LA1K / LA1ARK / LA1UKA

Status Vassfjellet

ARK has a small cabin located at Vassfjellet, about an hour’s drive from our usual QTH. This is where our beacons (LA2VHF, LA2VHF/4, LA2SIX and LA2UHF) are stationed, which are used by radio amateurs around the world to establish the conditions on the various higher bands. The cabin is quite old and since its sole purpose is housing the beacons, little maintenance has been done over the years.

Inside the cabin, before work started
The leaning to the left is due to the upper left corner sinking into the ground
Photo: LB0RI

For the cabin to be functional for overnight visits, a lot would have to be done. For now, we are focusing on saving the structure so as to not lose housing for our beacons. As you can see in the picture above, the cabin has sunk slightly into the ground. This is due to the cabin being built partly on rock and on a swamp. Luckily, this isn’t severe, but something had to be done to prevent the cabin from sinking even more.

At our annual club meeting in 2020, it was decided that we would renovate the cabin to a state where we wouldn’t have to worry that it would collapse. Shortly after, a group of members started to plan how to fix it. Waiting for the snow to melt and exams to be done, we planned to start working on the cabin in the summer of 2021. 

LB0RI measuring the height of the supporting wall
Photo: LB7JG

To be able to see the severity of the damage we had to clean out the entire cabin. The equipment used for the beacons was carefully taken down and transported to the city for storage. After that, we threw away a lot of wood and scraps and eventually took down the panels on the wall and in the ceiling.

LB0VG and LB5PI taking down the wall panels
Photo: LB0RI

When taking down the ceiling panels, there was a lot of insulation, and proper safety measures were followed to make sure we didn’t breathe it in or get it on our skin. We had a lot of fun with the white protective suits, playfully dubbed «CIA suits», and a lot of damage was done with the sledgehammer. Intended damage that is.

LA4J, LB7JG and LB0RI about to drop
the hottest album of 2021 in their CIA suits
Photo: LB4FI

After the cabin was stripped we could finally assess the state of the supporting construction, which turned out to be rotten all the way through in several places. The insulation in the cabin was installed incorrectly, in a way that traps humidity. This insulation combined with poor weather conditions is most likely what caused the wood to rot. Furthermore, several of the trusses had either rotted or snapped, leaving little to no support left. The snapped trusses are due to ice from the neighboring TV mast falling on the cabin.

Old attempt to repair snapped trusses taken before the ceiling was removed
Photo: LB0RI
Rotten trusses taken after the ceiling was removed
Photo: LB0RI

Due to the state of the structure, the first thing we did was put up a temporary supporting wall in the middle of the cabin to prevent it from suddenly collapsing while we were inside, working on the damaged trusses.

Temporary suporting wall
Photo: LB0RI

Then we got to work building new trusses next to the old ones. We cut away the rotten part of the trusses at the northern end of the cabin, while the ones on the south end were in great shape.

Trusses with the rot cut away
Photo: LB0RI
New trusses on a new beam
Photo: LB0RI

Due to the cabin being located at the top of a mountain, we weren’t able to do as much work as we could have done it was more accessible. We did however manage to secure the roof from collapsing in, by putting up the supporting wall and the new trusses. After we enforce the existing walls, which have rotted in several parts of the cabin, we will take the supporting wall down.

LB0RI calling the local civil engineer AKA LB0RI’s dad, for construction advice
Photo: LB7JG

Next summer we plan to build new supporting walls and find out what’s beneath the floor panels. By the look of it, there may be another floor below the one we see in the pictures!

As for the beacons, we plan to have them back up in the summer at the latest. Or sooner, if we manage to get up there in the snow. Due to the student festival UKA and several of us getting sick, the snow beat us to it when we planned to set up the beacons this fall.

A pleased LB4FI after the ceiling was removed and repair work could begin
Photo: LB0RI

A big thanks to LA2QUA, LA4J, LB0RI, LB0VG, LB4FI, LB4GI, LB5PI, LB7JG and Kim (unlicensed) for work done on the cabin, to LB7JG for bringing his tools along and LA8NTA for lending out his trailer and tools for this project.

1 Comment

  1. Kjell

    Thank you for your effort in restoring the QTH. Looking forward receiving LA2VHF again via aurora.
    73
    Kjell, SM7GVF

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