CLASSIC DETAILS - The Basics

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CLASSIC DETAILS - The Basics

Post by PoshTwit » Fri Mar 28, 2014 9:13 am

© Richard March 2014
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The Basics

Everyone likes a clean car, it shows you take care of your things and care about the image you portray. But there are those who like to go a step further - who treat their Pride and Joy as a member of the family; have something special tucked away for the weekend, sunny days or Car Shows; or just relish the attention that an immaculate vehicle undeniably brings.

Although Car Detailing has the appearance of being new on the scene, it has been around for as long as the car in one form or other. There have always been people that like to take extra care of their vehicle to extend its’ lifetime and in the same way that many owners develop “mechanical sympathy” for their cars, so some feel that their paintwork requires the same treatment.
This article is designed to be the first in a series and will therefore cover the basics:

The Right Tools for the Job

It seems that the days are gone when we would all spend our Sunday mornings carefully washing and polishing our cars, ready for that weekly trip out or in preparation for the week ahead. Suburban streets no longer ring to the sound of a soapy sponge splashing back into the washing-up bowl, or a damp chamois leather slapping against a freshly scrubbed wing, and in the mind of a Detailer (be they Professional or hobbyist) that is a good thing – I shall explain…

Soapy water:

It is well known that a nice “sudsy” mixture will help lift dirt from a surface and also lubricate to some extent allowing bits to slide off. However, as with everything, there are the right tools for the job. Ordinary washing-up liquid contains salt and harsh de-greasers that will abrade your paintwork and begin to dull the appearance of your nice, shiny car. For the sake of a few pounds, get the right stuff! Proper car shampoo (and there are a myriad of options, all with their own merits) has been endlessly researched and tested to be kind to your paint. Whilst everyone will find their own preference based on budget, colour, size/shape of the bottle and sometimes even smell, at least we now know that we are using the right stuff!

Sponges and Chamois Leathers:

If you want to limit the microscopic damage caused by rubbing dirt across your paint, you need to choose something with a nice, deep, fluffy pile that will lift the particles away from the car’s surface and hold it within its’ fibres until you rinse it out. The thing that your traditional sponges and chamois leathers lack is any pile at all so just think of your poor car having thousands of tiny bits of grit scratched across it whilst you merrily press a little bit harder to scrape off the birds’ mess that has been there for a month!
Microfibre wash mitts and pads are now incredibly popular, and are designed to do the job properly, and a microfibre drying towel will absorb so much water that you will wonder why you ever bothered with that dried-up bit of cow.

Buckets and bits:

Whilst it’s all very well using your freshly purchased toys to wash your car as you were - merrily dunking and re-dunking your plush wash mitt into a bucket of silky, sudsy shampoo – just think what is happening to all that dirt that is now being trapped by your mitt and rinsed out? It is going straight back into the shampoo ready to be picked-up by your mitt and dragged across your car again, in some cases along with the remnants of last night’s takeaway where the washing-up bowl is still employed!!
You will have heard talk of the “2-bucket wash” system and knowing that you can buy 2 buckets for less than the price of a pint of beer, I wish everyone did this. Basically you have one bucket for your shampoo solution and another of fresh water for rinsing your wash mitt so those nasty bits of detritus can stay in their own bucket allowing you to keep your shampoo solution clean and relatively risk-free.

You can of course add grit-guards to your buckets to minimise the contamination further, and even use a separate mitt for the upper, middle and lower sections of your car. There are specialist brushes for wheels, door-shuts, and panel gaps… The choice is yours and the limits (almost) endless.

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I bought all the stuff, now what do I do with it?!

In many ways, how you wash your car is just as important as the tools you use to do it. Even though you have your 2-buckets there is still that risk of causing damage to your finish and whilst this may only be microscopic, doing it many times will start to make those tiny marks bigger and more visible until you end-up with a car covered in scratches.
So, a safe wash procedure should always be followed such as I describe below:

1.Look at your car.
Go on, look at it. Get to know your enemy! How dirty is it? Is there mud caked around the arches? Are there any areas that might need extra attention? Are there any flaky bits that might need extra care? Make a mental note of everything because this will dictate how you approach the wash itself.

2.Set-out your stall.
Having figured out what you’re up against, get your buckets ready, uncoil and connect the hose, get everything ready that you think you might need and maybe even some you might not! There is nothing worse than getting most of the car done, only to realise you didn’t get that one thing that is now buried at the back of the garage and your foamy shampoo is now drying on your car leaving streaks and smears all over the bodywork!

3.Rinse.
And rinse well. All safe washing should be like peeling an orange – start at the top and work round the car, then move down and repeat. It is pointless rinsing the bottom of your car and then the top as you are washing dirt down onto the parts you have already done! This stage also gives you the opportunity to loosen any particles and wash away the heavier contamination so use it wisely, concentrating on the heavier soiling. My philosophy is that you should never use anything more harsh than necessary on your car, so as part of your assessment you will have judged whether you need a jetwash, high-pressure hose, open hose or even a watering can to shift the worst of the dirt ready for the next stage.

