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Thread: Need feedback for suggested procedures to clean polytone finished fabric plane

  1. #1
    cubnut93's Avatar
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    Need feedback for suggested procedures to clean polytone finished fabric plane

    I helped a friend restore his L-21B airplane a few years back. He does not fly it much since it was finished, so it is still in great shape. This month it finally warmed up enough to start doing some work at his hangar. First on the list was to clean up the Super Cub. The question that I had was what do you use to wash an airplane that was restored with the Poly-Fiber system? I know enough that I should not use any wax or polish. So I just used plain water-hosed it down wet and washed it with a bucket of water with a very small amount of Dawn Dishwashing Liquid (I mean a VERY SMALL amount--like a half of a cap full in 5 gallons)

    There were some areas that had bug splatter that was left on the wing edge too long that didn't want to come off. I assume that "bug splatter" should be washed off as soon as possible or it will leave marks.

    Someone told me once that he used womens panty hose to get the bug spatter off. Any truth to that or was he pulling my leg?
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  2. #2
    Richgj3's Avatar
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    My Legend had Poly Tone. It’s the worst finish I could imagine putting on anything. If you look at it the wrong way, it stains. And they don’t come out. You can wash it with any mild soap. I had mine for 12 years. There was never any damage from washing. Just everything else. I chose it because I wanted a finish that looked more like dope than the shinny finish that was the other choice at the time.

    Mine was the first Legend. I believed they stopped offering Poly Tone early on because of customer complaints about the staining on the finish.

    Rich
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  3. #3

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    It can be top-coated. We have a yellow J-3 with Poly Tone, and the earlier STC applies. I may re-tape it and get a local pro to hit it with urethane. I believe the Stewarts finish is approved for any STC, and properly applied it is glossy.

    Poly Tone does not sand or compound well, and cleaning is an absolute bear. But that military paint looks good from here - just clean it with Pledge and fly it.

    I have been using Pledge since 1976, and have had zero problems with repairs. Never use the cheap substitutes - they will make refinishing impossible.

  4. #4
    www.SkupTech.com mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    you use the stuff thats MADE TO DO IT by the original manufacturer..... amazing stuff!!!

    http://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalo...fcleaners2.php

  5. #5
    FdxLou's Avatar
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    The best way to get rid of those old bugs is to wet a dryer sheet(Bounce?) and let the soapy detergent soften it. Rinse with clean water. Worked for 14 years on my Polytone Smith Cub. Yes, lots of staining shows thru the “Cub Yellow” over time.

    Lou
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  6. #6

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    Interesting topic. Most maintenance cleaners are neutral. High alkalinity is good for stripping but not good for regular cleaning for most surfaces. Dish soaps are neutral so no threat. So are most floor cleaners, etc. Strippers and degreasers are alkaline. High alkaline cleaners require skin protection, unless you plan to rob a bank and don't want to leave fingerprints.
    Last edited by stewartb; 05-12-2018 at 08:14 PM.
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  7. #7
    Doug Budd's Avatar
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    Been using this on my cub and pacer with no problems. Both covered with polyfiber. Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	37036 he bugs melt away works good on oil and other things.

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    I use “wash n wax all” and a micro fiber cloth for bugs and light dirt. I use simple green on the belly and tougher spots. Sometimes I dilute it, sometimes I don’t. No problems yet.


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  9. #9

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    I've been using this stuff for over 20 years, not for overall cleaning but in "problem areas."

    I've used Poly-Tone on the last 5 kitplanes I've built, I love the ease of application and easy repair it offers. We Poly-Tone fans are a distinct minority I guess as a plane owner I'd prefer a slicker surface but as a builder owner I prefer it. Some planes look TOO damn shiny, I prefer a more retro look. If I build another I'll use Oratex and sidestep the entire issue.
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  10. #10
    cubnut93's Avatar
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    Wash-Wax-All

    Thanks for all of your replies. I found a new bottle of Wash-Wax-All that has never been opened. I called the company about using it on the cub. They said that it does not contain any "polish" or "silicones" so it would not be a problem using their product on fabric covered airplanes finished with Poly-Tone paint. I asked if their product would have a tendency to make a semi gloss Poly-Tone OD turn more glossy and they said that it would not do that. I still am reluctant to use something that has the word "WAX" in its name! So I guess I need to think about this for awhile.

    Thanks again for all your help
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  11. #11
    n40ff's Avatar
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    Fuel drail is handy so I usually use 100LL on belly. The rest gets Lemon Pledge. It does stain but so does the dope on the other airplane. I shoot the birds in the hangar that eat berries, almost impossible to remove. Maybe paint the next one purple?

    Been using it for almost 50 years (maybe not the best but again "handy"). I don't know how many times Marcia has said as she entered the hangar, "So that's where my Pledge went?"

    Of coarse my airplanes here in WV are more like a PU than a show piece.

    Jack
    Last edited by n40ff; 05-14-2018 at 10:55 AM.

  12. #12

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    The idea that you can't/shouldn't wax Poly Tone is nonsense. Poly Fiber's manual actually tells you what wax to use. You absolutely SHOULD have a coat of wax on Poly Tone to protect it from stains and other environmental factors. Having a glossy polyurethane finish on that L-21 would look nowhere close to original or authentic.

    Use a natural carnauba wax like PF recommends. Get several coats on the leading edge to make bug removal easier, same with the area behind the fuel fillers, to keep fuel stains to a minimum. If you need to patch or repair, just make sure you use a silicone and wax remover FIRST to remove the residue before you begin your patch work. Same story with rejuvenating - all surfaces being treated should be wiped down with a good silicone and wax remover first. Frankly, the amount of effort required to do this to Poly Tone is a lot less that the amount of effort it takes to put a patch or repair in a polyurethane finish.
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    We have a Poly Tone Cub. Aside from the fact that even Norm Douthit cannot get them to match the original Stits Cub Yellow, we have tapes pulling up, and general ugliness. I can repair the tapes by re-taping, but I have not yet found a way to just inject glue and seal the tape, thus avoiding the color mismatch problem.

