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CharlieFarlie

Machine Polishing A Guide...

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One of the best ways to take your car’s paintwork to the next level is to use a machine polisher to remove the swirl marks and enhance the gloss by burnishing the finish. Polishing can be done by hand or by a dual action polisher. However, the rotary polisher represents the next step in machine polishing: a tool highly capable of fast correction but also capable of very high clarity, sharp and deep finishes.



INTRODUCTION

The rotary machine polisher is a popular and well used tool by professionals and enthusiast detailers alike. Alas it is sometimes misused and as a result it can get itself a rather bad name as a dangerous, fire breathing monster that will burn your paint as soon as look at it! Used correctly however, the rotary is a safe and hugely effective machine which doesn’t deserve its reputation.

In this guide we look to put this myth to bed with a full run-down of the art of using a rotary polisher as safely as possible to create eye catching finishes with head turning clarity and depth. Machine polishing not only delivers correction of paint blemishes such as swirls. It also burnishes the paint finish to a very high gloss which will set your car apart from others at shows, or simply in the supermarket car park! Indeed it can happily be argued that this burnishing stage is more important to the overall result than the correction – as in most conditions it is the enhancement to the gloss that will be noticed most. Naturally, correction of blemishes is also very important and makes for another big advantage of machine polishing.

Please note: this guide is not product specific. The generic techniques that apply to all rotaries and polishes will be covered here along with hints and tips that can be adapted for use with a lot of products on today’s market. Polish specific guides for the most popular products on the market will be in a separate guide. It should also be noted that every detailer has differing techniques – the key to getting the best possible finish is to spend time practising with the polishes and pads that you have and see what works best for you. This guide is intended to get you started and share some possible tricks and methods for honing your finish to the best possible.



ROTARY POLISHING: WHAT & WHY?

Before getting started into the use of a rotary polisher, we have a look at what exactly the tool is and what it can be used for.


THE ROTARY POLISHER



Rotary polishers are the mainstay of bodyshops and professional detailers for paintwork correction. They can be used with either foam or wool pads, the latter giving rise to the commonly used term of “mopping”. Used correctly, a rotary polisher is capable of spectacularly good results: high levels of paintwork correction; super sharp clarity and depth in finishing. In the wrong hands, such a machine is capable of severe paint damage!

A rotary polisher differs from a Dual Action polisher by the fact that its pad spins only on a single orbit as shown below.



The single orbit nature of a rotary polisher results in a very consistent break down of polish abrasives. This opens up the rotary polisher for use with any polish from heavy cutting compounds to fine finish polishes. The rotary is a very flexible paint correction machine.


WHY ROTARY?

Before Dual Action polishers became widely available, rotary polishers were the only choice for detailers who wanted to perform paint correction by machine. However, with the advent of Dual Action polishers that make the paint correction process safer and more accessible for novice users, why would anyone want to use a more aggressive machine? There are many reasons!

In terms of cutting ability, the rotary polisher is more flexible than a dual action polisher. This is especially noticed at the higher end of the cutting scale. For severe marring where aggressive compounds are required, the dual action polisher can be seen to struggle with the correction – a lot of time and patience is required! A rotary polisher by contrast can cut faster and get more from the abrasives in heavier compounds.

Rotary polishers can also be used with wool pads for additional cut, something which is not possible with a dual action polisher. Extreme care must be taken with wool pads owing to the high levels of cut they provide – a brief introduction to wool will be given in this guide for completeness only. More detailed information can be found in the section “Serious Correction”.

In addition to being serious correction machines, rotary polisher also excel at finishing. The constant radius of the pad motion results in the abrasives being broken down more evenly which has been demonstrated to give a slightly sharper finish than using the equivalent polish by dual action polisher. This is not to say the finish delivered by a dual action polisher will be a poor one in comparison – very far from it. You will only notice the “rotary enhancement” on certain paints, generally soft solid dark paints.



