Transmission Tower and Pole Painting

A Challenge for All Involved

From JPCL, August 2017

By Matthew McCane, PCS, Greenman-Pedersen, Inc. and Curt Hickcox, PCS Public Utilities Maintenance, Inc.

That our electrical transmission system is aging and degrading from corrosion is a given. The good news is that this process can be controlled, costly line failures due to corrosion can be minimized and the system’s reliability can be improved by taking a proactive approach to structure maintenance. This article describes the cornerstone of this approach including the use of a properly executed maintenance program that requires an acceptable technical specification, a qualified contractor and professional quality control. This type of program has repeatedly proven to ensure the long-term, cost-effective protection of transmission structures....

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Tagged categories: Certifications and standards; Contractors; Curt Hickcox; Environmental Control; Paint application; Power; Program/Project Management; Surface preparation; Transmission Towers

Comment from Richard Kruger, (8/28/2017, 7:16 AM)

Most useful an informative article especially for those in the power generation industry. Thanks it reads well and covers all aspects of relevance

Comment from William Feliciano, (8/28/2017, 9:28 AM)

Overall, a great article. Very informative. Under the coatings sections however, I thought that oil based alkyd formulations were a no-no for use over galvanizing, as they saponify. Granted, in some areas of these towers there'll likely be little to no galvanizing remaining. But in areas where there is, this may be a problem. Otherwise, very good article.

Comment from Joe Crytser, (8/28/2017, 12:31 PM)

As a man who did this work for many years, i can tell you from experience that it is the most physically demanding and most dangerous work i have ever done! you must be very trusting of everyone on your crew. if anyone makes a mistake, i could be a devastating accident. there are many ways an accident could occur, falling objects (brushes, mitts, steel etc.) and that's not including the electrical hazards, heat hazards, falls and or even the hazard of the materials, both being removed and absorption of new materials.Painting is only one of the hazards. these structures can be very treacherous just to get to their locations, let alone getting the materials to them. then come another whole set of hazards, ticks, bees, overgrown vegetation. the article talked about it taking a three or four man crew 3-4 hours to paint a single structure, but that does not include the time it takes to get your materials to the tower. it also depends on the size and complexity of the structure. all in all this was a very informative article and I'm glad the men and women who do this work get recognized for their accomplishment. now we just need to pay them a living wage with Health care and a pension. Unionize with the Painters

Comment from Curt Hickcox, (8/28/2017, 12:37 PM)

Thanks for the comment. Your statement is generally correct, however the fact that the galvanized tower steel is significantly weathered and oxidized by the time it's painted, and the coating formulations use specially modified linseed oil and include additives to reduce the chemical incompatibility, result in these coating exhibiting excellent adhesion properties to the zinc. This technology has been used on weathered galvanized towers since the 1950's and has a tremendous, proven successful track record. If you would like additional technical information on the coatings, I can refer you to coatings experts who would be more than happy to discuss this further.

Comment from Mario Colica, (8/29/2017, 3:47 AM)

Zinc coating is the most effective remedy against rust. The most the thickness of Zn the loger is the duration of the cycle life of the structure.. So , in some applications as shown in the article , the thermal arc-spray Zn technology with a coating up to 500 um (no other system can reach such a thickness,) would be the most reliable mean ,

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (8/29/2017, 8:30 AM)

Thermal arc spraying on an existing tower would be quite difficult. The surface preparation would be far more extensive than this surface-tolerant alkyd.

Comment from JUAN ANTONIO ALBA, (8/29/2017, 9:18 AM)

hello, it is really a very interesting topic, what is your experience about coating new galvanizing towers? not only to protect against corrosion, but for signpost.

Comment from Curt Hickcox, (8/29/2017, 12:08 PM)

It can be very difficult to coat new galvanized steel surfaces, as adequate long term coating adhesion, both from a chemical and mechanical standpoint can be very hard to achieve. Typically, galvanized transmission structures are not coated until the steel has weathered for at least one year (more if possible). If the galvanized structure must be coated sooner, then chemical etching, mechanical abrasion or wash priming would be required, all very difficult processes to perform on a transmission structure, especially lattice towers. I would suggest a case specific evaluation of the structure be performed to determine the best procedure (surface preparation and coating system).

Comment from Martin van Leeuwen, (8/30/2017, 9:28 AM)

A galvanized steel surface reacts in time with oxygen, water and CO2 from the air. First from zinc to for zinc oxides and/or hydroxides, depending on the exposure to water. In time the surface will further react with CO2 to form a very stable patina layer, which is zinc carbonate. These oxide, hydroxide and patina layers are detrimental to the adhesion of organic coatings. Therefore, the sooner the organic coating is applied to a new (non-weathered) galvanized zinc surface the better. Applying the organic coating after galvanizing and before field assembly also avoids complicated coating efforts on site. But, don´t forget to coat the bolts and nuts after assembly, and eventually all defects areas caused by field drilling of cutting.

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