Power Antenna replacement - How to

Texas82GP

Just-a-worm
Apr 3, 2015
7,455
113
Spring, Texas
Those of you following my build thread are aware that I recently replaced the power antenna in my car. I wanted to do a write up on my experience and hopefully it will help somebody. My car is a Grand Prix, so this will be specific to the 81-87 GP but it should be a pretty similar procedure on other models.

When I bought my car, the antenna was in the up position and was non-functional. The mast was slightly bent and had some overspray on it, so I knew it was non-functional when the car went to paint. I started out by buying a book on Kirban's on how to replace a power antenna on a Turbo Buick. Here is a link...

http://www.kirbanperformance.com/pr...MOVAL+AND+INSTALLATION+GUIDE++BOOK+#6976.html

The book was helpful for me but hopefully you won't need it after reading this write up. For the price it is a nice reference though.

My next step was to come up with a replacement antenna. There are several options that I'm aware of:

1. Kirban's will rebuild your antenna or sell you a rebuilt antenna. This wasn't a good fit for me since my mast wasn't in great shape.

2. If your antenna runs but doesn't go up, you could buy the steel replacement cable from Kirban's and fix it yourself. I think there is a thread on how to fix the antenna yourself on the Turbo Buick forum. Here is a link to Kirban's where they offer the cable, the rebuilding service or the rebuilt antenna.

http://www.kirbanperformance.com/products.php?search_text=power+antenna&submit_button=

3. You can buy an aftermarket new antenna and make it work (not my favorite option). One is the Delco 88891020. It's kind of expensive for how universal it is.

4. You can buy a new old stock (NOS) antenna. Be careful. Many of the antenna failures are a result of the nylon cable drying up and breaking. I bought a NOS antenna from a member on here. He indicated mine had a blue insert in the mast and was date coded to 1999. He added that the older replacement antennas that have the white insert in the mast and are dated to the early 90's and late '80's tend to be the ones that are dried out and snap. The antenna I bought from him was tested and he had a video of it operating.

These are just some options I'm aware of. The metal cable to repair an antenna may be available elsewhere so doing your own research is a good idea.

Here is a look at my replacement antenna. It looks like it was AC Delco 22048604...

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Sorry for the upside down picture. I can't seem to get it to cooperate on this machine. I'll fix it at work next week if I remember.

I had the passenger inner fender out of my car when I decided to do this repair. It made it easier but it is not necessary to remove the inner fender to do this job and I don't suggest pulling the inner fender as it is a little bit of a pain, especially with an engine in the car.

I started out by disconnecting the antenna from the wiring coming from inside the cockpit. The connector is over under the passenger side of the HVAC case. There is a connection for the antenna lead over there as well. Mine was a threaded connection. That booklet that I mentioned earlier indicated that the later cars had a quick connection instead that you should not attempt to unplug. Instead drop the antenna assembly out of the fender and then disconnect the lead at the antenna. I tied about five feet of wire to both the antenna lead and the three wire connector (the ends that connect to the power antenna) to use as fish wires. On my car, there are two openings in the fender inner structure panel and the two connectors came through different ones. Hence, I didn't use just one fish wire....

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Next, I taped up the leading edge of the passenger door and the trailing edge of the fender with blue tape. I did this because you have to remove four bolts along the rear edge of the fender skin. Three of those bolts secure the fender skin to the fender inner structure panel and the fourth secures the antenna to the back edge of the fender skin. The tape needs to go pretty far back on the door since you will be right next to your paint with your tools.
20171227_111216.jpg


Here is a look at three of the four bolts. The top two secure the skin to the inner panel. The third one down secures the antenna to the skin. Mine was missing this bolt. The fourth is very low and secures the skin to the inner panel....

20171228_152727.jpg


The top three bolts will all come out with a 1/4" drive ratchet and an 8mm socket. The bottom bolt, you'll have to use a wrench. It is not visible in my picture above. It will be obvious to you when you look for it. It is coarse thread and you barely have enough room to get it out if you have the trim on the bottom of your door like mine. You will need an assistant to hold the door wide open for you while you remove and install this bolt. The bottom bolt on mine was a bit grumpy from corrosion I guess. I had to be patient and work it back and forth a little bit. When I put it back in, I used some anti-seize on it and it went back together much better. Here is a look at the top two bolts and the bottom bolt...

