California Custom Metal Polish PIREP

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California Custom makes two products of interest to some of us crazy enough to think we want polished aluminum surfaces on our GlaStar or Sportsman aircraft. One product is a deoxidizer while the other is a metal polish. The two are used hand in hand.

I have no relationship with California Custom. I’m not even sure I’m a happy customer yet since this is the very early stage of experimentation for me.

Elbow grease?

I purchased from Aircraft Spruce a bottle of each of the deoxidizer and the polish – it’s less than $20 per bottle. The instructions on the deoxidizer bottle provide the complete process.

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In essence, soak a cloth with the deoxidizer and wet down the metal surface you wish to polish – they recommend working in small squares. Let the deoxidizer dry, then apply the polish with another cloth, rubbing only until the “gritty” feeling goes away—on our aircraft this took only about four rounds of circular rubbing motion. The final step requires a clean soft cloth (t-shirt material seemed to work well for me). Rub off the polish residue and with it comes a whole lot of black aluminum oxide.

They don’t tell you to wear gloves, but you should, because that black stuff really gets into the grain of your skin. They also don’t mention how much gunk comes off, thus giving an idea of how many clean cloths would be required to complete the polishing job.

How well does this stuff work?

I can’t provide any long-term test results since it was only three days ago that I experimented on our airplane with this polish. I polished the entire top surface of the right horizontal stabilizer in under 20 minutes. Three days later it’s obvious that I was learning the process as I can see where I should go back and polish again to even things up a bit. Still, the finish is pretty impressive, especially for a rank amateur.

The photo shows the polished horizontal stabilizer as well as the upward-deflected elevator. They both started out looking the same, other than for the minor difference of me having removed the dust from the H.S. before polishing it. The reflection of the masking tape roll gives you some idea of the level of shine achieved. This really was a “no sweat” process—there is no hard rubbing involved.

So far I’m impressed with this product—it seems to live up to the manufacturer’s claims. Take a few minutes to search on YouTube for their “how-to” videos to see the process for yourself or watch the video below.

Editor’s note: If you are curious about waxing an airplane see this article.

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