Administrative Report Or Publication


Conserving energy by safe and environmentally acceptable practices in maintaining and procuring transmission poles for long service ; August 1985 Public Deposited

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  • This fifth annual Cooperative Pole Research Program report outlines our progress in the six project objectives. Improved Fumigants Sampling of previously established field tests revealed that Vorlex and Chloropicrin continued to perform well after 15 years, while Vapam was slightly less effective. Solid methylisothiocyanate (MIT) also performed well in the field after 7 years. In additional tests, gelatin encapsulated MIT migrated through Douglas-fir heartwood with addition of moderate quantities of water to degrade the gelatin. However, in the presence of higher quantities of water or no additional water, MIT migration into the wood was slowed. In a previously established test, gelatin encapsulated MIT continues to inhibit reinfestation of poles 3 years after treatment. Pelletized MIT is a new formulation (65% active ingredient) that appears to have some promise. Preliminary tests indicate that up to 95% of the MIT is release in 24 hours, but a small quantity of MIT remains in the pellets after 63 days aeration and may pose a disposal hazard. The solid MIT formulations will permit aboveground applications, increasing the risk that MIT will come in contact with pole hardware. Preliminary tests indicate that MIT had little effect on corrosion of hot dipped, galvanized bolts attached to wood. This suggests that treatment in the crossarm zone with MIT or fumigants that produce MIT should not affect the integrity of attached hardware. i-i In addition to fumigant evaluations, we recently examined an earlier test of groundline treatments with Osmoplastic® and Hollowheart®. After 10 years, these treatments are performing reasonably well, with only a slight rise in the incidence of decay fungi in the past 4 years. We also reevaluated the effectiveness of kerfing for preventing decay and found that this process reduced the depth and width of checks, resulting in a decreased incidence of decay fungi. Kerfing appears to be a valuable method for preventing internal decay at the groundline. Cedar Sapwood Decay Control This past year, the second set of five chemicals applied to control sapwood decay were evaluated after 2 years of exposure. As in earlier evaluations using the Aspergillus bioassay, none of the chemicals approach pentachlorophenol in oil for ability to inhibit sporulation of Aspergillus niger; however, several samples from zones deep in the wood produced a slight zone of effect. This may indicate the presence of a reservoir for long-term protection against decay. Several of the chemicals including Fluor Chrome Arsenic Phenol and Ammoniacal Copper Arsenate (ACA) appear to bind to the wood and may be difficult to detect by the bioassay method. We expect to assess the effectiveness of these treatments using a soil block test. Investigations of the reliability of the Aspergillus bioassay under a variety of conditions indicated that quantity of spores, use of glass or plastic petri dishes, long-term cold storage, and the use of spray inoculum instead of flooding spores had little influence on the bioassay results with pentachiorophenol, Tributyl-tinoxide, or 3 iodo propynyl butylcarbamate; however, incubation temperature did influence assay results. The Aspergillus bioassay is a simple, effective means for estimating residual preservative levels. Bolt Holes Again this year, wood around the unprotected, control bolt holes in pole sections contained such low levels of decay fungi that evaluation of the treated poles will be delayed another year. In addition to the initial bolt hole treatments, we have begun a test to determine if gelatin encapsulated or pelletized MIT can prevent decay development in field-drilled bolt holes. The pole sections used in these tests had already begun to develop decay prior to treatment and will provide an ideal test material. Detecting Decay and Estimatin& Residual Strength of Poles Fluorescent labeled lectins used in our earlier studies detected decay fungi at low weight losses under laboratory conditions. We are currently evaluating this method for detecting fungi in increment cores removed from poles to reduce the need for culturing. Last year we identified a peak that was unique to infrared (IR) spectra of warm water extracts from decayed wood. This past year we attempted to identify the chemical responsible for this peak and found that carbonyl compounds, probably from oxidative lignin degradation, were responsible for the peak. Since brown rot fungi apparently do iv not completely metabolize lignin breakdown products, they accumulate in the decaying wood and can be readily detected by their IR spectra. Strength properties of beams cut front Douglas-fir pole sections, air-seasoned for 3 years significantly decreased although decay fungi could not be uniformly isolated from the beams. In addition, there were gradual declines in work to maximum load and modulus of elasticity, as well as increased Pilodyn pin penetration. These results suggest that some strength losses occurred during air-seasoning; however, the losses were not large and should not endanger pole users. We