisance, meaning I would be held liable if some drunk teenagers (or adults, for that matter) were to trespass and break their necks trying to climb it.  

Great deer stand, right? I have considered repurposing it - constructing side walls, making a sort of teepee, a cantilevered roof, etc... but it just feels like throwing good money after bad, when I don't really want that sort of structure in that location, and would rather either build a much more useful structure in that spot, as it is one of my few level spots, or open access to other areas.  I could always repurpose the poles for a pole barn or similar, so it wouldn't be a waste, although I assume the poles are heavily treated as telephone poles would be.  

Have looked into donating it to those brave enough to operate confidence courses/climbing towers, but apparently the cost of disassembling, transporting and reassembling is about as much as buying a new one, so nobody is interested.

Any ideas, either for repurposing or how to take it down?  
Climbing-tower.jpg
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Tower
 
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Is it bolted together, or tied with ropes? If rope, I don't believe I'd trust climbing it. The ropes are 25 yrs. old, maybe looking ok, but actually rotted?
There's a number of ways to get it down, but one thing I'd think about doing is using a bow & arrow to shoot a string up over it. Then use the string to pull up a rope and use the rope to pull it over.
~~It looks like it might have a zip line attached to it? Could you use the zip line and a come along to pull it over?
It looks heavy enough that the builder probably used a crane to erect it. If you have the money that would be the safest way to disassemble.
In any case, I wouldn't leave it for too long. Somebodies going to get hurt eventually.
 
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I'm no help as all I could think about was the amazing bonfire possibilities. lol
 
Artie Scott
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Jim, it is bolted together, I think the ropes are just for 'show" to look as if it is tied together.  There is a cable attached that is a sort of zip line - perhaps that could be used to pull it over, or as you suggest, getting a line over it with some rope to pull it over.  Have wanted to avoid the expense of a crane but you are right, I am sure that is how it went up, and probably the safest way to get it down.  

Elle, agree, that would make an awesome bonfire!  I could have a big "Burning Man" type party here!  But, it is pretty close to some beautiful oaks, and I definitely wouldn't want to get them on fire.  
 
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Perhaps put a wind turbine on top?

It could also be converted into a greenhouse or storage building.
 
pollinator
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Do you have enemies. It looks like it would make a really nice gallows.

Otherwise, salvage what is salvageable and clear the space.

If I were going to pull it down, I would first determine direction. You've got three choices, because it's a tripod. It has three different ways that it will naturally want to come over. The problem in dropping any heavy item is that you break it upon landing. If you have a really heavy log, a rope or cable could be run from that log to the top of the tower in the opposite direction that you will be pulling it with a truck or tractor. That way, once you go past the balance point, instead of just toppling over, it will have to drag the log, which will slow its descent. Of course you'd want to make sure that all legs are disconnected from the ground. Once it's on its side, most work will be lower to the ground, but you still want to act with Extreme Caution at pinch points and anywhere where the materials can scissor, because they are connected with a bolt. Don't be afraid to waste some of the material in order to do it more safely.
 
master pollinator
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Again, all you'd need is a come-along, of the kind that truckers use, basically a thick tie-down strap with a ratcheted lever that you power with your hand. I wouldn't attach to the zip line, unless you can verify that it still looks uncompromised, and maybe run it through a pulley, giving the line a 90 degree turn and putting you a little distance from the snap zone, just in case.

You could offer it up online to any who might want to take it away for the cost of disassembly and haulage, considering your concerns about the wood being treated.

Otherwise, I would actually deliberately examine the structure and the way that I want it to come down, and then undo the appropriate fasteners before I try to pull the structure with the come-along. If you have some help to attach lines to the top, held from the side opposite the come-along, you can even lower it slowly to avoid breaking it.

I wouldn't try to repurpose it. It has been designed to be a challenging and fun climb, it looks like, so if you do anything else with it, say, put a gazebo or whatever on top, someone is still going to climb it, even if you have the nicest stairs imaginable, and some foolish adult or unsupervised child of such will injure themselves.

I think that if you wish to do something different with it, use the materials to build a purpose-built structure, or look at how the existing one could be modified to do what you want it to without being an inviting climb.

Looks and sounds like a tall order.

