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Aircraft Cleaning


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Hi All


I was hoping that you all could tell me what sort of mixture, substance, chemicals etc do you use to firstly clean your aircraft and then to secondly polish/wax it also whether it is a fabric or composite aircraft?



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Hi Ian,


Everyone wants to wash and polish his new car when he gets it home ... you want to polish your new CT now and it doesn't arrive until October?;).gif


An aviation friend, who has built several of his own, recommended I use apolish called Nulon which is pretty easy to use and leaves the composite pretty slippery. I reuse it every 50 hrs all over and 25 hours on l/edges and engine cowling to help with ease of removing bugs.


I've heard of others using Mr Sheen, which would have to be very easy to use.


Another friend washes his Jab using water with a polish/detergent additive (don't know which) every 50 hrs and he's happy with that.





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I might add in a few notes for composite aircraft.


Basically, do not use any detergents or solvents to wash your aircraft if you can help it. For areas of stains or grease, use a polish to get rid of the marks.


Composite aircraft like the CT for example (being built in exactly the same manner as a glider) should be polished by machine every year to keep the paint in top condition. If you do not have a variable speed polishing machine (please don't use an angle grinder with 22000 rpm and a buff on the end!), then polish it by hand.


If the aircraft is painted in Gelcoat, you can use a hard wax with round cotton layers stuck together to form a 1 inch wide buff. I usually put two of these on. The aim is to have the cotton fibres dig in to the sanding grooves and remove the old polish which has held on to the dirt and dust over the year and to replace it with fresh polish. Polishing speed around 6000rpm for me.


Usually you can wipe over the polished wing with a clean cloth to finish off.


For 2 pack polyurethane finishes, which most would be, I use a 2-3 inch thick foam pad (the ones used on cars) and Farecla G3 polish which is a very fine cutting compound. Dab some spots over the wing and dip your hand in a bucket of water and put some water drops over the wing too. This will help the polish to 'thin' out and not clump up as the heat of the polishing will dry out the polish fairly quickly.


A trick I use once I have gone over a section of aircraft one way is to use a blade or screwdriver and remove the excess polish from the buff, starting in the middle and moving out to the edge. Then starting at the back and with no pressure other than machine pressure, come back over the polished area. It will remove the dried up 'smear' and reduce the polishing time needed by hand. Polishing speed around 3000rpm for me.


I usually finish off by using the polish in the orange bottle (very common though I have forgotten the name) and then changing to a lambswool buff to remove the polish.


The only trouble with that process is that the aircraft becomes so slippery that it will fall off tressles very easily. 051_crying.gif.fe5d15edcc60afab3cc76b2638e7acf3.gif So put a wet chamois between the object and the tressle.


One thing I will point out though is that:


If you have never used a machine to polish and aircraft and you are going to give it a go:




You can very easily overheat the structure causing immediate damage if you stop. Also the machine will very easily pull itself through trailing edges if you catch the edge with the incorrect rotation of the buff. (Polishing machines love everything that is thin and fragile, like ailerons, flaps, elevators, rudders etc.




One other piece of advice when using a polishing machine, BEWARE OF THE POWER CORD!!


After lending my polisher out for the first time in 10 years of faultless use, it has come back with a cord that is 30cm long (it was 3m long). That'll teach me! 051_crying.gif.fe5d15edcc60afab3cc76b2638e7acf3.gif


This is for informational use only. If you are unsure, do not try this at home. Get someone else to do it who knows what they are doing.





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TechMan siad "I usually finish off by using the polish in the orange bottle (very common though I have forgotten the name) and then changing to a lambswool buff to remove the polish."


I think Chris may be referring to the polish I use from the orange bottle called NuFinish which is polymer based (I incorrectly called it Nulon in my earlier post). NuFinish is available at Repco.





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Speaking of needing a polish, after 12 months of sitting on the tarmac at Canberra the Sportstar is in needof a polish. Not having an under cover area, the equipment or confidence to do this myself, does anyone know of someone within a reasonable distance of Canberra (hour or so flight time) that would be able to help out?


Thanks in advance.





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Try and find a product that is Ph neutral. Many car washes are fairly alkaline which is not good news for Rhohacell.(see Safety Directive #1 at http://www.flightdesignusa.com/CAS.asp)


I recently bought a carwash which stated on it that it was Ph neutral (which is quite rare)........name of the product escapes me at the moment as it's at the hangar, but will check it out and post the name here.







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The new shop that is opening soon will have Composiclean wash and polish available. It is pure ph neutral and made specifically for composite aircraft as well as fabric and metal. It was all the rage at Oshkosh this year and the good thing about the polish is that it is just a spray on and wipe off - no hand rubbing, buffing etc.



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