Nonionic Detergent Cleaners

These materials may be either water soluble or oil soluble. The oil-soluble detergent cleaner is effective in a 3 to 5 percent solution in dry cleaning solvent for softening and removing heavy preservative coatings. This mixture’s performance is similar to the emulsion cleaners mentioned previously.

Mechanical Cleaning Materials

Mechanical cleaning materials must be used with care and in accordance with directions given, if damage to finishes and surfaces is to be avoided.

Mild Abrasive Materials

No attempt is made in this section to furnish detailed instructions for using various materials listed. Some do’s and don’ts are included as an aid in selecting materials for specific cleaning jobs.

The introduction of various grades of nonwoven abrasive pads (a common brand name produced by the 3M company is Scotch-Brite™) has given the aircraft maintenance technician a clean, inexpensive material for the removal of corrosion products and for other light abrasive needs. The pads can be used on most metals (although the same pad should not be used on different metals) and are generally the first choice when the situation arises. A very open form of this pad is also available for paint stripping, when used in conjunction with wet strippers.

Powdered pumice can be used for cleaning corroded aluminum

Impregnated cotton wadding material is used for removal of exhaust gas stains and polishing corroded aluminum surfaces. It may also be used on other metal surfaces to produce a high reflectance.

Aluminum metal polish is used to produce a high luster, long lasting polish on unpainted aluminum clad surfaces. It should not be used on anodized surfaces because it will remove the oxide coat.

Three grades of aluminum wool, coarse, medium, and fine, are used for general cleaning of aluminum surfaces. Impregnated nylon webbing material is preferred over aluminum wool for the removal of corrosion products and stubborn paint films and for the scuffing of existing paint finishes prior to touchup.

Lacquer rubbing compound material can be used to remove engine exhaust residues and minor oxidation. Avoid heavy rubbing over rivet heads or edges where protective coatings may be worn thin.

Abrasive Papers

Abrasive papers used on aircraft surfaces should not contain sharp or needlelike abrasives which can imbed themselves in the base metal being cleaned or in the protective coating being maintained. The abrasives used should not corrode the material being cleaned. Aluminum oxide paper, 300 grit or finer, is available in several forms and is safe to use on most surfaces. Type I, Class 2 material under Federal Specification P-C-451 is available in 11/2 and 2 inch widths. Avoid the use of carborundum (silicon carbide) papers, particularly on aluminum or magnesium. The grain structure of carborundum is sharp, and the material is so hard that individual grains will penetrate and bury themselves even in steel surfaces. The use of emery paper or crocus cloth on aluminum or magnesium can cause serious corrosion of the metal by imbedded iron oxide.

Chemical Cleaners

Chemical cleaners must be used with great care in cleaning assembled aircraft. The danger of entrapping corrosive materials in faying surfaces and crevices counteracts any advantages in their speed and effectiveness. Any materials used must be relatively neutral and easy to remove. It is emphasized that all residues must be removed. Soluble salts from chemical surface treatments, such as chromic acid or dichromate treatment, will liquefy and promote blistering in the paint coatings.

Phosphoric-Citric Acid

A phosphoric-citric acid mixture (Type I) for cleaning aluminum surfaces is available and is ready to use as packaged. Type II is a concentrate that must be diluted with mineral spirits and water. Wear rubber gloves and goggles to avoid skin contact. Any acid burns may be neutralized by copious water washing, followed by treatment with a diluted solution of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).

Baking Soda

Baking soda may be used to neutralize acid deposits in lead-acid battery compartments and to treat acid burns from chemical cleaners and inhibitors.

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