Black Rings Around Rivet Heads

When the Spartan is being displayed at an aviation event, I am often asked questions about products and techniques for removing those pesky black rings that appear around the heads of domed rivets. Sometimes the questions are casual in nature, coming from average aviation enthusiasts who have simply observed the Spartan seems to be devoid of those rings, while most other bare metal polished airplanes at the event seem to have them. In other instances, the questions come from desperate owners of bare metal airplanes who have spent considerable effort looking for a solution to eliminate that vexing issue. I was one of those individuals in the second group for quite a few years.

At a macro level, answering the questions is pretty easy.

  • Question – Is it possible to completely eliminate the black rings?
  • Answer – Yes, if you are willing to expend the necessary time and effort.
  • Question – Is it difficult and time consuming to eliminate the black rings?
  • Answer – It is both tedious and extremely time consuming.
  • Question – Once the rivet heads are clean, will they stay that way?
  • Answer – Well, it depends. If you continue with polishing techniques that led to the formation of the black rings in the past, you will likely have them return. On the other hand, if you alter your polishing techniques to assure there is no polish residue remaining on the surface every time you polish, you should not have the black rings in the future.

Complete elimination of the black residue around the heads of domed rivets is a worthwhile goal, albeit a somewhat difficult one to achieve.  The following video gives you an idea of the nature of the improvement.

More on this subject in the future.