WDØM - Pagosa Springs, CO

Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Using a 1/2 Inch Drill
to Raise and Lower Your Tower

So, you have a crank up, tilt over tower and are getting tired of the "arm strong" method of cranking. I was too. Having checked the cost of motorizing the tower, I nearly gave up. Those things are pricey! Figuring that the ham community would come up with ingenious, inexpensive methods, I searched around and discovered this approach by N6RK - and an ingenious method it is!

If you have a 1/2 inch variable speed drill, you're in luck! A minimum of expense is required to convert the drill to a motorized tower raising and lower device. As illustrated in the photo below, you'll need to purchase two nylon zip ties, one coupling nut, and if you don't have an adapter for your drill to use a socket, you'll need one of those.

Remove the original nut from the winch handle, then use the coupling nut to hold the handle on. That will let you use either the drill or the "arm strong" method to crank the tower. A very important part of this project is to place the box wrench on the coupling nut and retain it by using "zip ties" to hold it in place. That will let you use the drill to raise or lower the tower. Otherwise, you'll unscrew the coupling nut if you use the drill in reverse to lower it.

The next step is to put the driver adapter in the chuck on your 1/2 inch drill, and use a socket to hold the coupling nut. Be careful when you first try this! The handle will rotate as fast as the drill chuck spins, so you don't want to whack yourself (or anyone else!) with the spinning handle. If I were to improve the procedure in any way, I'd try to find a reduction gear box for the drill so it slows down how fast it turns, reducing the possibility of damaging the winch brakes.


I replaced the winch on my tower with a Fulton K-2550, giving it far more mechanical advantage than the original Fulton K-1550. Additionally, be careful how fast you crank the tower up or down - the Fulton winches use a friction braking system. Spinning it too fast can generate heat, and burnish the brake pads. I raised the tower slowly, a few feet at a time, then stopped to check progress.


Should you choose to use this approach, you'll find that it's FAR easier than cranking the winch handle. Just use common sense, take your time, and if it breaks in half, remember that you own both pieces!