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Old 04-25-2012, 01:41 PM   #1
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Anybody ever paint their VHF antenna

Apparently you can. The fiberglass has become sun damaged on mine and are flaky.
Check this out:

Shakespeare Marine Antennas FAQ

And this from Active Captain:

Every person walking down the dock had the same reaction, "I didn't
know you could do that!" So we thought it would be good to pass along
one of our latest discoveries.

Many boats like ours have white, fiberglass antennas. Over time the
fiberglass starts to come out causing uncomfortable handling as the
microscopic shards penetrate the skin. This is especially bad at the
top where the antennas bend in the wind causing the paint to flake off
over the years.

As part of our total electronics refit this winter, we decided it was
time to replace our sad looking antennas. Fortunately, the topic came
up when we were meeting with the owners of Lambs Yacht Center. 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's some 9+ years ago. "Then why not just paint them?" he asked. We
responded, "You can do that?"

We did some research and discovered that even on Shakespeare's website
they give advice about painting the antennas:
Shakespeare Marine Antennas FAQ

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

We purchased a quart of Easypoxy white from Defender (think Defender
first!) for about $30. The antennas were lowered, disassembled into
sections, and hung in reachable areas around the upper deck. After some
cleaning and light sanding, 2 coats of paint were applied while we were
at Ortega Landing. To complete the job, another light sanding should be
done and a final coat should be applied - we'll finish that when we get
to the Chesapeake in about a month.

We 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 foot VHF antenna and 22 foot SSB antenna would have
cost around $800. It would have taken about 3-4 hours of effort to
complete. Instead, the cost of painting them was about $35 and an
easier 3-4 hours of effort (not one curse word).

The antennas have now been in their new painted state for about a
month. The new radios work great and the antennas are shiny and
white and perfect. This is a great little job that's easy to do and
makes for a nice spring project.
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Old 04-25-2012, 02:30 PM   #2
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It's the way to go. We repainted ours 4.5 years ago and it looks/works great. We have a Glomex SSB radio antenna that was given to us when we where installing the Icom M802. The finish was off in large areas from years in the sun. We sanded the antenna smooth with 220 grit and then primed with Brightside Pre-Cote primer, sanded and then painted with Interlux Brightside one part polyurethane. We also used Interlux Brushing Liquid 333 to help the paint flow. We sanded between the 3 coats we applied. It still looks like a factory finish.
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Old 04-25-2012, 03:58 PM   #3
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painted lots of 'em...all kinds of paint including can spray paint....
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Old 04-25-2012, 04:09 PM   #4
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While it's possible to paint a VHF antenna, if it's in bad enough shape to need painting, replacing it should be considered. This is an important piece of safety equipment.

I will be replacing my VHF transciever sometime soon and a new antenna, quality will be part of the package.
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Old 04-25-2012, 04:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwidman View Post
While it's possible to paint a VHF antenna, if it's in bad enough shape to need painting, replacing it should be considered. This is an important piece of safety equipment.

I will be replacing my VHF transciever sometime soon and a new antenna, quality will be part of the package.
There is absolutely NO need to replace a fully functional antenna because the fiberglass covering is starting to weather.

I still have antennas on towboats functioning fine 10 years after the first repaint. Even snapped ones that are glassed back into shape.

If you want to replace fine...if you want to paint fine...more importantly is a good install and the routine checks of both power output (now easy with automated radio checks in many areas) and preventing the buildup of corrosion in both radio power/antenna connections...radios like the voltage to get their full 25 watt output.
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Old 04-25-2012, 04:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
There is absolutely NO need to replace a fully functional antenna because the fiberglass covering is starting to weather ..............preventing the buildup of corrosion in both radio power/antenna connections.....
I agree 100%.
The connections are usually the biggest problem and sometimes the cable itself from seawater intrusion. So, if the radio is good and the antenna is good except for some fuzzy fiberglass, I paint it.
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Old 04-25-2012, 04:37 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony B View Post
I agree 100%.
The connections are usually the biggest problem and sometimes the cable itself from seawater intrusion. So, if the radio is good and the antenna is good except for some fuzzy fiberglass, I paint it.
Heck the cool part is you can color coordinate with your boat.

I've seen many painted right out of the box just for that reason...with good paint...the exterior is better off than what comes from the average antenna factory.
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Old 04-25-2012, 05:38 PM   #8
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I'm not sure why anyone would think that painting an antenna would somehow make it not work. As long as the VHF functions properly, the antenna can be painted as often as needed. We wrap the exposed coax with a cable wrap to protect it from UV and the antenna will last almost forever. I have been painting these for decades but some folks are just finding this out. Chuck
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Old 04-25-2012, 08:33 PM   #9
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Depends on how far gone the fiberglass on the antenna is. Painting makes no difference whatsoever to the antenna's function, so says the owner of the marine electronics store we use. But if the fiberglass has gotten to the point where it's getting all hairy and is delaminating it's probably not worth trying to repaint it although you might be able to sand it down fairly smooth. But once the fiberglass has started to deteriorate pretty seriously you'll probably have better luck with replacement rather than painting.
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Old 04-25-2012, 09:02 PM   #10
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Awlgriped mine when we were doing some other painting on the boat. Used a sanding sealer , then a light sanding, and finally sprayed Awlgrip. Came out better than the original finish.

The only caution, is not to use paints with metal in them, especially on an SSB antenna.

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