Field Report: Thermo Bond Buildings

March 1, 2009

Thermo Bond building

Last year I found myself in need of a new transmitter building. As most projects go, I was already behind schedule because of some siting issues. To make matters worse, this was a new and undeveloped site located roughly 30 driving miles outside the city of Gillette, WY, which was at the time going through a bit of a boom. Of the half dozen contractors I originally called, only two even bothered to return my calls and once they heard details they also turned down the job. I was in a bad situation. I had never really given serious consideration to a pre-fab building. All those I had seen before had been relatively small structures, and they all seemed pretty similar, like they were all made from the same cookie-cutter design. I needed a big, complicated building, one capable of holding two Harris HT-30s, a combiner and all the associated equipment. Definitely a unique structure.

But quoting a Charlie Daniels song, “I was in a bind, I was way behind and I was willin' to make a deal.” So I called Chuck McKeever at Thermo Bond. I had run into him the year before at the NAB Show and I figured the least I could do is see what he could provide, when he could get it, and what it would cost. After a few minutes on the phone and a couple of exchanged emails, I faxed him a very crude drawing of the building I had in mind. This drawing was just one step over something you might pencil out on a bar napkin, but it did include placement of the two transmitters and the combiner. Beyond that it was a pretty blank slate.

Performance at a glance

Single and multiple room shelters
Wired to custom needs
Insulated steel doors
Aggregate exterior finish
Water and air tight
Bullet resistance options available

A week later I had a rough set of blue prints, a very reasonable price and a delivery date. As the project moved forward, we made some minor tweaks, but Thermo Bond basically worked from the original drawing and the pre-installation instructions provided by Harris. Thermo Bond took care of designing, sizing and locating all of the electrical drops. It placed AC units and HVAC venting and fans. Over the course of a few weeks my cruddy little drawing had become a stamped set of blue prints for the local planning, building and zoning committee, which was another huge time saver. The only time I had to have an inspector on site was to verify that the pad was constructed per the drawing and once more for the final electrical service connection. The building and all of its contents came pre-inspected by Wyoming licensed inspectors.

Up until now, I still hadn't seen the building, so I was pretty excited when the truck driver called. The next morning I met him as he exited the interstate and I guided him to the site where we already had a crane standing by.

The building being set into place.

The building being set into place.

An hour and a half later the building was on the pad and I got my first look inside. I was impressed. Not only was everything exactly as we had planned, but the building was bright, well-lit and even included a few extras, like hi/lo temp, loss of power, fire, smoke and intrusion alarms. It was pretty obvious that Thermo Bond didn't cut any corners. All materials were high quality and workmanship was unsurpassed. A week later we slid the two new transmitters onto the floor, under the pre-installed power drops. Everything was exactly where it was supposed to be.

Electrical distribution panels were neatly laid out, well marked and for once I didn't have to explain to an electrician why I wanted separate fused disconnects instead of breakers. Every breaker in the panel was marked, as were all switches, outlets and service connections.

Thermo Bond even handled strange requests. Here in Wyoming we really only need air conditioning a few months out of the year. The rest of the year cooling needs can be met with air circulation. Thermo Bond installed exhaust fans, one for each transmitter, but I had a special request for intakes. In order to keep the building positively pressured, just installing a set of intake louvers doesn't cut it. Instead we've been installing large swamp coolers on thermostats. They're a very efficient way to move large volumes of air at low pressure and the mats provide some decent filtering. We don't even bother installing the pumps. When I explained this to the folks at Thermo Bond, they scratched their heads and said, “Just tell us where to leave the holes and how big you want them”.

It turned out perfect. Everything is redundant. Each side of the building has an exhaust fan, a swamp cooler and three tons of supplemental air conditioning. Failure of any one device is hardly noticeable.

Thermo Bond

Because this building sits under a 1,150' tower, falling ice was a huge concern. So during the design process we discussed various ways to handle the problem with Thermo Bond and eventually settled on having a ¼" steel plate installed under the neoprene roofing material. It was a relatively inexpensive fix to a problem that has plagued us at other sites.

Thermo Bond designed and built a beautiful building, both aesthetically and functionally. It was on-time, on-budget and hassle-free. So the next time you need a transmitter building, don't let the GM's brother-in-law slap something together for you. Call Thermo Bond. I'll never have another building built on site for me after seeing this one. And remember it's you that will have to deal with the problems later on, years after the GM and his brother-in-law have moved on.

The building floor plan.<br> 
Click image to enlarge.

The building floor plan.
Click image to enlarge.

Dozier is director of engineering for Legend Communications of Wyoming, Cody, WY.

Editor's note: Field Reports are an exclusive Radio magazine feature for radio broadcasters. Each report is prepared by well-qualified staff at a radio station, production facility or consulting company.

These reports are performed by the industry, for the industry. Manufacturer support is limited to providing loan equipment and to aiding the author if requested.

It is the responsibility of Radio magazine to publish the results of any device tested, positive or negative. No report should be considered an endorsement or disapproval by Radio magazine.

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