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Thread: Power antenna motor apparently died...

  1. #1
    Member ZackN920's Avatar
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    Default Power antenna motor apparently died...

    So yea, I did a bit of rewiring(& cleaning ends of wire connections) under the hood of the car and found that the antenna no longer goes up. Just all of a sudden. No sounds coming from the motor either when the switch is pushed up or down. It used to work perfect.

    How do these normally fail? Do they usually completely go dead or do the motors usually keep working and they just grind gears?


    Here's what I did under the hood:
    I installed a new 15" 2 gauge + battery cable (from battery to solenoid). (Some previous owner/mechanic had a way too long 6 gauge cable in there that had to be folded over itself a number of times.)
    Pulled all the wires off the fender solenoid and cleaned the ends of them- reinstalled
    Checked and cleaned the ends of wire connections at the factory alternator,
    General look over of everything else and then reinstalled the battery and reconnected.

    Went inside the car and all seemed well, I reset the clock. Turned key to acc mode to turn the radio on and see if I needed to reset the pre set channels. That's when I noticed nothing from the antenna motor in the back. Is there some connection I could have missed under the hood that would kill power to only the antenna? Radio still works like it should, I checked related fuses under the dash.


    I pulled the panel apart in the back to make sure everything was still plugged in(I was messing around in the trunk and had all the panels out about a month ago) and the motor is still plugged in. Anybody got a schematic for checking if it's getting power? If I remember correctly, I think it had a 4 wire connector going to the motor. Not sure off hand how I should test that with the multi meter. I was expecting a 2 wire set up.


    What do you think?
    1987 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series-98k miles- LOPO 302, AOD, open 3.27, Dual exhaust w/ Thrush Turbo mufflers

    the others...
    1926 Dodge Brothers Business Sedan- 212ci I4/3 speed/crank start
    1987 Dodge Dakota- 3.9/A999/3.90/2wd (storage)
    1990 Jeep Grand Wagoneer-AMC360/727/NP229/3.08/2" lift(daily)
    1994 GMC Burban L05 350/4L60e/241/3.42
    2001 Jeep Cherokee 4.0/AW4/231/3.73 (limbo)

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    GMN Regular EaOutlaw1969's Avatar
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    Well you have some fusible links at the solenoid, one would think you would have more than the antenna not working if somehow one of the links is causing your problem.
    Sorry I cannot help with a Diagram.
    From what I remember when the plastic whip of the antenna breaks the motor can operate but it may be so quiet and smooth you may not know it is working.
    I would check for power with a test light. also you may be able to pull the antenna out with little resistance up and off the car if it is broken ( depending on where it may have broke ) if you try puling on the antenna do not use much force or you will break it. Which is why I suggested checking for power with the test light first.
    2007 Ford Crown Victoria LX Sport

  3. #3
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    honestly never had the motor fail in one, its usually the whip that breaks.

    I don't have 87 wiring stuff unfortunately. The 86 antenna could have 2 or 3 wires, depending on which type antenna it had. The 3 wire one has a ground and two hots, one is hot in up, the other hot in down. The 2 wire ones simply flip polarity so you just check across the leads. One way will be +12v, the other will be -12v. If its not one of those two setups, I don't know.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

    1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

    Quote Originally Posted by phayzer5 View Post
    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

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    Member ZackN920's Avatar
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    yea, I was thinking the same thing regarding the fusible links.

    plastic whip? What's that?

    "its usually the whip that breaks." What- the telescoping antenna itself? I'm confused now guys...

    I want to say that I saw 4 wires going to the motor. I'll mess with it some tomorrow and find out what I got and run some tests. Figure something out. I'll report back my findings.
    1987 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series-98k miles- LOPO 302, AOD, open 3.27, Dual exhaust w/ Thrush Turbo mufflers

    the others...
    1926 Dodge Brothers Business Sedan- 212ci I4/3 speed/crank start
    1987 Dodge Dakota- 3.9/A999/3.90/2wd (storage)
    1990 Jeep Grand Wagoneer-AMC360/727/NP229/3.08/2" lift(daily)
    1994 GMC Burban L05 350/4L60e/241/3.42
    2001 Jeep Cherokee 4.0/AW4/231/3.73 (limbo)

  5. #5

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    Of course I'm at sea so all I have (by sheer luck) is the 1986 LTD CV/GM EVTM, as I draw in changes I've made while installing aftermarket trip computer and radio.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Of course, this is for the manual switch version that the peasants get, but power source and wire colors should be similar, maybe. Definitely don't trust it too much.