    So far, I have tried injecting Poly Tak, Stewarts glue, and Cyano-Acrylate. Any ideas short of retaping and repainting the whole airplane?

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner View Post
    We have a Poly Tone Cub. Aside from the fact that even Norm Douthit cannot get them to match the original Stits Cub Yellow, we have tapes pulling up, and general ugliness. I can repair the tapes by re-taping, but I have not yet found a way to just inject glue and seal the tape, thus avoiding the color mismatch problem.

    So far, I have tried injecting Poly Tak, Stewarts glue, and Cyano-Acrylate. Any ideas short of retaping and repainting the whole airplane?
    This is a difficult issue to offer suggestions for. Poly Tak has a limited application - glue seams and gluing foreign objects like grommets and inspection rings to fabric. Aside from that, it's not very often the right choice because it doesn't remain flexible like Poly Brush does, so it will crack much sooner, and doesn't fill the fabric weave very easily . It's also very difficult to get a tape to stick back down without making a mess of the surrounding coatings when the color coat is Poly Tone. That's because as a single-part color, anything with MEK in it will make Poly Tone gooey or remove it.

    In this case, I'd mask off the area immediately adjacent to the tape to be repaired. Then I'd pull back the tape to access the underside of it, and brush in several applications of unthinned Poly Brush until you have built some up. Then, apply a very light, but wet coat of Poly Brush, and allow the tape to lay back down into it and gently press it down and work it with your fingertips, taking care to keep the Poly Brush under the tape instead of oozing out on to the surrounding fabric.

    This isn't a great fix, though - as tapes are meant to be laid into liquid PB and then brushed with a dry brush to work the Poly Brush up through the weave of the tape from below. The fact that you won't be able to do this with an already painted tape, means the adhesion you get will be sub-par.

    In my experience, these kind of fixes rarely go as planned, and sometimes lead to a bigger issue than you had in the first place. Best of luck!
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  15. #15
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Bob, If it is Polytone over Polyfiber then the tapes will iron down using a 220 degree iron over a piece of parchment paper. Did this on almost an entire Tri-Pacer many years ago because someone didn't get their tapes stuck down good upon installing them. Warning, do not remove the parchment paper until it has cooled or the finish down to the Polybrush will stick to the parchment paper and not the fabric. Expletives will follow.
    Steve Pierce

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    Good idea! I will try it.

  17. #17
    coxcub's Avatar
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    I use non stick oven liner instead of parchment paper - never a problem with it lifting the poly tone off and the iron slides over it really well.

    Frank

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Pierce View Post
    Bob, If it is Polytone over Polyfiber then the tapes will iron down using a 220 degree iron over a piece of parchment paper. Did this on almost an entire Tri-Pacer many years ago because someone didn't get their tapes stuck down good upon installing them. Warning, do not remove the parchment paper until it has cooled or the finish down to the Polybrush will stick to the parchment paper and not the fabric. Expletives will follow.
    This is a good suggestion - but it does require that there is enough Poly Brush under the tape to turn liquid when the heat is applied with the iron. Also, use caution - tapes are raw fabric, and they'll shrink once they hit the 250 degree mark.

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    That is the one thing I did not try - stuffing Poly Brush down the gap. Maybe tomorrow - it is annual time anyway. I now think Dan may be on to something - maybe they put tapes on with Poly Tak?

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner View Post
    That is the one thing I did not try - stuffing Poly Brush down the gap. Maybe tomorrow - it is annual time anyway. I now think Dan may be on to something - maybe they put tapes on with Poly Tak?
    I think many people don't put down an adequate amount of Poly Brush before laying their tapes down. You should have a shiny pink strip of Poly Brush under your tapes when they go down. If there isn't enough PB there, the adhesion you get from the tapes will be compromised , and you'll get tape edges that lift away from the fabric below them after some time in service.
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  21. #21

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    I’ve seen gojo hand cleaner work well the stuff in the tub that has the consistency of jello not the pumice stuff...


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  22. #22
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DanAtSpencer View Post
    I think many people don't put down an adequate amount of Poly Brush before laying their tapes down. You should have a shiny pink strip of Poly Brush under your tapes when they go down. If there isn't enough PB there, the adhesion you get from the tapes will be compromised , and you'll get tape edges that lift away from the fabric below them after some time in service.
    If you follow the manual you will have adequate amount of Polybrush to adhere the tapes but for some reason some people scimp on this step. I mark where the tapes are going with a chalk line, pre-coat 4 brush coats and lay the tape in and another over the top. Ended tapes popping up through the other spray coats. The thing about Polyfiber is that all the coatings from the Polybrush, Polyspray and Polytone have the same solvents so the solvents in the later coats can effect the tape adhesion if you don't get enough down initially.
    Steve Pierce

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  23. #23

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    I did my first polyfiber in 1969, literally days after they figured out how to make Dacron pinked edges. I put tapes on with the second coat, and never had one pull up.

    The Cub I am messing with had so many non-standard things - I am still straightening things out after six years! They even took the diagonals out of the butt rib. I found a stabilizer drilled out to fit an AN-4 bolt! And I found a hole in the cabane where they ground off the Piper bird cage to install what they thought was a better idea (truly ugly).

    The tapes are straight - most are bias tapes, and they left the seam on! It is a candidate for a recover. We are working its butt off - too busy to stop and restore it. I will report back on whether the Poly Brush/ iron method works.

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