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Replacing my antenna cable on my E38

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I had been getting terrible radio communication from my vhf radio and traced the problem to my antenna cable that ran to the top of the mast. The cable ran from my radio at the port nav station, under the U-shaped dinette aft storage seat, and into the bilge, before going up the mast. My mast was down for winter storage in Maine, so I decided to tackle the project. I first looked on the Forum, expecting to find a detailed explanation with photos and diagrams, but found only a few comments, so on a warm day, I started taking things apart.
My mast was placed on top of 3 saw horses that had 1/2 round covered (with carpet) cutouts to allow the mast to rotate, with the mast track facing up. I firsts had to remove both the gooseneck bracket attached to the mast, along with the boom vang bracket below it, to remove the mast tracks, to gain access to the wire chute, which holds the electrical wires and antenna cable and is located immediately behind the track. Both brackets were held tightly onto the mast with 8 stainless machine screws bolted into the aluminum mast, with some type of caulking. Of course I didn't have any screwdrivers large enough to turn the screws. There was obvious corrosion visible as well. Not good. I had purchased the boat in Oxnard, CA in 2004 and had never removed either bracket before. Naturally, most of the screws were frozen so I generously sprayed the screws with screw release, and tapped the screws with a hammer and went home to get a much larger screwdriver. Day 1 done. Returning on another warm Spring day in Maine (and we dont have many of these) I sprayed the screws again before making another attempt to remove them. This time I used my very large orange handled screwdriver and placed a wrench just below the screwdriver handle, to gain additional torque. Eventually I was able to remove all 16 screws and remove the brackets. Surface corrosion on the mast wasnt too bad, but the stainless brackets attached to the aluminium mast was not a good thing, and insufficient separation of the metals created the corrosion problem. I scraped away most of the white powdery corrosion and deteriorated metal, but didn't have any sandpaper or a wire brush with me. My wrists and arms were too tired to continue, anyway, so I left the loose parts in the correct orientation, with each screw similarly marked, and went home to have a few beers and think things over. Day 3. Back at the mast with my new antenna cable, RG8-X, a thin, spring-loaded grabber to pull the new antenna cable through one of the holes on the wire chute from the top hole at the masthead, sandpaper, rustoleum paint, and caulking, and of course, my orange handled screwdriver. I began removing the lower track first. Not a real problem. It slid right out. The main mast track is in 2 parts, and the years of dirt and salt build-up made it very dificult to slide the tracks out enough to get access to the existing, but broken, original antenna cable. A bit of wd-40, and I was able to slide the tracks out enough to gain access to the original antenna cable, hidden behind. I fed the new cable through the top of the mast, up and inside the wire chute, taped the new cable to the existing but old Belden antenna cable, and pulled the whole thing through, to the bottom of the mast. I pushed the top track back into place, then the second track, and then sanded, painted and caulked the bracket holes, and back of the gooseneck bracket and vang bracket, before screwing the whole thing back together. Now if it only works!

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Updated 06-04-2018 at 04:35 AM by Lawdog

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Maintenance and Mechanical

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