Ever noticed that your car looks a lot better after the tires have been “armor-all’ed”. You can wash, wax, and spit shine the body and still the vehicle doesn’t look good until the tires are shiny black. Same goes for an airplane, if it has wing de-ice boots.
The de-ice boots on the Malibu are about $9k per side for the main wings and probably a lot more than that for the tail surfaces. Bottom line…there’s a lot of money leading the way on the wings and a smart owner/pilot will take care of the investment. Mine started to look dull, so I spent the better part of an hour stripping and reconditioning the boots. I thought it was going to take much longer, but it wasn’t that hard, and it really looks good!
Taking the mystery out of the experience…it is definitely not as hard as it seems. A few pointers that will help you out:
1. Clean the airplane first. This will ensure the airplane looks perfect after the boots are shiny.
2. Use painters tape or masking tape to help keep the paint clean. It is really not hard to do since the boots are straight, and it really does help with the process.
3. Use the stripper and a few throw-away rags. I used a creeper to get the underside of the wing, and it made it a lot easier.
4. Apply only 2-3 coats of reconditioner. Using too much will make it shine more, but it will soon crack and look old if too much is applied. Less is more…
5. Do all of the work outside! It does make a mess and your hangar floor will need cleaning if you don’t do it outside. I’ve got a white-floor hangar, so there was simply no option for me.
6. Keep the airplane out of the sun, when able. The weather will fade the new shiny and you’ll want to make sure to keep your airplane looking good for a long time, if possible.
I’ve paid $150 to have my wing boots reconditioned before and thought the job was really hard. The job is simply not that hard, if you do it yourself with the tips I’ve listed above.