-CK
 
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Option 0) I'd consider hiring the crane and a couple of tree climbers. You would salvage ALL the parts (maybe you cut some hardware). What to do with them then is up to you. More opportunities for either your own use, or for resale/giveaway, since it would ALL GO AWAY (no busted trashy pieces)

Option 1) You could spend a whole weekend with a crew of 3 or 4 friends who are experienced climbers trying to get it down by hand/manpower, plus beer and pizza. You would salvage MOST to ALL of the parts. You'd have stories to tell.

Option 2) You pull it over by whatever means possible, and chainsaw whatever didn't splinter apart upon landing. The base section doesn't get much shorter once on its side... and like Dale says, no less dangerous to get/cut apart.
             You might salvage HALF the parts this way? You might then also need a dumpster to dispose of the ruined pieces. This could also take a crew of 3 or 4 a whole weekend.

SO, I'd price out the crane and tree service (ask about scheduling it for winter when things may be slow, you might get a favorable rate), and price out a dumpster (I'm assuming you'd want it GONE, gone...if it was a splintered mess of crap), then weigh those against value for your own reuse.

 
Dale Hodgins
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The best way to rope it down, if you don't have access to pulleys and block and tackle all that, is to have a strong rope attached to the top and then have it run to a strong tree. The rope would need to be wound around the tree several times so that only a small amount of hand pressure can help lower it. This is very hard on the bark of a tree, so it either needs to be one you are planning to take down or the trunk needs to be wrapped in old carpet or something. I have roped down some really heavy stuff using this friction wrap method.
 
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How far from public access is it?  Do you suspect people would climb it or is that just a faint worry and you're really rather get rid of it for other reasons?

I'm thinking a greenhouse at the top would get lots of sun.  Or a wind turbine as Mike B suggested.  Or have it be a center support for a cool tripod A frame building.

No sense throwing good money/effort after bad, but then again, no sense demolishing something that has some sort of value and is very unusual.  I'd be sure to think through other options to use it before going through the trouble to remove.  

One removal idea could be to rope it to a tree (as Dale suggests) and then cut a chunk out of the opposing leg with a chainsaw.  Then lower it till you can cut out another 6' chunk.  Pretty soon it's on the ground and it won't have a leg sticking 18' up in the air to then deal with.  Might be a very dumb idea, I'm full of 'em
 
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I had to take down a 50 foot chimney after the barn burned around it. It was easy...

In your case rent a mid-sized excavator, then boom out the stick, and dipper so they are straight out, and reach up as high as you can on the tower, yet remaining a fair ways back on the machine. Then...DRIVE the excavator forward. Don't move the boom or dipper, just drive straight with its tracks, and it will push right over with you safely back away from it.

After it is down, use the excavator to clean up the debris and pile it for future repurposing.


In this way:

It is easy; you are using a machine to do it
It is cheap compared to other costs
You are doing it yourself, and no one else is at risk
It is through...from pushing over to cleaning up, one machine does it all
It will take no time: an hour tops!
 
Dale Hodgins
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It cost money to float excavators around and to rent them. This is a half hour job with a pickup truck and some ropes. Bringing it down. Obviously it would take a bit more time to process the material.

If a big chimney like that needs to come down, it can be done by punching a hole on either side and running a big cable through. Then using a cable or chain that is long enough to have the truck well out of the fall zone, drive forward with any vehicle strong enough and rip out a single course of brick. It will fall like a tree. So obviously there needs to be lots of room and no sewers or other things underground. I've brought free-standing chimneys down just by accomplishing that same thing with a sledgehammer, being really careful on the removal of the last few bricks. Kaboom. I'm at somewhere around 800 chimney now. I have to look at one tomorrow. No two quite the same.
...........
If this thing were on my property I wouldn't take it down. I would build the ultimate tree house up there and build a suitably safe stairway. Start with the stairway.
 
Travis Johnson
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I disagree.

It would cost $400 to rent an excavator and knock the thing down and clean up the mess.

No getting hurt, no fussing around with climbing, no getting a crane and riggers, just rent, push and clean up.

Not to mention using the machine for the next 7.5 hours to put in swales, other earthworks, etc.
 
Chris Kott
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I just want to say (sorry Dale) that I emphatically prefer push over pull in instances like this.

Pulling means a line under tension that can snap, which can recoil and do damage on both ends. Pushing means it's coming down away from you.

