I've been intrusted to clean and polish a stunning yellow 1952 PA18-A when it goes in for it's annual this month. I'm brand new to fabric aircraft and don't want to botch the job. I know it's probably simplistic, but would hate to muck it up by using the wrong cleaning materials or trying to buff and polish a plane materail that doesn't like buffing and polishing. Wouldn't want to mess up my chances of getting to fly it again next summer.
Sorry folks, I meant that as a question, does anyone have any hints or suggestions as to where I can find out the proper way to do this project?
The fact that it is a fabric airplane really has nothing to do with polishing/cleaning the paint. Find out the topcoat of paint (butyrate dope, poly-tone, polyurethane, etc) and that will tell you what to use. Let us know what type paint and then you will get PLENTY of opinions.
Thanks! I'll get that info and get back to ya, I appreciate it. Only been flying for three years and a little gun shy having almost, but not quite, applied glass cleaner to a plastic windscreen. LOL
Any good cleaner wax that you would use on a car will do the job. DO NOT use a power buffer on the aircraft. 99 times out of 100 you will remove the top coat at a sharp corner/rib or seam.
I have a Stearman with Randolph Dope on Ceconite. Colors are Tennessee red, Randolph white and Dakota black. The red especially tends to get oxidized and was a problem this year after traveling for much of the summer. The task is to remove the oxidation and the minimum of dope. I had correspondence with Randolph, Mothers, Meguiar and Griot's Garage often with their technical departments and am successfully using the following process:
1 Remove any surface dust with a California duster and then use Griot's Garage Speed Shine to wipe the surface down
2 Remove existing polish and wax with PPG DX 330 that can be bought at suppliers to the auto body industry. Read the safety instructions and have plenty of ventilation
3 Use the gentlest polish and oxidation product you can do the job with. I had to use Turtle wax polishing compound but there are less abrasive products from 3M, Mothers, Meguiars. When you are done use DX 330 to remove polish
4 Remove any residual contamination with Griot's clay lubricated with Speed Shine. I found Mothers and Meguiars clay did not work as well
5 Now you need a "sacrificial" layer of wax to protect the surface from the atmosphere. Randolph's recommend carnauba wax and find one with the least amount of silicone. Randolph use Mother's but it is labelled "Cleaner Wax" so I use Meguiar's Gold Class Carnuaba Plus Paste Wax that does not seem to contain silicone and does claim UV protection
6 Randolph say the wax will naturally evaporate and needs to be reapplied every 3 months even if the plane stays in the hangar
7 I would agree do this by hand and not with an orbital polisher
Last edited by JohnHodgson; 11-08-2013 at 08:54 AM.