Repairing, Cleaning, and Polishing Clear Parts

Repairing, Cleaning, and polishing clear parts and canopies.

by Dave Kopielski

I have had a few requests on how I get my canopies so clear looking. Many times the clear parts in kits can get scuffed in shipping if they are not protected or come loose. Also some jet canopies or bubble top aircraft can have a seam from the injection molding process that runs down the centerline of the canopy.

Some folks like to dip the canopies and clear parts in Pledge Future. I prefer to polish them and feel they look better and much clearer.  To start with, many vehicles today have a clear plastic cover over the headlights. Over time and driving in the elements the plastic gets foggy and starts to yellow. There are many products on the market to clean them up. These products also help us modelers as well. I have tried many products and found and that works very well on the clear styrene plastic used on the models we build. The product I use is made by Meguire’s, a company that makes many products to keep your vehicle clean, shiny and protected. The product they make is called PlastX. It is a cleaner and polish for plastic parts.

So the first part I have a clear nose for a 1/48 Monogram B-17G. The kit was bought at a goodwill store and has all the sprues loose in the box. This has caused some scuffs on the nose. The first step is to take a small dish and put a couple of drops of the PlastX on it. Then using a cotton swab I dip in the PlastX and in a circular motion I scrub and polish the affected areas then I polish the rest of the nose inside and out. After a few moments I let it dry a few minutes then use a microfiber cloth and polish and wipe clean the part.  Here are the photos of before and after.

Before polishing

Before polishing

After polishing

After polishing

For removing the seams on canopies the first step is sanding down the seam with 600 grit sandpaper. Only sand a small strip where the seam is. Once the seam is gone, the next step is to use 1000 grit sandpaper and sand in a slightly wider area than you did in the previous step. Then the next step is to wet sand with 2000 grit sandpaper in a wider section. The reason is this prevents any distortion where you removed the seam. Then as similar to removing scuffs, the PlastX is applied with a cotton swab.

The area that was sanded is cleaned and polished for a minute or two and then a quick polish of the inside and out of the canopy is done. Let dry a few minutes then polish with a microfiber cloth.

While it is difficult to see in the photos, the canopy looks clearer and has more shine to it. I typically run a quick polish over clear parts even if there is no visible scuffs as once polished they much are clearer and shine better. 

Canopy seam

Canopy seam

Seam removed

Seam removed

Polished canopy

Polished canopy

Polished canopy

Finally, once the canopy is masked and ready for paint you will need to take a cotton swap dipped in thinner or rubbing alcohol and go over the areas you will be painting. This will clean off and residue that may have built up on the frame details on the canopy. Otherwise the paint may not adhere very well.

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