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Which polish for heavy swirls/scratches?


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I recently purchased a 2004 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. It appears the previous owner washed it with a mud-soaked rag... 🙄

 

I’ve been wanting to get a polisher for quite a while, and I think now is the time. My question is - which polish (or combination of polishes) do I need for scratches in the clear coat, but not deep enough to catch a fingernail (see photos below). 

 

I already have some buttery wax and correcting polish.

 

Thanks!

 

 

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Brian, agreed, however with what he's shown in the pictures, experience tells me, the Paint Finishing Polish and White Foam pad aren't going to do anything, and the Paint Correcting Polish and Orange pad will take so many passes he'll need several Orange Foam pads to finish the job that way because they'll wear out.

 

I'd be willing to bet a bottle of a limited product of mine that you don't have against a limited bottle of yours that I don't have he's going to need several passes with the Heavy Correcting Compound.

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While the one section of the vehicle looks pretty beat up, the question is whether or not the entire vehicle is the same way.  I had many vehicles that needed different levels of correction on different panels or areas. Test areas are the best way to find out, just mark of a few 1 x 1 foot areas on the hood, door and quarter panel and you even find that one side is rougher than the other.   Case in point, one trail runner's vehicle had a wasted passenger side, but the drivers side was in excellent condition.  The reason being that he drove the trails with his window down so he avoided all the brush and stuff and let the passenger side get hammered.

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12 hours ago, BRZN said:

Brian, agreed, however with what he's shown in the pictures, experience tells me, the Paint Finishing Polish and White Foam pad aren't going to do anything, and the Paint Correcting Polish and Orange pad will take so many passes he'll need several Orange Foam pads to finish the job that way because they'll wear out.

 

I'd be willing to bet a bottle of a limited product of mine that you don't have against a limited bottle of yours that I don't have he's going to need several passes with the Heavy Correcting Compound.

You're probably right, but I'd rather start slow and safe. A paint thickness gauge would come in handy here as well. Plus I don't have any limited edition stuff 🙂

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Thanks so much for all the suggestions!  
 

Which is more aggressive - the microfiber or blue foam pad?

 

Lastly, I’m strongly considering the mini polisher, given all the small surfaces on the Wrangler. Does that change the product/process suggestions any?  

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The mini is an awesome polisher; however, if you don't have one, I would recommend starting with the 15mm since it's more versatile. The mini isn't really built to take an entire vehicle at a time, it's more of a small sections where needed, or spot correction tool. The machine can create a lot of heat and melt the backing plate if used too long. 

The 15mm and 21mm are suited for tackling larger jobs.

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Well, the 15% off email campaign came at just the right time yesterday...  😁

 

Thanks for all the advice. I went with the full sized swirl killer, rather than the mini.  I already have some correcting compound and buttery wax - that’s why you only see the heavy correcting compound. 
 

 

 

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My order arrived and I’m excited to get started this weekend.  I have a bottle of buttery wax that I’ve had for almost 4 years. I brought it inside, from the garage, to let it come up to room temperature. Problem is - it appears to have turned to liquid. Like, water. Is that something that happens over time?  I assume it can’t be used like that?

 

My intent was to start with the heavy correcting compound on the microfiber pad, then on the orange pad, and finish with the white pad and the buttery wax. 
 

If the buttery wax can’t be used, can I just finish with the correcting polish and the white pad?  Or do I *need* to finish with wax?

 

 

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You are going to want to finish your hard work with a wax/sealant or coating.  That top coat  “seals” In all your hard work you put in correcting the paint.  
 I haven’t used the BW, but I believe its in the lower end in the longevity line of the wax products.  IMHO id go with the ceramic spray  coating, but if you prefer wax, go with Americana or patriot then top it off with BW
 I do believe 4 yrs is beyond the expected lifespan of the BW too. 

 

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9 hours ago, 53flattie said:

My order arrived and I’m excited to get started this weekend.  I have a bottle of buttery wax that I’ve had for almost 4 years. I brought it inside, from the garage, to let it come up to room temperature. Problem is - it appears to have turned to liquid. Like, water. Is that something that happens over time?  I assume it can’t be used like that?

 

My intent was to start with the heavy correcting compound on the microfiber pad, then on the orange pad, and finish with the white pad and the buttery wax. 
 

If the buttery wax can’t be used, can I just finish with the correcting polish and the white pad?  Or do I *need* to finish with wax?

 

 

7BECC249-109B-477C-BABB-BFE9818101E6.jpeg

If you call your local Chevy dealer(s), many of them have a selection of Adam's products in stock.  The Spray Wax is also very good, but when it comes to wax, my preference is Ceramic Paste Wax if you want go to the wax route.  Otherwise as @tlbullet reference the Ceramic Spray Coating is ideal for most vehicles.