20171227_164334.jpg


The bolts along the wheel arch that secure the edge of the skin to the inner structure panel will also need to be pulled. There are six of them. You need not remove the chrome wheel arch trim. My car has a lower rocker panel moulding and I had to pull it loose from the first two clips closest to the front of the car so the bottom of the fender could be pulled outboard. The black trim in this picture is the moulding I'm referring to....
20171227_164243.jpg


You can get the moulding loose by pushing down on the top edge and pulling outward on the bottom of it at each clip. Here is a look at what the clip looks like. Of course I broke one of the little tabs off of the first one....

20171227_111937.jpg


No problem. They are available. You can buy them here...

http://www.autofastco.net/catalog/item/7780351/10040135.htm

That's 10 pictures so I'm going to go ahead and post this. To be continued....
 
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1evilregal

Comic Book Super Hero
Apr 23, 2009
3,020
113
Greensboro, NC
you know that I'm tuned in! :popcorn:
 
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Texas82GP

Just-a-worm
Thread starter
Apr 3, 2015
7,455
113
Spring, Texas
Sorry guys. I ran out of time last night. Company came over for New Year's Eve so I had to pull off putting this how-to together. I'll finish it now.

At this point, the bottom of the fender will pull out and the lower rocker moulding will move with it, since it is out of its first two clips....

20171228_085449.jpg


The last thing holding the antenna in there is the top nut....

20171227_164217.jpg


I didn't want to booger up mine so I bought the antenna nut wrench...

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The wrench was not expensive. I think I paid $25 with paying next day shipping. Worth it to me. Before removing the nut on my car, I broke a big portion of the mast off so I didn't have as much to contend with in the fender. I recommend taping up the opening in the fender before you pull the antenna nut.....

20171228_084947.jpg



Here is a look at the antenna coming out...

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Use caution and common sense on how far you pull the bottom of the fender out. If you get rough with it or move it too much, you'll bend it. The skin is pretty thin and flimsy. Still, I was able to get my arm up in there to help fish the wires through the openings into the engine compartment without doing any damage.

Here is a look at where the antenna lead fastens to the antenna. For you guys with the later cars with the 'quick connect' under the hood, you'll need to pull the antenna lead loose here instead of under the hood....

20171228_090830.jpg


When I pulled the antenna lead from mine, this little plastic piece was under it and there was what appeared to be dried up dielectric grease on it...

20171228_093831.jpg

My replacement antenna was a little different. It had provisions for mounting the antenna lead in two places. It had a little rubber piece down in the hole so the plastic part from the original antenna would not swap over. I just put some dielectric grease in the location that I was going to use and moved on. I elected to move the antenna lead from the side to the rear mounting point. I did this since with the lead pointing rearward, it makes the antenna assembly thinner going back in the fender and I didn't have to pull the fender out quite as much to get the new antenna back in there.

20171228_094048.jpg


As you can see above, the holes in the antenna lead didn't quite line up with the holes in the new antenna. I elongated the holes in the lead with a sharp drill bit and it went together fine. I also had to swap over the little bracket that fastens the antenna assembly to the rear edge of the fender skin...

20171228_090836.jpg


The 'grommet' for the bolt for that little bracket was much smaller on the replacement antenna so the original bolt wouldn't work on the new antenna. I ended up going to the hardware store and getting a small bolt, nut, lock washer and two flat washers. The original bolt was a course thread sheet metal bolt. I ended up re-using it to fasten the antenna to the rear edge of my fender skin since that bolt was missing on my car.

