SUBSTATIONS: 3 Common Steel Structures Found Inside

Posted by Wendy Gintz on Feb 26, 2015 7:54:00 AM

Before electricity can travel into your home, it must pass through a substation first. A substation is an assemblage of equipment where electrical energy is passed in order to be stepped up or stepped down.

Transformers inside a substation change the voltage levels between high transmission voltages and lower distribution voltages. The high transmission voltages are used to carry electricity longer distances, like across the country, whereas lower distribution voltages travel to industrial, commercial or residential consumers.

In a T&D system, the major components typically consist of transmission lines, distribution lines, substations and switchyards.

For this particular Blog, lets just identify the Main Substation Structures.

1.)    Dead-End Structures

2.)    Static Poles

3.)    Bus Supports/ Equipment Stands

Dead-end Structures are where the line ends or angles off. They are typically constructed with heavier steel in case they are needed to carry heavier tension. The two most common dead-end structures are H-Frame and A-Frame structures.

HFrame Substation Structure   t&d_1-resized-600

describe the image
Static Pole, is a single, free-standing pole that creates a shield to protect all of the equipment inside a substation from lightning. Static poles may or may not have overhead shield wires attached to enhance protection. It depends on the size of the substation as to how many static poles are needed.    

NOTE: Tapered tubular design is typically efficient and economical in dead-end andstatic pole situations when compared to AISC standard shape structures.



describe the image


Bus Supports are the most basic structure found inside a substation. Its main purpose is to provide support for rigid bus as it travels though the substation. Rigid bus is stiff and will not move around during     weather events. Unlike rigid, flexible bus is typically used in high   seismic areas in order to be able to move and dampen the seismic forces that occur. 


Examples of some equipment stands include:t can be of significant weight and must meet specific guidelines for structural loads, deflection limits or clearance requirements. Equipment Stands are the structures that the actual equipment sit on.

  • Potential Transformers (PT) Stands
  • Current Transformers (CT) Stands
  • Coupling Capacitor Voltage Transformer (CCVT ) Stands
  • Lightning Arresters (LA)
  • Switch Stands


When it comes to which type of steel is used, galvanized or weathering, inside a substation, I won’t say that you will never see weathering steel, but it is very rare. Weathering steel is used more in transmission structures than substation. One of the main reasons is because aesthetically, galvanized steel “looks” better inside a substation. Typically a substation is surrounded by a fence, has a metal building inside as well as white rock on the ground surrounding it. So the look of weathering steel, which is usually a dark brown color, aesthetically, goes better with a transmission line running through the woods to blend in versus in a substation.

Let us know if this information was helpful.  Comment below with and questions you may have, we would love to hear from you.


  Ultimate Utility Guide


Read More

Topics: steel structures, DIS-TRAN Steel, standard shape steel structures, switch stands, substation, dead-end structures, H-Frame structures, dead-end h-frame structures

Follow-Up: 10 Quick Tips to Help Save Money on Structural Steel

Posted by Brooke Barone on Feb 4, 2015 9:39:00 AM

Last week we pointed out how to reduce lead times and save money from the customer’s perspective by properly submitting RFQs that were neat, included technical specifications, loads, site address, delivery date and more.  

This week we are focusing more on how to save money from a design standpoint, which ultimately can reduce lead times. From the customer to sales, purchasing, estimating, engineering, detailing, fabrication, galvanizing  and down to shipping, knowing how projects are priced and what factors affect lead time and cost, helps to avoid any hidden surprises or confusion.


So, we’ve listed out 10 tips to help save money on structural steel, however, they’re not meant to be taken as the rule in every situation when dealing with different fabricators or design specifications.

1. Weathering steel generally costs less because unlike galvanized steel, it doesn’t get the galvanized coating. (Typically see weathering steel more with transmission structures.)

2. Usually, the more steel ordered at one time could help give you a better price. In this instance, if you had different structures for one substation, instead of ordering separately, try to coordinate to order all the structures together, which could save money on freight and other expenses.

3. Loads with over-length and over-width sections could get costly because you have to get freight permitting depending on the states along the delivery route. Typically, the price for wider structures is greater than longer structures.

