Degreasing the plane's belly - what do you use?

What Do you use to clean the underside of your plane? Any special tools or products?

Last night I decided it was time to clean the belly of my Cherokee Six. So I grabbed a bucket, some Fleet Wash, a collection of rags, a spray bottle of diluted Simple Green Extreme (the airplane version, not the original version), a creeper (I invested in a Harbor Freight model 67449 after my Craftsman creeper's wheels kept coming off!) and taxied the plane to the airports wash rack.

I use the diluted Simple Green Extreme to attack stubborn grease/oil spots, though most of the grime comes off with a rag and the Fleet wash suds.
The drawback with this process is that you get soaked laying on your back under the plane, and when you get the soap in your eyes, it really stings. I have tried safety glasses, only to get fogged up and unable to see - perhaps swimming goggles are needed!

I have tried engine degreasing spray and also scrubbing bubbles - but have not been that impressed with the results.

Has anyone found a good technique to clean the underside of their plane which was less arduous than sliding around on a creeper?

..Now time to enjoy the increased speed since I have removed all of grime which *must* have caused a lot of parasitic drag!

Comments

  • 100LL has been used in the past. Not the most enviromentally friendly or convienent for use, but effective and quick for the most part. If your plane is waxed, it will tend to remove the film of wax with it, but maybe the other cleaners do that too.
  • Yeah - 100LL works - and there is a convenient dispenser underneath the wing! But it will remove paint too...

    I was hoping to hear from anyone whom has found some 'sticky' product, perhaps something similar to Scrubbing Bubbles - the foam will stick to the underside of the plane making it easier to clean.
  • Mineral spririts and paper towels.
    Wipe, dry.
    Follow with cleaner-wax ... I like Meguaries.
    Fast and easy.
  • Vel has it right. Mineral spirits. You can put it in a pump up sprayer and a few rolls of paper towels...
  • 3-30 from Winfield Brooks company. Aluminum safe and pure magic - also environmentally responsible. Dilute to the concentration needed. Nothing stands up to 50-50 and I typically use 20%.
  • 78TARROW - can you recommend any supplies of the 3-30 from Winfield Brooks company?
    I did some searching on the internet and not finding any retailers with this product.
    Aircraft Spruce and Chief don't seem to carry this.

    Thanks,

    Andy
  • I got the stuff direct from the company. The Aviation version of the product is called "SkyRite" but it's all the same stuff. Contact the manufacturer direct on their website. Shipping can be expensive but I got a bunch of it. My I&A works on C-12's (KingAir 200's) for the Navy and he turned me on to this stuff. It's magic - they buy it in 55gal drums.
  • Good old Simple Green makes a degreaser specifically for use on airplanes. Works Great!
  • Forgot to mention Racer Glaze Wax. Simply as good as it gets. Kind of hard to find but worth it.
  • I recently bought a Cherokee 140 with a dirty, greasy, oily belly. In hindsight I should have insisted that the seller clean off that mess before the sale. But I didn't... and now it is my problem. And it is bad, really, really bad. :-(

    I started using mineral spirits, which did work OK. But then my 83 year old dad introduced me to "Purple Power" degreaser. You can buy it at Walmart and Tractor Supply Co. for $5-$8. At FULL STRENGTH it is working very well, cleaning off the stubborn grease that the mineral spirits didn't even touch. Spray on, scrub the thick spots with a bristle brush (not wire brush) or a slightly-abrasive cleaning pad, and wipe off. Really thick spots can be tackled with a plastic putty knife first, before spraying on the degreaser, scrubbing, and wiping. Just repeat the process until you can simply wipe the rest of the black oil, dirt, and grease off and reveal the nice white surface underneath!

    I plan to polish or wax the surface after it is nice and clean to make it easier to keep clean in the future. Due to the extent of the neglected belly this has been quite a project! But I can see now that the payoff will be well worth it. The only problem is... then the belly will look so much cleaner and shinier than the rest of my airplane! :-) I hope my experience with this helps someone else!




  • I use Aero Glase dry wash purchased from Sporty’s. Once the belly is cleaned it makes future cleanings much easier (spray and wipe).

  • Thanks for your recommendations, fellows. Much appreciated as I have to clean my airplane soon. :)

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • I have been using Simple green for airplanes for years, but it does take off the wax. I just started using Carbon X and so far it seems to work great.

  • I was talking to my flight instructor and he said he uses WD-40 on his plane belly and it works well. I haven't tried it yet, but intend to.

  • If you mix WD-40, Simple Green or Carbon X with Jack Daniels in a glass the plane comes out much cleaner much quicker. :)

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • Scott;
    Drink that and your intestines will come out much cleaner much quicker too! :)

    Jim "Griff" Griffin
    PA28 - 161
    Chicago area

  • Try not to confuse the small container with the big one, lol :)

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • Extreme Simple Green for aircraft works great for belly grease. A few sprays then spread it around with a brush and the grease will come off with a garden sprayer.




  • Wow, very impressive. Six pics worth a thousand words! :)

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • We use Goop hand cleaner. A 50 year pilot told me about it after he chastised me for using regular gas. Just smear on, wipe off.

  • Once you get it all cleaned off...

    Maybe for a prophylaxis one should use an air/oil separator? I'm thinking about this for our plane and getting the partners to agree...

  • I have had air/oil separators on my last two airplanes, including my current Arrow. No oil on the belly! :) They're made by AirWolf, here's a link: http://www.airwolf.com/aw/products/air-oil-separators

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

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