Suggestions to Shine an Airplane

Note: There is an article on how to polish a Piper here.

Q I am completing the annual and want to do more than just wash the plane. I want it to sparkle and look slick. What are my next steps to remove oxidation and add protection and shine? What do you recommend and why? I’ve heard that some silicones leach into the aluminum and others just aren’t worth the effort.

I’ve washed it many times but haven’t polished or waxed it for at least 2 1/2 years — granted, I was deployed a lot during that time and it was hangared.

The white (Matterhorn White) is oxidizing while the metallic green looks fine. I cleaned the bottom with avgas and then Spartan MD-20. It didn’t look so bad but was a lot of work, especially around the antennae. I am not averse to work, but I want to do it right and get the most out of my efforts to protect and show off my plane.

Martin Howley

A My A&P gave me a bottle of a product called Dri Wash ’N Guard. I put it on the faded Madrid Red wing and stabilator tips and they are glossy almost like new. I tried it on much of the rest of the plane and was very impressed. Went by today, in part to make sure my aching back didn’t influence last night’s perception. They were still looking bright and slick. Just spray it on and wipe off the haze, firm rubbing but not hard using a terry cloth rag. I also did the cowling top and got it shining again.

Bill Campbell

A I have used Arrow-Magnolia’s Aero Glaze dry wash followed by Top Gun Ultra Finish (recommended by Aviation Consumer). Both are available from Aircraft Spruce. Effective, but a lot of work.

David Cooper

A Sky-Rite 3-30 is a great belly degreaser and engine compartment cleaner. I also use it to clean out the wheel wells. It can be used in whatever concentration the job requires and is easy on/easy off. Got turned on to it by my I/A who is a full-time airframe mechanic who maintains King Airs for the Navy. They use this stuff on their contract.

James Small

A Interesting stuff here. I have a 180 that was painted in ’96, (Jet-Glo) and has been hangared ever since. Before we bought the aircraft, I believe someone either clay bared it or applied some ceramic type of coating to the paint. Not sure the after effects, but it literally looks so dull one would think that it’s been outside for 30 years. I recently tried Flitz wax/polish with a wool buffing pad and it is starting to shine in the areas I have polished. A lot of work, but the results are great. Nothing else has worked on it. Even tried the wash/wax stuff, etc.

Jarrett Watson