G-body Power Antenna Metal Cable Restify/Conversion (bye bye nylon cord!)

69hurstolds

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Everyone that has had a G-body power antenna from the factory has found this out the hard way. Or will find out if not already. At one point of the original antenna's life, it will just stop moving (usually won't go down or all the way down) and the motor continues to run until you pull the motor plug from under the hood.

I have some new and unused antenna pieces whether complete or just the masts. They all come with nylon cables. And 95% of them are more than 20 years old at the newest. It's worse for the complete masts.

I yanked one out of my stash to change the nylon cable to a metal one as a pre-emptive strike. I got the metal one from Mike M. aka 88hurstolds here. If you don't have a metal one, get it. It's worth every penny. I figured I'd do a mini picture book and discuss how to do one. It's NOT hard. Tedious in a couple of places, but not tough. If you have patience and half-way decent mechanical skills, you can do this. If you're Wreck-It-Ralph, you may want to get someone else to do it for you.

So here we go.

First up, here's the antenna part number we're working with today. Inside the box was several thingies. Obviously, the antenna, but also came with a Cutlass Supreme, Riviera, and several other cars style of lower bracket. This bracket is tack welded on the factory jobs, but there's a couple of screws that comes with the bracket to be able to attach it. This is because the brackets attach differently if you have a different car. More about that later. Or you may need to get a new bracket if it wasn't included in the box. The box also includes a little packet of di-electric grease for the antenna cable connection (for the radio).

You will need some tools and supporting stuff. Here's a list of tools I used, and not all inclusive, but you can do whatever you like.

1. A 7mm scocket for removing the finial from the end of the mast.
2. A pair of needle nose vise grips (with some cushioning available for the antenna mast). Gotta hold the end of the mast when removing/installing the finial.
3. Smallish flat blade screwdriver. Helps to get the case clips off the casing.
4. Paper/clean shop towels. You'll do a lot of wiping and cleaning, especially if you're working on used stuff.
5. Drill and 1/4" drill bit. You need to drill the OEM rivet end off so you can push the rivets through to the other side to get the case apart.
6. Phillips head screwdriver, #2. You'll need this for the bracket, if used.
7. Spanner wrench or equivalent to remove the antenna nut from the fender if fixing your existing antenna.
8. 10 mm wrench, socket, and various other tools to get the fender loose to get the dang thing out of the fender.
9. Lithium grease. For lubing the rotating cable wheel axis, cable "guide" and motor scroll. Don't need much. The older CSM's say to use Sunoco Prestige #2 or equivalent grease (lithium soap-based grease). I'm using Lucas brand white lithium. Works fine.
10. Silicone or RTV sealer. You need it for sealing the top half of the casing split to keep moisture out of the motor.
11. CSM if you happen to have one. It's in the "accessories" portion on how to disassemble/reassemble the antenna.

The antenna box:
22048604 Cutlass Antenna Part Number.jpg


A look inside:
Power Antenna 1.jpg

Power Antenna 2.jpg


Mast says 093 090, which correlates to April 3, 1990. I thought it was March 31, but no, it's April 3.
Power Antenna 3.jpg


The motor was built on day 102 of 1990, which is April 12, 1990.
Power Antenna 4.jpg


Now, we got to figure out how to get that casing apart. The CSM shows 5 clips, but I've only got 4 (red arrows). Also, there are 4 rivets (blue arrows) that need to be removed.
Power Antenna 5.jpg


Drill baby drill. Just drill enough to cut off the flange of the hollow rivets. They're brass and can easily be knocked through the hole with a small screwdriver or similar.
Power Antenna 6.jpg


The dead rivet
Power Antenna 7.jpg


And now we can pry that case open. There's RTV sealer on the top half of the casing so it'll take a bit of prying, but be gentle. It will come. So lets dig into this bad boy and get all up in them guts.
Power Antenna 8.jpg
 
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69hurstolds

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Now that we have the top off...

Power Antenna 9.jpg


So I went to lift out the antenna mast, cable and gear as one assembly of sorts, but when I went to move it the cable broke into 3 pieces. It would have been DOA to use it as is. Glad I went to go with the metal cable, huh?
Power Antenna 10.jpg

Power Antenna 11.jpg

Power Antenna 12.jpg

Got the end of the cable out and went to clip the end and found it had a 6" piece of wire in the center. I guess for stability when it reached the top travel. Further inspection found the entire cable to be hollow. Like a thick-walled straw.
Power Antenna Broken Nylon Cable 1.jpg



Ok, now that we know we now NEED a new cable for an NOS unit, we can focus on removing the rest of the junk. On to the finial on top. Push up on what's left of any cable to get the finial out where you can work on it.
Power Antenna 13.jpg


I used a cloth, needle nose vise grips to hold the mast and carefully used a 7mm socket to remove the finial from the mast. Righty tighty, lefty loosey.
Power Antenna 14.jpg


