Frenched Antenna

One of the classic custom body modifications, the frenched or “sunken” antenna. I have always like the frenched antenna look. One of my favorites is on a \’59 Chevy where the antenna is sunken in the quarter below the fin and then it runs through a hole you put in the fin up into the sky, cool, very cool. You can put them vertical, leaning or even horizontal. Find where you would like to put your frenched antenna. Make sure that your antenna base (be it power or manual) is going to clear everything on the inside of the panel.  The next thing is to take a marker pen and put a line down the outside of the tube over the seam.  Most all tubes (unless they are seamless) are going to have a seam that you don\’t want to be seen. Make the tube where it is and that way as you set up the tube you keep that on the outside of the hole and unseen, or at least nearly unseen. If you ignore this, you will end up with the tube welded in and the darn seam right in front of your face and you will have to grind it off or fill it with polyester putty or something. Doing “body work” inside of a 1 1/2″ tube is not fun.  Mark a round hole the same size as your tubing you are going to use (I prefer 1 1/2″). Cut the hole and stick the tube through it. You then lean the tube in the direction you want to go and start trimming the hole out on each side so it will lean up right. Trim more and more but only a little at a time. Let\’s say you want to make  it perfectly straight up. One way would be to hang a string from something above the car with a weight on it next to your work area. There is your perfect vertical line to aid in making your antenna straight. Now, I don\’t recommend you making it perfectly straight, it will have the illusion of leaning forward, tilt it back just a hair.  Once you have the hole cut out into the oval so the tube stands up straight, mark the tube around that edge of the hole so you can cut it.

Along the way or now you can put the bottom of the tube. I have found a very cool way to accomplish this. I use a deep freeze plug in the exact size as the tube. It has a nice radius on the end and looks very nice. Just fit the freeze plug up to the end of the tube and put a nice weld around the seam, that is all there is to it. All you need is to drill a hole on the bottom for the antenna. Of course a drain is highly recommended. If the antenna is going somewhere that water won\’t hurt then just drill a little hole on the bottom of the freeze plug next to the antenna. If it is in a place where you need to contain the water, just tack weld a tube on the hole and put a rubber hose exiting out the bottom of the panel to drain the water. At the top where you tack welded the tube put same seam sealer so it doesn\’t leak.

At the top of the tube, place it up into the hole from underneath and tack weld it.  Making sure that it is still in the angle you want, tack weld around the edge a little at a time until it is fully welded. If you do this carefully, you will only need a little grinding or filing for near perfection. At the very least, a little plastic body filler will do the trick.


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Tips on cutting out the hole. You could use a die grinder with a carbide tip cutter, a rat tail file, or sometimes even tin snips. I highly recommend getting two pairs of nice high quality tin snips if you are going to be doing any work like this. Wiss makes some of the best. Forget the yellow handled ones, they are for straight cuts only and to tell you the truth, I never even use mine. The red and green “right and left” handed ones are the way to go. They are not for left and right handed people, nor are they for only left and right handed turns. They are for when you are cutting on the left or right hand side of the metal. They will make a perfect straight line, better than the “straight” cutters. I\’m sure I am missing something with those straight cutters but they just don\’t do the job for me. The die grinder or file is really the best way to go, nice and slow so you don\’t cut too much.

Anyway, have fun and be careful.

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