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[TowerTalk] Butternut overhaul notes -- from KS6Z

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Subject: [TowerTalk] Butternut overhaul notes -- from KS6Z
From: (Allan G. Taylor)
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 1997 08:48:42 -0700 (PDT)
By popular demand, I am posting the overhaul notes from KS6Z re the Butternut

I hope these will be useful .  Please direct further queries to him at the
email addr give as I am just a middleman!!

Grant K7GT
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Date: Thu, 06 Mar 1997 00:50:15 -0800
From: Dan Keefe <>
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Hi Marty,

Here is a copy of a post that I put on the Ham Antenna reflector a week
ago. It should help you decode your problem with the B'nut.

I have had the same sort of trouble and it was easy to solve by cleaning
up the antenna and reassembling it. The problem is going to be found in
the joints.

Any questions please email me at

We can easily get the thing back into shape with a little time and elbow

Dan Keefe

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Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 15:33:24 -0800
From: Dan Keefe <>
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To: <>
> Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 00:57:11 -0800
> From: "Raj Singh, VE6RAJ" <>
> Subject: Butternut vertical questions
> > Rich Abbot wrote:
> >
> > Hi all,
> >
> > I recently acquired a never-assembled Butternut HF6VX
> > vertical, which I intend to get operational this spring.
> >
> > I would like to know:
> >
> >  1. What is the CMK counterpoise kit? I've seen it in the
> >     Butternut price lists, but never seen a physical
> >     description.
> >
> >  2. Same question for the RMK roof mounting kit.
> >
> >  3. Has anybody tried to use the HF6VX without either of
> >     these kits?  If I simply assemble the antenna and
> >     clamp it to a 10' mast, without either accessory kit
> >     or any radials, will the thing perform at all?  I can
> >     run a few short counterpoise wires with MFJ's artificial
> >     ground if that would help.

This is impossible to do. The antenna cannot be tuned without radials or
the counterpoise kit. I suggest that you use the radials if you want the
best performance this antenna can give. The counterpoise kits are a
compromise by any yardstick.

I have used several Butternut antennas Since 1981. They are excellent
antennas given the fact that they are multiband shortened verticals to
begin with. If you can't get a dipole high in the air this will be a
very acceptable multiband antenna.

Some of the plusses are:

Pretty well built except for the white plastic standoffs that hold the
15 meter stub out from the aluminum tubing. The sun gets to them and
they break. The aluminum clamp with the gray plastic on the older model
was a more sericeable item and lasted forever.

Good to excellent performance on all bands except 80 which is not as
good as I would like, Naturally.

The antenna is easy to mount on a chimney using a Radio Shack or similar
chimney mount. Having done it several different ways my suggestion is
that you get a five foot (NOT the 10 footer) long galvanized mast from
Home Base. They sell the exact thing that you want. It fits inside the
base of the Butternut. Insert the mast in the base and drill a couple of
holes through the base and mast and secure them with #10/32 bolts, nuts
and lockwashers. The mast is an excellent friction fit inside the
antenna base. Mount the mast in the chimney mount and it will get the
base of the antenna above most of the potential tuning problems.

Negatives are the white plastic parts (not the round fiberglass rods)
that are used as insulators. The Sun gets to them and they crack and
break easily. 

Replacement parts are very expensive. The doorknob capacitors are about
30 bucks each and that makes the antenna too costly to repair if you
happen to blow all the capacitors.

The required 11 foot matching section of 75 ohm coax is 25 bucks plus
shipping from Illinois if you happen to need a replacement from Bencher
who now own Butternut. It is not exactly a blue light special either.

Installation tips.

The instructions that come in the box are not exactly the clearest nor
the best written documents in the antenna business and I find
uncorrected mis-spellings of common words troubling when I am trying to
follow instructions. Here are a few things that I have found that will
improve the quality of your installation.

Install the mast in the RS chimney mount and you will get the base of
the antenna approximately 5 feet above the top of the chimney in the
clear. This has been a most satisfactory arrangement for me.

Cut your own radials and don't use the radial package from Butternut.
They work better than the 300 ohm line radials. IMHO! It will take a
couple of hours to do this and cost money for the radial wire but it is
worth it.

