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Paint Oxidation

In previous articles we have used the word “oxidation” quite often but never really explained what it is. Paint Oxidation is a term otherwise known as corrosion. Paint starts out life a smooth, bright, glossy, and deep colour. Over time UV rays and corrosive environmental factors slowly “eat” away at the paint causing microscopic pits. These pits change the surface by causing more of a matte look with a lower refractive index. Simply put: less shiny. We think of it as “rust” for your paint.

Unless you spend a lot of time flying upside down, the underside of the wings sees the least amount of sun and contaminants so is probably the best paint on your aircraft. A simple way to asses the level of oxidation on your paint is to compare the shininess under the wings with the top of the wings (or fuselage facing the sun). In extreme cases you can rub your finger across the paint and it will feel chalky leaving a white powder on your finger.

Oxidation can not be reversed so the only fix is removing it. We call this Paint Revitalization. For very minor oxidation, where the colour is just not quite as bright, a polish can be used which smoothes the surface more than removes material. For light oxidation a light rubbing compound can be used by hand or a buffer. Heavy oxidation requires a buffer applied heavy compound and depending on the severity, more than a few passes. The picture below is of a boat that probably hadn’t been waxed more than a few times over its 17 year life. The right side had two passes of heavy compound and finished with a combination light compound polish. It is amazing that you can see the reflection of the tree canopy after buffing.

Some colours are more prone to oxidation appearing. White tends to hide oxidation the most. Red fades and is easy to spot. Dark blue shows oxidation as white spots. Each time a compound or buffer is used, a layer of paint is removed. There is a trade off between removing the oxidation and removing too much paint. Colour affects this balance. White shows oxidation the least and requires the least amount of paint removal because of that. Red and dark blue will show more oxidation, and generally, require the most paint to be removed. There are some extreme cases of dark blue, in particular, that required wet sanding.

To prevent oxidation, the best thing you can do for your paint is wash as necessary and keep a good sealant. If you have wax, then wash at least once a month. This will also help you determine when the wax is wearing off. If you have an advanced sealant you can wash less often but every 3 months is recommended.

In summery, maintenance of your planes exterior will allow you to enjoy it without needing to spend the money on cutting and buffing back your paint. Ensuring your plane is sealed will decrease lag, debris, make insects easier to remove, and protect your finish from oxidization. If you have any further questions about paint or oxidization let us know, if we cannot answer right away we will make every effort to find out the answer for you

 


Aviation Polish, Wax, and Sealant

 

Aviation Polish, Wax, and Sealant – The best bang for your buck!

The most important work of an aircraft sealant is to protect your craft throughout the the year. Aircraft cleaning is essential to the longevity of the paint and enjoyment of your plane. Aircraft sealants will help protect your plane from spider droppings, pollution, soot, sun, oxidization, rain, wind, and will make cleaning an easier, quicker task. Aircraft cleaning includes the following steps of polishing, waxing, sealant, and cleaning. Lets look at the function of each and its relative importance to the maintenance of your craft. 

Airplane Polish

Polishing, or buffing, your aircraft is optional in that you can apply a sealant to an oxidized paint. Skipping the polish will trap the oxidization and slow down the process but the paint will always look dull underneath. Polishing not only carries the visual benefit of a brighter surface but smoothes the paint for easier cleaning and longer sealant application

Polishing your aircraft improves the appearance, removes oxidization, debris, and reveals a fresh layer of paint. Before you polish the selection of compound is important and needs to be considered. The amount of “cut” or buffing is relative to the shape the paint is in. The goal here is to remove as little of the paint material as possible while ending up with the paint looking even and shiny. Remember a polish does NOT protect your surface, a polish removes debris as well as a layer of paint and will increase the rate of oxidation. After polishing your aircraft surface is open to both debris, oxidization and corrosion; you should seal the surface with a wax or a sealant. The relative importance of a polish or buff is to prevent oxidation and to keep you craft looking and working its best. When you actively take care of your craft by maintaining the exterior you will save money and time on washing.

Airplane Wax

Using wax to protect your plane allows for a high gloss shine. Many automotive and marine waxes contain chemicals that can cause P-Static to build-up so always use an aviation designed wax. Wax can last up to 6 months, depending on the weather, UV exposure, and usage, but should be applied before it wears off and the oxidation process starts again. Determining when the wax has worn off can be difficult so here is a tip. Get, or repurpose, a spray bottle to spray some water on the surface and if it beads, there is still wax, if the water “sheets” or runs without beading, a layer of wax should be applied as soon as convenient. 

Synthetic Sealants 

Synthetic sealants are similar to waxes however they provide additional benefits, the most important being longevity. The sealants bond with the aircraft paint surface to provide a barrier which protects from insects, debris, soot, UV and oxidization. Synthetic sealants wear off at a much more predictable rate than wax so can be reapplied before exposing the paint. Different sealants wear at different rates so reapplication in the manufacturers timeframe is important. Another benefit is the reduction of drag. Boeing provides the following report on the reduction of drag and a clean plane. https://flightshield.com/docs/Boeing%20Report.pdf . 

Note: if your aircraft is smaller then the test planes Boeing used, you may not notice the drag or fuel efficiency quite as much. 

