Smoothing out those unwanted dents may have gotten easier
“If you have a leading edge caved in from a bird strike or some other major dent, magnets probably won’t correct the problem because the metal is too stretched and deformed,” explains Olsen. “What we do best is smooth out wing surfaces where someone has dropped a heavy tool or buffer. We also can correct most hangar rash.”
The process of dent correction with magnets is different from standard sheet-metal repair. The magnet head is charged and laid directly against the surface to be smoothed out. Then the operator pulls the trigger and fires a 400- to 550-volt electrical charge through the head and into the metal. This is a far stronger charge than any magnet most people have experienced, several thousand times beyond your typical refrigerator shopping-list magnet. The Fluxtronics “shot” requires only a few milliseconds and sounds a little like the report of a powerful staple gun.
Standard procedure is to use several small jolts of current and pull dents a little at a time rather than attempt to extract the full dent in one or two pops. “If you use too much power,” explains Olsen, “you can pull too hard and wind up actually lifting the edges of the depression, creating a kind of crater effect.”
Olsen next applied the magnetic dent remover to a small crease on top of the Mooney’s right flap. Again, the depression was barely noticeable to anyone but me. The engineer laid the Fluxtronics magnetic head flush with the surface and fired a series of pulses that gradually pulled the metal back toward its original shape. No, he didn’t completely eradicate the dent, but when he was done, the irregularity was far less noticeable.
Olsen had a collection of before-and-after photos of more dramatic dents removed from the wings and tail surfaces on Citations, Falcons and Lear Jets. If the stakes are high for conventional dent repair to personal airplanes, costs can be stratospheric on bizjets and airliners. The Fluxtronics system can often reduce the dings to a reasonable level at minimal cost.
By the time you read this, Olsen hopes to have a number of his Fluxtronics magnetic dent removal systems in place at FBOs around the U.S. In those instances when magnets can handle the repair, the process is quicker, cheaper and far less time-consuming than conventional re-skinning.
Bill Cox is entering his third decade as a senior contributor to Plane & Pilot® and provides consulting for media, entertainment and aviation concerns worldwide.