Now we can carefully just pull the top mast through the antenna mast and right out the bottom. There's a rubber seal boot (nipple faces down) and felt washer that needs to be scavenged from the old mast and reinstalled on the new top mast assembly before reinstalling.
Power Antenna 15.jpg


OPTIONAL: You can unscrew the bottom plug from the mast and remove the rest of the antenna tubes if you want. I did just to clean them all up. You don't have to.
Then, you can just install the new top mast up through the lower antenna mast in reverse order. I had a bit of trouble going all the way in as there was a little bit of slag or something on the connection point where the metal cable was attached. Some quick hand sanding with some sandpaper cleared it up and it snapped up into place where it belonged. Installed the finial on the new top mast and now it's ready to re-install.
Power Antenna 16.jpg



You can see the felt and rubber seal for the mast bottom. Install it in the direction you see here. The mast section is ready to go. Look at that poor nylon cable. POS.
Power Antenna Broken Nylon Cable.jpg
 
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69hurstolds

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And now would be a good time to clean up the old RTV on the casing pieces and if your motor is used, clean all that crap up too and check the switch points for corrosion, burt spots. Hit them with a nail file or sandpaper if needed to clean them up.
And now we bring out a prison favorite...
Power Antenna 21.jpg


The next three pics shows where I dabbed some white lithium grease. Mine was a new unit, and what grease was in there was clean and no need to clean it out.

On the scroll drive
Power Antenna 18.jpg


A little grease on the gear hub area and the cable "guide" groove. Note that little bearing "block" at the top of the casing here (actually on the side). This little block helps hold the shaft between the bearing and the scroll shaft on the motor section. Ensure when you put it together that there is space there for that plastic block to clear. DON'T FORCE ANYTHING.
Power Antenna 19.jpg


And a little grease dabs on the gear.
Power Antenna 20.jpg


I found it best for the metal cable (it seems to be like high-strung spaghetti) to be installed with the mast extended with only a portion of the cable in the gear area. Trying to wind it and keep it in one place while putting the casing together was a PITA. So I figured it would just need rewinding under its own power.

It's time to seal this bad boy up. Now here's where you need to be a bit agile with the SEALER. Remember you only need to do the top half. You want any trapped water to drain out.

Here shows the gear and cable and mast back in place. But before you do, run a bead of sealer BEHIND that rubber nipple on the bottom side. Then lay the bottom end of the mast in place.

The white stuff you see in the next couple of pics is SEALER (not grease). I used white RTV because that's what I happened to have on hand. You can use clear, or almond, or whatever color it comes in if you like.

Power Antenna 17.jpg


You can now run a bead of sealer around the top section of the casing half with the motor/gear/mast in it. You may want to help hold the mast with some masking tape if you want. I didn't, but it's a bit unstable with the mast out.
Power Antenna 22.jpg
 
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69hurstolds

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And now it's time to say goodbye to the guts. The RTV takes a little time to setup, but don't wait TOO long before assembling the halves. Carefully place the top back on and press in place. If you did it right and didn't go too crazy with the sealer, just a little bit should squeeze out the sides. I wiped it off and re-installed the clips onto the housing to hold the halves in place. What isn't shown is that I got 4 rivets to fit the holes (5 if you count the double rivet stack to get that deep one in the center of the gear hole) and pop those into place.
Power Antenna 23.jpg


Since the mast is still extended, I plugged it into the 87 442 plug and it instantly reeled itself in. I then turned the radio on, and the mast extended, hit the torque limit switch setpoint and stopped in the up position. Turned off the radio and down she came. Calling this one done. Success!

Couple more things...

NOS one doesn't have the bracket installed. The factory ones are situated near the bottom of the unit just above where the bottom of the mast sits in the housing cup. In the above picture, you'll see there are 4 screw holes. You can tack the bracket should you be so bold, but 2 screws come in the kit in the box (although 4 holes, go figure) and using a phillips #2 screwdriver, I installed the bracket. For Cutlass, if you're holding the mast in front of you with the motor facing away from you, the bracket end points to your left. See pic.
Power Antenna 24.jpg



Power Antenna 26.jpg


There's also that dielectric grease pack that came in the kit. It's for when you attach the radio cable to the mast. Surprisingly, it's still pliable and gooey.

Power Antenna 25.jpg



So that's pretty much it.

Hard to measure, but I did my best to measure the nylon cable and it came up approximately 35.5" in length. Basically 3 feet.
 
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69hurstolds

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Also found this for using that grease packet for the RF cable connection.

1690646444192.png
 
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69hurstolds

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Jan 2, 2006
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I've done this conversion already with the plastic covered twisted strand wire cables, and have it at the ready for my 87. The cable is a bit thicker than Mike's, but I'm not sure about the plastic part of it. But I think I'm going to go ahead and change that one out, too.
 

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