    The antenna itself is like a fishing reel, with a thick piece of plastic cable that reels in and out to raise and lower the antenna. It's inside the telescoping mast, to push it up and pull it down.
    If the plastic breaks, the antenna won't move, or may move a little bit, depending on how and where it snaps. The plastic is heavy, more like weed whacker line than fishing line.
    Broken plastic is the most common failure on these things. Most of these have internal contacts to let it know if the antenna is all the way up or all the way down, and I suspect that if those go bad the plastic is likely to break soon after.

    I would eyeball the connections on the starter solenoid, then check for power at the antenna if those look good.

  6. #6
    GMN Regular EaOutlaw1969's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZackN920 View Post
    yea, I was thinking the same thing regarding the fusible links.

    plastic whip? What's that?

    "its usually the whip that breaks." What- the telescoping antenna itself? I'm confused now guys...

    I want to say that I saw 4 wires going to the motor. I'll mess with it some tomorrow and find out what I got and run some tests. Figure something out. I'll report back my findings.
    here is a listing on a ebay add to show you what we are talking about. The metal part of the antenna is the telescoping antenna the plastic whip has teeth cut into it along it on one side the entire length of the whip that rides along a gear. The plastic whip gets old and brittle along with lack of lubrication which normally snaps when it goes down.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/TOWN-CAR-Po...-/330502687206

    When replacing we normally remove the antenna motor from the car take apart the gear cover slide the broken antenna out along with any broken pieces, debris and clean out the dried grease re lubricate the gear with white lithium grease and lightly coat the whip with grease and reinstall the antenna motor, insert the antenna whip toothed side in toward the gear push in until the antenna whip will not go in any more then have someone turn on the ignition and radio then have them shut off the radio and let the antenna motor suck in the antenna. Try to make sure you keep the mast and whip aligned during this so nothing binds.

    Some power antennas you may need a special tool to remove the fender to motor mast nut here is an example of a kit that is available

    https://jmcautomotiveequipment.com/l...iABEgK4z_D_BwE
    2007 Ford Crown Victoria LX Sport

  7. #7
    Member ZackN920's Avatar
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    Thanks guys for the explanations. I've never dealt with power antenna's before so did not know.

    Bgreywolf- My car does have the manual switch on the dash, but according to that diagram it looks as if I should only have 2 wires going to the motor. That's unfortunately not the case in my car. Looks like it should have power too, since it looks like that fuse feeds it and the radio. Radio is still working fine, and actually picking up local stations quite well for the antenna being fully down.
    So these should have internal contacts to stop the motor when it reaches the end? If that's the case, mine are bad. If ya held the switch on my car, either way at the end of the travel the motor would just stay spinning and you'd hear a "click, click, click" coming from it. When ever I would operate it, i'd always watch to see where it stops at(if I could see it) or just wait for the first click and let off the switch.

    Yup. I rechecked everything at the solenoid. All looks well and all is connected. Couldn't find any wires that weren't.

    EaOutlaw1969-Thanks for the link to that listing. Now I see exactly what were talking about. Clears things up. If it turns up that this thing is alright, would it be wise to take apart what I got to re-lube it or just wait for it to break and just replace/lube it then?



    Update!
    Ok, so before I left the shop for lunch, I took out the rear panel in the trunk and did some testing.

    The motor itself has 3 wires going to it. I was wrong up above.

    It seems that I have no power going to the motor. Could not get anything to any of the 3 when pushing the switch up or down. I also (with everything off)tested each one individually to ground and got nothing. Multi-meter showed open circuit on all 3. So apparently none go to ground, at least in the back of the car.

    Could this be something as simple/stupid as a connector falling off the back of the switch? Could the switch itself just fail, all of a sudden? Most stuff like this would wear out and show issue before dyeing and I had no problems before I fudged with some of the electrical stuff under the hood. Everything is all together. If it was some fault from under the hood, I would think that the radio would have no power too.
    1987 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series-98k miles- LOPO 302, AOD, open 3.27, Dual exhaust w/ Thrush Turbo mufflers

    the others...
    1926 Dodge Brothers Business Sedan- 212ci I4/3 speed/crank start
    1987 Dodge Dakota- 3.9/A999/3.90/2wd (storage)
    1990 Jeep Grand Wagoneer-AMC360/727/NP229/3.08/2" lift(daily)
    1994 GMC Burban L05 350/4L60e/241/3.42
    2001 Jeep Cherokee 4.0/AW4/231/3.73 (limbo)

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    GMN Regular EaOutlaw1969's Avatar
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    If you are 100 percent positive that it worked before messing around with the grounds or doing other work, I would start by rechecking all the work you have done. You may have replaced ground wires with different sized and style eyelets that may not be touching the bare metal properly.

    Keep it simple for now recheck all of your work.

    As far as the antenna once you get it working again you could remove the entire antenna remove the side cover partially and re lube it with some spray white lithium grease using the pin point straw but I wouldn't pull the antenna out or completely remove the cover until you have a new one and are ready to replace it.