4. Expedited lead times can increase price. Since a production backlog is already in place, fabricators would need to expedite engineering, detailing, rearrange product schedule or may have to include some overtime.

5. Special weld inspection requirements and tests that are beyond typical industry standards could raise the price. If the fabricator needs to pull in a third party to inspect, send material off for testing or bring in an expert, it could increase the price.

6. Direct Embedded structures typically cost less than base plate structures because they require less material and labor. (Depending on certain requirements such as environment, design or structure type)

7. For transmission structures, utilizing the same design for multiple arms can reduce design and fabrication.

8. Generally, by having the least amount of detail on the pole like vangs, equipment or brackets can reduce detailing and fabrication times, as well as weighs less, which helps cost.

9. For substation, using standard structures can save time and money because over time, engineers and detailers can pull these designs, offering better lead times.

10. Having correct drawings and proper weld symbols is critical to fabrication drawings because these symbols quickly indicate the type of weld joint needed to satisfy the requirements for the intended service. Incomplete or vague weld symbols can be interpreted different ways, questioning if the connection will hold up to loadings, which requires backtracking and adds more time and cost.

Ultimate Utility Picture Book

Read More

Tips from Steel Fabricator: How To Reduce Lead Times and Save Money

Posted by Brooke Barone on Jan 28, 2015 11:58:37 AM

A few years ago, TLC came out with a show called Extreme Couponing where everyday people mastered the skill on saving hundreds of dollars at the grocery store by providing coupons. It sounds simple, but it requires much effort and attention to detail, that honestly, many of us opt out of doing.

Unfortunately, substation and transmission steel structures don’t have a “buy one, get one free” coupon, but there are ways to reduce lead times as well as save money in the process.

*The more information a customer provides on the request for quote (RFQ) the more accurate the estimator can be on manufacturing costs, omitting room for contingencies. 

There are simple ways to cut lead times and costs that are sometimes overlooked. It really helps the estimator when the bid is neat, plans are in place, an expeditor on staff or even negotiate in the bid stage. Also, something as simple as specifying the required delivery date in the RFQ, or suggest that bidders supply two bids: one meeting their schedule and one with their standard schedule (this will help during negotiations.) Customers can even look into becoming an Alliance Partner  in order to get every detail of their project from start to finish, communicated directly to them, with tailored service and a personal “go-to” coordinator. 


Lead times are also typically reduced when the steel fabricator receives shop ready drawings because this helps eliminate the engineering process. Another way is to negotiate with the fabricator- it might be difficult at times, but it could help reduce lead times. Many of these bids are based on the fabricator’s backlog at the time the project is quoted, so if a customer needs a better lead time than what is shown in the quote, they shouldn’t hesitate to ask.  Not only does this allow the customer to get the best date possible, but the fabricator can pin-point a production slot for the work in advance, which makes production planning easier on the supplier.

Here are a few things to provide when submitting a bid to help save money and get the best lead times:

  • Shop-ready drawings
  • Technical specifications
  • General arrangement drawings or engineering drawings
  • Plan and profiles
  • Loads (tensions, equipment cut sheets, environmental loads, etc.)
  • Site address and contacts
  • Delivery date

What effects delivery from a customer’s side?

When changes are made far into the process, it can cause a snowball effect on the fabricator’s other projects.  If a customer misses their production slot due to changes, the next available slot may be weeks or months out.

From the fabricator’s side?

Shop capacity is the main factor.  Fabricators book work with the intensions of filling their available shop capacity while maintaining sales goals.  Secondary to shop capacity is engineering capacity, which may affect lead times on design jobs that are engineering intense. So, as a customer, you want to be sure to obtain information regarding the fabricator’s shop and engineering capacity.

How a bid comes together from a fabricator's point of view:

1. Submit to proposal administrator, such as a specific person or email address

2. Quote is logged and filed electronically/hardcopy

3. Quote is reviewed for scope and schedule by estimating manager

4. Next…

    a. If engineering required: goes to engineer for preliminary design and weight takeoff

    b. If no engineering: goes to estimator for weight takeoff

5. Materials and direct costs are estimated by estimator

6. Terms and specifications are reviewed by estimator

7. Schedule and margins discussed with estimating manager

8. Proposal submitted by proposal administrator to customer

Since fabricators are doing several bids per day, and if the requested time to put together a proposal is two weeks, then having all of the information neat, organized and complete will help ensure the best price and lead time.

