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70's-era CN Tower photos wanted: inside construction, antenna signing, opening day...

lansd

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Building the CN Tower’s Antenna Components – 1971 through 1975

In 1971 CANRON Inc. (Etobicoke, ON) received multiple contracts from the Foundation Co. of Canada to fabricate and install the CN Tower’s antenna as well as the steel work for the restaurant pod and upper, interior stair cases. The construction and installation of the antenna was an engineering feat never attempted before. It would require a 335ft steel-plate bolted antenna of 300 tons to be erected at the 1500ft level. The CN Tower faced many engineering roadblocks but one of the most difficult to solve was “How are we going to get a 300 ton, 335 foot steel antenna to the top of small concrete mound at the 1500ft level?”.

An excellent historical record of this work was documented in a 16mm film made by Chris Slagter (CSC), commissioned entirely by CANRON and without any financial support from the Foundation Co. (now AECON). Chris died on May 13th 2003 at age 80 (it had been said he became a church minister in his latter years). A somewhat poor copy of the film can be seen online at the YouTube link:


Ultimately, as the story unfolds, a Sikorsky S-64E helicopter was leased to haul up the antenna in 39 sections, each weighing no more than 8 tons each. They varied in diameter from 12 feet at the base of the antenna to a slim 2 feet at the top, with the metal’s thickness varying from 1.5” to 0.5”. “Spiders” were placed inside the can segments to keep the antenna taut and from twisting. The antenna was fabricated at CANRON’s facility on Disco Rd. in Etobicoke, as shown in the lower left image where the can segments were being pre-assembled. The segments were pre-painted white (except at the junctions, which as their unpainted zinc coating until painter Tony Tracey came back later to paint those sections white, up on the tower). The antenna segments were made from “Stelcoly 50”, a high strength, low alloy, fine grained steel manufactured by Stelco in Canada.

CANRON’s Jerry Morrow designed the “working platform”, as shown in the lower middle image, which was placed around the antenna to act as protection and a staging area for CANRON’s iron worker bolting gangs. It would be ratcheted up the antenna, by hand cranks, as the bolting gang completed their bolting & torquing work on each can segment.

As a gesture of goodwill and a small marketing stunt, CANRON trucked the topmost 32 foot segment of the antenna down to the (new) Harbourfront area on March 20th 1975 (on display until March 27th) where Torontonians were allowed to sign their name on the segment. It was estimated that 7000 people, including bus loads of school children, got the honour of putting their name on one of the highest human-made objects on this planet. These names can be partially seen in the right-most two images of this collage.

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One of the most fundamentally important yet unknown stories related to the CN Tower’s construction was that of a young 23 year old University of Wateloo Co-Op student (Jerry Morrow) who solved one of the greatest engineering debacles of the tower’s antenna installation….

During 17 hours of initial interviews, CANRON came to recount the evolution of the CN Tower's antenna design and erection. When CANRON was given the contract to raise the steel in 1971, its engineers planned to build the antenna right inside the tower and jack it up through the top at the tower's concrete shaft at the 1500ft level. Three antenna designs were made and each rejected. In October 1973 (although stated as June 1973 by account of a March 22nd 1975 Toronto Star article), Wayne Baigent (CANRON’s engineering manager) chose to construct and hoist up a lattice (tubular design) antenna frame via a jib crane, piece by piece. While this was deemed a good and acceptable design, it would have resulted in an antenna core which could twist and bend more easily than a rigid steel structure. As fate would have it, the appropriate quantities of metal were not available to fabricate the tubular antenna design.

A young and new recruit, Jerry Morrow, who had been a University of Waterloo CoOp student with CANRON, and now recent full time hire (at age 23, 1974), came up with the alternative design of a rigid low-alloy steel core antenna for the CN Tower, fabricated as 39 metal "can" segments that would be hoisted up and stacked one upon each other. The question remaining was "How were the multi-ton 'can' segments to be hoisted up to the top of the tower, where winds can be quite blustery?". The Foundation Co. had suggested using large weather balloon (as used in logging), tethered to long guide lines to the ground - however, that idea was quickly rejected due to the length of such tethering cables, and the in-ability to attain sufficient precision for placing each segment.