4.Shampoo.
Now you can finally get your frothy mitt onto the car, but be careful! As usual, think of your orange and start with the roof, but don’t scrub and always work in straight lines. If anything isn’t shifted by a gentle pressure, you need to look for something else in your armoury – bug shifter, tar remover or may be add a claying stage (to be covered at a later date…). Dip your fresh mitt into plenty of foamy water (don’t wring it out – you need this stuff!) and gently run it across the panel, front to back, always watching and feeling for any unusual resistance. When you have done half a panel, or feel the resistance increase, lift your mitt and look at it – how dirty is it? Give it a good rinse and rub in your rinse bucket then wring it out before going for your shampoo again. Work your way around the car before moving down a level and finishing with your doorshuts, sills, lower bumpers, wheels and then wheelarches.

5.Rinse.
Your first rinse and the shampooing stage should have removed any dirt, so you are only rinsing the water and dissolved muck from the body of the car. If you’ve done everything correctly, you should only need a light pressure to rinse and my preference is for an open-ended hose. This allows the water to “sheet” off the car rather than causing spray and makes drying an awful lot easier.

6.Dry.
Time for your “super-absorbent-waffle-weave” drying towel to do its stuff. Always starting from the top lay it onto your car, but don’t move it! Pat it and press it gently with your hands to absorb the water, then lift it and lay it on the next section. There is now no soapy lubrication on the car, so any dust that has settled since your rinse is going to take joy in marking your fresh, clean paint!

Et voila!! One clean car…

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Next time I will cover the additional steps involved in preparing your car for polishing or waxing, but if you would like any advice in the meantime, please contact me through http://www.classic-details.co.uk .


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Re: CLASSIC DETAILS - The Basics

Post by scimmy_man » Fri Mar 28, 2014 9:33 am

nice one


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Re: CLASSIC DETAILS - The Basics

Post by MrGoldtop1960 » Fri Mar 28, 2014 9:37 am

Hi Richard,
A great article and look forward to the next instalment !

Ref bird poo, I always get a water laden sponge and just place the sponge over the poo and leave it for 10 mins, and then gently wipe or hose away the loose stuff. If any stubborn residue is left, then repeat process again. It generally works but if it's something like a gull has deposited a large dollop then selective removal/rubbing over the area with a microfibre cloth would be used.

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Re: CLASSIC DETAILS - The Basics

Post by PoshTwit » Fri Mar 28, 2014 9:49 am

Kev - you mentioned the "sponge" word... Have I taught you nothing...?! :P

That method is good, although if anything needs to be "rubbed" as in applying pressure you haven't left it to soak long enough. Even the slimiest of bird bombs has grit particles in it which can harm your paintwork, so you need to go careful.

It's all about treating your car carefully, and whilst I (have to) do this to the "n-th" degree I do not expect everyone to follow my advice to the letter and hope that they will find their own way of doing things, just taking into account the "Detailer's" methods to help preserve their finishes.

This may sound strange, but cars like ours which may have Cellulose paint, or DIY re-sprays etc need a more careful approach than a modern supercar! I have lost track of the number of times I have shown the owner of a very "clean" car how much damage - swirls, marring, micro-scratches, love marks, call them what you will - has been inflicted to even a brand new car!!


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Re: CLASSIC DETAILS - The Basics

Post by Roger Pennington » Fri Mar 28, 2014 12:30 pm

Thanks for that - interesting reading! :D


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Re: CLASSIC DETAILS - The Basics

Post by MrGoldtop1960 » Fri Mar 28, 2014 6:26 pm

Hi Richard,
I admit to using one of those yellow brick shaped thingys to suds the car off (but going forward I may change!) but defo microfibre is the way to go! I've been using one for drying and polishing instead of a synthetic chamois for a year or two now after seeing a clip on you tube and seeing what chamois does to paintwork if it's not stored and looked after well.

Cheers
Kev


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Re: CLASSIC DETAILS - The Basics

Post by PoshTwit » Fri Mar 28, 2014 6:50 pm

^^^ :D


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Re: CLASSIC DETAILS - The Basics

Post by PoshTwit » Fri Mar 28, 2014 6:52 pm

And, lo, did the Disciples listen to his teachings and go forward, with shinier cars, far better for it!!

:P


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Re: CLASSIC DETAILS - The Basics

Post by Scimher » Fri Mar 28, 2014 8:37 pm

Great article Rich...Well at least on the rare occasions I've washed the cars, I've discovered I've done it in the right format/sequence, thanks to your article - albeit with an old car sponge & what is probably almost heretical, a brush of the type that can be connected to a hose, but in my case isn't.....

Just as an aside, my dear old Herald has a '5 point polishing programme' which once described will rapidly become apparent why it is not deployed very often..
i) Quick wash of car to get the worst grime off - allow to dry...(particularly important in this case..)
ii) Select a panel - go over it with wire wool removing any obvious rust marks on paintwork & paying particular attention to bare metal sections which will have a ferrous-oxide crust on them...
iii) Use of 'T-cut' type stuff - cheapest 'own brand' cream cleaner if push comes to shove.....
iv) Application of some Autoglym trade stuff I was given a long time ago......
v) Finish with some Simoniz wax........Repeat on all other panels until the whole exterior has been covered.
Result - a shiny(ish) 'rat rod' look vehicle where the rain tends to 'run off' for a period of up to 6wks. before surface rust really starts to form again...........



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