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Old 08-17-2006, 11:50 AM   #1
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Detailing, clear-coat care

I browsed through some old threads on detailing here (and some on autopia) and couldn't find an answer to a basic question I have.

I rarely see people here (and, say, autopia) discuss how much a certain abrasive process (washing with Dawn, claying, polishing by hand, by a machine, etc.) irreversibly eats up layers of the original clear-coat. The way I understand, swirl marks aren't really "removed", are they? Clear-coat is actually stripped to even out with the bottom of the swirl channel, right? One definitely removes more clear-coat with a machine than by hand, right?

I mostly read about "results" such as how much the car sparkles and shines after a process has been applied, but would be curious to learn if there is a way to estimate at what level of "clear-coat consumption" that has been achieved. Haven't found one so far.

I've had my black 987S for three months now, have bought a reasonable amount of detailing products, have some more on order. So far have been washing it with the Porsche (P21S?) wash soap, waxed it with the Porsche (P21S?) wax, and then after a month or so re-waxed it with Meguiars NXT wax. Used the Porsche wax on the wheels, as well, and that has kept away break dust and rust very well. Still haven't clayed it (I cringe by the very sound of it) nor have I used any abrasive polish (I have the 3M Hand Glaze). The whole front (bumper, hood, fenders) is clear-bra-ed and I only use Plexus for that half of the car. Still unsure as to what my routine shall/will be and with what products. My goals in order of priority are:

1. least time-consuming (my GF feels entitled to a massage of equal time-length )
2. least clear-coat consuming
3. longest lasting protection
4. nice shine

My situation:
The car is stored inside during the workweek and parked outside and driven every weekend -- quite a lot! I can probably get away with spending 1hr per weekend "massaging" it -- beyod that it eats up too much into my driving time and GF time for the weekend.

Any suggestions?
Thx.

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Old 08-17-2006, 11:54 AM   #2
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Perfectlap will surely come to your rescue.
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Old 08-17-2006, 12:05 PM   #3
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One more thing...

To take it in/out of storage I have to drive it on a slightly dusty gravel road for about 100 yards every weekend. So it would be nice if the routine can take this into consideration.
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Old 08-17-2006, 12:13 PM   #4
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Having a black car is going to require a lot more work and attention.

I have been using the Zaino products since my car was new in March. I love the results. Try www.zainobros.com.

Your car is brand new. So, I don't think you need to clay. At a recent Concours event I attended with the PCA (where I took 2nd place for Class C- interior, exterior and trunks) I was told by several people that they never use clay.

If you go the Zaino route, you really only need Z5 and Z2. If you want you can use the Z6 between layers or for quick touch-ups.

The Z7 car wash is great.

I would also recommend that you get Ragg Topp, and apply 3 coats, soon.

Good luck.

PS- you can cancell the gym membership! You have a black car now...that's all the work-out you'll ever need. Biceps the size of tree trunks are in your future.

My Day was right many years ago, when he told me, "Everyone owns a black car once in their lives!"

PPS- don't listen to Perfectlap...all he will tell you is to put side skirts on your car!!
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Old 08-17-2006, 12:14 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by z12358
To take it in/out of storage I have to drive it on a slightly dusty gravel road for about 100 yards every weekend. So it would be nice if the routine can take this into consideration.

Hose down the gravel like the ground-crews do in baseball!!
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Old 08-17-2006, 12:28 PM   #6
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"I would also recommend that you get Ragg Topp, and apply 3 coats, soon."

If that's smth for the roof, I applied the Porsche Top Protectant just couple of weeks ago. I put a nice layer of it, and water beads like crazy up there. I'll check out Ragg Top. Thx.

As for owning a black car, yes it may require more attention but even without perfect detail it still looks so darn good. I also get a kick out of the before/after contrast especially when "before" gets a bit more dirty (sprinkle rain over a coat of dust with some road splater from driving in the rain, ouch!). The "after" wows me every time even if it's just a simple wash and rinse.
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Old 08-17-2006, 12:56 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by z12358
"I would also recommend that you get Ragg Topp, and apply 3 coats, soon."