CHOOSING A POLISHER & PRODUCTS

As with all things detailing, there is now a huge array of machines and products on the market. Indeed, there are more rotary polishers on the market than dual action polisher which can make the choice of tool a harder one. Here we look at some specific requirements and recommendations for polishers and products. This is by no means an exhaustive guide, but rather a generic review of the products on the market.


THE MACHINE



Having been around for many years, there is a vast array of rotary machine polishers to choose from and a machine to suit every budget! A quick review of detailing forums reveals two machines in particular to be quite popular – the Makita 9227CB and Metabo PE12-175 as shown in the photographs above. Their popularity is in many ways down to their suitability for paintwork polishing and availability to the detailing market. However, many other machines on the market make an excellent choice.

Choosing a machine polisher very much comes down to personal preference. There are bigger differences between various rotary polishers than there are between dual action polishers. Speed ranges, machine weights, switch and control positions, general ergonomics and specifications can all vary widely across the board. From this perspective it is necessary to choose a machine which best suits your preferences. The easiest way to find this out is to try various machines and get a feel for what you prefer.

That said, the task of machine polishing by rotary can be made easy or difficult depending on the machine you choose. Certain genetic factors that are common to many machines and should be looked out for when choosing a rotary are listed below. Confirm your potential machine choice meets these generic specifications to ensure the rotary polishing experience is an enjoyable and productive one.
Variable speed with range of at least 1100rpm – 2000rpm.
Electronic speed control to maintain constant pad speed regardless of pressure
Comfortable ergonomics

Variable speed is crucial to making use of the flexibility of a rotary polisher, and the greater the range the better. Slower speeds are useful for finishing and refining, higher speeds are useful for aggressive cutting. An electronic speed control that ensures the pad rotates at a constant speed regardless of pressure is highly useful in making the rotary a predictable machine as well as guaranteeing that the pad does not bog down at slow speeds which can make finishing a less easy task.

Most importantly though is that the machine should be comfortable for you to use – and this will vary from person to person! Some machines are heavier than others, control switches are located in different positions and the shape of the tools is very different. Check to make sure that any potential rotary purchase is one which you are comfortable using.


PADS & PLATES



Rotary polishers can be used with both foam and wool pads. It is strongly recommended that for starting out with a rotary, wool pads are avoided owing to the high levels of cut they deliver. Both foam and wool pads are listed below. We will touch on wool pads only briefly in this guide for completeness (full discussion given in separate guide on “Serious Correction”).

Foam pads for use with rotary polishers come in a wide variety of grades and styles with sizes ranging from 4” right through to 8” diameter. Different pads use different grades of foam which affects the coubikness and hardness of the pad. This in turn varies the amount of cut a pad will deliver, and affect its abilities when finishing. It is a good idea when choosing a selection of pads to use with your rotary to choose a wide selection of grades of foam. This will give you a good choice to tackle everything from severe swirls and marring with compounds, to burnishing a finish to a high gloss with a finessing polish.

Listed below are the most popular foam and wool pads available from a selection of manufacturers.

MEGUIARS
• W4000 Cut & Shine Wool 8” Heavy Cutting
• WWHC7 Solo Heavy Cutting Wool 7” Heavy Cutting
• WWLC7 Solo Light Cutting Wool 7” Moderate Heavy Cutting
• W7000/6 Burgandy Foam 8 or 6” Cutting
• W8000/6 Yellow Foam 8 or 6” Polishing
• W9000/6 Tan Foam 8 or 6” Finishing
• WDFP7 Solo Polishing 7” Polishing
• WDFF7 Solo Finishing 7” Finishing

SONUS
• SFX-1 Yellow 6” or 4” Cutting
• SFX-2 White 6” or 4” Polishing
• SFX-3 Red 6” or 4” Finshing
• DAS Orange 6.5” Light Cutting
• DAS Green 6.5” Polishing
• DAS Blue 6.5” Finishing

MENZERNA
• Compunding White 5” Heavy Cutting
• Polishing Orange 5” Heavy Polishing

LAKE COUNTRY (INCLUDING CCS)
• Cutting Yellow 6” or 4” Cutting
• Light Cutting Orange 6” or 4” Light Cutting
• Heavy Polish Green 6” or 4” Heavy Cutting
• Polishing White 6” or 4” Polishing
• Finishing Black 6” or 4” Finishing
• Finessing Blue/Red 6” or 4” Fine Finishing

This is just a small selection of a simply vast amount of pads on today’s market. It is wise when choosing foam (and wool) pads to get a good range cuts: at least one cutting, two polishing and one finishing to start off with is recommended. This gives you a wide range of products to choose from when you are working.

