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  #1  
Old 04-25-2013, 07:37 AM
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LettersFromFlyoverCountry LettersFromFlyoverCountry is offline
 
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Location: St. Paul, MN.
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Default Maintaining polish

This is for those of you with polished planes.

I'm almost finished with the initial deep polishing of the RV-7A. I started last November and took a few months off for winter (I got spoiled with the two years I was in a heated hangar!). It's been really great fun to be able to see every centimeter of the plane's exterior and seems remarkably consistent with the annual inspection.

Of course, with taking so long to finish the polishing and treating process, I'm inclined to start at the beginning again, because, of course, polishing an airplane is like painting a bridge.

I'm not going to do that, of course -- the snow is almost gone here and it's time to fly again. But what secrets can give me on maintaining a polished airplane?
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  #2  
Old 04-25-2013, 09:57 AM
RV Wannabe RV Wannabe is offline
 
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Location: Shorewood, Il.
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Default

Hermetically seal it. Don't allow the atmosphere, humidity, dust, fingerprints, bird poo, oil blowby, bugs, rain, etc. to get to the raw aluminum.

If you figure out how to do that let the rest of the polished aircraft owners know how you did it. Cause to my knowledge no one ever has.

Some people say you can use different products to wax a freshly polished airplane. From what I have seen it immediately knocks some of the polish off. It will also need to be cleaned off before the next polish in order not to mess the next one up. However, after it immediately makes it worse, an untreated one will pass it up exponentially.

I owned a polished C-140 for years. For a perfectionist owning a polished airplane is a frustrating experience. It will look good for a week, maybe a month. Then the above listed environmental factors will have their way with the finish and the elusive freshly polished shine will diminish. There were only two techniques that I found to work. First is to polish every month. At approximately 40 hours to complete a C-140 I abandoned that concept the first year. Fortunately for you polishing an RV would be much easier than a C-140. (Flush rivets, non-corregated flap and control surfaces, smaller, etc.) Second allow your soul to die just a little each time you look at your beautiful airplane in its current state of oxidation, deciding if you will take it to the fly in looking like a beautiful woman who hasn't done her beauty routine in a lonnnggg time. I actually skipped a few fly-ins out of embarrassment. A buddy of mine had a phrase he used all the time. "I refuse to be a slave to the airplane, and will only polish it once a year whether it needs it or not." I wish I could have embraced that philosophy.

I also found that my standards of polish were significantly higher than the spectators. (Even educated spectators) I would get compliments when I knew it looked horrible compared to its potential. I have no idea if they were just being nice or not, but you will notice a poorly polished airplane will get more attention than a painted airplane virtually every time. Of course that comes with fingerprints to polish out later....

Good luck
Mark
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  #3  
Old 04-25-2013, 10:43 AM
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LettersFromFlyoverCountry LettersFromFlyoverCountry is offline
 
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Default

One of the things that's most interesting in flying a polished plane, is you realize how much junk is in the air.

I'm inclined to wipe it down, but I wouldn't just wipe it down with a microfiber cloth because there's junk on it. From the air. Would just squiring it with water first work, or does that just spread junk around?
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  #4  
Old 04-25-2013, 11:32 AM
RV Wannabe RV Wannabe is offline
 
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I never did that. If I got bird poo or something then yes. But as a general rule use two microfibers one to dust it off, then the other to polish it up. If it is persistent and dust won't come off then I suppose using water to help would be ok. But make sure it is very dry when you are done. Otherwise the water will accelerate the haze.

Mark
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  #5  
Old 04-25-2013, 02:05 PM
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Vern Vern is offline
 
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Smile Glass Wax

A crew that used to do USAF bigwigs told me they would apply a coat of Glass Wax (used to come in a pink can) after each polish job. Never have tried it. Agree with the work needed to keep a polished plane shiny. I own a 3 times champion Luscombe 8E that can be shined well due to new skins.
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  #6  
Old 04-25-2013, 03:40 PM
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Jim Ellis Jim Ellis is offline
 
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Default Keeping the Shine

For cleaning polished aluminum I use a 50/50 mixture of distilled water and 90% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) that I buy at the drugstore. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and spritz the area to be cleaned and wipe dry with a clean microfiber towel.

Works great and I can do the entire top if the plane in less than half an hour.

For an oily belly use straight mineral spirits (paint thinner) in a spray bottle and wipe with a microfiber towel.

If you can avoid long term bug residue, bird droppings, and dried rain drops (always wipe off rain drops before they dry) you can maintain a pretty decent shine for up to a year before re-polishing.
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  #7  
Old 04-25-2013, 03:55 PM
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rzbill rzbill is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RV Wannabe View Post
I also found that my standards of polish were significantly higher than the spectators. (Even educated spectators) I would get compliments when I knew it looked horrible compared to its potential.
You ain't wrong.
It's amazing how compliments come for what I think is just awful.

I'm a newby at polish care and I agree with the commentary about getting the foreign matter and raindrops off. Still listening and learning.

I re-polished the easy part (top of wings) a few weekends ago. Of course, I followed that by flying to a memorial service and parking outside for an overnight monster rain storm. Rain dots. argghh.
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  #8  
Old 04-25-2013, 04:09 PM
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Bob,

I used purple power from Oriellys
Works great for bugs and clean up.
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  #9  
Old 04-25-2013, 04:44 PM
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Sparky Sparky is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Ellis View Post
For cleaning polished aluminum I use a 50/50 mixture of distilled water and 90% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) that I buy at the drugstore. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and spritz the area to be cleaned and wipe dry with a clean microfiber towel.
Adding a few drops of Dawn dish washing detergent to a gallon of this mixture will work even better. The Dawn detergent acts as a surfactant which reduces the surface tension of the mixture increasing flow and reducing "beading" properties the mixture (fewer "water drop" marks). It also, reportedly, reduces the attraction of dust after use.

Actually, if you change the water / isopropyl ratio to 90/10 and add the Dawn detergent, you end up with what is pretty close to the discwasher liquid I used in the 70's to clean my LP's.
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  #10  
Old 04-26-2013, 07:49 AM
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Snowflake Snowflake is offline
 
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I find that water and a microfiber cloth takes off bugs nicely. Give the leading edges a spritz and let the water sink in for a minute, then wipe with microfiber.

Otherwise, what Mark wrote is bang on. Perfectionists shouldn't own polished airplanes unless they can afford to hire someone to polish for them.
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