It is getting just about time for another deep clean for this bad boy. I detail it usually two or three times per year, but they are going to be flying it a lot more next year because they just got their charter license and plan on being gone a lot.
It hasn’t had a really good deep clean for a couple years. By deep clean I mean clay, cut, and sealant. Aviation paint is a lot different than automotive paint, and I’m definitely not an expert in it, but I’ve done a pretty decent job in the past on it. After a good thorough detail it is really easy to maintain, but after a couple years the ‘maintain’ detail doesn’t do much for long. So January will be another deep clean I think.
The fall detail is the worst, though. This is the end of bug season and they typically neglect it for a month or so before I finally get my hands on it because they know I’ll be cleaning it anyway. So the result is getting to scrape 20 or 30 landings and take offs worth of bugs off the wings. Bugs have never been my favorite, but I’ve been growing my own solution to that problem for the last ten years.
The first part of this process is to soak the suckers. We’ve tried a couple things and nothing seems to work quite as well as Tuff Stuff. Tarminator works maybe a little better, but when I say ‘works’ I have to consider the cost as well. I can get two cans of Tuff Stuff for one can of Tarminator and it works nearly as well, so Tuff Stuff it is. It make a little more of a mess on the floor, but this particular detail also coincides with the annual floor cleaning as well, so no worries there.
Once you soak the bugs for a second then they scrub off much easier with a soft nylon brush. Then for the really tough ones you can ‘polish’ them off with a little more tuff stuff and a PC on a low setting.
While he is down there he might as well clean up the landing gear.
Considering who did that, I’d say it turned out pretty good. It saved me a ton of time on this project. I’m old and decrepit, so getting under the wings is sort of my least favorite part of the whole job. He got it good enough that it just took a little extra oomph on my part to ensure that the bottom of the wings were glossy and the landing gears looked respectable (before they get black again next week probably).
The rest of the project was a process of metal polishing (the leading edges on the plane get hazy). That is what Wolfgang Metalwerks polishes are for. I should have taken a before/after picture of this one because it made a huge difference. If you haven’t used their aluminum polishes then you really should take a look into that.
Oh, and just in case you have any slave labor of your own, just a tip… Go PC7424 with them. The FLEX 3401 is too heavy. Good for big flat surfaces like a wing, but if they are doing the under belly, give them something light.
They’ve been flying in and out of the West Coast this summer and the forest fires and pollution are enough to kill a horse, so of course the plane was covered in soot. Honestly, you’d think that kind of stuff would just wash off if they fly through a rain cloud, but it doesn’t. I don’t know how well you can tell the difference in these before/afters, but here you go.
See all the soot? It collects on anything that sticks out and then streaks a trail to the back. The whole thing just starts looking dingy after awhile of that.
So the way most of this goes down is by using a product they keep handy that is meant for cleaning bugs and grime off aviation surfaces and then I hit it with the FLEX 3401 and XMT 360. I love that stuff on this plane. Granted, it isn’t going to last very long, but really, what will? I’ve used several products on this plane and Blackfire is by far the best, but even that didn’t last long enough. So the key is to just maintain it frequently in order to keep it looking good. After all, if you had an $8.5 million dollar piece of machinery, wouldn’t you want it looking good all the time?
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Next up: hopefully either the 34 Ford under the car cover or the Maserati GranTurismo convertible just out of sight behind the plane. The ZL1 back there is also a regular project. Pictures of that one again soon.