You will also notice that pads come in a variety of different sizes for the rotary, ranging from small 3 or 4” pads right through to large 8” pads. The varying sizes allow you to choose a pad which will best suit the panel you are working on. Large open panels such as roofs and bonnets lend themselves to bigger pads such as 6 or even 8”. Smaller, more complexly detailed panels such as bumpers and bootlids with badges are better suited to smaller 3 and 4” pads. The aggression of a pad is also linked to its size, as larger pads will move faster for a set rpm, resulting in slightly more cut from various polishes – we will see later in the guide why this is so.

You will also need a suitable backing plate to use with pads – smaller 3 and 4” pads require a 3” backing plate, while 6” pads will require a 5.5” backing plate for example. Most rotary polishers use an M14 thread so ensure that your backing plate is compatible with this. For further information, refer to your polisher specifications and operating manual.


POLISH



A key component to machine polishing is the actual polish! A quick browse of online detailing retailers reveals a vast array of different machine polishes on the market. Some of the more popular products from some manufacturers are listed below:

MEGUIARS #80-SERIES
• #85 Diamond Cut Compound Heavy Cut 10/10
• #84 Compound Power Cleaner Heavy Cut 9/10
• #83 Dual Action Cleaner Polish Medium Cut 6/10
• #80 Speed Glaze Light-Medium Cut 4/10
• #82 Swirl Free Polish Light Cut 2/10

MENZERNA
• S34A Power Gloss Compound Heavy Cut 8/10
• PO85RD3.0x Intensive Polish Medium Cut 6/10
• PO91L Intensive Polish Medium Cut 5/10
• PO106FA Final Finish Light – Medium Cut 4/10
• PO85RD Final Finish Light Cut 2/10

SONUS
• SFX-1 Restore Medium Cut 6/10
• SFX-2 Enhance Light Cut 3/10
• SFX-3 Final Finish Light Cut 1/10

POORBOYS
• SSR3 Super Swirl Remover 3 Heavy Cut 8/10
• SSR2.5 Super Swirl Remover 2.5 Medium Cut 6/10
• SSR2 Super Swirl Remover 2 Light – Medium Cut 4/10
• SSR1 Super Swirl Remover 1 Light Cut 2/10

It may be tempting when first starting out with a machine polisher to buy as many polishes and compounds as possible – but in truth, for most general defects on most paintworks, you only really need two products to get you started. One medium cutting polish (for example Menzerna PO85RD3.02 Intensive Polish), and one lighter cutting polish (for example Menzerna PO106FA Final Finish). As you build confidence with the use of a rotary polisher you can expand your range of polishes up to more aggressive cutting compounds which require greater care to work safely. This will expand your cutting capabilities to handle more serious paint defects. You can also expand your range down to very fine finishing polishes and explore the use of lightly abrasive paintwork cleansers as finishing polishes.

Below are a few pictures of before and after during machine polishing My T180. The car had been well looked after during its 43.000 miles but had suffered poor wash techniques resulting in severe swirling ....

Before
014.jpg
After.

017-1.jpg
Before.
027.jpg

After.
030.jpg

A couple of the whole car...
Rav4July2011008.jpg

Rav4July2011005.jpg
Rav4July2011007.jpg
Rav4July2011006.jpg

Rav4July2011009.jpg



Wee Charlie.

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Wow! Nice one Charlie! You have obviously put a fair bit of work into this. I am well impressed. Much apreciated. I just chickened out of doing this myself and booked a local guy to do it for us instead, just the other day. Sometimes I wish i had more confidence in these kind of things. :rolleyes:

Anoyhow... Great guide. Thanks very much :thumbsup:

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Many thanks for taking said bother, Charlie, to post such proliferous proliferations.....top stuff and page well bookmarked, soon to be well dogeared...

