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NMO antenna mount installtion on aluminum F-150

K7MFC

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I'm looking for some instruction and guidance on installing an NMO mount on the roof of my 2019 Ford F-150. I have experience drilling through body panels and mounting antennas, but I'm not sure how the aluminum body affects the installation. I've read some threads here about aluminum Ford trucks that mention galvanic corrosion, but I didn't come across any complete examples of installation or what additional measures need to be taken when installing the antenna mount. How do I properly drill and install an NMO mount on the aluminum roof of my truck?
 
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IAmSixNine

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I too have a F150 2015 with aluminum body. So ill be following this thread as i have been wanting to install a scanner in my truck. This is the first truck i have owned that didnt have radios in it.
I remember a few months after i got it, i set a mag mount antenna on the top and it fell off. I wasnt mounting it there. Just set it there while i got keys out of my pocket. I thought, what the heck is wrong with my truck. ha ha.. Then i remembered OOOOH its aluminum. duh.
 

OhSixTJ

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I’ve had one on my 2015 for more than a year and haven’t noticed any kind of corrosion. That’s just external observations because I haven’t removed the mount since it’s been installed. NMO’d a cell phone booster antenna and it works pretty good.


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Hit_Factor

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There was a thread on this not too long ago, maybe search for F150 aluminum to see what was discussed.

They got into the nuts and bolts IIRC.
 

mmckenna

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Installing an NMO mount on an aluminum body vehicle is no different than on a steel body vehicle.

Fire engines and ambulance bodies have been using aluminum for a long time.

I've done NMO installs on F-150's and F-350's.

The aluminum is a pretty hard type. It's harder to drill than steel body panels. Takes a bit more time, but not much. Just go slow with steady light pressure and let the hole saw do the work.

Galvanic corrosion is only an issue if you have water involved. A properly installed NMO mount will not let water anywhere near the bare aluminum.

Use quality mounts, no Tram/Browning/Amateur grade crap. Use Larsen, Laird, etc. Don't drill a hole in a $30-$40 thousand dollar truck and use the cheapest mount you can find. Use the right stuff.
Use the correct hole saw for the job. Aluminum isn't an issue, but you do want a suitable hole saw designed for drilling metal.
The NMO mount will come with an O-ring that goes under the outer ring. Before you install that, coat it with the grease that comes in the kit. That'll help prevent the O-ring from binding up as you tighten it down.
Tighten the outer ring snug, but don't go white knuckled on it.

Done correctly with the right tools, you will not have any issues.

Do periodically remove the antenna from the mount and clean underneath it.
 

trentbob

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Your last paragraph is really important. Especially if it's your own. How often do you think that is done in public service installations? Hahaha, I'm just kidding. I do appreciate that step.
 

mmckenna

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How often do you think that is done in public service installations?
Rarely, if ever. I've had a few service calls where they'll complain of issues with the radio. Almost always the first thing I check is the antenna.

The crappy Motorola 800MHz antennas with the pogo stick center pin were notorious for the plastic cracking, water getting in and making a mess of everything. Sometimes I'd have to replace the NMO mount it would be so shot.
All because someone installed it and that was it. Never any preventative maintenance.
Now when I work on the cars, I remove the antennas, inspect and clean them. I usually torque the mounts to make sure they were installed correctly. I stock replacement gaskets and O-rings.

I've also switched them to using almost exclusively the Larsen NMO-Q mounts with the larger base and wide O-ring. Costs a bit more, but much better sealing.
 

KK6ZTE

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My two cents--the Larsen mounts (NMOKHFUD) that I normally swear by are just a hair too small. Other than some certain cases, I'm sticking with the Laird MB8U and similar brass mounts. The teeth on the bottom grip better and prevent the base from spinning and ground better.
 

trentbob

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My two cents--the Larsen mounts (NMOKHFUD) that I normally swear by are just a hair too small. Other than some certain cases, I'm sticking with the Laird MB8U and similar brass mounts. The teeth on the bottom grip better and prevent the base from spinning and ground better.
I respect your opinion, in my situation it just matters that it's a good installation and it works well. When talking about a better ground or a little better performance that you would notice... usually commercial customers don't, until of course there's a problem.

You also have to figure the cost factor and the kits that they buy.

I am definitely out of my league here and I know that the professionals know best.

I appreciate being able to a part of the conversation.
 

KK6ZTE

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You'd be suprised how cheap the commercial stuff is. I see Ripoff Radios (Rugged Radios) charging an arm and a leg for install kits when the Motorola UHF antenna kit is under $20 and includes mount, antenna, and connector.