 

How far upstate are you?  I'm on the western side of Columbia, closer to Lexington and I have a bottle of Buttery that is about 4 months old and over half full that you can have, if that is your preference.  I also have many other products and don't mind helping another detailer in the area.

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Ray - I’m just outside of Greenville, towards Clemson. Thanks so much for the generous offer, but I’ll probably just order some from Adams. 
 

I did the doors today - since I could remove them and lay them flat. I figured they would be a good place to start. 
 

I’m really impressed with the Swirl Killer. It’s a really nice machine. The soft-start is a cool feature. And I’m really happy with the results (before and after pics below). 
 

However, I think I’m doing something a little wrong. In watching the videos of Adam using the machine, it looks like when he finishes, the surface is pretty much done. I’m having to use detail spray and a microfiber towel (and a fair amount of elbow grease) to get all the residue off. Here’s the process I used, tell me if I’m doing something wrong: 

 

MF pad, three dots of HCC, light mist of detail spray.  I’ll do two runs of that.  Then I’ll switch to the orange foam pad, three dots of correcting compound, light mist of detail spray. Two runs of that. (When I say “runs”, I mean - until the material breaks down to a sort of oil, then looks dry.  I’ll add three more dots of material and another mist of detail spray.). Then I’ll switch to the white pad, three dots of correcting compound, light mist of detail spray. One run of that. I’ll then mist the pad and go over it again, twice. When that’s done, it’s pretty close to finished, but it does require a MF towel and detail spray to get everything totally clean. 
 

Am I using too little material?  Too much?  Should I do the detail spray every time I add material?  Is the final “buffing” just necessary, but it’s edited out of the videos?  If so, that’s fine with me - I just want to be sure I’m not doing it wrong...

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21 hours ago, 53flattie said:

Ray - I’m just outside of Greenville, towards Clemson. Thanks so much for the generous offer, but I’ll probably just order some from Adams. 
 

I did the doors today - since I could remove them and lay them flat. I figured they would be a good place to start. 
 

I’m really impressed with the Swirl Killer. It’s a really nice machine. The soft-start is a cool feature. And I’m really happy with the results (before and after pics below). 
 

However, I think I’m doing something a little wrong. In watching the videos of Adam using the machine, it looks like when he finishes, the surface is pretty much done. I’m having to use detail spray and a microfiber towel (and a fair amount of elbow grease) to get all the residue off. Here’s the process I used, tell me if I’m doing something wrong: 

 

MF pad, three dots of HCC, light mist of detail spray.  I’ll do two runs of that.  Then I’ll switch to the orange foam pad, three dots of correcting compound, light mist of detail spray. Two runs of that. (When I say “runs”, I mean - until the material breaks down to a sort of oil, then looks dry.  I’ll add three more dots of material and another mist of detail spray.). Then I’ll switch to the white pad, three dots of correcting compound, light mist of detail spray. One run of that. I’ll then mist the pad and go over it again, twice. When that’s done, it’s pretty close to finished, but it does require a MF towel and detail spray to get everything totally clean. 
 

Am I using too little material?  Too much?  Should I do the detail spray every time I add material?  Is the final “buffing” just necessary, but it’s edited out of the videos?  If so, that’s fine with me - I just want to be sure I’m not doing it wrong...

 

 

I'm new to the SK also, my old equipment was very old and pure rotary, so I've had a bit of a learning curve myself.  I've also found that it is half the work I used to do and comes out much better, the SK is an absolute winner in my book.    I  have not needed to use HCC yet, so I can't offer any real assistance on that particular product. 

 

I've had people tell me my process is good and other say it should be refined, but after 35+ years, it works for me and the results get plenty of compliments, but you'll have to use your own judgement on whether or not to follow it.  For CC, One Step and Finishing polish, I use 4 small dots and a quarter trigger pull of detail spray every time I reload the pad.  I try to use the contour or markings on the body for the size of the block that I'll be applying the product to.  

 

The picture has some crude markings on it to show how I separate my panels and when I do a panel, it is only the first pass and I do every panel on the vehicle that needs that pad and product , before going to the next product and pad.  I always check every panel for the least aggressive method possible, not every panel needs CC or even One Step, some may need a Blue Pad, others Orange, some Wool and other White as their first pass.  If part of a panel needs CC and a Orange pad, then the entire panel will get CC and a Orange Pad.   

 

When I have any doubt about what needs to be done with a panel, I go one step less aggressive than what I estimated is needed for my test spot.  If the test spot looks good, then I have the right level, if not it is easy enough to get more aggressive, but my goal is to never do anymore than is necessary.  For choosing the panel size to do, the Terrain is pretty easy, there are 5 sections on the hood that go with contours of the hood.  The truck only has 4 natural panels, so I cut the two big panels in half - blue painters tape works good when I need to use tape.