  New Call to action

Read More

8 Tips for How Utility Lineman Can Prepare for Winter Storms

Posted by Melissa Hines on Jan 14, 2015 1:36:04 PM

Winter has arrived and the temperatures are brutal, especially for those working outside. Single digit and below zero temperatures are very common in many parts of the U.S. and many face the challenge of keeping their lineman warm at outdoor and poorly heated work sites. During these times of extreme weather, follow these 8 tips for how utility lineman can prepare for winter storms. 


  • Wear the right clothing, and layer it well. Synthetic fibers are often best in extreme conditions.  These fibers tend to wick away sweat before it can grow cold against you. Fleece manages to keep you warm, as does wool. Insulated coveralls may be a good investment for people working outside for long periods of time.
  • Keep your head and neck well covered. Scarves are a good way to lock in heat. Helmet liners for hard hats made of fleece can also help add a layer of warmth.
  • Choose appropriate gloves. Fabric and texture need to be suited for the job but try and find gloves with a liner that feature fleece and are water-resitant.
  • Double layering your socks and wearing insulated or composite toe boots will help when walking or standing on cold surfaces.
  • Wearing wrap –around eye protection can help preserve body heat.
  • Staying hydrated during the winter is crucial for workers/lineman.  Drinking warm water instead of cold will help keep body temperature up.
  • Indulge in high fat foods. Foods high in fat give your body the fuel it needs to stay warm and alert.
  • Investing in a safe space heater may be best for smaller work areas.

In addition to the above tips, hold a safety meeting for your workers/lineman that focuses on the dangers associated with working outside in the cold. Explain the signs and treatment of hypothermia and frostbite and instruct your employees to follow the appropriate procedures if they begin to experience any symptons.  Remember to look over your gear and list of safety practices before heading outside. As always, stay safe and warm.

   winter storm tips

Read More

Topics: winter storm preparation

How to Avoid Excessive Galvanizing Buildup on Steel Structures

Posted by Brooke Barone on Nov 13, 2014 2:43:08 PM

Something that might be viewed as a small, insignificant venting hole on a 10,000 pound steel structure, if not well thought out, could really have an adverse effect on production.

When creating fabrication drawings for galvanized structures, it’s important, as well as valuable, to know proper draining and venting provisions. If adequate venting and draining holes are not provided, it can really have an intangible effect.

5 Problems to Watch Out For:

1. Air pockets can form, causing structures to rust out from the inside

2. Excess galvanizing buildup

3. Lead to longer fabrication times

4. Welded plate can blow out, causing safety concerns

5. Poor coating

It’s hard to put a dollar amount on what happens when a structure either doesn’t have proper venting, or one of the five stated above occurs. It’s usually not too hard to correct if it’s caught up front, but the further it gets in the process and closer to delivery dates, it can really put a stop to production, causing low production numbers and possibly delayed shipping. But working with a trusted steel fabricator, can help avoid these issues.

Some standard shape structures, such as square and rectangular tube columns and beams, are hollow, so provisions need to be made in order to allow galvanizing to easily flow and coat the inside portion of the structure. Tapered tubular structures are also hollow so the same principles can apply with provisions.

Other standard shape structures, like channels, wide flanges and angles are solid, so just the outside receives coating, but keep in mind that air pockets can form without proper drainage, causing excessive galvanizing buildup. For these shapes, you need to watch where stiffeners, connection plates and brackets are welded that could form large pockets of air as the section is dipped into the kettle.

For standard shape and tapered tubular structures, using removable cover plates on the ends of beams is a good option instead of welding solid plates or expanded metal to the ends. This allows for faster flow through the member and more adequate galvanizing, also helping to eliminate buildup.