compared several test methods including the Pilodyn, radial compression tests, longitudinal compression tests, and the pick test for evaluating residual pole strength of the wood surface of Douglas-fir treated with combinations of funtigants or groundline wraps. The results indicate that only the pick test could accurately detect surface damage and illustrate the difficulty of detecting surface damage. This past year we evaluated several sections cut from ACA treated poles stored for a number of years to determine if they were worth salvaging. Static bending tests of beams cut from the ACA treated zone, the treated/untreated boundary, and the inner heartwood revealed ACA treated sapwood had lower MOR and longitudinal compression strength than the other zones. These results represent only a small sample, but they suggest that some strength loss occurs during ACA V treatments. More importantly, the results suggest that we could have reliably predicted beam MOR by testing small plugs removed from the poles. Small beams cut from decaying, pentachlorophenol treated Douglas-fir poles were acoustically tested for residual wood strength, then evaluated to failure in static bending. The acoustic test consisted of sending a pulsed sonic wave into the wood and recording this wave after it passed through the beam. As it moved, the wave was altered by the presence of any wood defects or decay, and these alterations create a "fingerprint" specific for that defect. Preliminary results indicated that signal analysis was highly 2 2 correlated with work to maximum load (r =.82) and MOR (r .88), suggesting that this approach to decay detection may prove more reliable than measuring of sound velocity. Initiation of Decay in Air-Seasoning Douglas-fir The results of the initial survey to determine the incidence of decay fungi in poles from widely scattered Pacific Northwest seasoning yards indicated that a variety of fungi were colonizing the wood. While most of these fungi do not pose a serious decay problem, two species, Poria carbonica and Poria placenta, became increasingly abundant with length of air-seasoning. These fungi are also the most conunon decayers of Douglas-fir poles in service. As expected, the number of fungi and the wood volume they occupied increased with seasoning time; however, this incidence varied considerably between yards, especially in poles air-seasoned for vi shorter time periods. In addition to the variation between sites, many of the decay fungi colonizing the wood appear to be monokaryons, indicating that spores landing on the wood are initiating the infestation. The distribution of fungi within the poles indicated that several of the more abundant decay fungi were present in the outer sapwood where they would be eliminated by conventional pressure treatment. The remaining fungi were most abundant in the heartwood but were more concentrated near the pole end. This suggests that exposed end grain was more readily invaded than lateral grain exposed in checks. In addition to identifying the fungi colonizing Douglas-fir, we examined the effects these fungi had on wood strength. Toughness tests indicated the presence of wide variation in decay capability of the isolates. Although there was no consistent pattern, most of the isolates did not cause substantial decay and, of those that did, only . carbonica and P. placenta were sufficiently abundant to have a large influence on wood strength. Due to the prevalence of P. carbonica and P. placenta in the inner heartwood, where they might not be eliminated in a short heating cycle, we evaluated the temperature tolerance of these two fungi in Douglas-fir heartwood blocks. These tests indicated that both fungi were eliminated by exposure to temperatures above 71°C for over 1 hour or 60°C for 2 hours. The results suggest that careful control of temperature during treatment should eliminate decay fungi and that wood treated at ambient temperatures should be heated to kill fungi that become established during air-seasoning. vii This past year was the third and final year of the decay development study. In this study, sterile pole sections have been exposed for 1, 2, or 3 years at widely scattered Pacific Northwest sites, then returned to the laboratory and extensively sampled. We are now in the process of identifying the fungi from the third year poles. In addition to examining poles prior to preservative treatment, we are also evaluating poles treated with waterborne chemicals (ACA or CCA) for the incidence of surface decay. This past year we examined twenty ACA-treated poles from a line installed in 1946. While a variety of fungi were cultured from the wood, none of the poles had evidence of substantial surface deterioration. A study was initiated on the fungal flora of fumigant treated wood because of the potential for fungi developing resistance to low levels of fumigant or the ability to actively degrade the chemical. Both of these developments could shorten fumigant retreatment cycles and increase maintenance costs. We have evaluated poles treated 7 and 15 years ago with fumigants and find markedly reduced fungal flora. Tests are continuing on the fungi isolated, and we hope to assess the effects of these isolates on long-term fumigant effectiveness.
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