Even though the radials when up in the air are a bit unsightly if you
are looking at the roof you won't see them after they have been there
for a couple of weeks or less. The only radials that may/will extend
past the edge of the roof are the forty and eighty meter wires. The 80
meter wires will likely be difficult to place but you can get away with
using only two of them instead of four.

Cut the radials to resonance using 240/f. Use any stranded wire from #14
to #18 and it can be either insulated or bare copper. After calculating
the length of the radials measure the distance carefully with a long
tape measure and mark both ends with chalk on the garage floor/driveway.
Cut the radials exactly to your calculated resonant length as marked on
the floor and or driveway. Install small round solder lugs on each end
of the radials and solder the joint. The solder lugs must fit on the 3
inch, 10/32 bolt that you will install on the antenna base.

Replace the factory bolt used at the base of the antenna with a 3 inch
10/32 bronze bolt with the head cut off and the end dressed with a fine
file so that it will take a nut and lockwasher easily. Bronze is easier
to work than stainless steel. You will have to drill out the hole a
little bit to insert the 10/32 bolt.

Install the bolt in a centered location on the base so that an equal
amount sticks out on each side of the base, Use a tightened nut and
lockwasher on each side to keep the bolt centered and make a good ground
connection. Tighten the nuts down properly.  This is the attachment
point for all those radials with the lugs that you have just completed.

Install the radials using nylon line that you can buy inexpensively in
any hardware store. Get something that is sturdy enough to prevent
snapping when the wind blows a bit. The antenna won't need to be guyed
except in a really windy area but that is your call. The instruction
sheet explains how to guy the antenna should you need to do this.

Make sure that you dress out the radials so that they form an X pattern
insofar as possible when tied off using the nylon line. I use small
screw in eyes from the hardware store and attach the nylon line to the
facia board of the house. I don't use egg insulators on the end of the

Don't let the radials for forty or 80 meters pass over any large metal
objects like the aluminum frame of a sunroom or travel close to the
flashing or gutters at the edge of the roof. This will seriously detune
your antenna and it will likely not load at all on forty meters. Reroute
the radials as necessary to keep this from happening.

Tuning can be tedious so before you mount the antenna on the Chimney
where you will not be able to reach the things that need to be tuned you
should follow the directions related to the basic setting and then
attach the radials for forty and/or eighty meters while the antenna is
on the ground to check the tuning. It will be fairly close to what you
want but if you want to move the tuning on forty and eighty this is the
time to do it before it goes into the chimney mount. It will take a trip
or two up on the roof to pull the antenna out of the chimney mount and
finish off the tuning unless you are very lucky. Begin with eighty
meters when that is tuned properly go on to forty. The rest should be ok
with the basic setting because they are all fairly broad. It is not a
lot of fun taking all the radials  off so that the tuning adjustment can
be made and then putting all the radials on to check the tuning again so
think the thing through carefully as you go to minimize annoying
mistakes that will have to be corrected with another trip up the ladder.

More hams are killed falling off roofs and towers than from any other


When assembling the aluminum tubing use Butter it's Not from Butternut
or equal to make sure the sections don't seize after a year or two, If
you don't use a lubricant you have a problem and it will be a real
nightmare to take the sections apart to clean them up or when you move
and want to take the antenna with you. Do NOT use plain grease  or oil
on these joints. these are dialectrics and will prevent the aluminum
from making a good electrical contact at the tubing connections.

Make sure by checking your work that all those nuts, bolts, and wing
nuts are tight before you put the antenna up. Check every single one.

MOST IMPORTANT... The round fiberglass rods that are used as insulating
sections in the construction of the antenna are very sturdy and they
won't rust or corrode. They are an excellent slip fit into the NEW
aluminum tubing. Unfortunately the tubing will soon corrode and in time
the corrosion will grab the fiberglass tube and hold it like a vise
grip. There is no man on earth strong enough to pull that slip fit apart
once it has become corroded together. 

When you install the fiberglass rods into the tubing use a product like
NO OX which is sold at Home Base or equal. It is used by electricians to
stop corrosion of aluminum wiring connections and works well to stop
corrosion where the inside of the tubing comes together with the
fiberglass rod. It is also a thick mineral oil based product that will
provide the needed lubrication when pulling the rod out of the tubing
easily in the distant future when you want to take the antenna down. 