At this time, as an avid reader of the Popular Mechanics magazine, Jerry Morrow had become aware of Erickson Air-Crane Inc. and their primary work of using Sikorsky S-64E helicopters to do logging in Oregon and Washington state. CANRON’s Stu Eccles approached Sikorsky and then the two civilian operators of S-64E's, Everygreen Helicopter of Oregon and Erickson Air-Crane of Marysville, Calfornia. CANRON asked both companies if they would consider taking on the job to remove the CN Tower's crane and make dozens of helicopter lifts to erect the tower's metal-core antenna. It was stated by CANRON that Erickson was reluctant to take on the job, as their main focus was logging and not construction related work. CANRON then approached Sikorsky themselves and sold them about the marketing potential that the CN Tower job would offer to their company and that of Erickson Air-Crane Inc. Tenders were put out to both companies and Erickson came in lower at a flat fee of US$230,000 (1975 dollars) for 36 working days, being used for a period of 22 days. Sikorsky then persuaded Erickson to take on the job, which they did, and to great success to their company and future reputation + marketing. At the time, in 1975, Erickson owned three S-64E helicopters, valued at US$4 million each (1975 dollars).

During the fabrication stages of the antenna cans at CANRON’s Disco Rd facility in Etobicoke, Ontario, it was unclear as to whether a helicopter would actually be used, as that was still not a guarantee during 1972 and 1973. Hence, the antenna mast was designed to be broken down into very basic pieces and re-assembled, piecemeal, by a jib boom crane through human manpower, which may have taken an estimated 6 months to complete vs. the 3-1/2 weeks by helicopter. This answers the basic question of “Why are the can segments bolted together rather than being fully welded?”. The round holes in each can were provided so that EMI of England could install the electronic components of the antenna later on in the year.

CANRON was awarded the Montgomery Memorial Medal for innovation in construction in Canada by the Canadian Construction Assoc. for their work in engineering and erecting the CN Tower’s metal core antenna.

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The antenna used two static “tuned dampers” to help reduce the sway and natural vibrations of the antenna mast. They were designed by several young Canadian engineers under the guidance of D.L. Allen, a University of Toronto professor, who headed up Vibron Ltd. It is based on the "hula hoop" principle for which the heavily lead-ladden 10 ton "hoops" hang free of the antenna and help to stabilize it. As the antenna hits the hoops, their dead weight helps to "nudge" the antenna back into position – they are allowed to move horizontally to a maximum of 2 feet. The lower damper acts as a pendulum while the upper damper as an inverted pendulum. The first damper was placed 135ft from the base of the antenna mast and the second 50ft higher. CANRON fabricated the 14ft diameter ring for the bottom unit and the 10ft diameter ring for the top unit.

Building the Antenna Components - 1974 and 1975.jpg
 

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The CN Tower’s Antenna Mount Installation - January 31 1975

A fundamental engineering hurdle was the design and mounting of the 335ft metal ‘can’ antenna mast to the 1500 foot concrete shaft of the CN Tower. This was achieved through a massive 40 ton “antenna mount” as fabricated by CANRON at their Disco Rd. facility in Etobicoke, Ontario (as seen in the two left-most images). It would then later on be disassembled and hoisted to the top of the tower by the tower’s dedicated Pecco PC900 crane.

One year prior, in January 1974, a massive “clump” of concrete was poured at the top of the tower (where today’s “Space Pod” is located at the 1500ft level) whose primary purpose was to anchor and hold 125, 14 foot pipes in a hex configuration. On January 31st 1975 the massive 13.5ft high, steel-plate antenna mount was lifted and assembled on top of this “concrete clump”, in 10 sections, by CANRON’s dedicated antenna iron worker team over an 18 hour period. The mount was then anchored to its base using 125 steel anchor bolts and then the tubes filled with grout.

Since the SkyPod's diameter, as of January 1975, limited the tower crane’s lifting capacity, each 4 ton section of the antenna mount was first lifted up to the SkyPod roof by means of the "material hoist" located in the south leg of the tower. Then, the tower crane lifted the section of the antenna mount from the roof of the SkyPod up to the 1500ft left, based on the now shallower depth of the crane's boom extent. Just before the Pecco PC900 crane was dismantled on March 8th 1975, the antenna mount was tensioned to the top of the tower with 125 Stelco A490 bolts, each 12ft long. Each bolt was tensioned to 120 kips (54 360kg).

Upon completion, the 25 tons of zinc coated steel framework of the “Space Pod’s” canopy roof was installed in February 1975 (as seen partially in the upper right image), all ready for the removal of the crane + installation of the antenna in March 1975.

