By Jeff Cooper
I recently bought a plane with a dirty, greasy, oily belly. In hindsight I should have insisted that the seller clean off that mess before the sale. I didn’t and now it is my problem. And it is bad — really, really bad.
I started using mineral spirits, which worked OK. Then my 83-year-old dad introduced me to Purple Power degreaser. You can buy it at a variety of retailers including Walmart and Tractor Supply for as little as $5. At full strength it is working very well at cleaning off the stubborn grease that the mineral spirits didn’t even touch.
Spray it on, scrub the thick spots with a bristle brush (not wire brush) or a slightly abrasive cleaning pad, and wipe off. The 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 grease on the neglected belly, this has been quite a project! I can see now that the payoff will be well worth it. The only problem is, now the belly will look so much cleaner and shinier than the rest of my airplane!