But ensuring proper venting doesn’t mean place a bunch of holes all over the structure, but rather strategically supply the venting and drainage provisions. For example, if dealing with corners in a square and rectangular tube, slots or holes can be provided near these corners to prevent air pockets from forming, which can decrease the amount of galvanizing coating in the area.

It’s key that along the process, there are people in place who know what to look for or have an eye for knowing what will work when it goes to the galvanizer. If it passes through the line of engineering, detailing, quality control and then is delivered to the galvanizer, modifications can be more costly and difficult.

The more you understand how the member is lifted and dipped in and out of the galvanizing kettle, the better you can locate the venting and draining provisions. As a designer, you are always trying to find the balance of putting enough holes for galvanizing, while not putting too many to impact the structural integrity of the steel member.

Galvanizing eBook

Read More

DIS-TRAN Take2: How to Design Anchor Bolts

Posted by Brooke Barone on Nov 3, 2014 11:46:21 AM

In this edition of DIS-TRAN Take2, led by Senior Civil Engineer, Bill Elliott, PE, he will explain and demonstrate how to design anchor bolts after calculating the axial loads. To learn more about developing loads in anchor bolts, click here to watch his previous video. 

In this short, six minute video, Bill walks through four steps for designing anchor bolts:

1. Calculate the shear bolt load. 

2. Calculate the max shear stress per bolt. 

3. Calculate the max permitted tensile stress per bolt. 

4. Take max bolt load and calculate actual tensile stress. 

 (You can also click here to view the video on YouTube.) 


Read More

DIS-TRAN Take2: Calculating Anchor Bolt Loads

Posted by Brooke Barone on Oct 8, 2014 1:58:00 PM

Calculating anchor bolt loads can be tricky when you have more than your standard four anchor bolts in a square pattern. This video shows how to determine how much load is going into each anchor bolt so that you can calculate anchor bolt requirements and embedment depths. 

Bill Elliott, P.E., senior civil engineer at DIS-TRAN Steel, explains how to determine distance, calculate the moment of inertia and anchor bolt loads... Watch here! 

If you missed the previous DIS-TRAN Take2 Video: Manipulating Loads for Steel Transmission Pole Design, click here to view it. 


Read More

What is Chemthane 2260 and Why Is It Used on Steel Poles?

Posted by Brooke Barone on Sep 25, 2014 3:51:10 PM

After fabrication, every utility structure made from carbon steel undergoes some type of protective coating such as galvanizing and/or painting. Utility structures made with 588 weathering steel form a patina over time that protects the steel from rusting.

Galvanizing has been around for a century (if you’re not familiar, then read What Everyone in the Hot-Dip Galvanizing Industry Should Know.) These protective coatings improve the overall lifespan of the steel, but sometimes embedded steel poles or casings may need an additional protective coating to combat soil conditions. 

Chemline? Corrocote? What’s the difference?

While both Chemline and Corrocote offer below grade coatings that can be applied to direct embedded steel structures or casings to protect against soil conditions, the main difference is that Chemline is an American made product and Corrocote is formulated in Canada.  

Chemthane, which is the below grade coating produced by Chemline, can be applied to the embedded portion of a galvanized or weathering steel pole, and come in a variety of colors. Typically, the standard coating is Chemthane 2260, which is an equivalent to Madison Chemicals Corrocote 2 Classic.Chemthane 2260 forms a hard polymer film that acts as an adhesion and is abrasion and chemical resistant. This coating provides corrosion protection with cured films between 18 and 30 mils (0.5-0.75mm) in thickness. The more common application is sprayed with a spray gun,using plural component painting equipment. 


For galvanized structures it’s not mandatory to apply this coating, however, the Chemthane provides an extra barrier to help protect the embedded portion from soil conditions. With weathering steel embedded structures this coating is highly recommended since the self weathering properties can’t perform underground. In order for weathering to perform, it must be exposed to oxygen and go through wet/dry cycles that are needed to form an oxidized, or rust, protective coating. Also, if the weathering structure is not hermetically sealed and in an area with a lot of ground water, then in some cases, it’s recommended to coat the inside with Chemthane to protect the structure if water seeps in. 

