Dave's definitely not here.
August 12, 2014 7:44 PM   Subscribe

Ya got me.
posted by damehex at 7:49 PM on August 12

Yes indeed if you are afraid of heights please don't watch this. Never was the NopeNopeNope tag used so accurately since those Russian teenagers on that abandoned tower were gamboling on the edge of a precipice.
posted by winna at 7:50 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]

Note to self: Read the tags before you click on links.
posted by misozaki at 7:50 PM on August 12 [4 favorites]

Reminds me of a quote from an old Onion article about the Sears Tower:

While installing the new antenna, several workers were heard to say "Hey, I can see Gary from here!" before leaping to their deaths.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:57 PM on August 12 [4 favorites]

It was pretty interesting considering the logistics of removing the antenna. From what I can tell, they first spot-welded some I-beams in a cross formation on top of the antenna to serve as anchors, and they looped a steel wire strop through the anchor, and then cut off the top of the antenna in quarters with an acetylene torch, using the cable and the anchors to capture whatever they were cutting off. The I-beams also served as anchors for their safety harnesses.

At about the 8 minute mark it was interesting to listen to the lead talk with his partner about how to do something. Sometimes you get into these situations where there are no answers and you have to work it out with someone you trust.

I used to do some rigging work with my father during the summers off school when I worked for his mechanical contracting company.

It's quite cool to be working with someone closely (usually it was me and my dad) in some tight spot like this (although nothing quite as extreme), trying to figure out a solution to a problem with no margin for error.
posted by Nevin at 8:02 PM on August 12 [9 favorites]

Oh my mistake, the I-beams are pretty clearly bolted onto the top of the array.
posted by Nevin at 8:07 PM on August 12

Does the phrasing of the link feel like it's missing a verb to anyone else?
posted by clockzero at 8:13 PM on August 12

Oh my, that's a pucker...
posted by twsf at 8:14 PM on August 12

For reference. (It's the tall one.)
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:17 PM on August 12

So what do you call this job? Is this just a normal chore for skyscraper maintenance dudes or is there some kind of specialized Spidermen-only job listing I should be carefully avoiding?
posted by SharkParty at 8:22 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
posted by jayb3369 at 8:23 PM on August 12 [3 favorites]

Thanks for making me clinch. Appreciate it.
posted by NedKoppel at 8:23 PM on August 12

I'm not particularly afraid of heights, and generally video taken from a high place doesn't do very much in the way of inducing vertigo, but I would in this instance like to make one note:

Fuck that!
posted by Ipsifendus at 8:25 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]

Missing trigger warning!

(never expected to make that complaint)
posted by fredludd at 8:27 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]

Trigger warning: life in general.
posted by angerbot at 8:33 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]

Dave's not here. Definitely!
posted by root beer tastes like fire ants smell at 8:36 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]

That's not funny!
posted by ob1quixote at 8:44 PM on August 12

So what do you call this job?

Ironworker or structural steel worker.
posted by Nevin at 8:45 PM on August 12

I don't like this. This is... No.
posted by mochapickle at 8:47 PM on August 12

Christ. I haven't watched the whole thing yet, but is the guy smoking a cigarette or holding some kind of tool in his mouth? I don't know which would be worse.
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:52 PM on August 12

Huh. The height doesn't bother me at all, but the rolling perspective of the fisheye camera is vurp inducing.
posted by elizardbits at 9:06 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]

Look, would you wait until you climb all the way back down to the bottom to smoke?

A place I used to work, there were guys who would cut a little slit in their respirator to stick a cigarette in.
posted by RobotHero at 9:07 PM on August 12

That's no mean feat, but I'd like to see them get barf out of a hundred youtubers' keyboards.
posted by not_on_display at 9:15 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]

Pbbt. They're doing it wrong. If there's one thing I've learned from cartoons, it's that you're supposed to stand on the piece you're cutting away.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:18 PM on August 12 [10 favorites]

I really thought they'd be stoned
posted by beepbeepboopboop at 9:22 PM on August 12 [4 favorites]

Yeah, video footage from very high places doesn't induce any kind of anxiety or dizziness for me. Not at all. If I'm watching a movie and Jackie Chan jumps off of a skyscraper roof onto another skyscraper roof, I don't viscerally register it as an amazing, dangerous stunt.