The upper middle image is a rare photo of Winston Young (one of the tower’s two primary crane operators), along with Jimmy Arsenault (iron worker), Mike Newhall (iron worker) and Jerry Morrow (one of CANRON’s primary engineers on the antenna project) – taken from Robert Lansdale’s personal negative collection.

CANRON’s iron worker “gangs” were carefully selected for the tower project, with the same general group of guys working on the SkyPod steel erection, the antenna mount installation and the erection of the antenna + its bolting. Its for this careful choice of people and the careful management of the project that CANRON was able to pull off such a phenomenal amount of work in such a short period of time and under immovable deadlines.

Antenna Mount.jpg
 

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The CN Tower’s Pecco PC900 Crane Removal via Helicopter - March 8 to 10 1975

The arrival of the Sikorsky S-64E helicopter from Erickson Air-Crane (of Marysville, California) to Toronto on March 5th 1975 by pilot Lee Ramage was a momentous day to Torontonians who had been eagerly following the tower’s evolution from early on in 1973. Lee had flown the helicopter to Toronto by way of Los Angeles, Tucson, Oklahoma City, Indianapolis, Detroit and five other cities, making for an uncomfortable trip along the way (maximum flying time of 2.5 hours before refuelling needed).

As described in greater detail in the footnotes of a prior collage, the Sikorsky helicopter named “Olga” had been leased for 30 days at a cost to CANRON of $230,000 (in 1975 dollars). It was considered a reasonable fee compared to the amount of man time + delay and its associated overrun costs which would have been incurred had the 39 can segments been dismantled and hoisted to the top of the tower, piecemeal, by human operators (which would have taken an estimated 6 months to complete). The helicopter was piloted by Ronald "Rip" Green (41, 1975), Dave Oliver Korhonen (34) and chief pilot Larry Pravecek (36). Normally only 2 pilots are needed but 3 were chosen due to the height at which the helicopter would operate. The mechanics were Larry Hough and Charles Huskbeck. Together the pilots had logged more than 15,000 flying hours in peacetime and combat (as of 1975).

After arriving at the Toronto Island Airport on March 5th, the first flight up the tower was made on Saturday March 8th 1975 at 12:45pm to remove the Pecco PC900’s 100ft crane jib boom. One of the most perilous and anxious moment’s in the tower’s construction history occurred at this point, leaving the tower’s future helicopter work in serious doubt. This story has gone untold to the general public. There were two pins holding the boom to the main crane assembly – when the pin on the south side was removed, the boom lurched and twisted, due to the weight not being evenly balanced on the helicopter’s harness. This caused the second pin on the north side to become twisted and jammed, leaving the helicopter hovering in place with only 50mins of total fuel available. The iron workers brought in torches to burn out the remaining pin but it took a harrowing 36mins to free the jib boom, leaving only 14mins of remaining flight time. Malachy Grant, the CN Tower’s overall project manager, was quote as saying “After half an hour I could foresee the necessity, because of the lack of fuel, of the helicopter having to dump the load, the balance of the helicopter operations being cancelled and the whole project being held up for about six months while the antenna was erected in a conventional manner.”. In total, it took 7 iron workers to help detach the crane from the tower.

As another story that few people ever came to know about, the helicopter crew had actually dropped the 100ft jib boom to the ground from a height of 20 feet, causing damage to the component. Ultimately CANRON was required to pay for the repair of the boom as well as an X-Ray verification).

On the next day, two additional flights were made to remove additional components of the crane before the helicopter’s “slip ring” iced up and stopped all flights. On the Monday, the remaining components of the Pecco PC900 crane had been removed (47.5 tons in total), paving the way for 11 flights that day which raised two antenna “cans”, one internal “spider” and the CANRON working platform.

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From June 26th 1973 through to March 7th 1975, the crane had been operated by shift workers Winston Young (41) and Dominic Narducci (45). As one of the more interesting “I did not know that!” aspects of Robert Lansdale’s interviews, it was learned that Winston and his wife Mary Jane Young were well known folk singers in the Toronto and U.K music scene of the 1950s and 1960s before Winston went to the University of Toronto for 3 years to get a BA in sociology (1969), then a year in law, before returning to crane work ($500 base pay, $650/week with overtime, in 1974 dollars). While Mary Jane and Winston are acknowledged as pioneers of the Canadian folk music movement, their music remains largely unknown today because they truly had few commercial recordings and little interest in commercialism. They appeared together with other well known acts of their day such as Gordon Lightfoot, Ian and Sylvia, Joni Mitchell and Stan Rogers. Mary Jane Young would go on to aid in the creation and singing for bravoFACT’s animated “Ballad of Sweet William”


Winston was also the person who helped “Sweet William” Eustace jump off the tower on November 8th 1974.