If that's smth for the roof, I applied the Porsche Top Protectant just couple of weeks ago. I put a nice layer of it, and water beads like crazy up there. I'll check out Ragg Top. Thx.
Sounds like you have the roof/top well protected. Good job. The factory coating just does not bead! Kind of surprising.
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Old 08-17-2006, 01:13 PM   #8
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actually claying is your biggest ally...

there is the soft clay like Sonus Green and the traditional clay. Polutants dull your clear coat so the base layer doesn't shine as bright. done properly (lots of lubrication) there is little damage to the clear coat and you maintain the shine.
Claying with the soft compound won't strip your wax. The over the counter clays are harder and are intened for a deeper clean.


Your biggest enemy with black is washing and excessive detailing. Its a double whammy. Errors are magnified and the results don't last because..its black!
Unless you are sporting the Boxster for a special occasion I would not touch it between washes. If you do decide to shine it up make sure each panel is wet with a detailing spray or some other form of lubrication. Dampen the towel as well.
Basically never touch dark dry paint with a dry towel.

My suggestion is to try using a waterless wash like Optimum No Rinse, Detailers Pride or Poorboys. I would use the traditonal wash only when the car gets really really filthy. When you do use a traditional car wash soap remove the nozzle and blot dry after flooding the surface to sheet off the water. Blot dry remaining beads or puddles, never wipe. Avoid using paste waxes or polishes more than once a month, try sticking to the spray form of any product, it will cut down on the rubbing of the paint. Also get the best quality towels you can buy, I like the Poorboys with silk binding, Poorboys waffle weaves for drying and a dedicated buffing towel when the car is CLEAN.

Being careful in the washing and drying is the key to making the clear coat last.
Personally I would follow up with Poorboys Natty's Blue(once a month) and top that with FK 425 spray wipe to ward off dust build up, a barrier of sorts. That's it.
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Old 08-17-2006, 02:16 PM   #9
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"Polutants dull your clear coat so the base layer doesn't shine as bright. done properly (lots of lubrication) there is little damage to the clear coat and you maintain the shine."

I don't mean to be a pain, but this is exactly where my logic stops working. The way I understand it, I want the clay to be abrasive enough (which means not too lubricated) to even out the clear-coat by stripping a miniscule layer of it away. Now if I put a lot of lubrication, then there's no abrasion, so what's the point of claying to begin with? I either want to abrasively even out the clear-coat or I don't. Are you talking about controlling the abrasiveness with the amount of lubricant we apply?

"Claying with the soft compound won't strip your wax. The over the counter clays are harder and are intened for a deeper clean."

Just to make sure I understand this. Claying is NOT supposed to strip the wax? How will it clean and even out the clear-coat under it then? Also what is the difference between clay, glaze, and polish? From what I can understand, they are all clear-coat abrasives with decreasing levels of abrasiveness (starting from clay down to polish, as the least abrasive).

"Unless you are sporting the Boxster for a special occasion I would not touch it between washes. If you do decide to shine it up make sure each panel is wet with a detailing spray or some other form of lubrication. Dampen the towel as well.
Basically never touch dark dry paint with a dry towel."


Understood and applied in principle. Thx for the dampening tips.

"My suggestion is to try using a waterless wash like Optimum No Rinse..."

Just ordered it, mainly because you've been suggesting it elsewhere. I like all the talk about its lubricity.

"When you do use a traditional car wash soap remove the nozzle and blot dry after flooding the surface to sheet off the water. Blot dry remaining beads or puddles, never wipe."

Intuitively have been rinsing off without the nozzle BUT have been WIPING the drops off with a P21S chamois. I think between the synthetic sponge (just ordered a natural sea one) and the chamois that's what had produced the barely noticable swirls I can notice under a strong sun reflection. I think the drying part is tricky because I'm borderline breaking the "don't touch with dry towel rule". I'm AM trying to dry the darn thing after all.

"Avoid using paste waxes or polishes more than once a month, try sticking to the spray form of any product, it will cut down on the rubbing of the paint. "

Have only been using liquid wax so far (once P21S, once Meguiars NXT), and I just ordered the Meguiars NXT Spray Wax for touch up detailing between waxes. Says it has slight polishing (swirl removing) agents in it.