The standard colors for Chemthane 2260 are black and brown, but depending on things like aesthetics or safety precautions, they can come in a variety of colors, as well as safety colors. 



Chemthane 3300

Something to keep in mind is that these coatings are sensitive to direct sunlight and will chalk and become brittle if left above ground for longer than 30 days. So, for customers that store above ground for a longer period of time, we recommend an additional coat on top of the standard Chemthane 2260, which is the Chemthane 3300 UV protection coat. Sometimes, customers request to have the Chemthane 3300 applied over the 2260 even if poles or casings are installed right away to provide extra protection to the portion above, below or at ground line.

Chemthane 3300 is an acrylic polyurethane finish coating that’s formulated to provide an extreme durable high performance finish that is UV stabilized, chemical resistant with a high gloss finish and  color retention.

*Side note: If you need a specific color for the 2260 like the safety red but also decide to apply the 3300 UV protection, note that it will not affect the color because the 3300 is a clear coating that goes over the 2260.

Have more questions or comments about Chemthane? Feel free to comment below! 

  Dive Deeper Into the Transmission World


Read More

4 Things to Keep in Mind When Testing Transmission Davit Arms

Posted by Brooke Barone on Sep 12, 2014 2:56:47 PM

We like to call our engineers at DIS-TRAN Steel “myth busters.” Their day is spent crunching numbers and designing steel structures based off of standards, customer specifications and experience. Although they rarely get the opportunity to see their designs performing in the field, they love seeing their “babies” put to the test.

In a continuous effort by our Research and Development team, we recently conducted a full scale testing for transmission davit arms. Not only did we gain insight to how our arms performed, but we were also able to boost our confidence (and some bragging rights).

arm_2_110 It’s always good to have empirical knowledge through testing and research to confirm assumptions and know where improvements can be made, eliminating surprises in the field.

When testing, you want to make sure that your samples are a good representation for what will be in the field. Below we’ve listed out four things to keep in mind when testing transmission arms:

1. Make sure you have a good overall sampling- especially if you’re testing for a particular project where there can be different types of arms. For example, you might want to test a conductor or static arm, or if there are several tangents and deadends, you could test one of each.

2. As a fabricator, you don’t want to notify the shop that these particular arms are being tested. You want to be able to just pull an arm off of the shop floor that properly represents a typical arm that would be supplied on a project. Don’t do anything special to it that wouldn’t be done on a typical job.

 3. Make sure a representative from the fabricator is there to ensure that the arm is bolted to the testing apparatus properly and that’s its being installed similar to how it would be in the field. You want to make sure that everything from fabrication to how it’s loaded and installed is as close as possible to how it is in the field so that you get true test results.

 4. Make sure the loads that are applied correctly represent design conditions of the field. You want to get it as close as possible to what is really going to be in the field.

After everything is loaded and taken down, it’s very important that there is a thorough inspection to look for any damages, like cracks or permanent deformation. 

While the purpose is to test the whole unit together, you can also break it down even further to see how other components, like hardware or connections, behaved under loadings. This provides proof and validity to your design standards.

Key things to remember: gain as much knowledge from the tests; have a true representation of what will be in the field in order to get true, honest results and make sure the arms can take the ultimate loads they were designed for.

The main goal with all the four steps listed above is to truly represent what is going to be in the field. You don’t want to assume anything, nor do you want to cheat. If you specially prepare the arm for testing, ultimately you’re cheating yourself and the end user. You want to know what to truly expect so that if anything pops up, you can make corrections for future designs.

DIS-TRAN Davit Arm Results  

Read More

Topics: Engineering, transmission davit arms

ALS Real Life Stories That Will Change You Forever

Posted by Brooke Barone on Aug 29, 2014 10:35:55 AM

Rick Herring, shipping manager at DIS-TRAN Steel, took on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge like a champ, but had a trick up his sleeve...

Being an "avid Alabama fab," Rick challenged all the "avid LSU fans."

And this was their response.


They say laughter is the best medicine.

This brilliant marketing campaign to not only raise funds for medical research but also raise awareness, has generated over $94.3 million so far as compared to $2.7 million that was raised this time last year. At the moment, there is no cure for ALS, nor are there many treatment options that are effective, but with this social media phenomenon, it will help make the impossible possible.