    Chances are since it was still working it may be a replacement part and not the original OEM part.
    2007 Ford Crown Victoria LX Sport

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    Member ZackN920's Avatar
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    Well, I checked all my work. Then checked it all with the multi meter. All is good, but still getting no power to the back. This is a weird problem...

    I got an idea that I'm going to try before I pull apart the dash. I think i'll run a new ground from the center (black) line in the plug, and test it with the 2 outer lines to see if I have power but just a failed ground directly in the motor circuit. See what I come up with. If I get power, i'll just splice the line in the trunk and connect a new ground back there. Right now with what I see, it looks like a 3 lines go back to the switch.

    Good to see that I should beable to lube it.

    Well, at least the motor is original to the car. It has a dec. 1986 date stamped on it.
    1987 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series-98k miles- LOPO 302, AOD, open 3.27, Dual exhaust w/ Thrush Turbo mufflers

    the others...
    1926 Dodge Brothers Business Sedan- 212ci I4/3 speed/crank start
    1987 Dodge Dakota- 3.9/A999/3.90/2wd (storage)
    1990 Jeep Grand Wagoneer-AMC360/727/NP229/3.08/2" lift(daily)
    1994 GMC Burban L05 350/4L60e/241/3.42
    2001 Jeep Cherokee 4.0/AW4/231/3.73 (limbo)

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    Member ZackN920's Avatar
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    \

    FIXED!

    Ok, so once I had a good ground source to attach the multi meter to it did see 12v at the 2 rear wires. Still haven't found where the black wire was supposed to be grounded at... and then I did.
    I followed where each individual wire went, I saw that 2 went into the plastic housing at the bottom but couldn't see where the black one went. Turns out that it goes to the rear screw holding the actual electric motor housing to the plastic and was grounded to that. The whole housing itself is not grounded at all to the car- it appears to be a floating ground just at the motor housing. (Should I ground it to the car?)

    Anyways, this individual screw and ground wire end was really corroded. I pulled it apart, cleaned the corrosion and then went to put it back together. That didn't happen to easily. Because of it being on the back and the screw being held into a nut, which just fell out when I undid it, I had to pull the whole antenna assembly out of the car. Turns out that's an easy-peasy job on this thing. Basically, take the trim off around the antenna, and back off a large thin nut on top. One bolt one a bracket in the trunk and, wolla- its out. Turned it around, got the nut/screw situated and together with the black wire, re attached the assembly into the car and it now works again!

    Now, I have a feeling in the future I will need to replace the "whip" as you guys call it, because in the garage with no other sounds going it is making some crappy noises on the way up and down. It goes up about halfway and clunks, and if you watch it, the rate of motion it is moving at jolts a bit when it makes that sound. Like said earlier in the thread, the thing will clunk to when its all the way up or all the way down. I don't know if its supposed to do this or if the motor should have some internal stop that's not working, but that is what my car is doing.
    If I need to replace this, is it available anywhere for an 87? or 1981-1989 Town Car? That one that was linked above, I thought I saw is for a 1990-97? Town Car. I don't know if that would work for mine.
    I'm pretty sure this is original and on borrowed time, I did lube the antenna a bit(and that smoothed the operation out some), but I'm afraid to open the assembly up and check the gears. I want to be prepared to just replace the thing.
    1987 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series-98k miles- LOPO 302, AOD, open 3.27, Dual exhaust w/ Thrush Turbo mufflers

    the others...
    1926 Dodge Brothers Business Sedan- 212ci I4/3 speed/crank start
    1987 Dodge Dakota- 3.9/A999/3.90/2wd (storage)
    1990 Jeep Grand Wagoneer-AMC360/727/NP229/3.08/2" lift(daily)
    1994 GMC Burban L05 350/4L60e/241/3.42
    2001 Jeep Cherokee 4.0/AW4/231/3.73 (limbo)

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    GMN Regular EaOutlaw1969's Avatar
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    I am sure if you look around you will a replacement whip for your ride, check rock auto and other sources.
    Normally they do not have much sound to them once they are working right.
    2007 Ford Crown Victoria LX Sport

  12. #12
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    I don't know that the antenna is insulated from the body. Should have a toothy looking thing at the top where it contacts the fender on the bottom side. I also vaguely recall a strap from the mast tube to the motor. I think there is also a mounting bracket at the bottom. I don't recall if there are insulating washers that keep the mast insulated from the body or not. Its been years since I fooled with mine in any great depth. The one in my car was broken, and I actually "built" one from parts of a Mark VII antenna and parts of the original. That was when I did the HO swap originally way back in 2005? I honestly have not touched the power antenna since I made it work. I know the antenna came from the 88 Mark VII the engine came out of.