Big Kev :thumbsup:

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Pinned in the general section of the maintenance tips.

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I really did not know where to start with this post. So I thought I would start with the above and answer any questions as best I can... It would be almost impossible to cater for everyone's respective needs but if I can help in any way just shout up....... :thumbsup:

Charlie.

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Novice question- If you are starting from scratch (pardon the pun) would you be better buying a DAP or a rotary polisher?

Regards Clare

By the way Charlie a first class post

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Novice question- If you are starting from scratch (pardon the pun) would you be better buying a DAP or a rotary polisher?

Regards Clare

By the way Charlie a first class post

Clare very definitely a DAS or Random orbital polisher ...

While the rotary is not the fire breathing monster that can severely damage Your paint A Random orbital is just so safe !! In reality You would have to throw the machine at Your car to cause damage.. Think of it as an extension to Your arm. except its a hundred times faster and will not tire like Your arm surely will..

It is very possible to get the same results from A Random as a Rotary. It just takes longer BUT is far far safer...

Charlie.

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Charlie,

many thanks for the very "detailed" article.You have already converted me to the arm aching Claying & hand polishing,I use the Meguires products.Now I MUST have a Duel Action Polishing machine.Too afeared of a single action one.Man cannot live without gadgets.Many thanks for your expertise.

BJK

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Charlie,when you go on DW forums you see so many different brands ( Dodo Juice,Poorboys, Collonite, Mothers). Are they all much of a sameness or is there one particular brand that stands out more than the others?

Regards Clare

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Clare I have many Waxes in the cabinet. Ranging from Zymol Concours at just under £400 down to Collinite at around £30 for a great big tin !! Waxes have different characteristics IE Collinite is a very good wax but its ace is that it has fantastic durability and will last for months.. So this is a brilliant wax for those Who only want to wax Their cars say twice a year or equally brilliant as a Winter wax....

A favourite and also an inexpensive wax is Victoria Concourse...Around £30 for a six ounce jar and is easy to apply and remove. Gives great clarity and flake pop. So out of the 20 or so waxes I have this one is the one I use in the summer months and the apply 2 coats of collinite in autumn for the winter months..

Waxes and Sealants are completely different .... Big Kev is having great success with A sealant on His car at the moment.. Me I prefer Wax as Sealants tend to mute the metal flake in modern metallics.. Having said that Kevs car does look spot on and no mistake..

When applying Wax put it on one panel at a time and apply as thinly as possible !! Honestly Less is More when waxing !! Remove straight away wax does not need time to cure like a sealant does. In fact leaving it to long will make it difficult to remove !! Do each panel twice and that's it job done !!

Wax and sealants are the icing on the cake and act as the protectant .. Getting the best appearance from the paintwork is all done in the polishing stages.. If this part is not up to scratch then no Wax or sealant will mask it.

HTH

Wee Charlie.

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Youre absolutely right about "less is more". A friend of mine bought some Sonax colour polish and wax Nano pro,I tried it on my Dad,s U/C, I made the mistake of doing the whole car at one go. I was absolutely kn****kered when I had finished polishing it.You learn by your mistakes!!!!!

Regards Clare

By the way it looks superb when it was finished B)

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I used one of these on a Renault Trafic minibus - great job.... the bus turned from a dirty white to a shiny grey metal :lol: :lol: :lol: Thats when I found they only paint Renaults with one thin coat !"

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Youre absolutely right about "less is more". A friend of mine bought some Sonax colour polish and wax Nano pro,I tried it on my Dad,s U/C, I made the mistake of doing the whole car at one go. I was absolutely kn****kered when I had finished polishing it.You learn by your mistakes!!!!!

Regards Clare

By the way it looks superb when it was finished B)

If the wax has cured and is a pain to remove wet a microfibre with water and wipe it off.. This will not stop the wax from working and the wax will come off very easily. I use a 50/50 mix of Meguires Last Touch spray detailer and water for this very job and spray the panels with that. Water will do its just not quite so easy.... HTH.