"Also get the best quality towels you can buy, I like the Poorboys with silk binding, Poorboys waffle weaves for drying and a dedicated buffing towel when the car is CLEAN."

Ah, wish I hadn't just ordered a set of Cobra micro-fiber towels (including a waffle-weave one). I'll try the Poorboys after I use up these.

"Being careful in the washing and drying is the key to making the clear coat last."

Yes. Seems the name of the game is producing as little swirls as possible so that you won't have to use up clear-coat in order to "remove" them later.

And I'm getting the FK 425, too, since you've praised it more than once. Should especially help to ward off dust from the dirt road section.

Thanks much. Really appreciate it.
Z.
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Old 08-17-2006, 02:30 PM   #10
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What exactly will you be "claying" off! Your car is brand new, and stored indoors. Driven on weekends and nice days. I think you should just keep her clean and wax it.

Sounds like you are following the good advice from Perfectlap. I'd just skip the clay step. Just my opinion.

I have almost 5,500 miles on my car in about 5 months. There ain't a thing on the paint, except Zaino! Why would I need to clay? Or you for that matter.
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Old 08-17-2006, 03:33 PM   #11
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Hmmm...Claying isn't at all an abrasive process. It more of a "Pressure" dynamic.
You are trying to squeeze out anything that lies between the clear coat and the clay. If you squeeze without lubrication you are likely to marr.

Its sort of like an ice skate. The heat of the blade melts the ice below the blade and the skate glides across the ice.
If ice weren't "slippery" then it would be like skating on sand. Not gonna work.

Using the softer green clay will clear off anything that lies on top of the wax.
Using the harder yellow/red/blue/grey/white clay clears off anything that lies above the clear coat.

Claying is the best thing you can do for your paint. I'll take clay over a wax or polish any day. The guy who started the Autopia site says today's clear coats have made most waxes obsolete. A good once over with Clay and the shine is restored. 90% of what is removed from Claying is pollution, if you live near an airport and have never clayed you would need a few bars. The polutants in the air are what cloud the clarity of the clear coat. Not really so much the sediments from the road and the stones from surrounding landscape. You ALWAYS want to clay before applying any wax, rubbing on the paint will dislodge the micro sediments that didn't come off in the wash and will give your wax applicator a nice sand paper dynamic

Now swirls are another matter. And I'm of the opinino that your chamois is no friend. The Chamois squeaks which is NO GOOD. Absorbers and Chamois should only be used on the canvas top and glass, no paint. When you hear that squeaking you can bet there is some micro marring going on. Maybe not so noticeable but over time it builds up. For drying you should be blotting as little as possible with as small a section of waffle weave as possible.

As far as the differences between polishes and waxes etc. here are their purposes and they should be used in this order

1. Swirl Remover (rounds the edges, Poorboys SSR line)
2. Polish (deep cleans the paint, Klasse AIO, Zaino, Werkstatt Prime, Menzerma)
3. Sealant (encapsulates the clear coat from the elements, involves curing time Werkstatt Trigger, Menzerma FMJ, Zaino, Poorboys EXP)
4. wax: carnauba or synthetic (dresses the paint, no protection P21s,S100, Nattys Blue, FK Pink Wax, FK 1000P, Zaino)
5. anti static topper (FK 425 can't think of another due to patents)

The meguiars NXT combines many of the above in one step. Cleans, Shines and protects. That's why I don't use it on paint, I like to control each stage with my preferred product rather than trying to do it all at once. But its very good at hiding swirls on dark paint. Great at protecting wheels too. But I personally wouldn't use it regularly due to its cleaning properties, if it has abrasives skip it.

if you want a boost in the shine but don't want to break out the wax try using a spray wax like Duragloss Aqua Wax, Optimum Car Wax or Zaino Z8 (Zaino is a bit finicky about what its used over so if you go Zaino you need to go all the way).
The other two mentioned are top notch as well and get along well and are cheap. I would top those with FK 425, I didn't do this once only to find a thin film of soot on my paint the next morning. When you apply the 425 and feel the paint you'll know what I'm talking about, its like teflon.
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Old 08-17-2006, 03:38 PM   #12
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Good post Perfectlap. Maybe next year or the one after that, and I'll do a clay step.