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The Erickson S-64 Aircrane is manufactured by Erickson Air-Crane Incorporated which is headquartered in Central Point, Oregon. The aircraft was originally manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft as the S-64A "Skycrane" and sold to the Army as the CH-54A "Tarhe". The S-64 was the first helicopter built as a flying crane with an aft-facing pilot station that gives the pilot an unobstructed view of the load being carried and full positive control of the aircraft during precision operations.

The rotor system consists of a six-blade fully articulated main rotor (72 feet wide) and a four-blade tail rotor (16 feet in diameter). The S-64E is powered by two Pratt and Whitney turbine engines generating a combined maximum takeoff rating of 9,000 SHP, giving the S-64E model an external load lift capacity of 20,000 pounds (9,072 kg) at sea level and a top speed of 110 knots (127 mph). The helicopter cost $4 million (1975 dollars). It is 88.5 feet long, 25 feet high and weighs nearly 10 tons. It burns 500 gallons of fuel per hour and can stay aloft for a maximum of 2.5 hours on a full load of fuel.

The helicopter flown into Toronto was nicknamed “Olga” by her crew. Pilot David Korhonen did not know why it was named Olga other than he thought one of the mechanics selected Olga as a nice Russian name to go along with Sikorsky.

Crane removal via helicopter - March 1975.jpg
 

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The CN Tower’s Sikorsky Helicopter Can Stacking - March 8th to April 2nd 1975

Once the crane had been dismantled, the 39 segments of the antenna, two dampers, several “spiders” and one working platform were lifted and fitted onto the antenna mount via 56 helicopter flights running from March 8th through to the topping-off on April 2nd 1975. Weather and wind conditions determined how many flights could be scheduled, and when. Also, commuter trains running beside the tower limited the helicopter flights to timed 15mins lengths - even though this was a tight window of opportunity, some days saw the lifting of 3 ‘can segments’ all within this 15min window.

Bob Bronstein was CANRON’s site supervisor for the tower, Jerry Morrow was a primary engineer on the antenna and Bob Benns was the foreman for ground crew operations (he was a “feeder”, ensuring that all the steel and form work needed by his crew up on the tower was always available on time). All three worked together, as a tight team, to keep the antenna’s stacking progress a well oiled and slick operation.

A gang of 10 CANRON iron workers would work, both on the ground and up at the top of the antenna, to coordinate the lifting of an antenna can segment. The first group would remove any static charge from the steel-plate ‘can’ then attach the 4 dangling cables from the helicopter to the can segment (as shown in the center image above). 90 seconds later it would be dangling over top of the tower, being lead in via radio voice communications from the iron workers working beneath the helicopter. Larry Pravecek, chief pilot of the Sikorsky helicopter, would then carefully navigate the can segment into place and then drop it over top of the previously placed segment. When the iron workers had it pinned securely, Larry then released the 4 cables electronically, and the helicopter returned to the ground to pick up the next piece of the antenna.

As shown in the lower-left two images (before and after a new can had been stacked), Bob Bronstein had devised the idea of using motorcycle helmets to protect the heads of his CANRON iron workers. It was dangerous work as the down-draft from the helicopter, in sub-zero temperatures, was over 70 mph, and the swinging can segment could easily have injured any of the riggers.

CANRON also had two gangs of 10 iron workers, on two 10 hour shifts per day, 7 days/week, inserting, bolting and torquing the 30,000 bolts need to fully secure the antenna. Torquing done to 1140 ft/lb (1546J) and inspected by Construction Testing Services. of
Toronto. The bolting work was done inside the confines of the 16ft wide “working platform” which provided some protection against the elements and the stiff winds as well as a stable platform to stand on as the bolting work progressed (it would be ratcheted up by winches to higher levels). As explained in the following collage, in one day the two gangs (totaling 321 man hours) managed to torque 2250 bolts and insert 1840 new bolts, for an average of 7.01 bolts/man hours which CANRON management considered “Incredible” by their own standards. One must consider the context of this work, as the helicopter was raising antenna segments faster than the bolting gangs could secure them.