Here are a few ALS real life stories that will change you forever from the ALS Association website.

Rebecca M. Franklin, Indiana, "My Sweetheart, Jason M., was diagnosed 18 days after we found out we were expecting our daughter. He was told he had six months to two years life expectancy. Rather then to dwell on the negative, my husband wanted to live life to the fullest, to make each moment count, to make memories with our children and his Sweetheart. He didn't want ALS to define him or the time we had together. I am so grateful we lived in the moment and made each moment count. I would recommend everyone struggling with this disease to live the same way. The laundry, the dishes, the bills will still be there tomorrow, but your loved one isn't guaranteed another day, so enjoy that day with them and live in the moment. Take a ton of photos and videos. They will bring you comfort in the days ahead. Cherish these moments now."

"Two weeks before my Sweetheart died, we went on our last date. I was carrying his oxygen tank, giving him morphine by the hour, but to see the smile on his face, I will cherish it forever. My Sweetheart and I had a lifetime of dreams before this disease. After his diagnosis, he dreamed he would see our son off to his first day of kindergarten. He didn't get to see that dream and so many others, and so now my dream is to help fight for a cure, so others will be able to fulfill their dreams with their loved ones. "'Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.'"


liz_jason-1054 Katherine W. Orange, California, "My father, Tom Wilkes, was a world-renowned graphic artist and photographer who made his living designing, photographing and illustrating famous rock and roll album covers and art. He was diagnosed in the spring of 1998 with a preliminary form of ALS, known as PLS. It robbed him of his vitality, his inspiration, and to a great extent, his ability to create art."

"I found out in 2006 that my younger brother and only sibling, David Harrison, was also afflicted with ALS. He is my half-brother, not related to my father, and he continues his brave battle with the disease to this day. David is the longest living patient of the Oregon Chapter of the ALS Association, and he endures his illness with grace and humor, far more than I believe I could muster under similar circumstances. Until you experience this disease up-close, you don't really have any concept of the devastation it wreaks on those who have it, those who love them, and those that are the caregivers. David has taken part in clinical trials that he knew were too late to benefit him but that we all hope will further the necessary research to end suffering for those diagnosed in the future.  I pray daily that a cure will be found to help those still suffering and for those who may be afflicted in the future."

yolanda-rodriguez-fernandez-2 Cecilia R. Orlando, Florida, "My mother's name was Yolanda Rodriguez. She was born March 15, 1946. She was 66 years old and lived in Kissimmee, Florida. Mom first started complaining of right arm atrophy and loss of right hand strength, inability to grasp objects, open car door or turn car on, unable to button blouse or wash her hair, which started gradually in the beginning of January 2012. Neck pain followed by arm and hand pain. Mom complains of her head dropping when walking and is unable to raise her head due to muscle pain. She is unable to speak clearly, slurring of speech. She is unable to swallow her food properly, which can take up to three hours. She gags and is unable to breathe easily. There was unexplained weight loss of four pounds per week for a period of six months."

"She now has lost 82 pounds and was desperate for answers and made an appointment with the neurologist for January 7, 2013, one year later after her very first condition began in her mouth. She was diagnosed with ALS on January 7, 2013 and passed on Febuary 20, 2013."

"This disease has devastated my family in more ways than one! I lost my best friend!! I miss my mother every single day. There was no warning of this devastating disease, and we knew nothing of this disease. I am a medical student and will become an integrative physician and will specialize in palliative care for ALS patients. I want and wish for a cure. I don't want another family to endure the pain this disease causes. Watching the one you love die before your eyes is the most helpless feeling a human being can face. Help us find a cure!"

If interested in learning how you can help make a difference, click here. 

For those who would like to donate to the local ALS chapter in Louisiana, here is the information:

The ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter
P.O. Box 66825 - Baton Rouge, LA 70896-6825 
(225) 343-9880 or (800) 891-3746

 Keep the ice bucket challenge going for all those battling ALS. 


Read More


DIS-TRAN Steel Quote

   DTW Quote CTA

Posts by category

see all

Follow Me