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  #11  
Old 05-18-2012
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Re: SSB Antenna wire attachment to the backstay

To reiterate, hose clamps are a fundamentally bad idea. Use a wire clamp.

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Re: SSB Antenna wire attachment to the backstay

Been using them professionally for many years without problems.

Eric
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Re: SSB Antenna wire attachment to the backstay

Hi Eric --

You've been on my list of people I want to meet for a long time. I don't often disagree with you. I do here. It's tough to find a hose clamp that has a stainless steel bolt - most are mild steel so they corrode. Unless you are going to drill and safety wire vibration will loosen them. Maintenance over time generally means 'remove and replace' which isn't terribly expensive but is a pain and a waste.

Clearly you've had a good experience with hose clamps. I have not. Maybe you have sources for better kit than I do.

From an installer point of view, the hose clamp is attractive because you don't have to stock so many different sizes. I do have to keep a lot of different sizes of wire clamps to avoid extra (expensive) runs to hardware stores to buy (expensive) retail parts. I also like a heat-shrink/adhesive/crimped ring connector to the wire clamp. It means a few more cents to the customer but it makes me more confident in my work as I watch them sail off into the sunset (well - usually the sunrise here on the Chesapeake).
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Re: SSB Antenna wire attachment to the backstay

Eric,

I usually agree with you, too, but in this case do not. Here's why.

I used your method for years, too, but found that the only way to inspect the connection was to take off all the tape and goo...a really messy and unpleasant undertaking, so rarely if ever done.

Maybe, if you did a really super job in the beginning, there'd be little need to inspect the connection, but if you didn't and if water gets in...even a bit...you risk crevice corrosion of the backstay itself. And, as you know, crevice corrosion in any standing rigging is a very bad thing!

With the wire clamp and ring-terminal thing, you don't need anything more. I don't tape my connections or "protect" them in any way, other than a bit of vaseline or other lubricant on the wire clamp. This way, the connection is always open to view, it's clean and tight, and can easily be inspected or replaced at any time.

Different strokes for different folks, I guess!

I, too, would sometime like to meet you after all these years. You seem to hide yourself pretty well in the bowels of the Naval Academy :-)

Bill
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Old 05-18-2012
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Re: SSB Antenna wire attachment to the backstay

I usually agree with both of you, but, this is one particular instance where I do not. The clamps, both types, are not great for making a good electrical connection to the backstay. Yes, both will work, at least most of the time, but I think I may have found a better solution to this age-old problem.

I stripped about 4-inches of insulation from the wire's center conductor, then lightly twisted the wire back to somewhere close to its original shape. Next, I lightly tinned the stripped section of wire with rosin-core solder. After it cooled, I placed a dab of silicone cement to the base of the wire, thereby providing a waterproof shield so there would be no water intrusion between the insulation and wire.

Attaching the wire to the backstay was simple. I merely wrapped the tinned section of wire around the backstay, then tightly wrapped the connection with white, rigging tape. A small, white, cable tie was placed at the top and bottom of the rigging tape to anchor it in place--just to be on the safe side. No big lump from the connection, nothing to get snagged on, and when I have to remove it, which in my case is necessary when the boat goes onto the travel lift, I just snip the cable ties and unwrap the tape--it takes just a few seconds.

I've measured the connection resistance with an ohm meter many times to ensure that it is solid--never had a bad measurement. Additionally, there's no pressure point or chafing of the backstay whatsoever.

I think the biggest problem I see with SSB radio installations is the grounding system. Essentially, this is a longwire antenna, which requires an earth ground to operate at peak efficiency. Most installers have the tendency to attach the ground post of the radio to the negative terminal of the boat's batteries and assume this constitutes grounding--it does not. Even if the engine is an inboard that is grounded to the negative terminal of the battery, the ultimate connection to an earth ground, which in this case is the water, it not always adequate. Sometimes it works, sometimes it just doesn't. The best connection in this instance is an external ground plate, one that is often used for grounding the mast for lightning strike protection. It's a solid, ground connection that makes a huge difference in the reception and transmission of SSB radio signals.

I'll shoot some step by step photos and post them when the boat goes back in the water.

Cheers,

Gary
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Re: SSB Antenna wire attachment to the backstay

Quote:
Originally Posted by SVAuspicious View Post
It's tough to find a hose clamp that has a stainless steel bolt - most are mild steel so they corrode. Unless you are going to drill and safety wire vibration will loosen them.
There are cheap ones and good ones as with everything else. I use ones that are all stainless although it doesn't really matter with the way I weatherproof them. As you can see from the photo, no moisture gets in. That one had been going for years on a boat with multiple trips to New England ports. The tight weatherproofing also prevents any loosening of the clamp.

Quote:
the only way to inspect the connection was to take off all the tape and goo...a really messy and unpleasant undertaking, so rarely if ever done.
As you can see in the photo, no mess. A simple quick longitudinal cut with a razor knife and you just peel it off. It's worked for me for years for this and various coaxial connections. There's never been a gooey mess when removing it.

Eric
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Re: SSB Antenna wire attachment to the backstay

So clearly the appropriate response, Eric, is for you, Bill, and me to meet up in Annapolis, DC, or Baltimore and hang out a bit.
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Old 05-18-2012
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Re: SSB Antenna wire attachment to the backstay

Hose clamp, bulldog clamp...Wouldn't a real sailor just LASH IT with twine?

Some antiseize or dielectric paste, either one, should prevent corrosion but I'm not sure that a waterproof cover is a good idea. Bear in mind that any waterproof cover on stainless rigging is going to hide the rigging, prevent oxygen from reaching the stainless, and if it gets damp in there--the could cause crevice corrosion and failure.

Might, could, not saying it would, just raising the question that maybe, on rigging, something breathable like lashing might actually be as good a way to go as waterproofing? (And of course, more yachty. :-)
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Old 05-19-2012
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Re: SSB Antenna wire attachment to the backstay

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Bear in mind that any waterproof cover on stainless rigging is going to hide the rigging, prevent oxygen from reaching the stainless, and if it gets damp in there--the could cause crevice corrosion and failure.
Thus the guidance to pull the tape and inspect annually, just like you do with rigging tape (you do, don't you?) at the spreaders.
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