First, our congratulations on finding an affordable way to gain aircraft ownership, based on such a great airplane. I highly recommend that you and your partners join the Beech Aero Club ( You will find hours and hours of historical information and other reading material that will help you save money (and improve aircraft reliability) during your period of ownership. Unless everyone just wants their own log-on capability, you could all chip in on a membership for your most technically capable member. But I have to say that all of you would find a great deal of helpful and educational information on the care and operation of your airplane. Most owners also find more affordable insurance through the Club's featured agency, though that can't be guaranteed.

You will probably get a dozen or more responses to this, containing everyone's favorite exterior care material, and that's fine; there are many good products out there. I will just outline some basics. There are companies such as Aircraft Spruce and Chief Aircraft that you can visit online, and view or order a wide range of products. Their links (and many more) are on the BAC website.

First, the difference between polish and wax:

Polish is primarily a cleaning and smoothing material. It can take many forms, including just a liquid, but in its most common form it is a runny material like batter, or a thin paste. It can also be in a can as a soft paste. In these forms it contains a very fine abrasive. In order of "coarseness", the range is from "rubbing compound", through "polishing compound", to toothpaste. While rubbing compound will cut off surface dullness the fastest, it is far too easy to actually go through to metal on a plane, on which the paint film is usually pretty thin (including for weight reasons. Polishing compound is much finer and slower acting, but if you follow the directions you can use a power buffing wheel, which will tremendously speed up the initial cleaning and polishing. Or you can just have the traditional ramp party and provide the drinks and hot dogs, and do it the old-fashioned way.

Wax is a coating that is applied after cleaning and polishing, to provide a protective film. The life span of a wax job varies tremendously. So does the degree of labor required to apply it. There is also a new product on the market called Rejex, that is really quite remarkable. It is applied from a spray bottle and buffed in, after the plane has been cleaned/polished. It works remarkably well, and has a much longer life span than wax (in my experience). It also keeps many contaminants from sticking, and makes it much easier to remove anything that does stick.

PLEASE NOTE! You must not get any of these common products on the acrylic windows! Window damage may appear immediately, or may not show up for years, but unless the product is an aviation product labeled as being safe for acrylic windows, don't use it on the glass. There are specialty products sold that are intended to help polish out the windows.

If, unlike most of us, you have more money than time, there are a few companies that specialize in restoring the appearance of faded planes. By all accounts they do a terrific job, but they aren't cheap. Estimates I have seen have ranged from $350 to $600.

And finally, some remaining observations that are based on 18 years of personal experience as well as that of some now-gone aviation graybeards:
Try to avoid cleaning the windows when they are completely dry. The best time is during or following a rain, when the contaminants have had a good while to soften up. When you do wash them, use lots of running water and your bare hand. You can feel any contaminants with your fingertips, and can gently rub them away. Then follow this up with a good plastic polish that fills small scratches. Never use anything but soft 100% cotton on the windows, and make sure that those cloths never get used for any other purpose.
The easiest way to provide ongoing maintenance of a major wax and polish is to use Pledge spray wax. I know that this is an exception to the cautions against non-aviation products, but it works remarkably well. While it is hard to fins anymore, the original Pledge, without the Lemon or other additives, is the safest bet. Pledge is as easy to use on a plane as it is on a table at home; just a small amount gets applied and buffed around. It is almost effortless, yet it really smoothes out and shines up the plane (including the windows). A towel won't stay on the wing after it has been Pledged, and the Pledge will also do light cleaning.
I rarely wash my plane. I see no need to put more water on something that I do my best to keep dry when it is on the ground. I use wipe-on, wipe-off aircraft cleaners like Zep or some of the newer ones. This approach can greatly reduce the opportunity for corrosion in places like lap joints. If you do wet the plane, or it is tied down outside, do your best to take it on a flight as soon as you can after a wash or rain. Go as high as you can, and stay up for a half-hour or more. The in-flight airframe attitude, the high airflows of flight, and the lower humidity of altitude are the only conditions that will really dry a plane out thoroughly. This will greatly reduce any tendency toward lap joint and filiform corrosion. It is also healthy for the engine, as it dries out the oil.
I strongly recommend an anti-corrosion treatment, using Corrosion X or ACF 50, unless a treatment is shown in the aircraft logs during the past two or three years.

Enjoy your ownership!

----- Original Message -----
From: aikey55
Sent: Tuesday, May 03, 2005 1:16 PM
Subject: [musketeermail] Detailing Info

Hello all!

I'm a very green student pilot and I have just purchased a 1/4 of a
1963 Beech 23 Musketeer. It has probably been kept outside all of its
life and needs some TLC on the exterior.

I was wondering what for advice you can give me after I wash it such
as type of wax to use, etc. Is automotive wax okay to use on it?

Thank you very much, this group looks like an excellent source of
information and I'm sure I'll be continuing to seek your advice in the

Dan Aikey
York, PA

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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