The next step is to start fishing the wires and antenna lead back into the engine compartment and work the antenna up into the fender. A helper is a real asset at this point. Once you get the antenna up in the fender you want to get it hanging by the top nut. Just get the nut started so the antenna is hanging. Once the antenna is hanging and you have the wires fished back in the engine compartment, then you are ready to install the top two bolts that secure the fender skin to the inner structure panel in the door opening. I also recommend going ahead and getting the bottom bolt in. Remember, the top two are fine thread and the bottom is coarse. Now you need to get the antenna secured to the rear edge of the fender skin. You'll find that it is nowhere close to where you need it in the fender to get the bolt started. what I did was to put a 3/8" drive extension in the top of the antenna assembly, just above the antenna mast itself, and I used it as a lever or handle to manipulate the antenna into position to get that bolt started. You'll also need to tighten the top nut of the antenna to adjust the height where the antenna bracket meets up with the slot in the back edge of the fender skin. I didn't have a bad time with it. Once I had that bolt in and tight, I tightened the top nut a little. Don't go overboard. It's just plastic.

At this point all that's left is to install the bolts along the wheel arch and fasten the lower rocker moulding back in its clips. Obviously, plug the connector in under the hood. A note on that..... I read in that booklet from Kirban's that the three terminal connector for the antenna is prone to getting corroded. My replacement antenna came with a new OE style connector but I don't like the look of the connector on the car side of the wiring on my car. I've decided to cut that connector out and replace it with a weather pack connector. You can buy the kits on Ebay and I have the tools to crimp the terminals to the wire and to get the terminals out of the housings if necessary. I'm still waiting for the connector to come in so I just have my wiring temporarily tied up where I can get to it easy. The booklet recommended just scraping the terminals of the three wire connector with small screw drivers and spraying it with electrical contact spray.

That's all I can think of for now guys. Ask questions if you have them. I'll be happy to answer if I can. Happy New Year guys!
 
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1evilregal

Comic Book Super Hero
Apr 23, 2009
3,020
113
Greensboro, NC
great write up! IIRC, I bought a universal power antenna a while back, so the installation will be a bit different for me, but all the rest of the info is pure gold! I'll end up doing this twice, as the cutlass has a bad power ant as well as the Chief....

once again, you've done a great write up that even an idiot like me can't screw up!:D Thank you!
:respect:

Darin
 
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Larryneil

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Sep 22, 2018
8
3
Texas82GP,
Thanks for all the information and pictures.
My antenna is leaning outward and I've been researching how to replace it. I don't think it will be simple. It's necessary so I'm going to continue researching hoping to find the easiest way. From all I've seen so far removal of the fender is the most reasonable way.
Again thanks for the time you took to post all this information.
Larryneil
 

Texas82GP

Just-a-worm
Thread starter
Apr 3, 2015
7,455
113
Spring, Texas
Texas82GP,
Thanks for all the information and pictures.
My antenna is leaning outward and I've been researching how to replace it. I don't think it will be simple. It's necessary so I'm going to continue researching hoping to find the easiest way. From all I've seen so far removal of the fender is the most reasonable way.
Again thanks for the time you took to post all this information.
Larryneil
You're welcome. If the write-up helps someone, it was worth it. You don't have to remove the fender. You'd be surprised how much movement you have once you get it all broke loose.
 
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Texas82GP

Just-a-worm
Thread starter
Apr 3, 2015
7,455
113
Spring, Texas
Should what interchange? The antenna? I think so. To my knowledge there is only one part number.
 

CaliWagon83

Royal Smart Person
Nov 12, 2017
1,936
113
Orange County, CA
OK. Just wondering if the basic mechanism and wiring schematic is the same. I’ve learned never to assume parts are the same year-to-year and model-to-model. Thanks.
 

Local Hero

G-Body Guru
Nov 24, 2016
678
93
Northcoast, Cleveland, Ohio
That is a great write-up.

We had a retired GM mechanic here locally that found his niche in replacing all the 80s GM power antennas that failed.

You would bring your car to his shop. You would go to the waiting room. He would go to work. There were no windows. He would already have a rebuilt unit ready to go. He would have the job done in something ridiculous like less than an hour. Nobody was allowed to watch to learn his secret. I don't know what he charged because I never had the service done. I heard it was reasonable. He would then rebuild your unit for the next guy.
 
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