that old plane smell

Discussion in 'Maintenance Bay' started by wheaties, Apr 13, 2022.

  1. wheaties

    wheaties Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2019
    Messages:
    405
    Location:
    NJ

    Display name:
    wheaties
    My 1964 plane has what I can only call a "old machine" smell. Reminds me of visiting an old Navy boat in NYC: steal, grease and oil. I don’t mind but my daughter comments every time; son pipes up too.

    It eminates from the pedals, control cables, hoses, old paint and firewall. I've taken some grease remover to some things but it still lingers.

    Anyone got any pointers?
     
  2. Salty

    Salty Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Messages:
    11,875
    Location:
    FL

    Display name:
    Salty
    Replace the carpet and any cloth upholstery
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2022
    RyanB and dmspilot like this.
  3. Daleandee

    Daleandee En-Route

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2020
    Messages:
    4,451

    Display name:
    Dale Andee
    Don't like the smell of my old plane ... don't ride in it! :)

    Just kidding, of course you want the kids to come along. New upholstery and some Febreze might help it out.
     
    Darryl Snover likes this.
  4. dmspilot

    dmspilot Final Approach

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2006
    Messages:
    5,289

    Display name:
    Blue nut of dough
    I brought the carpet from my plane home once to clean it. The smell was...not pleasant.
     
  5. Joe_B1

    Joe_B1 Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2020
    Messages:
    816
    Location:
    Near KCON

    Display name:
    Joe_B
    Thats one of the things that make old planes great! I wish they put that smell in a spray can!
     
    Brad Smith, Tantalum, ETres and 6 others like this.
  6. strangebird

    strangebird Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2012
    Messages:
    300
    Location:
    Georgia

    Display name:
    strangebird
    My 1954 C 170B had that old airplane smell, I cleaned the carpet, seats, headliner etc, and then cleaned under the floor to get as much of the gunk out of the bottom, that took care of a lot of the old smell, then opened the doors and let it air out.
    if I close it up I still can smell some of that smell,
     
  7. Bob Noel

    Bob Noel Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Messages:
    20,472

    Display name:
    Bob Noel
  8. Salty

    Salty Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Messages:
    11,875
    Location:
    FL

    Display name:
    Salty
    You have to replace the carpet and cloth. You can't clean 30 years of baked in smells.
     
    FancyG likes this.
  9. wheaties

    wheaties Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2019
    Messages:
    405
    Location:
    NJ

    Display name:
    wheaties
    The carpet was redone less than 20 years ago. It's immaculate. I'm actually blown away with the quality of the job they did.

    Guess this is better than "replace the hoses" or pull the panel to clean.
     
  10. Salty

    Salty Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Messages:
    11,875
    Location:
    FL

    Display name:
    Salty
    Once you get fuel and brake fluid, etc smells into the carpet, it doesn't much matter how it looks.

    If the seats and side panels are cloth, it'll hold the smell also.
     
  11. Huckster79

    Huckster79 Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2018
    Messages:
    2,236

    Display name:
    Huckster79
    I couldn’t agree more. When my old 47 Cessna 140 comes out of annual and they always clean the inside of the windows with plexus… it smells abhorrent as it’s such a nice smell. The right smell comes back but I help speed it up by putting some greasy rags n such in a bucket and put em in the cabin…

    I always give my shop crap for making my plane smell wierd :)

    have em put a little vicks on just below their nose…
     
    455 Bravo Uniform likes this.
  12. Joe_B1

    Joe_B1 Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2020
    Messages:
    816
    Location:
    Near KCON

    Display name:
    Joe_B
    One of the reasons I like machine shops and old gas station garages. Something about gas and oil...
     
    Huckster79 and biplanebob like this.
  13. GeorgeC

    GeorgeC Administrator Management Council Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Messages:
    4,385

    Display name:
    GeorgeC
    Smells like freedom.
     
