How to take down an old pole and house for repair

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dwsample
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2020 2:38 pm
Location: Madison Wisconsin

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Hi,
I am new here, and live in Madison, Wisconsin. There are several PUMA houses along the shore of Lake Monona Bay, near my house. The houses are technically on a public parkway that runs along the shore, separated from the houses by a road that follows the lake shore. The homeowners have easements that allows them to use the shore, put up docks, store boats, etc. Years ago some of the homeowners apparently decided to put up some martin houses. All but one of these houses is long neglected and no longer cared for. Martins still use about 3 of these neglected houses.

The largest colony uses a 3 house set up on a very old (and tall) square metal pole. The houses are falling apart (compartment walls collapsing, etc.), and house sparrows run amok, but martins still use it every year.

This winter I would like to take down this large house setup, clean and repair it, and put it back up. Problem is, it is an old pole and I can't find anyone who knows how to fold it down. I am including several photos of the pole, in hopes that someone can help me understand how to lower and raise it. There is currently a lock on the pole that I assume I will have to smash with a sledge hammer.

Please let me know if you have ideas, or if you need other photos or information.

Thanks very much!
David Sample
Dave Duit
Posts: 1756
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Iowa / Nevada
Martin Colony History: In 2020, 60 pair with 285 fledged youngsters. 83 total cavities available, 58 Troyer Horizontal gourds and 4 modified deep trio metal house units, 1 fallout shelter, owl cages around all units. Martin educator and speaker. President and founder of the Iowa Purple Martin Organization. Please visit www.iamartin.org and join.

Hi dwsample,
Thank you for providing the pics as it helps us determine the style of the pole set up. It appears to be an out of date tilt down pole. I would first remove the houses from the horizontal poles, most likely bolted into the metal houses floors. Then, you can either hacksaw off the bolt / nut on the pole or use a lot of WD40 spray to weaken the rusted mess and then utilize a large pipe wrench and lots of muscle to get that nut off.. The rust will probably keep it upright until to take a sledge hammer to the top section of the pole. Make sure nobody is standing on the side that the pole will fold down. Another option would be to remove the metal houses first and then cut the entire pole down to the base on the ground using a blow torch and completely start over with a new pole and ground socket. Others may have different ideas as to how to take down the set up.
Last edited by Dave Duit on Sun Sep 27, 2020 8:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
~Ray~Gingerich
Posts: 2121
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2004 10:24 pm
Location: Delaware/Dover

Do you have a tractor with a bucket or know someone that does? That's how I work with mine if something needs repair at the top. I get the bucket up high enough to reach everything if I stand in the bucket then lean an extension ladder against the bucket to get up there. You could also anchor the pole to the bucket when you cut the pole or maybe even lift it out of whatever is holding it at the bottom with the bucket a little lower of course, don't want to lift too much with the bucket extended.
~Ray~ Gingerich
1999 1pair, 2006 2 pair, 2008 2 pair,
2009 23 pair, 2010 39 pair, 2011 67 pair,
2012 115 pair, 2013 160 pair,
2014 152 pair, 2015 174 pair, 2016 178 pair
2017 187 pair, 2018 200 pair, 2019 171pair
2020 233 pair
dwsample
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2020 2:38 pm
Location: Madison Wisconsin

Hi again and thanks for the replies. I did some sleuthing in the neighborhood and found the elderly woman who put up this pole and houses, along with a smaller pole of the same design, back in the 1960s with her late husband. How cool! She said her husband was an electrician and got both of the poles as extras from his company's equipment yard. So, they were manufactured for some electrical purpose - I am pretty sure General Electric was the manufacturer. Since they tilt up and down, the man figured they would work well for martin houses. So he brought the poles home and anchored them securely in concrete and bought martin houses for them. His wife, Joanne, and he took care of the houses on both poles for decades, but stopped doing the three houses on the large pole when they sold that house more than a decade ago.

She showed me how she and her husband lowered and raised the poles, just the two of them. The poles are designed such that a little more than the top third tilts down, with the lowering and raising controlled by a rope attached to the eye ring in the photos . She said it is quite easy to do.

So, I am all set! Thanks again,
David
Dave Duit
Posts: 1756
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 2:02 pm
Location: Iowa / Nevada
Martin Colony History: In 2020, 60 pair with 285 fledged youngsters. 83 total cavities available, 58 Troyer Horizontal gourds and 4 modified deep trio metal house units, 1 fallout shelter, owl cages around all units. Martin educator and speaker. President and founder of the Iowa Purple Martin Organization. Please visit www.iamartin.org and join.

Hi David,
Thank you for the history of the martin house and pole, I enjoyed. The tilt down style of martin poles are highly discouraged as they are difficult to lower and do nest checks each week and can be a bear with such a set up. It is also discouraged due to the fact that the eggs simply spill out of the nest and destroy the nest and babies when tilted down. My advice is to build a new pole with a winch and steel cable to lower and raise the houses.
Mite control, heat venting, predator protection and additional feeding during bad weather add up to success.
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