So pulling it down, especially if you miscalculate line integrity or how strong the structure is, might wreck your pickup, if you're lucky. Or you might get hit by a lashing line, which would inflict severe, life-changing injury, or perhaps just kill you on the spot.

So yeah, I'm with Travis. Push it down with an excavator and clean it up, and then dig some earthworks with the other 7.5 of your 8 hour rental.

-CK
 
pollinator
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I'm in agreement with others here - wind turbine on top(VAWT or conventional), wall up the bottom as a storage barn or even a granny flat.  Remove the hanging poles off the sides. Or if you're looking to get into HAM you could put your radio antennae up there.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I managed to pull 1000 logs off the beach with my beachcombing boat, without getting hit by a much larger line than this would require.

If it were mine, and I decided not to build the treehouse, I wouldn't do any of that. I would cut 80% through both legs in the direction I want it to fall, at about 6 feet high. Then I would use something to yank sideways and break the remaining portion so the thing could come crashing down. I've never floated in a machine for such a small task. I guess it depends on the value of the materials. If the materials are valuable enough, somebody will come for them. Unless I thought I was going to get $1,000 for the material, I wouldn't dump a lot of money into bringing them down. If it were just yanked over, you'd probably still save 80%.

This looks like a great spot to mount a large black tank, so that you can have solar heated showers for the whole town. Be glad if this is the only thing remaining from that business. My brother bought a place that had been a paintball outfit. They left him hundreds of giants tires from logging machines, scattered all over the property.
 
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Okay, clearly, you've seen this thing closer than we have. It looks to me like maybe the top platform and the crossbar of the lower "A" shaped portion keep the legs from spreading apart. If you secured the legs in position with some kind of cable or chain, then removed those parts, then loosened whatever you secured it with, would the legs spread wider and lower it down? Maybe secure with strong rope, with a prepared fuel source under the rope (away from the structural wood) to be lit from a distance?
 
T Melville
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T Melville wrote:Okay, clearly, you've seen this thing closer than we have. It looks to me like maybe the top platform and the crossbar of the lower "A" shaped portion keep the legs from spreading apart. If you secured the legs in position with some kind of cable or chain, then removed those parts, then loosened whatever you secured it with, would the legs spread wider and lower it down? Maybe secure with strong rope, with a prepared fuel source under the rope (away from the structural wood) to be lit from a distance?



Like one of these, but 3-D:
IMG_20190514_145653.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20190514_145653.jpg]
 
pollinator
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Other possibilities:

The worlds tallest scarecrow.

A string or two of lights, a couple of mugs filled with hot chocolate, a festive sweater, and a massive hunk of missiletoe . . . . its beginning to look a lot like Christmas!  Look at all the room at the base for lots of presents!

A back-scratcher for the Jolly Green Giant.

A stork nest stand.  A very tall stork nest stand.  (You'll see these as you drive around rural Europe).

Do you know how the neighbors on the cul-de-sac like to put their fireworks up on a step ladder on the 4th of July to amplify the effect of the cones and fountains and such?  Hello.  Cover that bad boy with sparklers, hand me a lighter, and let the pyrotechnics begin!  

I'm always looking for a place to store weirdly shaped stuff like ladders, garden tools, and camping equipment.  Add some hooks and shelves and you've got a tall rack for all your storage needs.

A trellis for my passion fruit vine.  Don't even snicker: it would easily overwhelm all 50 feet of that sucker.  You'd have ripe passion fruit dropping from above all summer.

Wrap those posts with carpet and give the cat an alternative to sharpening his claws on the side of your furniture.

Paint it camo and it disappears.  Bye.

Bungie jumping!



 
pollinator
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Haha Marco Banks, that's a good one!
Do you like beer? Grow hops into it. I've build a hops tipi that looks similar. Kind of.
 
Marco Banks
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No, not a beer guy, but I'm pro-pole beans.  There are all sorts of vining plants that would love to use that monster as a trellis.  If I had space, I'd try my hand at kiwis.  That looks like a fantastic arbor for kiwi fruit vines.
 
Artie Scott
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Thanks, everyone, for all of the great ideas!  WIll address a couple of the questions raised/suggestions made.  The tower is both shaded, by 100 foot oak trees, and sheltered, both from the oak trees and a hill to one side, so that would make it challenging to either use it as a support for growies (although I love the hops idea!), greenhouse, or for a windmill.  The angle from which I took the picture doesn't give a great sense of how sheltered it is.  If it were atop a hill, it would be perfect for a windmill, as I get pretty good breezes up the hill from the creek bottom most of the year.  I couldn't bring myself to cut the old oaks to open up to sun/wind, given that so much of the rest of the property was clear cut 10 years ago by the prior owner.

