As I have ventured into more Electric powered flight I have acquired more and more foam aircraft. Foamies are great as they are durable, easily repairable in most cases and very light. Foam is also easier for manufacturers to shape into all sorts of shapes and allows them to mold in a lot of intricate detail if desired. Sometimes the downside of foamies is that the foam tends to get dirt and dust embedded in it, grass stains and other scuff marks etc… As well, whatever paint has been applied often wears away quickly. That’s not a big deal when the plane is the $30 variety but as the foam and electric planes get bigger, more detailed, and more expensive, you tend to become more interested in preserving them. Even my T28, which is cheap at twice the cost (but don’t tell Parkzone) gets dirty and ugly far to fast in my opinion. I am on my third and have probably 1000 total flights on them, and wanted a way to protect the latest edition.
I have seen folks using a clear spray coating of either urethane or something similar but it can damage the foam (either the spray itself or sometimes the propellant used). As well, many of these eventually yellow and are hard to remove once that occurs. Looking for something better, I ran across some information recommending a coating of Pledge Future floor polish to help preserve the foam and whatever finish has been applied to it. I hunted a bit and found the product had since been renamed and re-marketed as Pledge Multi Surface Floor Cleaner so I went out an hunted down a bottle and first did a test coat on a scrap of foam with promising results.
I have since coated part of my FlyZone Tidewater and all of my Parkzone T28 with it and I have to say the surface seems to be quite tough and very slick and shiny. In both cases I covered the airplanes by simply painting it on with a foam brush but you really can’t tell that by looking at them. I have read that many folks have applied it with an air brush with great results as well but aside from giving you a thinner and lighter coating (which may be important to you if weight is a critical in your application), I don’t think you will be able to tell the difference in finish as the product seems to be self leveling in nature and I ended up with a very smooth, slick finish on both aircraft. Here’s a view of the T28… it may be hard to tell from this but the finish is much slicker now than it was before.
So aside from a small amount of weight there are a couple possible downsides to watch out for. As I learned first hand on the Tidewater, the paint on your foamy may be soluble by the coating! Yep, the paint on the Tidewater started running as soon as I applied the “Future”. So test first with a very small amount of finish in an unobtrusive spot before applying widely. With care, I did manage to coat all of the colored areas with a minimum of runs (a bit of dabbing with a paper towel works wonders). On the plus side the T28 finish had no issues at all.
Secondly, while the viscosity of the product (just a bit thicker than water) lends itself well to application via foam brush or airbrush, it also can run easily so apply lightly. The good news is a little reapplication will often soften the area and allow the aforementioned self leveling to occur. If worse comes to worse, ammonia based cleaners will take it off so you can start over! Keep this in mind while cleaning the aircraft in the future as many window type cleaners will contain ammonia and dull or remove the finish.
Based on my experience so far, I’m planning on having a buddy do a coat of Future with an air brush for my Carbon Z Cub. He has more experience with air brushing than I so once I do a little bit of customization/decoration I plan on handing it off to him for the actual application.
If you need to get some Pledge Multi Surface to try it out for yourself and can’t easily find it locally, here’s a link to Amazon for the correct product. Pledge Floor Care Multi-Surface Finish
It’s cheaper there than I found it locally, even with shipping! I’ll update this post with my experience once flying season is in full swing. Please comment with your own experience here as well.