DIS-TRAN Take2: How to Calculate the Anchor Bolt Embedment of Transmission Poles

Posted by Wendy Gintz on May 7, 2015 12:30:00 PM

It's been awhile, but we are still at it...  Thats, hopefully createing ueseful tips that make your job easier.


We have had a sort of series of Take2s referencing Anchor Bolts.  For this edition we will look at calculating the embedment of steel transmission structures.  Please feel free to go back and view the two previous Take2 Blog posts.

     Anchor Bolt Loads
     Anchor Bolt Design

What you will hear about...

  1. What to consider when calculating the embedment.
  2. What resources to use.
  3. A working example
  4. Additional information to consider


Thank you for viewing the DIS-TRAN Take2. We look forward to your feed back.  Please leave any comments or questions you may have about transmission pole or anchor bolt design below.

Until next time...

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Topics: transmission structures, transmission poles, design of steel transmission pole structures, anchor bolts

9 Must Haves for a Steel Structure Specification

Posted by Wendy Gintz on Apr 22, 2015 3:30:00 PM


Specification are to Steel Structures like...
Cherries are to a Banana Split.

Specifications come in all shapes and sizes.

From the very informal 3 page document to the all-encompassing formidable documents.  The specification is a tool for the Owner (End User) to convey their minimum project requirements to the supplier.  Defined by Wikipedia, it is a set of documented requirements to be satisfied by a material, design, product or service and also a type of technical standard.

In the utility industry we see specifications presented in many different formats.  As a result, it is very important that a specification be clear and easy to follow.  Be careful about providing multiple specifications and documents that start contradicting one another. In these wordle_2situations the Owner’s requirements and overall message can get lost in a sea of documents resulting in different interpretations by the suppliers.  This can ultimately lead to proposals that can’t be compared properly, Owners not getting what they want, or additional unforeseen costs. When it comes to fabricating substation and transmission steel structures there are many variables that need to be relayed during the design, detail, and fabrication phases.  These specifications provide that direction.  Whether you are using an already created specification, updating a previous version or crafting a brand new one, there are certain sections you want to include.  Below are 9 sections that are not to be missed when deciding the content for your specifications. 

  1. Purpose/Scope – This is the heart of the document.  This is the owner’s chance to define the purpose of the document and clearly layout their expectations for the scope of work.  Example: Intended to serve as a system wide guide for structural design of steel structures.
  2. References – This section typically lists out the required design standards and any other applicable documents.   (e.g. ASTM Standards, ASCE Design Stanards, etc.) 
  3. Submittals – This section typically covers the owner’s expectations of any document to be submitted by the supplier.  This includes things like bid proposal requirements listing out the needed forms and design summaries.  It also covers formal design and drawing submittal requirements.
  4. Loading and Geometry – If the scope of work includes design, this section typically covers the minimum information needed by the Structure Designer to design the structures.  This would include things like loading criteria, unique weather conditions and terrain for the service area, and any other usual loading conditions the designer should consider.    This section also covers the different structure types, general layout of the structures, and the types of connections permitted.  (e.g. slip-fit vs. flange, embedded vs. base plated)
  5. Design – This section typically includes any restrictions to the design, material, field erection, fabrication, etc.  Examples of this include anchor bolt circle limits, minimum material thicknesses allowed, deflection limits, aesthetic preferences, weight limitations, etc.
  6. Fabrication – This covers owner’s expectations of workmanship and quality. 
  7. Finishing/Coating – What type of coating is supposed to be used such has galvanizing, painting, sandblasted, etc.
  8. Inspection – This section typically covers the type of inspections and testing required for the project. 

Of course these are just a few of the main sections.  There may be other sections that pertain to your specific product need, corporate formalities and/or industry.  No matter what your final Specification Document instills, it is important that you and those that use them agree on what is expected from a product and/or service.  This form of communication between the two parties can be a key component to a successful project.

How do you communicate your expectations to your vendors?  We would love to hear from you so please leave a comment below and let us know if this information has been useful.

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Topics: substation design, specific standards for structures, Engineering, design of steel transmission pole structures

DIS-TRAN Wood Products: A 50 Year Supplier of Wood Utility Products

Posted by Melissa Hines on Apr 1, 2015 3:52:00 PM

DIS-TRAN Wood Products, LLC has been providing distribution crossarms to utilities for 50 years. Today, we design, manufacture and treat a complete line of Douglas Fir and Southern Yellow Pine distribution crossarms, end plated crossarms, ground wire molding and wood transmission arms and assemblies. We're celebrating 50 years in the business by reflecting on some of our major milestones. 


In July 2006, we began production in our newest location in Vancouver, WA. With two separate facilities located in Pineville, LA and Vancouver, WA, we are available to customers from coast to coast for quick lead times and amazing response to storm restoration. These two locations enables flexibility and allows us more opportunities to effeciently serve the entire country.

Through Columbia Vista Corporation, DIS-TRAN Wood Products, LLC plant facilities in Pineville, LA and Vancouver, WA have both been Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, COC #SW-COC-00244. We have made a commitment to the environment and to promoting the improvement of forest management. We are also the only certified environmentally friendly "green" wood products supplier.

We added transmission products to our scope of work in October 2011. These transmission products include x-braces, vee and knee braces and tension braces along with the necessary hardware.

50 Years in the Making
With the addition of a full time engineer on staff, we can provide you with detailed drawings of structures and assemblies along with accompanying material lists to aid in planning and construction. Our engineer is also available to answer any questions related to our products. 

Is there any additional products you would like to see DIS-TRAN Wood Products, LLC carry? Please let us know. We are always looking to pursue new opportunites especially if it will help fulfill the needs of our customers.

Make sure to follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn to stay up-to-date with the latest happenings.

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Topics: wood distribution crossarms, transmission structures, manufacturing, wood transmission structures, Engineering

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

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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


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.) 


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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. 


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