On the other hand... if I need to jump down from a 5 foot platform, or I'm looking out of, say, a 10th story window, the fear is very palpable.
posted by dgaicun at 9:23 PM on August 12 [3 favorites]

That was fun.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:26 PM on August 12

Oh my god my feet hurt which is my vertigo feeling oh god make it stop.

I lasted 7 seconds.
posted by dness2 at 9:45 PM on August 12

Of course he's smoking up there! If he tried that at street level, he'd probably be ticketed.
posted by TDavis at 9:49 PM on August 12

you're supposed to stand on the piece you're cutting away

You joke but I have seen this done in actual real life by a presumably tipsy catalan construction worker after a 3-tinto lunch. He was standing on top of the chimney he was demolishing and swinging the sledgehammer on the bit directly beneath him for at least 10 minutes before someone stopped him.

i knew then that that was the land for me
posted by elizardbits at 9:49 PM on August 12 [15 favorites]

at :14 I can see my workplace, and almost see my house in the same frame. And my palms have not stopped sweating 3 minutes after I stopped watching.
posted by onehalfjunco at 9:49 PM on August 12



Seriously, anyone know the pay/union dues/benefits for gigs like these?

And of course one guy is smoking.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:51 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]

I dunno, watching trained professionals do this with safety harnesses and stuff isn't really the same after watching a few videos of some of the crazy-ass Russian guys who are loose on the world's skyscrapers.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:57 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]

I really thought they'd be stoned

My first thought was "That's a horrible job to do while high." I am not that quick sometimes.
posted by bibliowench at 9:58 PM on August 12 [16 favorites]

I didn't really get vertigo until I realized that the surface waaaay below them is the top of the frikkin' John Hancock Tower.
posted by neckro23 at 10:05 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]

Totally awesome - I keep turning away to keep that tingly feeling in my bowels from overwhelming me. Danger! Danger! Danger!
posted by helmutdog at 10:08 PM on August 12

The up high part itself doesn't bug me, if I was on the ladder I'd probably be okay. But that guy climbed up there, and then crawled out onto that tiny little platform and stood up. And then started chopping away at it!
posted by tavella at 11:09 PM on August 12

Why are they removing the antenna, anyway?
posted by tavella at 11:12 PM on August 12

Not high enough.
posted by telstar at 11:16 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]

My hands and feet were sweating the entire 3 or 4 minutes I watched. I kept thinking, "Are there every earthquakes in this part of the world?" and when the POV worker stood up I was like, "WHAT THE HOOEY! FORGET THAT WHAT THE HELL".

In lieu of some obvious better way to maintain such precariously placed infrastructure, both workers are missing as necessary piece of safety equipment: a parachute. Not to mention a helicopter and friggin' jetpacks, right?!
posted by mistersquid at 11:41 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]

Unicorn on the cob: "Seriously, anyone know the pay/union dues/benefits for gigs like these?

And of course one guy is smoking.

Not sure for a unionized iron worker, which I would expect these guys are given that they're working on a building. Broadcast and cellular telecom tower hands can make as little as $10/hr for the same kind of work.

I was pretty fortunate with the outfits I worked for in that they treated me pretty well by industry standards, $25-$30/hr, plus decent bennies at a couple of the outfits. There are lots of fly by night shops that will pop up when a carrier is doing a big build-out of new technology, and things can get sketchy quick. Frontline did a piece on the cellular industry side of it a couple years back.

Like Nevin pointed out above communication and problem solving are key. Every tower is different, built to a different spec, and with different shit hanging off that you have to deal with. The pay and the hard nature of the work don't always draw the best and the brightest, but the good shops can build a solid team, and the friendship bonds that result can be strong.

