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Thread: Polish and wax aluminum

  1. #1

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    Nov 2011
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    Polish and wax aluminum

    I am going to leave a large part of my plane unpainted, any suggestions on polish and wax for alum., I am going to lighty brush finish and then wax. dave

  2. #2

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    Feb 2012
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    Try Rollite or Nuvite to polish the aluminum then Mcquire's clear coat polish to keep everything waxed.

    Cheers,
    Kurt

  3. #3
    Eric Witherspoon's Avatar
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    Which Al is it - 6061 or 2024 Alclad?

    If 6061, this is harder to bring up to shine, but will stay there much longer. You mention "brush finish" - what do you mean? Shine like a mirror or just Scotchbrite a flat finish on it? If Scotchbrited flat, just leave it - no wax. If polish like a mirror, Nuvite is what I used. The Al stays mirror like for years, though some will go over the Nuvite with the finest-level of polish once a year or so, for really keeping it deeply mirrored.

    I would think that if you do put on a wax, then polish/remove it until the metal has the deep mirror it had before you started, that the only way to get back there would be for the wax to be completely gone. My experience has been that polished Al stays so shiny for so long, that there has been no need for additional processes / coatings.
    Murphy's 13th: Every solution breeds new problems...

    http://www.spoonworld.com

  4. #4

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    Bellevue, Washington, United States
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    If you brush finish I'd just leave it like that. For polishing, Eric's suggestion of Nuvite is a good one.

    Polishing out aluminum gives you the mirror finish, but you must continue to polish to keep it looking good. The suggestion of using wax or clear coat paint on polished aluminum is *not* a good one. Wax will dull the finish and it will build up unevenly over time, leaving a mottled appearance.

    Clear coat paint will work for a short period of time, but as it gets chips and dings those chips will be nearly impossible to cover up without painstaking fill & blending with touch up, sandpaper and rubbing compound, and eventually you'll get spiderweb cracks and corrosion under the clear coat as water works it way into the chips. Again you're better off leaving the aluminum in its polished state, where you can polish off any subsequent scratches or corrosion that may occur.

    There's a saying about polished airplanes - everybody thinks they're beautiful, but once you own one you'll never buy/build another!

    (Owner and polisher of Ryan SC-W N18914)

  5. #5
    If you guys want to see some of the best polish I've ever run across (this is not spam) check out Purple Metal Polish from California Custom. Its the easiest polishing system I've ever used. I have no affiliation with them just wanted to share with the group. The only thing that would make me hesitate in using on an aircraft is that this is a 2 part process and the first thing you apply is what they call their "deoxidizer". I would be concerned that the deoxidizer is an acid that could cause corrosion between lapped seams. I've only used it on the mag wheels of my car. All three of my planes are fabric covered with no polished aluminum surfaces. Give it a look. For those of you with polished planes it would cut the time to polish a surface by 80%. Its that good.

    Joe Gambucci

    http://www.californiacustom.com/purple_metal_polish.html



  6. #6

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    Nov 2011
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    Bellevue, Washington, United States
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    I suggest being wary of this PMP product & its companion cleaner when used up against rivets, seams, and on thin material. The california custom webpage says it is an acid etch. That definitely will clean, and acids can be used to chemically polish reasonably smooth aluminum. However an acid will work under skins and rivets and you'll need to be very careful about neutralizing.

    Chemical polishes also tend not be as effective on high-strength structural alloys such as 2024, and they won't take out scratches that are deeper than the surface finish.

  7. #7

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    When I worked at Douglas Aircraft and we sold planes to American Airlines, all with polished skins, the surfacing material that worked best was Bon Ami cleanser. It is not abrasive as most other cleansers but produced a smooth luster on the skins. All skin panels were treated this way and AA loved it.

  8. #8
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    I've not used it on airplanes, but on other bare metal things Barkeepers friend (similar to bon ami) works pretty well.

  9. #9

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    Feb 2014
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    Tempe, Az
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob H View Post
    When I worked at Douglas Aircraft and we sold planes to American Airlines, all with polished skins, the surfacing material that worked best was Bon Ami cleanser. It is not abrasive as most other cleansers but produced a smooth luster on the skins. All skin panels were treated this way and AA loved it.
    Americans fleet has been maintained for years with Nuvite metal polish. They are switching over to all livery now since US Air is involved. No more metal polish needed.

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