A few weeks back I had asked for some guest bloggers and a number of people took me up on the offer. Today's post is the first, in a two part series, written by Andrew Granieri. Andrew is a student at Miami University, studying Technical & Scientific Communications with a double Minor in Marketing & Entrepreneurship. He enjoys maintaining his 1986 Porsche 944 and is looking to sell his near-mint 1975 Porsche 914 to a good home! (more on this in a later post).
Spring is here, and summer is right around the corner. What better way to celebrate than giving your car some attention? My daily driver is a 1986 Porsche 944 and it was in dire need of something more than a mere wash (you can click on the picture above for a larger image).
As the photos show, dirt wasn’t my only enemy – I had oxidation to deal with as well! I set to work washing and stripping the car. A lot of people don’t realize that car wash soaps don’t necessarily strip remaining coats of wax from the car – dishwasher detergent does, though! My car was dirty enough to warrant two washings…
An easy way to tell whether or not a car still has wax on it is to look for water beading, or a lack thereof. After using the standard car wash soap, there was still a fair amount of water beading up on the surface, but after using the Ajax, there wasn’t a trace of beading. I felt like going the whole nine yards with this, so I used a clay bar on the car after drying it off!
Using a Clay Bar
Clay bar usage is still relatively new to many enthusiasts, which is a shame because it’s an easy way to brighten your car’s paint! I myself have never used clay on a car before, but I used Pinnacle poly clay and lubricant on my car, and I was impressed with the results. Even with the lubricated surface area, the clay is still sticky enough to snatch up dirt and contaminants from your car’s paint, even if they’re wedged under your clear coat! It sounds difficult, but it really isn’t!
The process is fairly simple. Spray the clay lubricant on both the bar and the surface you’re working on, then rub the clay across the paint. There are a few key things to remember:
- the clay doesn’t need a lot of pressure against the paint to work – just let it glide over the surface – if there’s no resistance, it means that area of paint is virtually free of contaminants.
- If there’s a bit of resistance, you’ve found a dirty surface; check frequently to see if the clay has brought up dirt and turn the clay to a fresh clean side when it picks up ANYTHING.
- Keep the clay bar lubricated!
Misunderstanding this procedure is what gives clay its reputation as a double-edged sword; while it’s great at trapping the dirt and grime, if you aren’t diligent in turning the clay over, you can inadvertently damage the paint by scratching it with the dirty clay! I was especially careful to turn the clay at the first sign of dirt, so my paint was scratch free – save for some trouble spots that needed polished up. Which brings me to my next point…
I needed to polish this paint!
My weapons of choice include a Porter Cable random orbital hand tool and Poorboy’s World polish products, specifically their super swirl removers, or SSR line. The most important thing to understand when working with polishes is that you should use the weakest polish that will still get the job done. When you polish a car, your goal is to remove the tiny layer of oxidized paint that lies on the surface -- use a polish that’s too weak, and you can always go up to a stronger blend. But if you start off with a strong polish that rips past the oxidized paint, it can be troublesome – and a pricey mistake, to say the least!
I used the SSR2.5 compound on the hood, and the SSR1 everywhere else. With the random orbital unit, it’s important to saturate the polish pad with the polish compound before using it; with no lubrication between the surfaces, you’ll be doing more sanding than polishing! Once it’s saturated, it’s best do polish a square area, moving the orbital in left-to-right and up-and-down motions.
Never stay in one spot! Here are some shots before the polishing…
Here’s a closer shot under the rear spoiler – oxidation is a problem here, too!
This last picture is particularly telling – I’m sure there are plenty of Porsche drivers who can sympathize with my Guards Pink hood! But there’s hope!
In this next shot, I polished only a small portion of the hood. Can you see the difference??