I don't miss climbing ice covered towers in January, but I do sometimes twinge for the friendships and the views.
posted by calamari kid at 2:08 AM on August 13 [4 favorites]

I caught an old episode of Dirty Jobs this weekend wherein Mike Row was crane-hoisted up 330 ft to do this same sort of work. Sitting on the comfort of my couch watching my carefully filtered television experience I knew intellectually there was no way I was going to see Mike Row's eyebolt fail when being hoisted up by a crane or for the new mast section to strike the unguyed tower and cause a horrific collapse killing all. My visceral experience was something else altogether. Mike may have gotten lazy and crabby at the end but man, he and his crew had some fortitude on many of those gigs to just show up.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 3:38 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]

Oh my holy God. That gave me the bad tingles in my downstairs. I can't bring myself to climb up the folding ladder into my new attic, and these guys are like quite a bit higher than that and they don't even sound like they're crying or anything??!
posted by billiebee at 3:43 AM on August 13 [6 favorites]

Jeez, watching this in fullscreen squicked me out more than actual skydiving did. I don't do well with heights, even not-so-high heights, but jumping out of a plane didn't hit the same nerve for me. This definitely does. Yikes.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:44 AM on August 13

This kind of work in Australia pays very well, I'm half guessing, but it should start somewhere north of $40/hr. You will need real licenses to legally do it though (as in government issued, with photo, the real deal), it's very heavily regulated here.

Apparently I've done enough work at height to feel nothing watching that, which is nice as I used to be very scared of heights.
posted by deadwax at 4:54 AM on August 13

Of course he's smoking up there! If he tried that at street level, he'd probably be ticketed.

To be fair, he is more than 15 feet from an entrance to the building.

For some reason, I wasn't feeling the height until I noticed he was smoking and then I started feeling sick. Something about doing something you do on the ground drove home how high he was.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:24 AM on August 13

The best part is that it shows giant, whirring fanblades at the bottom - so if you plummeted down in that direction as a result of some unfortunate accident likely involving sweaty palms and hyperventilation at high altitude, you'd be chopped into sushi before splatting.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:27 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]

It looks dangerous and it actually is dangerous. The DTV transition led to a lot of tower worker accidents. Not just a lot of antennas needing replacement, but schedule pressure (even with extensions) and a lack of trained crews. more
posted by morganw at 6:00 AM on August 13

Oh dear lord that is not right at all
posted by glasseyes at 6:24 AM on August 13

Atom Eyes: For reference. (It's the tall one.)

Actually, I think it's the shorter one. You can pretty clearly see the base of the "cap" of the taller one in the video (e.g, 4:30). Looking here or here, it seems like they must be on the tippy-top of the shorter antenna.
posted by pjenks at 6:52 AM on August 13

I was on a hike this weekend and on the summit of a mountain there was an old metal fire tower. To get up into the tower you had to climb a rickety metal ladder. I don't think the tower was more than 30 or 40 feet high but it was terrifying. Climbing up I was scared, moving from the ladder to the tower platform I was scared, and then moving from the platform back to the ladder I almost started crying I was so terrified. Even though logically I knew I had secure footing and a good grip, it was still the scariest thing I've done in a long time.

In conclusion, fuck this video, fuck those guys, fuck that building, and fuck gravity.
posted by bondcliff at 6:53 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]

Oh goodie! Now I don't have to work on my kegels today!
posted by sourwookie at 6:57 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]

I could only manage to watch a tiny bit of this but is he five miles up and PULLING APART THE THING THAT HE IS SITTING ON?
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:05 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]

Dude, those guys are so high.
posted by The Bellman at 7:05 AM on August 13

Oh shit, I dropped the screw.
posted by Kabanos at 7:34 AM on August 13

Eh, amateurs. He could get a little bit higher than that if he set his lunchbox on its end up there at the very tippy top of the antenna mast and then stood on that. Maybe jumped up and down a couple times. He could get a good couple feet of more altitude. Dude just lacks commitment.
posted by Naberius at 7:35 AM on August 13

Atom Eyes: For reference. (It's the tall one.)

