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Max Q
Topic Author
Posts: 8430
Joined: Wed May 09, 2001 12:40 pm

Maintaining a bare metal / polished aluminum finish

Mon Jun 01, 2020 10:20 am

If this was done properly the result was very attractive and distinctive


AA must have been the industry experts, their ‘Silver fleet’ nearly always looked outstanding


Other operators took delivery of aircraft in bare metal, they looked great at first, NW cargo would be a good example then dulled over the years as I’m guessing they didn’t want to take the time and expense to do the required polishing



Curious as to how this polishing was actually done, how often and what was used in this process ?


Particularly interested in AA and their regimen to maintain this distinctive look across a large fleet
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


GGg
 
BravoOne
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Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:27 pm

Re: Maintaining a bare metal / polished aluminum finish

Mon Jun 01, 2020 8:08 pm

When FTL was still around and their aircraft were mostly bare metal they would use a group down in Guam as I recall to polish & buff the airplanes while on a layover.

Even today there are several groups here in the US that will polish leading edge and cowl inlets on corporate aircraft and that is their sole sole business. There is more to this than meets the eye as you can over do it and compromise the metal itself.

i seem to recall that AA used a chemical etch for their aircraft?
 
Dalmd88
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Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2000 3:19 am

Re: Maintaining a bare metal / polished aluminum finish

Mon Jun 01, 2020 9:15 pm

A long time ago I worked an ANG contract for Metros. The wings on these were bare and every six months per the contract we had to buff the wings. We had a twin handheld orbital buffer, driven by compressed air. Very similar to the electric ones car detailers use on paint. We used Meguiar's Mirror Glaze compound.

Buffing the underside of the wing really sucked. That buffer got heavy over your head.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:44 am

Re: Maintaining a bare metal / polished aluminum finish

Mon Jun 01, 2020 9:37 pm

I think it was customer option to have matching aluminum panels to have bare metal. Even before all the carbon fiber, different grades/alloys would look different and OEM would charge to have it all.
 
BravoOne
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Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:27 pm

Re: Maintaining a bare metal / polished aluminum finish

Mon Jun 01, 2020 11:34 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
I think it was customer option to have matching aluminum panels to have bare metal. Even before all the carbon fiber, different grades/alloys would look different and OEM would charge to have it all.



I think that was an old wives tale?
 
JayinKitsap
Posts: 2219
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2005 9:55 am

Re: Maintaining a bare metal / polished aluminum finish

Tue Jun 02, 2020 6:14 am

BravoOne wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
I think it was customer option to have matching aluminum panels to have bare metal. Even before all the carbon fiber, different grades/alloys would look different and OEM would charge to have it all.



I think that was an old wives tale?


GF I believe is correct. I have not compared polished Aluminum but I have in Silver assembly, had to be very careful to use the highest temperature silver soldiers as the lower ones would shade a bit brown. Even annealed silver and tempered (work hardening at bends) are different. Ornamental metal polished stainless is a bitch because the pipe and plate had different colors even after comparing mil certs to ensure similar nickel and chromium contents. The brushed and satin finishes it usually doesn't show up.
 
Max Q
Topic Author
Posts: 8430
Joined: Wed May 09, 2001 12:40 pm

Re: Maintaining a bare metal / polished aluminum finish

Tue Jun 02, 2020 9:22 am

Just to be clear, the polishing is generally done using hand held, orbital buffers ?


The mind boggles at the extent of human labor required to accomplish this on a large airline transport
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


GGg
 
strfyr51
Posts: 4985
Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2012 5:04 pm

Re: Maintaining a bare metal / polished aluminum finish

Tue Jun 02, 2020 7:46 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
I think it was customer option to have matching aluminum panels to have bare metal. Even before all the carbon fiber, different grades/alloys would look different and OEM would charge to have it all.

It's called Matched skins and it was 12% of the build to have them. Last I remember , Later? It might have been much more. Airbus didn't even attempt it.
 
BravoOne
Posts: 4094
Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:27 pm

Re: Maintaining a bare metal / polished aluminum finish

Tue Jun 02, 2020 8:46 pm

strfyr51 wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
I think it was customer option to have matching aluminum panels to have bare metal. Even before all the carbon fiber, different grades/alloys would look different and OEM would charge to have it all.

It's called Matched skins and it was 12% of the build to have them. Last I remember , Later? It might have been much more. Airbus didn't even attempt it.



So what are you saying? 12% of all say 707s, 727s, or just AA airframes? I realize that Boeing did a lot customer customization many years ago, but that sounds over the top. Was there an extra charge for this, and how would a casual observer recognize one of these airframes? II can think of several operators that may have been candidates for this, but I'm not sure I would recognize the enhanced skining unless someone actually pointed it out preferably a sise by side comparison.
 
Max Q
Topic Author
Posts: 8430
Joined: Wed May 09, 2001 12:40 pm

Re: Maintaining a bare metal / polished aluminum finish

Wed Jun 03, 2020 9:57 am

strfyr51 wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
I think it was customer option to have matching aluminum panels to have bare metal. Even before all the carbon fiber, different grades/alloys would look different and OEM would charge to have it all.

It's called Matched skins and it was 12% of the build to have them. Last I remember , Later? It might have been much more. Airbus didn't even attempt it.



What about AA’s A300-600R aircraft ?


Originally delivered painted in gray but later those airframes were stripped of their paint and polished


Later deliveries had the matched skins you mentioned I believe, AB found a way of doing this


Looked outstanding on that aircraft as well
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


GGg
 
BravoOne
Posts: 4094
Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:27 pm

Re: Maintaining a bare metal / polished aluminum finish

Wed Jun 03, 2020 2:57 pm

Dalmd88 wrote:
A long time ago I worked an ANG contract for Metros. The wings on these were bare and every six months per the contract we had to buff the wings. We had a twin handheld orbital buffer, driven by compressed air. Very similar to the electric ones car detailers use on paint. We used Meguiar's Mirror Glaze compound.

Buffing the underside of the wing really sucked. That buffer got heavy over your head.



I ahve seen the corporate avaition departments use corn starch to maintain the mirror like finish on the cowls and leadings of their ac.There was a SB out many years ago that cautioned against overdoing this polishing as it could lead to structural damage.

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