Polymer Sealant 

Reactive Polymer is a clear nano coating chemical that bonds to the paint of aircraft, protecting it from harmful contaminates and environmental conditions. Depending on the type of polymer it may have a warranty. Some polymers can be applied by hand while others may require buffing to get a solid bonding. Most polymers should be applied annually to maintain full coverage and protection. 

Nano Ceramic 

Nano Ceramic coating offers the most advanced protective coating available to the aviation industry. Nano ceramic provides a potentially permanent protective and durable coating the unmatched shine and gloss. At Sea and Sky we use FlighShield Nano Ceramic, which has 9H hardness, equivalent to sapphire and only diamonds are harder, to protect from scratches. It offers water shedding properties, protection from heat up to 650 degree C as well as protection from exhaust staining. It prevents oxidation and fading as well as rejecting dirt, oil, exhaust, insects, and bird deposits. The product we use (we are authorized applicators) offers a 5 year running warranty. This product should be re-applied every two years for best results. 

Cleaning 

Cleaning your aircraft will be a simpler and easier process once a sealant is on. Using a sealant will make cleaning spider droppings, insects, and bird dropping easier to remove, it is still best to clean the aircraft monthly. Keeping your plane clean and its finish in prime condition is the easiest and least expensive way to increase your enjoyment and longevity of your plane. 

Timely, and properly applied sealants could mean you will never have to buff or repaint your aircraft again.


How Washing Works

Last months article was on Dry vs Wet Wash and sparked some controversy so let’s get back to basics on how washing works.
 
Soaps all have a molecules with a polar and non-polar end in a suspension fluid. When the soap comes into contact with the dirt, the non polar end attaches to the dirt and the polar end faces away. Once the particle is coated, the polar ends keep the dirt in the suspension fluid and away from the paint. This is exactly how a Dry wash works as well!
  
 
 
 
Every method has that potential to drag dirt and pollutants across the surface before putting the particles in suspension. It doesn’t matter if you are using filtered water and a virgin Australian sheepskin mitt, a foam gun, or Dry -Wash, every method has the potential to press and slide dirt across the painted surface. Each method needs to apply as little pressure as possible to put the dirt in suspension. It is also impossible to lift all the dirt up without some “elbow grease” and, while this does cause damage. While the damage is minimal because aircraft paint and gelcoat is quite hard. There are several methods to minimize the damage as follows:
 
Use enough soap and suspension fluid
Wipe with a clean applicator and not a pressure washer. A clean wash mitt or microfibre works well
Use more gentle scrubbing and increase as necessary. This uses as little abrasion as possible.
wash frequently to prevent build up
ideally, have a good sealant to protect the paint from build up and it makes cleaning easier.
 
The real difference in the different washing methods is rinsing. A water based soap or foam system uses water to rinse the suspended dirt off the paint and into the sewage system. The Dry wash uses a clean microfibre wipe to lift the suspended dirt with the wipes being laundered before being used again.
 
Next month, sealants!

Wet or Dry Wash??

Wet or Dry Wash? What is the answer?

Traditional wet wash is becoming less popular for the following valid arguments:

The biggest problem with wet wash is that the water needs to be clean and free of minerals. Yet most water has some mineral content, and this can capture dirt and leave deposits on the surface, kind of like rings left by beverages on a coffee table. You can add agents to the water to help break up the deposits or use demineralized water, but depending on the size of your aircraft, this can be burdensome. There is also potential for damage to landing gear component seals, corrosion on electrical connectors and water getting into pitot and static systems. In addition, using pressure washers on aircraft, can force water into faying surfaces (surfaces contacted by a joint) and seals which can damage the aircraft. Increased federal government involvement with airport wash pits and a movement to stop harmful degreasing agents from flowing into airport drains has developed a greater desire for the use of dry wash. For these reasons, many professional detailers are switching to dry wash products.

Dry wash makes sense for the aircraft and the environment. Aviation specific products (Dry Wash, Post Flight, Wind Man and Soot Master, available at VFC from Sea & Sky) are developed with a focus on the environment and results. Though Dry wash requires considerably more effort than a wet wash it carries benefits for the aircraft as well as the owner. When you clean an aircraft, you get the opportunity to touch and see parts upclose and personal, allowing you to catch problems when they are small and manageable. For every detailing job we complete, we send out a detailed report on all our findings, including any issues observed. (If you are cleaning you own aircraft, keep notes!) Dry wash is good for the environment too; gas savings of up to 0.2 percent, and it eliminates the need for complex and intensive filtering of the water contaminated with dirt and cleansing agents. Dry wash is well established in the UK, Australia, and the US. Canadian airports are beginning to encourage dry wash methods.

The fact is a clean plane is the first tool in aircraft care.After all, a clean aircraft is easier to inspect. Crud can hide cracks, working rivets, damage and many other potential problems.

Sea & Sky Eco Detailing, www.SeaAndSkyEco.ca,info@seaandskyeco.ca, 250-656-1370


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Sea & Sky Eco Detailing 1-250-656-1370

info@SeaAndSkyEco.ca www.SeaAndSkyEco.ca

Mobile Team based in North Saanich


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