Actually, I think it's the shorter one.

Oh, I thought Atom Eyes was showing the Hancock for reference.

Either way, cool building, cool job. For a while I considered trying to be a window washer in the city because hello, views! and cool architectural details up close! But then I took a job on the 44th floor and saw the size of the spiders that live up that high. Fuck. that.
posted by heyho at 7:43 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]

Why are they removing the antenna, anyway?

Not used anymore. The antennas being removed from the west antenna tower were mostly analog TV antennas. Some of them weren't even being used before the digital cutover, most of the Chicagoland TV stations moved over to the Sears Tower, where the antennas are another 250 feet higher. UHF signals* are basically line of sight, so the taller the antenna, the farther the signal can be received, and at 1700', you can pick up Chicago stations from a long way away, though you might need a better antenna. With a directional antenna and a clear line of sight over the lake, it's easy to get Chicago stations in Western Michigan.

The two big exceptions, WYCC (PBS, Channel 20) and WGBO (Univision, Channel 66) still transmit from the Hancock. Their antennas are on the east tower.

A number of FM stations are on the Hancock towers -- WBEZ, WXRT, WLUP, WILV and WOJO are the most prominent, and most of the area stations have backup transmitters there. AM stations don't broadcast from buildings, they need dedicated towers because the entire tower is the radiating element. FM radio, being at the low end of the VHF range, has a much more significant ground wave and atmospheric guiding, so height doesn't directly correlate to range as much as it does with UHF. **

By removing these unused antennas, they can be replaced with something that somebody wants to use.

* In Chicagoland, the only station that's still broadcasting in the old VHF TV Band is WBBM (Channel 2), which is broadcast on Channel 12. The Channel Numbers you see on Digital TV are virtual channel numbers, since so many stations built identities around their channel numbers. With VCs, you can still be Channel 2, even though you're broadcasting on VHF 12, and Channel 9, even though you're broadcasting on UHF 19.

** Indeed, this is why the big channels all used VHF in the early days. With digital TV, the signal to noise ratio doesn't affect the image like the analog systems did. With analog, you gradually snowed out, so signal level was more important, and it was a lot easier to build high power VHF amplifiers for the transmitters back then. With digital, so long as enough signal is reaching, you get a perfect picture. Of course, the reverse of this is the "digital cliff" -- you either get the signal, or you don't. Plus, UHF amps are cheaper, and WLS-TV (ABC 7) and WFLD-TV (FOX 32) both have 1MW UHF transmitters.
posted by eriko at 8:08 AM on August 13 [7 favorites]

Metafilter: That gave me the bad tingles in my downstairs.
posted by hanov3r at 8:09 AM on August 13

O, dang. I was going to do the "Metafilter: x" thing for the first time and become a member in good standing at long last. But I was going to go like:

Metafilter: tingles in my downstairs.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:47 AM on August 13

Hands. Sweating. So. Badly. GAH!!
posted by mrzer0 at 10:39 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]

I could only manage to watch a tiny bit of this but is he five miles up and PULLING APART THE THING THAT HE IS SITTING ON?

Standing. He was standing on the tower, which makes it much worse for me.
posted by NoMich at 10:57 AM on August 13

I will find you and I will... UUUURP!
posted by Splunge at 3:29 PM on August 13

I was cool until the cut happened and I screamed like a little girl. Three times.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 4:45 PM on August 13

NoMich, it's the standing that gets me. The other guy -- yeah, he's high up, but he's buckled to the ladder and has hand and footholds. The guy on top is just standing, on a tiny little platform where one good sway or gust of wind will send him over. I'm sure he's got some kind of safety tether, but slamming into the side of the spire wouldn't be exactly healthy either.
posted by tavella at 4:54 PM on August 13

Wow, that really is like being incredibly high. I had to bail after a few seconds the first time but had to come back a few minutes later. Very intriguing-- I'm curious whether it will find it's way into my dreams tonight. I still get a bit dizzy just thinking about it.
posted by cleroy at 6:42 PM on August 13

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