With this amount of work and overtime, the iron workers were netting close to $1000 per week (in 1975 dollars). The base rate for iron workers was $8.01/hour but double that for overtime hours.

From the CANRON work logs, and from direct communications with CANRON’s Bob Bronstein and Jack Mesley (at the time of this writing), the iron worker gangs involved with the erection of the antenna were:

Jimmy Arsenault (partner of Mike Newhall)
Bob Benns (ground crew foreman)
Cyl Broders
Bob Bronstein (site supervisor)
B. Carroll
P. Lakatos
Arnie MacArthur (foreman)
Malcolm MacEachern (welder)
Al McWhirter
Jack Mesley (17)
Paul Mitchell (foreman)
Al Murdy
Mike Newhall
Rolly Ouellet (brother to Riel)
Keith Perry (19, the “wolfman”)

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If you may be wondering why some portions of the antenna can segments were white while other portions were gray, CANRON needed to keep the splice portions unpainted (gray, zinc protection coating) until such time that they could bolt up the section and plumb the tower straight. In May 1975, the remainder of the antenna was painted with 3 coats of a vinyl protection coating.

Also, the antenna sloped upwards to the two dampers then went vertical thereafter.

Sikorsky Helicopter Can Stacking - March 1975.jpg
 

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The CN Tower’s Antenna Topping Off - April 2nd 1975

After stacking 38 can segments of the antenna on the top of the tower over 24 prior days, the final 32 foot piece was lifted on April 2nd 1975 at 1:45pm just before an expected snow storm blew into Toronto and iced up everything for days thereafter. The Sikorsky helicopter had been leased only for 30 days and hence this was the last opportunity, the last hour, that it could have lifted the last piece of the antenna before heading out to Detroit for another job.

Placing the last 6.5 ton segment of tower’s antenna was not without some drama as the helicopter had placed the piece in the wrong orientation, not allowing it to fit snugly onto the tower. Larry Pravecek, chief pilot of the Sikorsky helicopter, had to lift up the piece, re-orient it three times then drop it back into its final resting position on the 30in mast, taking 11mins to complete the operation.

The accolades lauded by the press for putting up the final segment of the tower was given primarily to Paul Mitchell (30), CANRON’s foreman for the SkyPod and antenna steel erection work (he died in a tragic boating accident on October 1st 2011, age 67, off Ward’s Island in Toronto Harbour). There has been many myths propagated by newspapers such as the Toronto Star over the last 40 years, none of which hold much merit. First, Paul Mitchell was a natural choice for the task at hand since he was the main foreman of the iron worker gangs. Second, he did not “dance a jig” on the top of the tower as all newspapers reported, nor did he urinate on the top of the tower as is purportedly a tradition in steel framework topping off ceremonies. Third, no one actually had to climb to the top to release the helicopter slings as that was done electronically via the helicopter pilots. Rather, Paul Mitchell had to climb to the top, on the OUTSIDE of the antenna (and not inside) only to release the 12x28 foot Canadian flag and ignite a red smoke bomb. He also “relieved himself” well before the final segment of the antenna arrived, as it was cold and he had been up on the antenna for 3 hours prior to the helicopter arriving.

On April 2nd 1975 Ross McWhirter and his identical twin brother Norris (who compile the Guiness Book of Records), measured the height of the tower and pronounced it 1815ft 5in, making it the tallest free standing structure in the world. Primarily designed, built and constructed by Canadians (mostly from Ontario and Quebec).

The topping off was marked by a ceremony at the Toronto-Dominion Centre’s Observation Deck (740ft up), attended by 300 dignitaries (and 900 paid admissions), just as the final segment of the tower was placed by helicopter. That same evening, a party was held by CANRON, the iron workers and the Sikorsky helicopter team (about 40 men in total), at the Seaway Towers Motor Hotel in Toronto.

The Sikorsky helicopter and her crew left Toronto on April 4th at 2pm, heading west to Detroit USA for another job and then back to their home base in California. Their chief pilot Lee Ramage had noted “There probably won’t be another job like this for a long, long time.”

