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LettersFromFlyoverCountry 12-31-2012 08:23 AM

Polishing fun
I have to admit, I've really fallen in love with the look of a polished RV. When I was building, I had enough dings and scratches in the thing that I thought, 'well, I can't polish it now."

Then at Oshkosh, I saw a polished Cessna 195 and knew that -- especially since I can't afford a paint job -- polishing was the way to go. So I walked over to the Nuvite tent and opened the checkbook and said, "give me what I need."

For the past month, I've been working on the 7A. I'm losing my heated hangar so I needed to get it done.

I probably could've done a better job than I did, but I'm pretty happy with it nonetheless. I knew I had done enough when my sister was visiting from Maine for the holidays.

"I want to take a picture of you and your airplane," she said.

Then she set up the shot.

curtis 12-31-2012 08:48 AM

Looks good! I finished polishing my 6A this time last year and haven't had any second thoughts about polishing. It does not take much to keep it looking good, just debug after each flight which is easy with water and a microfiber towel. I just need to slow down enough to finish the fiberglass parts and paint them.

David-aviator 12-31-2012 08:50 AM

I am impressed, Bob.

Could you list what you bought from Nuvite to do the job?

Having more time than money, I've been thinking about a polish job for the 8. :)

LettersFromFlyoverCountry 12-31-2012 03:22 PM

Sure. I'm sure I bought more than I needed but there were show specials and such.

There were two machines...the right angle polisher and two wool polishing muffs probably could be had cheaper at Harbor Freight but it was Oshkosh and when you're buying stuff at Oshkosh, it's not like you're spending real money, right.

Those are used for the F7 -- the more abrasive -- and the Grade C (slightly less abrasive) passives. I probably COULD have used a Grade G for a couple of spots where there were deeper scratches and/or oxidation (like along the lines where I'd cut away blue plastic from a rivet line), but it came out fine and as I polish in the future, those will come out.

Then an orbital buffer is used with a cotton fleece wrapped around it for the Final Grade S polish that removes most of the swirl marks and leaves the nice reflection.

I probably went through one can (which I think is a pound) of the Grade F7 and a half can of the Grade C. I probably used two or three cotton fleece wraps. I had four wool polishing muffs and had two in circulation at a time and I'd wash the other two as need by by soaking it in white/TCP solution for 24 hours, rinsing and drying.

I bought a TON of microfiber towels -- they were on special for 3/$2.50 at Ace-- and I used less than a gallon of Mineral spirits because you should get as much of the polish off -- and wipe the surface down -- before moving on to the next trade polish.

The total cost of everything at Oshkosh was about $900.

It probably looks a little funny now because I haven't painted the fiberglass parts -- gotta figure out who can do that without bankrupting me -- but this plane I saw next to Bernie Ockuly's at Oshkosh made me fall in love with it.

I could have the full cowl painted and then bring it back into the top skin and curve a stripe down like this one, replacing "195" with "RV-7A."

What got me interested in polishing was seeing Jed Gregerson's 7 when he and Stein let me use their hangar during flight testing. It's gorgeous. Perfect, even. I'm nowhere near in that league. Jed also painted the underside, which makes a lot of sense, and the leading edges.

BSwayze 12-31-2012 04:21 PM

Bob, that's a great shot of you and your sister! But do you have another one, showing the whole plane? I'm sure I'm not the only one that would like to see it. :) Nice job!

ppilotmike 12-31-2012 04:30 PM

to what Bruce asked for... I want to see pics of the whole "flying" plane! :)

Jim Ellis 12-31-2012 04:57 PM

Looks great, Bob!

And I should know because I've "been there, done that".

You can do a lot with the fiberglass for not much money. Some of the newer silver paints I have seen on new Volkswagon and Lexus are really close to the polished metal look. A base coat / clear coat can be done on small parts and even the cowl with less than a quart of paint.

The only problem with a polished plane is that everyone wants to touch it!

Welcome to the Club!
(You realize that this is an illness don't you?)

LettersFromFlyoverCountry 12-31-2012 05:36 PM

I'll have to take one. I had started polishing parts and then flying, polishing another part, then flying. Then, after I had the prop balanced and canceled the flight back East, I just said, "Sc*** it, I'm going to park it and finish it." It's such a messy job that the pictures weren't very good and I didn't think the gym-style mercury vapor lights in the old hangar did justice to cellphone pictures -- they all look blue.

Like this one. I don't think this does anything for me...

I kinda think, by the way, that the reason I got kicked out of the nice hangar I was in was all the tracking on the floor from polish/aluminum, even though I put a tarp down (On Saturday, my last day, I did scrub the floor with hot water/TSP, which was my intention all along).

I'll try to roll it out in the sun as soon as I get some ice cleats (to be able to roll it back in) and shoot a picture, but I can tell you it doesn't look anywhere near as sexy as Jim's.

Buggsy2 12-31-2012 07:13 PM


Wow, that's nice. Did you paint the stripes or are they vinyl decals?

Jim Ellis 01-01-2013 07:52 AM

Hi Ralph,

All the stripes are made from high quality vinyl. They have held up well and still look like new after five years....including multiple polishings right over the top of them.

Any of the companies that make custom boat vinyl trim can make these from an appropriate graphics file. If you ask, many of them will cut a paper pattern that you can use to check the design before cutting the finished vinyl.

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