As for the ice skate analogy, I think the pressure of the blade on the ice, melts the ice, and the concaved shaped of the blade glides over a thin film of water.
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Old 08-17-2006, 03:54 PM   #13
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ah that's right. For the record I have Hockey skates.

interestingly enough I've always thought that white is a color that benefits most from claying. The pop of that color really lives and dies by the clarity of its clear coat.

p.s.
I spend more time writing about cleaning my car than actually cleaning it!
That's why I love silver.
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Old 08-17-2006, 03:55 PM   #14
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"What exactly will you be "claying" off! Your car is brand new, and stored indoors. Driven on weekends and nice days. I think you should just keep her clean and wax it.

Sounds like you are following the good advice from Perfectlap. I'd just skip the clay step. Just my opinion."


bmussatti, I agree on the claying. Glad I'm in agreement with a 2nd place Concours winner. I was just curious to learn more.

Honestly, while reading autopia, I was a bit apprehensive about all the PorterCable-whipping cowboys. This is one of the reasons why I would rather not let any of them detail my car. Applying too many abrasives at thousands of rpm too often can only hurt the clear-coat not "improve" it, imho. As in many other things in life, LESS is probbably more. I'm glad perfectlap and you seem to be suggesting the same Zen.

Thx for the Zaino tip. I've been thinking about it but still have reservations mostly about the initial effort needed, the sensitivity to precision in the process (easy to screw up), and the difficulty in removing it or combining with other products. The pics with Zaino I've seen are unquestionably good, though.
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Old 08-17-2006, 04:10 PM   #15
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bmussatti:
"I have almost 5,500 miles on my car in about 5 months."


Almost 3,000 in about 3 months here -- weekends only.
I just love how the engine increasingly loosens up and sounds more inviting above 5k rpms with every new weekend.
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Old 08-17-2006, 04:43 PM   #16
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well just for others to note I do not recommend the use of any waxes particularly paste waxes without first claying your car. If you drive your car outdoors at all there will be sediments on your paint surface kicked up from vehicles in front and from oncoming traffic. always smart and time saving to clay while you wash your car and then do a second wash to rinse away the sediments. Those critters are microscopic.

As far as PC buffers its not so damaging certainly not permanent. The orbital action of the polisher means there is little danger in damaging the clear coat, just takes allot longer to round out the swirls. A rotary buffer on the other hand is much faster but can incur big time damage in the wrong hands. The thing to remember is that if you have moderate to heavy swirling you will need to start off with as mild(least abbrasive)formula as possible so that you aren't neelesly cutting away too much clear coat and then graduate to a more abbrasive formula if the job wasn't done in the first go. Stepping up the abrasiveness WILL require that you finish off with as a mild a formula available to remove any swirls that you may have induced in stepping up the abrrasives. Its either a 1 step or 3 step process no in between.
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Old 08-17-2006, 05:12 PM   #17
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perfectlap:
If you drive your car outdoors at all there will be sediments on your paint surface kicked up from vehicles in front and from oncoming traffic.


Since I have the clear-bra all over the front, I assume this makes not-claying the front (where most of those sediments would fall) less of an issue.

As for the rest of the body, I hope the protection of the "protective" wax coat would do the job of keeping the sediments from sticking to the paint. If this doesn't seem to work, I'll re-consider accordingly. Basically using the same principle of applying the least abrasive procedure first and increasing the aggressiveness only if needed.

Really do appreciate all the good advice you've been giving.
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Old 08-17-2006, 06:08 PM   #18
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THere isn't a single prodcut on the market that will keep sediments from bonding.
Also unless you drive your car in a vaccuum, sediments will blow all over your car,
the canvas, glass, wheels, trunk, hood etc.

But again man made pollutants are the big enemy to the clear coat not really so much the naturally occuring blow off.

This is a good kit for decontaminating the finish

http://www.fk1usa.com/decontamination-airbourne.htm

http://www.fk1usa.com/products-professional.htm

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