    The whip did change somewhere along the line. I think the one you need is 85 or 86+. I know 1984 antennas are different than 86 antennas. The cord part on the 86+ is toothed, the 84 is round. Not honestly sure what 85 got.

    The whips aren't hard to change. remove that round bit with the two flats right at the bottom of the whip and run the antenna all the way up. it will fall out, so have someone to catch it. Installing is basically the reverse, feed the cord in, have someone push the down button and guide it together. Put the nut back on.

    Also not real hard to open the mechanism up and clean it out if bits broke off inside. Should be a couple screws to open the case up. Not much in there really. Any parts that broke will likely be laying inside the cable drum area where the gear drives it.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

    1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

    Quote Originally Posted by phayzer5 View Post
    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

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    Member ZackN920's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gadget73 View Post
    I don't know that the antenna is insulated from the body. Should have a toothy looking thing at the top where it contacts the fender on the bottom side.
    Mine has no such thing.


    I also vaguely recall a strap from the mast tube to the motor. I think there is also a mounting bracket at the bottom. I don't recall if there are insulating washers that keep the mast insulated from the body or not.
    Yes, it does have that little strap. The mounting bracket at the bottom bolts to the plastic housing of the assembly. It does not make any contact and has no continuity with the motor housing where the power/motor wire grounds too.


    Its been years since I fooled with mine in any great depth. The one in my car was broken, and I actually "built" one from parts of a Mark VII antenna and parts of the original. That was when I did the HO swap originally way back in 2005? I honestly have not touched the power antenna since I made it work. I know the antenna came from the 88 Mark VII the engine came out of.

    The whip did change somewhere along the line. I think the one you need is 85 or 86+. I know 1984 antennas are different than 86 antennas. The cord part on the 86+ is toothed, the 84 is round. Not honestly sure what 85 got.
    That's good to know, seeing that mine is from dec. 1986. I'll look specifically for 86-87 models.


    The whips aren't hard to change. remove that round bit with the two flats right at the bottom of the whip and run the antenna all the way up. it will fall out, so have someone to catch it. Installing is basically the reverse, feed the cord in, have someone push the down button and guide it together. Put the nut back on.

    Also not real hard to open the mechanism up and clean it out if bits broke off inside. Should be a couple screws to open the case up. Not much in there really. Any parts that broke will likely be laying inside the cable drum area where the gear drives it.
    Well, that all sounds pretty simple. I got the gist of that above. Guess I just don't want to open it up without having a replacement on hand, seeing that mine sounds raunchy in operation.


    So, should I run a cable from the motor housing (where the ground cable goes to (that was corroded)) or just leave it as I found it? Meanwhile i'll be on the lookout for a new whip.
    1987 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series-98k miles- LOPO 302, AOD, open 3.27, Dual exhaust w/ Thrush Turbo mufflers

    the others...
    1926 Dodge Brothers Business Sedan- 212ci I4/3 speed/crank start
    1987 Dodge Dakota- 3.9/A999/3.90/2wd (storage)
    1990 Jeep Grand Wagoneer-AMC360/727/NP229/3.08/2" lift(daily)
    1994 GMC Burban L05 350/4L60e/241/3.42
    2001 Jeep Cherokee 4.0/AW4/231/3.73 (limbo)

  14. #14
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    if the wire rotted off, you probably want to re-attach it where it was.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

    1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

    Quote Originally Posted by phayzer5 View Post
    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

  15. #15
    Member ZackN920's Avatar
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    Well, nothing really rotted out. It just wasn't there.

    What was there was some crusty green corrosion.

    I'll put a wire on it to the body of the car before I re install the trunk lining.

    Thanks everybody for the help and thoughts. Got this figured out. Just weird how it showed up the same time I did that work under the hood. oh well.


    1987 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series-98k miles- LOPO 302, AOD, open 3.27, Dual exhaust w/ Thrush Turbo mufflers

    the others...
    1926 Dodge Brothers Business Sedan- 212ci I4/3 speed/crank start
    1987 Dodge Dakota- 3.9/A999/3.90/2wd (storage)
    1990 Jeep Grand Wagoneer-AMC360/727/NP229/3.08/2" lift(daily)
    1994 GMC Burban L05 350/4L60e/241/3.42
    2001 Jeep Cherokee 4.0/AW4/231/3.73 (limbo)

  16. #16
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    I have a theory that cars begin to expect something to be broken. For many years whenever I fixed something on my Towncar, a completely unrelated thing would act up. The current semi-broken thing for the last 4 years or so has been an intermittent rear passenger window motor. I don't care to fix it because its not really a problem. My luck I'd fix that and then something that is truly annoying would fail. I just don't use that window.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

    1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

    Quote Originally Posted by phayzer5 View Post
    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

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