It would make a great gallows!  But, I don't really want to attract characters in need of hanging to my property, so I may pass on that.  

As for public access, it is about 3/4 of a mile from the nearest road, so probably unlikely that anyone will stumble upon it accidentally, and unless I was away, I would know if someone was snooping around it.  There could be the occasional trespassing hunter, but more likely someone I have allowed to camp on the property or their friends getting drunk and double-dog daring their buddy to climb it in the middle of the night.  

Have definitely given a lot of thought to repurposing into a treehouse/storage barn/nude sunbathing platform, but what I keep coming back to is, would I build that, there, if it were not already there?  And the answer is I would not, which is why I get stuck on the throwing good money after bad scenario.  I would like to put a nice log cabin workshop right there tho.

I actually do have an excavator on site for another project this week, and maybe I can get him to take a crack at it if he has time.  

Dale, I am very happy this was not the site of a paintball outfit!
 
Mike Barkley
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big scarecrow

... the funny rabbit holes we sometimes venture into.
 
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It seems a pity not to leave it there and just wait until and idea comes along.
I dont think it should be burnt down.
 
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Toss it on Craigslist, see if you can find someone who will pay you for the privilege of removing it so they can put it up someplace else. Or will remove it for free so they get the wood etc. Quite possible someone wants it
:)
 
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Wow you have a great chance to make unearned income with this tower!  There are many ISP's who are selling wifi that broadcasts 25 to 50 miles. ....you can rent this tower to them and they will put up a  wifi radio. You could start selling wifi to your neighbors too but that's not really passive income.

Or you could see if a local cell phone company wants another cell tower you can rent to them.


I'm assuming other people have already suggested putting a wind generator up there too.

...and if you watch TV, you have a great antenna platform to get free TV.


Lastly, determine how much weight it can hold and use it to both collect rain water by adding clay sheets up at its highest 10 feet and collecting it at 25 feet off the ground....now you have a pressurized water system at your service.

imagine the cost and effort to put that critter up....you really could make use of it if you are clever enough.
 
Chris Kott
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I don't like the idea of having a WiFi or cell tower anywhere near me. In addition,  the structure doesn't look tall enough to be of any use for the broadcasting or reception of signals, unless perhaps it's atop a hill already.

And yes, a tank could be built or installed atop the tower, and a solar or wind-powered pump could keep it full, and overflow could be routed to swales. But that would depend on the tower already being in a location where gravity-fed water pressure could be of use.

If it needs to be moved to be of use as-is, it already makes more sense to deconstruct the structure and rebuild it to the purpose.

-CK
 
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I would keep it up!  My normal policy is to not spend time removing something unless I know what I want instead of that.

Ideas:
Hawk perch
Bat house
Gravity feed water tank


 
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Mike Barkley wrote:big scarecrow

... the funny rabbit holes we sometimes venture into.



First thing that came to mind when I saw that was "Sexy!"  Then I saw the bulge and figured it must be anatomically correct, so I was right with my initial thought...
 
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It kinda reminds me of the tethered - hang gliding tower I climbed... back when I could climb one... and 'flew' from! It was an awesome way to get a taste of the sport, without any real investment. But, I'm sure it was an insurance nightmare.

Now, on to the prolly not all that helpful portion of my contribution. I'd probably leave it, until either a - some brilliant idea came along, of how to use it very well: b - someone came along with papers, threatening me with legal action, if it's not removed; c - another idea came along for use of the land &/or materials, that I just couldn't ignore; or d - someone came along, who offers to take it off my hands, preferably at a good price they'd pay.
 
Orin Raichart
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Chris Kott wrote:

And yes, a tank could be built or installed atop the tower, and a solar or wind-powered pump could keep it full, and overflow could be routed to swales.

-CK



Not fully what I described....the tank will fill itself...no pump required....how?   Because it would have 20 feet above it to collect both water and snow via the clay sheets which would funnel the precipitation into the tank top.....the tank being 25 feet off the ground  would gravity feed water to any where on the property below the 25 feet high bottom of the tank
 
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