If you buy a used antenna and can't get the fiberglass out of the tubing
or the tubing sections are corroded together they can be removed fairly
easily if you have the correct tools and one of those portable Black and
Decker work table things with the full length clamping top. Don't use a
vise or you will collapse the tubing and destroy the antenna. The Black
and Decker work table will hold the tubing and distribute the pressure
over a sufficient area that it won't crush the tubing unless the man
adjusting the clamping pressure wears a size 3 hat and a size 48 shirt. 

To remove stuck fiberglass parts from tubing first remove any bolts
securing the two pieces. Using a piece of 1 inch wood dowel of the
appropriate length insert the dowel into the tube, pound the hell out of
the dowel on the garage floor until you see the fiberglass move.  When
this happens a few more good strong raps on the garage floor and the
dowel will force the rod out of the tubing. Clean the rod with a soapy
Brillo pad under running water and the inside of the tube with rolled up
sandpaper, use No Ox when re-installing the rod in the tubing to avoid a
repetition of the same problem in the future. This is a nightmare
project for any Butternut owner who has the problem.


Keep a small can of Liquid Wrench close by, put the tubing section in
the Black and Decker work table snugly and use either an adjustable bike
chain wrench with a 15 inch long handle or a pair of vise grips. The
vise grips will mar the fiberglass more than the chain wrench but that
is a fine point and I am trying to keep my eye on the main chance here.
Thoughtful craftsmanlike work here will almost eliminate any marring of
the fiberglass rod.

Leave a few inches of tubing sticking out of the Black and Decker table
to avoid compressing the tubing near the fiberglass rod. Clamp the chain
wrench or the vise grip at the center of the fiberglass rod and try to
rotate it. It WILL move with enough steady pressure. When it starts to
rotate put some Liquid wrench at the junction of the rod and tubing as
well as several doses in the bolt holes. It will find it's way into the
joint permitting more back and forth movement of the fiberglass rod.
Repeat this several times and the rod will come loose and can be
carefully worked out. If necessary clamp on the vise grips and tap the
vise grips on the appropriate side with a two pound sledge while
continually adding Liquid Wrench and keep rotating the rod to spread the
Liquid Wrench. It will come out without destroying either the tubing or
the fiberglass but the fiberglass may be a bit chewed up from the vise
grips. Clean the fiberglass rod with a soapy Brillo pad and warm water
and it will look like new in five minutes. 

One of my first Butternuts was installed about 500 yards from the
Pacific Ocean and I just installed it quickly.  The above instructions
are the product of my failing to think the installation through the
first time around when it took me a week to take it apart and clean it

If you have any questions please contact me directly at
and I will respond ASAP.


Dan Keefe KS6Z
Vista, CA


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I fixed the broken plastic stuff with Lucite once and plexiglass another
time. The holes have to be drilled carefully and if you have Forster
bits use them .  The only dimension that is critical is the distance
between the two holes. Put the broken sections of the spacers together
and measure them center to center. Maintain this separation on the two
plastic parts so that the stub will end up being separated from the
tubing by the same distance all the way up.

Take your time with this measurement.

As for the Capacitor. I am sorry to say that while you can replace them
they are terribly expensive. About 30 bux.

I would put the antenna together completely, cut a forty meter radial
(one is enough) stand the antenna up against the garage roof or
something like that, hook it up to a length of coax and a radio and see
if you get any tuning at all. If you don't get it to tune you have one
or more bad capacitors in all probability.

Fortunately, the Butternut expert lives in Santa Rosa and takes phone
calls every day so I will send you his number. He is good and can answer
any questions.

BTW I use steel wool on the outside of the tubing and #100 sandpaper on
the inside and outside of the joints. There is enough metal there to
handle a bit of sanding loss. These things are pretty tough antennas and
they work very well when you have them in shape. 

Note, you live near the ocean and should think about taking the B'nut
down about once per year and redoing ALL places where there is
electrical contact at the very least. I would also pull all the
fiberglass rod, clean and lubricate it and put it back together. The rod
will really lock onto the aluminum tubing and you will have a hell of a
time getting it apart.

Dan Keefe  KS6Z
Vista, CA

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