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As one of many “untold stories”, Bob Bronstein of CANRON had devised a rouse and small joke to play with the Toronto Star that stated, on their main newspaper banner of March 18th 1975, a “Skinny Man Needed to Climb the CN Tower’s Last 30 feet”, to take off the 4 slings which held the last segment to the helicopter. This, of course, was not true since it was under the sole control of the helicopter’s pilot that the slings could be released electronically – that was a well known fact to everyone at CANRON. In a subsequent edition of the Toronto Star a story appeared stating “CN Finds 255lb Thin Man for the Tower”, which had a picture of CANRON’s iron worker foreman Bob Benns, with a large 51 inch waistline. Bob Bronstein was quoted as saying “Yes, this is the guy” while his boss, Stu Eccles was quoted as saying “No” in the article. I had always wondered what was behind that odd story in the Toronto Star back in the day. Now we all know. As a follow up story by Michael Hanlon of the Toronto Star, he reported that 100 people had called the Star, the CN Tower office, the International Association of Ironworkers and CANRON with offers to be that “skinny man”. In the end, Paul Mitchell climbed up the outside of the last segment of the tower, clinging to its round portals, to release the Canadian flag and red smoke bomb (all without any safety harnesses!).

Antenna Completion - March and April 1975.jpg
 

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The CN Tower’s Antenna Radome Cladding - Summer 1975

Once the 335ft metal “can segment” antenna mast was erected by CANRON between January 31st and April 2nd 1975, the second and final phase of the antenna’s completion phase could commence. This had a tough, weather resistant, cylindrical “radome” encapsulate the inner metal mast. The TV and FM transmission antenna would be mounted within the radome and attached to the core metal mast.

EMI Sound & Vision Equipment Corp. of Hayes, England, fabricated the radome and its associated electrical transmission systems (4 arrays) at a cost of 1.25 million U.K pounds. The components were built in England and shipped to Toronto by container ship. The 1.5 inch thick, Teflon coated, fiberglass radome panels vary in size from 9x8 feet at the base to 5x7 feet at the top. The outer diameter of the radome steps down from 26 feet at the base to 5 feet at the top.

The radome was installed by Sky Hook Construction Ltd of Brampton, as well as installing the electronic equipment which went on the antenna mast. The lightweight panels were hoisted up to the 1500ft working platform by a two-line cableway anchored 400ft from the tower on the ground. They had used a two drum hoist with 3000 feet of cable - one drum pulled sections up to the work platform while the second drum pulled the hook back down (like a clothes line). Sky Hook's contract was with EMI Corp. while Denlen Electronics International Ltd. of Thornhill Ont, was the Canadian agent for EMI Corp.

To aid in the installation of the radome, and to protect the workers, a special, light weight aluminum “worker’s cage” was built and hoisted up onto the base of the antenna mast (as seen in the upper left and upper right images). The cage was designed to become smaller as it ascended the antenna. The lower-middle image shows the workers installing some of the inset roofing panels while standing in this worker’s cage. To radome panels were connected to the core antenna mast via tie-downs, making for a very rigid structure.

A B&W image of EMI’s test setup of the radome and electrical transmission equipment can be seen on page 537 of the July 11th 1974 issue of “Electronics and Power” magazine – a staple of any electrical engineer’s magazine collection.

Antenna Radome Cladding.jpg
 

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Completion of the CN Tower’s SkyPod's Construction - March 1975 to June 1976

This 4-up collage shows the evolution of the SkyPod’s completion between March 1975 (as the antenna was being erected) and its completion in June 1976.

As noted in a prior collage, Bryan Hunt, the tower’s procurement manager, explained that the SkyPod required over 2 million board feet (MBM) of 2x4 inch lumber (trucked in every 2 days) and 100 truckloads of 4x8ft plywood (50 sheets per truck load). This was used to encase the entire SkyPod’s exterior from the outside elements of weather and wind, as shown partially in the first image above.

The March 1975 image shows the “toothless” SkyPod, where its level 1 microwave steel framework had not yet been erected. That steel framework can be seen below the outdoor observation level 2 of the June 1975 image, during a period of time when CANRON was completing such work.

The “work platform” would be lowered in August 1975, segment by segment, finally transforming the SkyPod from an “ugly beast” into a flowering petal. The finishing external touches would include installation of the aluminum skin, the double paned windows and the thin radome fabric inflated into its final “donut” shape at the level 1 microwave level (blower fans are used to retain the taut shape).

CN’s 4 microwave antenna dishes were then installed into the level 1 microwave level on April 9th 1976 (as shown in the April 10th 1976 issue of the Toronto Star, page A-3). The floor panels of level 1 “pop up”, allowing the dishes to be raised straight up from the ground and placed easily within the level 1’s enclosure. The pressure from the blower fans retain the donut shape of the radome while one any door remains open. These door panels can be seen as small white squares under the donut-shaped radome of the June 1976 image.

