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[TowerTalk] Penetrox vs WD40/graphite

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Subject: [TowerTalk] Penetrox vs WD40/graphite
From: (K7LXC)
Date: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 13:05:40 EDT
In a message dated 98-04-16 08:30:20 EDT, dessel.rick@Orbital.COM writes:

> I have been getting some confusing advice for corrosion prevention 
>       during the assembly of the antenna. 
>       Several hams have told me to be sure and put a coating of "Penetrox" 
>       or "OX-guard" on every electrical connection while assembling the 
>       antenna. The antenna is made of 6061-T6 aluminum. 
>       But in talking with Tennadyne, they say DO NOT use Penetrox or similar
>       compound, if you do, the antenna will not function properly. They 
>       recommend using a combination of WD40 and "lock" graphite. They have 
>       even put this in writing in the manual. 
>       So who is correct? If I use Penetrox, it will be in violation of the 
>       manufacturer's recommendations, and may even void the warranty.
>       By the way, my QTH is Northern Virginia near Washington, DC, so I am 
>       not near a salt water environment. 
>       Also, to add a little more confusion to the picture, according to the 
>       Galvanic Series Chart for dissimilar metals, Graphite is on one end, 
>       and Aluminum is on the other, which means those two materials are 
>       highly corrosive together! 

       I don't know why Tennadyne would recommend that you NOT use an
antioxidant. Any electrical connection left exposed to the weather SHOULD have
antioxidant applied.

     Typical antioxidants such as Penetrox, NoAlOx, etc. are composed of two
materials. First there are lots of very small particles of materials such as
zinc or copper. The second part is the vehicle which is the 'grease' carrier
of the particles. The carrier is non-conductive. What happens is that when you
tighten the connection, the compression forces the little particles to
penetrate the oxidized top layer. Since there are lots of these particles, you
get lots of good electrical connections. And since the grease covers the
metal, it prevents oxygen from getting in and further corroding (oxidizing)
the joint. Most commercial antioxidants are to be used in copper to copper,
aluminum to aluminum and aluminum to copper connections - just the thing for
antennas and ground connections. 

      If you've ever taken a "mature" yagi apart (if you could!), you'll see
lots of white aluminum oxide where the elements overlap. Use of an antioxidant
will minimize this problem. Yes, you should use it on antennas. I'll contact
the manufacturer to see if we're violating the LXC Prime Directive of "doing
what the manufacturer says". Perhaps this'll be like the recent US Towers vs.
cable lubricant situation where the manufactuer actually changed their
recommended policy. Their recommended use of WD-40 and graphite is even more

Cheers,  Steve   K7LXC


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