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The Nail Polish Trick

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Nail Polish on Engine Mounting Bolt
Large Scale R/C airplanes usually require large engines. Large engines usually mean vibration! Vibration can be a big problem for any airplane, especially trying to keep fasteners tight. Using Nail Polish can help!

Here's how:

Using Nail Polish as a Bolt/Nut Tightness Indicator

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Nail Polish on DLE-111.
Nail Polish can be used on bolts and nuts to indicate if they have moved or become loose. Just brush some nail polish across the bolt and the mounting surface or the nut and mounting surface and the nail polish will dry and harden. The Nail Polish will remain in place as long as the bolt/nut doesn't move or loosen. If the bolt/nut does move or loosen, the Nail Polish will chip or peel. As long are the Nail Polish remains intact, you know that everything is tight. Check out the picture on the left: Here we have a DLE-111 Engine mounted to a 35% Aeroworks Extra Airframe. The engine is fastened using a hex bolt, a lock washer and a flat washer. Nail Polish(I've used bright red so that it is easy to see in the pictures) has been applied in such a way as to cover part of each component (The hex bolt, lock washer, flat washer, and engine mount frame). If at any time, the continuity of the Nail Polish is broken or chipped, one of the components has moved or loosened.

Another Example

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Nail Polish as an Indicator
Here is another example on a pull-pull linkage. The Bright Red Nail Polish has been applied across the ball link, nut, and brass pull-pull connector. If at any time, the Nail Polish chips or peels, you know that one of the linkage components may have moved or loosened and should be checked.

Using Nail Polish as a Thread Locking Compound on Removable Bolts

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Nail Polish can also be used as a type of thread locking compound. It works especially well on screws and bolts that are removed often. Obviously Nail Polish is not a "true" tread locking compound and it shouldn't be used in areas that require a true thread locking compound (Example: Engine mounting bolts, Servo Arm hold down screws, etc). Nail Polish performs well on areas like Cowl, Canopy and Access Panel bolts and screws. It is not as strong as regular thread locking compound, but it offers some benefits over regular thread locking compound.

    Here are a few benefits:
  • Provide vibration dampening to threads/Keeps threads tight.
  • Easy to remove - this is especially true for small screws.
  • Dries fast - (5-10mins) Great for using at the field.
  • It doesn't damage threads.

Additional Hints

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Here are some additional hints for using Nail Polish:

  • Use a high quality Nail Polish - cheap Nail Polishes do not work as well.
  • If using as a thread locking compound, you will notice that you do not need to use the Nail Polish everytime you remove the screws. After a few times, some of Nail Polish residue stays on the screw and provides the same thread locking benefits.
  • Available in many different colours.