Wee Charlie.

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One for Charlie!!!! Collonites 845 and CG jetseal 109 what is the difference? I know Big Kev is a fan of 109 but have seen 845 and am confused (doesn,t take a lot)

Regards Clare

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One for Charlie!!!! Collonites 845 and CG jetseal 109 what is the difference? I know Big Kev is a fan of 109 but have seen 845 and am confused (doesn,t take a lot)

Regards Clare

Charlie made a valid point before, Clare, in that SEALANTS such as Jetseal 109, much as they give a good gloss, tend to sorta "mask" the metallic flake of the paint on my car, so the glisten that is there with such as the Colly 845 is indeed slightly muted.

The Colly 845 is what the manufacturer calls an "insulator" wax, and pretty much does what it says on the bottle....really insulates your car from a harsh winter's driving. Two coats later and it laughs at salt and grit, but here's what I found with it....it is so "liquiddy" (new word) that if you use the machine polisher with it, it polishes the neighbours' cars as well....!!! It's actually probably easier to work by hand unless Charlie or Bluevortex teach me different...?

Living on that wee island surrounded by salty watter, I cannot recommend it enough, but back to Granny and Eggs syndrome.....WAN PANEL AT A TIME !!! :thumbsup:

Big Kev

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One for Charlie!!!! Collonites 845 and CG jetseal 109 what is the difference? I know Big Kev is a fan of 109 but have seen 845 and am confused (doesn,t take a lot)

Regards Clare

Charlie made a valid point before, Clare, in that SEALANTS such as Jetseal 109, much as they give a good gloss, tend to sorta "mask" the metallic flake of the paint on my car, so the glisten that is there with such as the Colly 845 is indeed slightly muted.

The Colly 845 is what the manufacturer calls an "insulator" wax, and pretty much does what it says on the bottle....really insulates your car from a harsh winter's driving. Two coats later and it laughs at salt and grit, but here's what I found with it....it is so "liquiddy" (new word) that if you use the machine polisher with it, it polishes the neighbours' cars as well....!!! It's actually probably easier to work by hand unless Charlie or Bluevortex teach me different...?

Living on that wee island surrounded by salty watter, I cannot recommend it enough, but back to Granny and Eggs syndrome.....WAN PANEL AT A TIME !!! :thumbsup:

Big Kev

Colly 845 is a wax and I never apply wax by machine.. Best way to apply wax is by hand .... Get a tiny spot of wax and rub it into the palms of Your hands and then rub very thinly over the panel .. Easiest way is with a wee sponge or microfibre applicator...

Wee Charlie.

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:thumbsup: Thank you Big kev and Charlie, for taking the time to enlighten Moi,I am going to try the Collinites as I think it sounds a very good product. I will heed your advice and do one panel at a time and see how we go!!!! As my Dad will say in about 5 minutes time " your not on Fleabay again"

Regards Clare

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I used my pads on a Bosch 150mm random orbit sander and the results are superb. We have a very neglegted midnight blue Focus that we use for an on call car and the results were astonishing with very little effort.

Clare

The Jetseal 109 is unbelievably easy to use. I think the wax is hard work.

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I used my pads on a Bosch 150mm random orbit sander and the results are superb. We have a very neglegted midnight blue Focus that we use for an on call car and the results were astonishing with very little effort.

Clare

The Jetseal 109 is unbelievably easy to use. I think the wax is hard work.

Totally concur.....the wax is 5 times the effort of Jerseal, but good point made by Charlie was that the Jetseal (a sealant as opposed to a wax) slightly masks the metallic flake/sparkly bits and doesn't allow its full diffraction of light.

(Scientist now, eh....?)

Clare is currently experimenting with clay bars, Collinite 845, and Jetseal 109....strangely enough, said experimenting has commenced on her Dad's car....that girl's not daft....!!!!

Big Kev :lol:

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Are these pages getting slower to refresh or is it me?

