Thursday, March 22, 2012

Painting antennas...

Since every person walking down the dock had the same reaction to this project, "I didn't know you could do that!" I thought it would be a good idea to document it a little.

Many boats like ours have white, fiberglass antennas. Over time the fiberglass starts to come out causing uncomfortable handling as the microscopic shards penetrate skin. And especially at the top of the antennas that bend in the wind, paint flakes off over the years.

About 3 years ago we thought the antennas were starting to look sad and were becoming painful to handle when we needed to lower them for bridges. We decided to have them all replaced as part of the electronics refit.

Then we had the owners of Lambs Yacht Center over to our boat and for some reason, the topic came up. Downing asked a key question: "Are the antennas still working?" Well, yes, in fact they were performing as perfectly as the day we first keyed the mic on any of the radios 9+ years ago. "Then why not just paint them?" he asked.

So I researched it a bit and even on Shakespeare's site they give advice that you can paint the antennas:

This would save a lot of money and avoid hassles of running cables through the bases of the arch. I honestly had no idea this could even be done.

So we purchased a quart of Easypoxy white from Defender for about $30. I lowered and disassembled the antenna sections and hung them in reachable areas around the upper deck. After some cleaning and light sanding, 2 coats of the paint were applied. To complete the job, another light sanding should be done and a final coat should be applied - I'll probably let these coats harden well and do that last part at Olverson's in May.

I found that Easypoxy went on better with a normal brush than a foam one.  The brush strokes seem to magically fill in and produce a nice, glossy finish. It all cleans up easily with mineral spirits.

Replacing the 16' VHF antenna and 22' SSB antenna would have cost around $800.  It would have taken about 3-4 hours of effort. Instead, the cost here was about $35 and an easier 3-4 hours of effort (not one curse word).

Unfortunately, the very shiny antennas now show how badly our boat needs waxing! There's a team coming to do that job next week. Then we'll be all shiny and ready to head back north.


Dave Gibson said...

Good info. Thanks!

Carol 'n Wayne said...

We don't need to paint our antennas thanks to a certain bridge on the Champlain Canal! Oh well, the new ones are nice and bright.


MV Red Head said...

Yikes Wayne!

We've been there, done that too. I even wrote a song about it as a way to heal my embarrassment. Ours broke at the junction and I was able to repair the fiberglass.

DocsHoliday said...

When are you heading north and how long do you figure it will take to reach Castine? We now have Doc's Holiday in Naples, Fl and will be travelling across Okechobee in about 2 weeks.

MV Red Head said...

We're heading to Cumberland Island for a week of doing nothing - probably leave Jax around the 5th of April. Then we're attending the MTOA rendezvous in Fernandina Beach (and speaking about "Marriage and Moorings"). We leave there the 20th heading north.

We'll take a few weeks to reach the Chesapeake and then will head back to Castine.