Using Petroleum Jelly for temporary antenna connectors

I’ve been trying to find a product to protect my temporary antenna connectors for either Field Days or my holidays near the sea. The problem is two-fold; firstly water ingress to the coax and the connectors from rain and secondly corrosion. The corrosion issue only seems to occur near salt water and spray and occurs within a couple of days.

petroleum-jellyI used to use self-amalgamating tape for Field Days but the effort in applying and removing it forced me to rethink. I started using high quality insulation tape instead – the stuff that has some nice stretch and doesn’t go brittle in the cold. This worked for many years. Unfortunately, the cheap stuff, from say Maplins might have the required insulation properties but has a brittle plastic feel and not very pliable – it’s certainly difficult to make waterproof between layers. Last time out for Wythall Radio Club SSB Field Day, torrential rain found its way through a crack between two layers of tape and the SWR went high.

Near the sea, it’s not so much the coaxial connectors that I’m worried about but the corrosion. Anything that isn’t stainless seems to corrode in days trashing your engineered widget thingamabob.

I did think that a quick squirt of WD40 might help cure the corrosion problem and planned to bring some on holiday with me but I forgot! As an experiment, I coated the ends of the antenna elements and dipole centre connectors with Vaseline. A week later and the Vaseline was still there and no corrosion. Result.

But there’s more. I put up a couple of antennas yesterday and started to coat the threads of the PL259s as I assembled lengths of coax with bullet connectors. As I screwed them up, a small sleeve of the jelly would be squished out like a seal. Could I have found the holy grail of temporary sealants? I’ve no idea, but I still used a few turns of my Maplins insulation tape and the added benefit was that my hands were very soft by the end of the day!