Skypod3.jpg
 

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The CN Tower’s Final Completion & Opening - June 26 1976

As one of the “engineering wonders of the world” back in 1976, and the highest free standing structure on the planet, the opening day for the CN Tower was set for June 26th 1976. Doug Sumner, the tower’s primary engineer, wanted the date to be June 27th (to coincide with his son’s birthday) but Andre Jordan (Foundation Co.’s construction manager) chose June 26th as Doug was in Argentina by that point in time.

The 5 TV and 5 FM broadcasters moved over to the tower on May 31st 1976. The FM stations were all obliged to reduce their power output to compensate for their extra height but that restriction had not been placed on the TV stations, allowing for their greater coverage area.

The tower was officially opened after midnight on June 26th with a short opening ceremony on the SkyPod’s observation desk, followed by $2500 in fireworks. 500 people had lined up for days outside to be the first up the tower. The first in line were Jeffrey Caulfield (20) and Willy Klaudusz (21). In total, more than 2000 enthusiastic visitors were taken up the tower on its opening day. David Garrick was later quoted as saying that they chose to open the tower at midnight so that they would not have the throngs of enthusiasts up the tower, as if it were to open during the day.

The cost for tickets, in June 1976, was $2.75 for adults, $2.25 for youths and senior citizens and $1.50 for children. A ride to the upper “Space Deck” would cost another $1.00. All far less than what it costs today. Attendance records were 4500 people per day, with a maximum of 9600 people and a low of 1800 during July 1976. CN officials had anticipated a daily average of 7000 to 8000 paying visitors during the summer months.
The true, official opening day was October 1st 1976, officiated by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, once all aspects of the tower were fully completed. Mr. Trudeau placed a time capsule into the wall on the indoor observation deck to be opened on October 1st 2076.

However, preview invitations were made to over 150,000 people, one week before the public’s June 26th opening day. On June 19th and 20th all 110,000 employees of CN Rail and their families were invited to visit, as well as all 4500 employees of Grand Trunk Railway in the US. On June 21st, 400 members of Metro Toronto’s news media were invited to eat at the revolving restaurant. On June 22nd, up to 12000 people in the travel and hotel business were invited. On June 23rd, 300 political leaders. On June 24th, 1000 executives and traffic managers from CN’s major customers. And on June 25th, up to 8000 appointed government officials and senior civil servants. The general operations manager at that time was David Garrick, who previously held the title of the CNE’s operations manager before coming over to the CN Tower.

The total cost of the tower was $63 million (1976 dollars) of which $4 million was for design work. Expected revenues was $9 million each year, of which half of that would come from visitors. Annual running costs were estimated at $3 million. All in 1976 dollars.

It is estimated that 1537 workers, 53000 cubic yards of concrete, 5600 tons of steel and over a million man hours was required to construct the tower.

All in all, it was a wonderful piece of architecture and engineering well ahead of its time.

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Goldie

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Absolutely amazing research and story-telling Bob!
This visual review of the CN Tower will be of immense value to Toronto historians.
Congratulations.
 

GaryNicol

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Can't figure out font change.My dad was a general foreman on the C.N. tower and we have the most mind blowing photos of the tower ever.I have pics from ground up including pics done by my father's friend who was a amateur photographer. My dad was last guy up tower on final concrete pour, documented in the Toronto Star as he photographer hung in gang box off boom of crane.Dad was a connector who worked all over the world including erecting radio towers in Labrador and Tunsia Africa. I'd you want some amazing pics give me a shout. It's about time my father gets some rec.for his work.
 
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GaryNicol

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I will try.Not up on all the new technology. Àll these photos are old school photo album shots ,but still look amazing, plus blow up shots of the tower from ironworker who was a amateur photographer. Blow ups of lightning strikes, men in clouds(fog) at top of tower,My dad's boot picture from over 1200 ft .I will try to get my son to get these photos out there,He probably wouldn't want this.He was a pretty humble person in my mind,but he knew everyone and had alot of brothers.
 

GaryNicol

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Vintage photos, I'm sure I have the best.Never been seen.CBC was at our house for documentary movie years back, dad wasn't into it, sick from cancer.Documentary never made.He was friends with Bill Eustace who was the first person to jump off the tower.He hid his parachute at my grandfathers.God bless veterns who made are world safe.
 

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