    Tantalum, Huckster79 and RyanB like this.
  14. Brad W

    Brad W Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2019
    Messages:
    1,493
    Location:
    NE Florida

    Display name:
    BLW2
    I seriously doubt it would help for those lube oil based odors. But some of it is probably old sweat and such that this definitely will help with

    the best thing I've found to combat odors is chlorine dioxide. Companies make "bombs" for use in cars, boats, and such
    It gets into the fabric, foam, crevices, and such and kills the sources of odor such as molds, and organic stuff. Kinda leaves a "clean, sterile" smell. A little like something cleaned with bleach but not strong like that.
    This is the best of the two different times I've tried a bomb...but there are probably better ones out there. I tried another one by StarBrite, I think is the name...a boating products company. It was much smaller and didn't work even in side a car
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001U5AP8Q/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I have also used this stuff in a garden fogger.
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B010REMQ4Q/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Following the other suggestions, I would be inclined to wash carpet and anything you can get out and rinse with the Vitaloxide stuff.... or instead a pretty good pet deodorizer is Natures Miracle. That one might at least help to mask some of it even if it doesn't eliminate it.

    Would need to think harder about how it might affect avionics. It's not corrosive for limited use but I'd research that end a little more carefully for use in the plane itself but I'm fairly certain that potential risk could be minimized.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2022
  15. Joe_B1

    Joe_B1 Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2020
    Messages:
    816
    Location:
    Near KCON

    Display name:
    Joe_B
  16. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Messages:
    19,410
    Location:
    west Texas

    Display name:
    Dave Taylor
    all dis cleanin, perfect way to ensure your pax this weekend will be the weak-stomach variety.
     
  17. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2008
    Messages:
    9,504

    Display name:
    Dan Thomas
    Ozone generators are used to get odors out of houses. Pet poop and pee. Smoke. Cooking odors. I wonder if a small one would work in the airplane? Or would the ozone damage some stuff?

    Really old airplanes smell of 80/87 gasoline. Younger folks don't recognize it. A tiny fuel seep can stink up the whole airplane for a long time.
     
    RyanShort1 likes this.
  18. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy En-Route PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2018
    Messages:
    3,572
    Location:
    NEPA

    Display name:
    benyflyguy
    I agree. The club 182h has a certain olfactory patina this is distinct. Not bad. But distinct.
     
  19. texasclouds

    texasclouds En-Route

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2018
    Messages:
    2,836
    Location:
    Bryan, Texas

    Display name:
    Mark
    Electronics and butt sweat!
     
  20. nrpetersen

    nrpetersen Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2013
    Messages:
    631
    Location:
    Minnetonka MN

    Display name:
    nrpetersen
    No body has mentioned barf?
     
  21. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2015
    Messages:
    8,461

    Display name:
    asicer
    Or a few too many checkrides.
     
  22. Chrisgoesflying

    Chrisgoesflying Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2018
    Messages:
    503
    Location:
    Too far north

    Display name:
    Chrisgoesflying
    Leather seats and new (or cleaned) carpets will help. I put new carpets and side panels in our Piper Cherokee a few weeks after buying it and it had that "new car, well plane" smell for the first flight. After the first flight it just smelled like dog as our dog pretty much joins me on every flight and he has never been accused of smelling pleasant lol.
     
  23. Jim K

    Jim K En-Route PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2019
    Messages:
    3,986
    Location:
    CMI

    Display name:
    Insert cool name here
    I think a large part of it is the avionics. Those old radios have a certain smell. I always wondered if these guys who get new glass panels still get that. My Lance has a little electronics smell, and a little avgas smell, especially if I just topped her up.

    The archer was a bit more musty thanks to 10,000 hours of butt sweat and cfi coffee.
     
  24. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Messages:
    4,327

    Display name:
    mondtster
    I think leaks (fuel, oil, and water) are the primary culprits for the odors. Some aircraft stink so bad that you can just about pass out when you stick your head inside, mostly from fuel.

    I maintain and operate a dozen aircraft of various ages that don't leak and don't smell. Guess I'm missing out.
     
  25. Huckster79

    Huckster79 Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2018
    Messages:
    2,236

    Display name:
    Huckster79
    I use ozone machine all the time… I have heard it’s hard on plastics, but haven’t seen it… maybe in absurd concentrations but they do work!

    it’s basically gaseous peroxide… it’s O3, the odd number of O makes it unstable the odd ball O detaches and uses the corrosive action of O to eat the odor…
     
  26. RyanB

    RyanB Super Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Messages:
    15,267
    Location:
    Chattanooga, TN

    Display name:
    Ryan
    I think it’s largely the interior. I fly a Cherokee 180 that recently got all new interior (carpet, sidewalls etc). It smells more or less like a new airplane now.
     
