Administrative Report Or Publication


Conserving energy by environmentally acceptable practices in maintaining and procuring transmission poles for long service ; October 1996 Public Deposited

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  • The Cooperative continues to actively address a diverse array of issues related to the effective use of wood utility poles. The trials to evaluate the effectiveness of MITC-Fume are now in their seventh year and continue to show that methylisothiocyanate (MITC) levels in MITC-Fume treatments remain higher than comparable metham sodium treatments. The levels of chemical are, however, declining, suggesting that this treatment may need replenishment in 3 to 5 years. Trials with the solid wood fumigant Basamid continue to show that MITC release can be enhanced by addition of small amounts of copper. Field trials suggest that these additives become less important with time. As a result, unamended Basamid may be suitable for treatment where the risk of immediate decay is not high, but the utility wishes to protect against future attack. Field trials with various water-diffusible internal treatments continue to show that these treatments move more slowly through Douglas-fir heartwood than do fumigants. Boron levels in pole sections treated with fused borate rods remain at levels that will protect against fungal attack 6 years after treatment. Similar trials with a boron/ fluoride rod indicate that neither fluoride or boron levels in the poles are adequate for wood protection 2 years after treatment. While the dosages tested were relatively low, the volumes of chemical were similar to the liquid volumes normally applied during internal remedial treatment. We will sample these poles next year to ensure that our measurements accurately reflect the chemical levels present. Trials to evaluate the effects of glycol on boron movement from fused borate rods suggest that glycol enhanced boron diffusion to only a slight extent. This effect was most pronounced at lower moisture contents. This trial was established to identify methods for improving boron movement in drier wood. In addition, moisture measurements in these poles suggest the internal wood moisture content varies widely both seasonally and positionally. While elevated moisture levels can negatively affect the movement of gaseous fumigants, excess moisture is critical for diffusion of boron or fluoride and its absence around the treatment site can markedly reduce the efficacy of rod treatments. These poles will continue to be monitored to assess both boron movement and seasonal changes in moisture content. Trials to identify safe, effective and easily used systems for protecting wood exposed during field fabrication are continuing. Boron and fluoride continue to provide excellent protection to field drilled bolt holes. These treatments are safe and easy to apply, and have provided protection in our field test for 14 years. Trials of similar formulations on simulated decking are also reported to provide additional information on the ability of boron and fluoride to protect exposed Douglas-fir heartwood. Efforts to improve the effectiveness of through boring as a method for enhancing the treatment of Douglas-fir poles are continuing. This past year, we evaluated preservative distribution around through bored holes as a means of developing optimum through boring patterns that maximized treatment while minimizing potential strength effects. These trials suggest the diamond shaped through boring zone of effect is relatively narrow. This information will be used in the coming year to construct optimum patterns for poles of various classes. The goal of this project is to develop a standard through boring pattern that would permit automation of the process. This would create the potential for cost savings on new poles. Trials to evaluate the durability of western redcedar are nearly complete. These trials were initiated because of concerns that second growth western redcedar might be less durable than poles cut from older trees. As expected, cedar varied widely in its resistance to fungal attack. This resistance, however, was not related to tree age, suggesting that there might not be a difference between so-called "old-growth" and "second growth" material. These data will be more thoroughly analyzed once the final set of trials are completed. In addition, we are evaluating more rapid methods for assessing cedar durability by measuring tropolone content. Tropolones are an important component of the extractives that make cedar heartwood so durable. Field trials of various externally applied supplemental groundline treatments are continuing at sites in Oregon, California, and New York. Trials in Corvallis, Oregon, have shown that various copper naphthenate, fluoride or boron based systems are at least as effective as the pentachlorophenol (penta) based systems that were formerly used for this purpose. Penta concentrations in one system have now declined below a protective level, while the copper based systems continue to remain at a protective level. Field trials in California are following similar trends and indicate that the alternative systems will provide comparable performance. Fungus cellar trials of copper naphthenate treated western redcedar stakes continue to show that this chemical provides excellent protection to cedar sapwood. Weathered wood that was treated with copper naphthenate continues to perform more poorly than freshly sawn wood treated to similar retention levels. Variations in permeability likely account for these differences. A new Wood Pole Maintenance Manual has been completed and is now ready for distribution. This update of the 1979 publication includes more information on initial pole procurement and closely follows the video by the same name that we produced in 1994.
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