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VMAR - Cleaning Model Aircraft

Question: I have a VMAR ARF model aircraft. What should I be aware of when cleaning it after flying?

Answer: Couple of general suggestions here and a few DO NOT DO caveats. See the additional information below for more details. We recommend Fantastic household cleaner and you can dilute it 50/50 with water. Always test any cleaner on a small out of view area first. Avoid overspray on plastics. Spray cleaner lightly (do NOT flood) and wipe away cleaner and dirt/oil with disposable towels as soon as possible after spraying. Do NOT NOT NOT NOT use SIMPLE GREEN, 409 or similar materials to clean a model airplane.

Additional Information: VMAR models are covered in V-Cote, POLYCOTE ECS and VCOTE-2 3DS. All of these materials are heat shrink film. V-Cote is flatter in gloss and tolerates up to 15% nitro fuel well. Higher nitro fuel can soften V-Cote graphics if allowed to sit on the surface for extended periods of time. POLYCOTE ECS is higher in gloss. VCOTE-2 3DS has a medium gloss and has 3D indentations for some panel lines and rivets. POLYCOTE and VCOTE-2 3DS can tolerate high nitro fuels and other fuel types. Always wipe away raw fuel quickly in any event.

All of these covering materials clean well with Fantastic and many other household cleaners. We recommend Fantastic diluted 50/50 with water. Always test on a small out of view area first when working with any cleaner. Do NOT flood or over spray. Avoid spraying directly on plastic components and canopies. Wipe away cleaner and residue immediately after spraying with cleaner using disposable paper towels. 

Do NOT NOT NOT use SIMPLE GREEN, 409 or similar materials to clean a model airplane. Simple Green and 409 are good products for cutting grease and other industrial/commercial type applications but they are intended for use on non-porous materials and contain powerful chemicals that are not compatible with adhesives, balsa wood and other material found in a model aircraft. Use a web search engine to search on Simple Green and/or 409 and note the warnings and chemicals appliable to these and similar products. Do NOT NOT NOT use other cleaners having similar chemicals to those found in Simple Green or 409.

Here is a link to information related to 409: http://www.biosci.ohio-state.edu/~jsmith/MSDS/FORMULA%20409%20CLEANER.htm

What can SIMPLE GREEN, 409 and similar cleaners do to your model? Well... it depends. If you are not concerned about the safety aspects of these products and spray these materials on a paper towel and then use the damp towel to wipe down your model (avoid plastics) these products seem to do a good job of cutting grease and cleaning the model and many modelers like these cleaners. However, if you spray the material on to the model rather than the towel, you run the risk of the cleaner running into seams, cavities, hinge slots, covering joints and onto plastic components etc. These type of cleaners are intended for non-porous materials and if they wick or run into adhesive joints, hinge slots or under covering they can loosen the covering (this has been going on for years and modelers sometimes fight back with CA on the joint) AND react with some adhesives to soften and weaken the bond. We have also seen these type of cleaners react with adhesive commonly used to glue hinges and canopies into place and leave an ugly looking dark green stain under the covering where it has wicked further into the wooden substrate. This cannot be repaired and will continue to spread if more Simple Green, 409 or similar cleaner finds its way into the same area. We have also seen these type of cleaners attack plastic... generally the plastic does not dissolve or soften, instead it gets dry, hard, brittle and will over time crack and flake off.

In summary it would be best to use the cleaner and the techniques we recommend. If you are fond of your particular cleaner then at least make sure you follow the techniques we have outlined above. Test first. Do not flood or overspray. Wipe away quickly. Best to spray on the towel rather than the model. Make sure no cleaner can get into the model substrate such as the balsa or plywood materials... stay away from hinge slots, seams, cavities, joints, adhesive bonds etc. Protect plastics from direct contact with cleaners and/or long term exposure to cleaners.

Related Articles:

For each type of covering we use, there may be additional articles related to cleaning that particular covering. To check for Related Articles please use the Search tool near the top left of the Knowledge Base window and search on the word "Clean". Type just the letters Clean (clean) into the search box and then click on the button marked Search. The search tool will return a list of articles having "Clean" in the header or body. We suggest reviewing the articles related to the covering on your particular model.

 

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