  27. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2008
    Messages:
    9,504

    Display name:
    Dan Thomas
    The plastics in airplanes are usually half-shot anyway. But one wouldn't want the windows or the electronics affected.

    Old electronics: yup. I learned, when a teenager, how to fix TVs and radios. They all had a special odor. Vacuum tubes got hot and heated everything else around them. Coils, capacitors and resistors all had their odors. The old selenium rectifiers got hot too. The bakelite tube sockets gave off that burnt-electrical smell.

    Odor is one of the most powerful memory stimulants. The first things you remember are often the most evocative. I remember first the odors of dandelions, weeping willows and wild morning-glory flowers. The place we lived when I was tiny was next to the sawmill my dad worked in, so the odors of spruce and pine are also significant. The stink of 80/87 takes me back to my first flight lessons.
     
    Huckster79 likes this.
  28. flyingron

    flyingron Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2007
    Messages:
    22,879
    Location:
    Catawba, NC

    Display name:
    FlyingRon
    Navions usually have a mixture of 5056 and 100LL as their dominant aroma.
     
  29. Huckster79

    Huckster79 Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2018
    Messages:
    2,236

    Display name:
    Huckster79
    Yea I’ve used it in my old suburban that sat n got stinky, but yea I don’t think I’d risk airplane radios myself…

    I’ve read that too that smell is the most powerful memory recollector… and yea smells do take ya places from the past
     
  30. NordicDave

    NordicDave Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2015
    Messages:
    2,487
    Location:
    Monterey County

    Display name:
    NordicDave
    Yup old planes and old Ford's smell a lot alike.
     
    Huckster79 likes this.
  31. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 En-Route

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2017
    Messages:
    3,483
    Location:
    hopefully not at work

    Display name:
    Meet the Fokkers
  32. Gary Ward

    Gary Ward Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2020
    Messages:
    1,247
    Location:
    Cincinnati, Ohio

    Display name:
    Challenger1
    I remember the perfume smell from my first girlfriend.
     
    Huckster79 likes this.
  33. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Messages:
    19,410
    Location:
    west Texas

    Display name:
    Dave Taylor
    Always thought it was over-heated polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride.
    (Had to look up that name to look impressive, it’s Bakelite. If they used it in airplanes; not sure.)
     
  34. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2015
    Messages:
    8,918
    Location:
    Vail, Arizona

    Display name:
    Timbeck2
    When I bought my plane, it had a distinct odor of butt sweat and old socks. First thing I did was take out the sheepskin seat covers which got rid of 90% of the smell. Since then I've completely replaced the cloth interior with leather seats and side panels and installed new carpet and fixed the leaky fuel selector valve and brake system. That was 5 years ago. She smells like leather and bananas now. The banana smell is in the leather conditioner I use.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2022
    Rich Holt likes this.
  35. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Messages:
    8,935

    Display name:
    San_Diego_Pilot
    YES! I love that smell. I was just mentioning this to a friend of mine when we took the '67 Aztec for a flight


    ..I don't mind the smell, machines are cool
     
    Brad Smith and Huckster79 like this.
  36. Bob Noel

    Bob Noel Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Messages:
    20,472

    Display name:
    Bob Noel
    I still prefer the smell of new electronics.
     
  37. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2008
    Messages:
    9,504

    Display name:
    Dan Thomas
    As long as it isn't the smell of the magic smoke inside them.
     
    Huckster79 and Tantalum like this.
  38. Brad W

    Brad W Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2019
    Messages:
    1,493
    Location:
    NE Florida

    Display name:
    BLW2
    Whatever you do don't try one of those little tree air fresheners. I just found serious damage in my car from one of them contacting hard plastic trim. It was there for about 1-1/2 weeks, then I saw it.... don't know how long it took to happen but it was quick.
    The very thin top layer has blistered up maybe 3mm or so
     

    Attached Files:

  39. Half Fast

    Half Fast Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    May 7, 2016
    Messages:
    10,405
    Location:
    Central Florida

    Display name:
    Half Fast

    So you recommend installing a girlfriend in the plane?
     
    Jim K likes this.
  40. Jim K

    Jim K En-Route PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2019
    Messages:
    3,986
    Location:
    CMI

    Display name:
    Insert cool name here
    Always a good idea. Unless you're married...