The TRAM and the link only is sold because most people don't know that the quality stuff isn't expensive and instinctively run to Amazon.

The Laird mounts center better and would be a good choice for you. The MB8U for a 3/4" hole or the MAB8U for a 3/8" hole. The 3/8" mount is nice if you can see the bottom of the metal where you're mounting. The headliner is so easy to drop on the F-150 it's not even funny.

Obligatory truck picture attached. It's kind of a weird angle to keep the company logo hidden. I will say that my antenna choices are quite noisy in this truck. What band are you looking at using?
 

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OhSixTJ

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You'd be suprised how cheap the commercial stuff is. I see Ripoff Radios (Rugged Radios) charging an arm and a leg for install kits when the Motorola UHF antenna kit is under $20 and includes mount, antenna, and connector.

The TRAM and the link only is sold because most people don't know that the quality stuff isn't expensive and instinctively run to Amazon.

The Laird mounts center better and would be a good choice for you. The MB8U for a 3/4" hole or the MAB8U for a 3/8" hole. The 3/8" mount is nice if you can see the bottom of the metal where you're mounting. The headliner is so easy to drop on the F-150 it's not even funny.

Obligatory truck picture attached. It's kind of a weird angle to keep the company logo hidden. I will say that my antenna choices are quite noisy in this truck. What band are you looking at using?
Noisy as in they sing in the wind?


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mmckenna

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Noisy as in they sing in the wind?


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Mine do it. The thicker whips sing a bit at highway speeds. Even more so if there is a lot of moisture in the air. Where I am we get a lot of coastal fog and they can get pretty noisy.
 

jack103

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50 years ago as an apprentice wiremen I was shown how to drill aluminum headers with a hole saw by using bees wax on the hole saw and go slow and steady , bet it still works!,,,
 

mmckenna

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50 years ago as an apprentice wiremen I was shown how to drill aluminum headers with a hole saw by using bees wax on the hole saw and go slow and steady , bet it still works!,,,
I had no issues with the stock NMO hole saw on several of these aluminum body trucks. Bees wax wouldn't hurt, though. I think I have some in my garage, I'll have to give it a try next time.
 

K7MFC

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Installing an NMO mount on an aluminum body vehicle is no different than on a steel body vehicle.
Thanks for the clarification - I was under the impression that the aluminum body panels made the installation inherently more difficult.

Use quality mounts, no Tram/Browning/Amateur grade crap. Use Larsen, Laird, etc. Don't drill a hole in a $30-$40 thousand dollar truck and use the cheapest mount you can find. Use the right stuff.
I have a Laird NMO hole saw bit, so all good cutting thru the roof. Are there any specific make & models of mounts you like to use?
 

mmckenna

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Thanks for the clarification - I was under the impression that the aluminum body panels made the installation inherently more difficult.
Well, not really any more difficult, but like I said, the aluminum is a bit harder to drill through than the steel body, but not enough to be an issue.



I have a Laird NMO hole saw bit, so all good cutting thru the roof. Are there any specific make & models of mounts you like to use?
I have been using the Larsen NMOHF mounts with the double shield RG-58 for most of my stuff.
The HF mounts are really not necessary, but I got a bunch at a good price and am just using them up. The double shield RG-58 performs a bit better on 800MHz stuff. Usually just the standard NMO mounts with standard RG-58 is sufficient for VHF/UHF use. The cable runs are not long enough to really make a big difference.
 

OhSixTJ

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Mine do it. The thicker whips sing a bit at highway speeds. Even more so if there is a lot of moisture in the air. Where I am we get a lot of coastal fog and they can get pretty noisy.
Anything over a 19” 1/4 wave sings like crazy on my truck. It’s a 2015 F250. I found that even the NMO mounts, without an antenna, make pretty good noise too.

I’m sucking it up and running a dual band antenna (for my ID-5100). It doesn’t sing that bad. We’ll see I guess...


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K7MFC

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Thanks, mmckenna. I appreciate your advice and insight here and throughout the RR forums.
 

mmckenna

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Thanks, mmckenna. I appreciate your advice and insight here and throughout the RR forums.
Well, it sort of is good therapy for me, keeping others from making the same mistakes I did so long ago. Also I'm just paying back into the same system that got me started in the industry. We can all learn from each other.
 

mmckenna

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Anything over a 19” 1/4 wave sings like crazy on my truck. It’s a 2015 F250. I found that even the NMO mounts, without an antenna, make pretty good noise too.
On my personal truck I fixed that by installing a headache rack. The noise from that drowns out the noise from the whip.

On the work truck, the strobe light and headache rack do a pretty good job, not to mention the squarish service body, sounds like a jet trying to take off.
 
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