Anyway, I thought readers might be interested in this site run by a young Malaysian guy called Kenneth. His test methods and attention to detail are astonishing;

http://wetshine.net/2011/04/18/permaglass-vs-meguiars/

Have a read at his detailing processes and there are several movieclips on wheel cleaning etc.

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Big Kev is correct the Lady has been cleaning and polishing for the last two days. Started on my Dads U/C, and ended up on mine. Following the words of wisdom from Charlie and Big Kev, ( a little goes a long way),I have to admit that the Jetseal 109 on the wheels looks stunning ( best result for years!!!!) the Collonites 845 was used on both and have to agree it is a quality product.

I clayed my Dads as is older then mine and the results were excellent (used Bilthammer with lubricant and water). I haven,t clayed mine yet but shall do very shortly. I,ve got this thing about living so close to the sea and the resultant effects on the paintwork, so I tend to go a little over the top as regards cleaning and general up keep of our cars ( probably a girl thing).

A special mention must go to Kev for his mentoring- What a guy!!!!!

Regards Clare

Anybody know a good cure for aching arms?

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Big Kev is correct the Lady has been cleaning and polishing for the last two days. Started on my Dads U/C, and ended up on mine. Following the words of wisdom from Charlie and Big Kev, ( a little goes a long way),I have to admit that the Jetseal 109 on the wheels looks stunning ( best result for years!!!!) the Collonites 845 was used on both and have to agree it is a quality product.

I clayed my Dads as is older then mine and the results were excellent (used Bilthammer with lubricant and water). I haven,t clayed mine yet but shall do very shortly. I,ve got this thing about living so close to the sea and the resultant effects on the paintwork, so I tend to go a little over the top as regards cleaning and general up keep of our cars ( probably a girl thing).

A special mention must go to Kev for his mentoring- What a guy!!!!!

Regards Clare

Anybody know a good cure for aching arms?

Hi Clare,

"Anybody know a good cure for aching arms?"

I think that you need to talk to Bothy and Big Kev again. They have this stuff that they produce locally that when taken by mouth is supposed to cure all manner of ills. Apparently it improves with keeping and is particularly good for arms when it is about 30 years old ;)

Meanwhile, keep up the good work!

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Big Kev is correct the Lady has been cleaning and polishing for the last two days. Started on my Dads U/C, and ended up on mine. Following the words of wisdom from Charlie and Big Kev, ( a little goes a long way),I have to admit that the Jetseal 109 on the wheels looks stunning ( best result for years!!!!) the Collonites 845 was used on both and have to agree it is a quality product.

I clayed my Dads as is older then mine and the results were excellent (used Bilthammer with lubricant and water). I haven,t clayed mine yet but shall do very shortly. I,ve got this thing about living so close to the sea and the resultant effects on the paintwork, so I tend to go a little over the top as regards cleaning and general up keep of our cars ( probably a girl thing).

A special mention must go to Kev for his mentoring- What a guy!!!!!

Regards Clare

Anybody know a good cure for aching arms?

Hi Clare,

"Anybody know a good cure for aching arms?"

I think that you need to talk to Bothy and Big Kev again. They have this stuff that they produce locally that when taken by mouth is supposed to cure all manner of ills. Apparently it improves with keeping and is particularly good for arms when it is about 30 years old ;)

Meanwhile, keep up the good work!

Good point, Chris....go into any Glasgow pub where they've been consuming this product....arms flailing in all directions in over enthusiastic exaggeration of their points. Why not invite them to our cars, and kit them out with clay bars and lube, and a few drams...? Car polished in no time....!!

Big Entrepekev :thumbsup:

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Hi Charlie.

We would like to keep the lovely finish/shine that we have on the Blue Rav,and i have had Autoglym products recommended to me,the shampoo and conditioner and the SRP, with Colinite 915 as a top coat.

Can i ask what your thoughts are on the AG stuff.

Now i haven't waxed a car for years and that was using Turtle wax and by hand,come to think of it i don't wash the car anymore either,but will make an effoort for this one :wacko:

Cheers. :thumbsup:

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