 

My panels will range from 1x1 to 2x3 in size, once I get above 2x3, then I cut it in half to ensure that I can focus and keep the same light source angle.  For the items such as the mirrors, they are always done at the same time.  When I do the left mirror, I go around the vehicle and do the right mirror, that ensures they are done the same, with the same pad.  As for the pads, if they start looking nasty, change them in between panels.  On the truck, One Step or when I get to Finishing polish, I'll use 4 pads, hood first, then fender, mirror - walk to the other side do that mirror, then fender and then the facia - Change Pad.  

 

Pad #2 will do the doors and side of the box.  Pad #3 will do the other side for the doors and box.  Pad #4 will do the rear and roof last.   When you take a pad off, hit it with APC and into a bucket for cleaning.    If it wasn't for all the chrome on the terrain, I could do that with 3 pads, but went through 5 for the finishing polish.   With proper care, the pads will last you a long time, while it may seem like a lot of money, it is a long term investment the outcome of the vehicles will show.

 

As with most of the Adam's products, less is more - you don't need much of a product to do the job and it is easy enough to add more product if needed.  I use a borderless gray towel to wipe down after each product is applied to the vehicle, I go in one direction to get the residue off and if a touch of details spray is needed, that's fine.  I do it immediately upon thinking the panel is complete, so I can find any spots that didn't come out to my desired level or that look different that the rest of the panel.  

 

Most of the time, after I have completed the work with the Swirl Killer, I use Revive Hand polish, which is an excellent cleaner and adds shine, especially on things like tail lights and maker lights.  From there is on the Surface Prep, check the vehicle again to any misses and then whatever product is going on the vehicle gets added.  Both the vehicles in the picture were recently converted from Ceramic Paste Wax to Ceramic Spray Coating.

 

Hopefully that helps, but as I stated earlier, that is my technique and you will have to make sure own decisions on whether or not it is the right technique for you.

 

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Ray - thanks so much for the detailed response. Your vehicles look amazing!

 

In my case, this Wrangler is a high-mileage vehicle with plenty of scratches. I understand that even a Swirl Killer isn’t a magic wand. It can only do so much.  I’m fine with that because this is a secondary (fun) vehicle that will get driven off-road. I just want to make it look as good as is reasonably possible. 
 

That said, I worked the hood using the techniques outlined here, and used much less product. It was much easier to remove the residue this time, and took less time overall.  I think I was using too many steps on the doors, for no additional benefit.  I’m very happy with the finish and shine on the hood, but now I have a new problem...  

 

The correcting compound has “settled” into the scratches, swirls, and imperfections and basically accentuated them even more.  I have had this happen in the past, with hand-polishing, so I know it will dissipate as time passes. But I’m curious if there’s a method for dealing with this issue?

 

Before and after.57245B87-1AE6-4F63-9D51-717F1A3895A6.jpeg.7309169c93ef15076a9986eb37a5e004.jpeg

 

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Thank you Tim for the compliment on the vehicles.  I'll recommend you go look at some of the work that Shane and his team of professionals have done, it always amazes me.  I also know that with enough practice and effort, that even as a hobbyist I can start to compare mine with a professionals and see my areas for improvement.  When it comes to interiors, that's a different story, I can do ok, but Shane's team, that's not just a different league, it's a different planet.  

 

I keep a bottle of IPA ready to be sprayed when the polishing is done to ensure the surface is ready for whatever is being applied.  If I am doing the Ceramic Spray Coating, then I use the Surface Prep since I know they have been tested together.  From the looks of the scratches on your hood, you might need to go over them twice to be sure you get all residue out of them and then you should be good to go.   

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I had no idea what “IPA” meant (other than India Pale Ale) until I googled it. Sounds like it strips and cleans the surface. 
Please forgive my ignorance, but would that not remove all the work I just did?  
 

Or am I confusing “paint correction/polishing” with waxing?  In that polishing simply smooths the surface whereas waxing leaves a product on the surface?  So wiping with IPA, at this point, would simply remove the leftover correcting compound from the scratches and prepare the surface for a wax coating.

 

Thank you guys for your patience and answers!

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16 minutes ago, 53flattie said:

I had no idea what “IPA” meant (other than India Pale Ale) until I googled it. Sounds like it strips and cleans the surface. 
Please forgive my ignorance, but would that not remove all the work I just did?  
 

Or am I confusing “paint correction/polishing” with waxing?  In that polishing simply smooths the surface whereas waxing leaves a product on the surface?  So wiping with IPA, at this point, would simply remove the leftover correcting compound from the scratches and prepare the surface for a wax coating.

 

Thank you guys for your patience and answers!

 

Isopropyl Alcohol wipe down will strip and clean the surface, and by using a premium towel like the blue Waterless Wash ones won't scratch or undo your polish work. Note Surface Prep is easier to work with and highly effective since it has lubricants infused into the alcohol solution. And you're absolutely right about it stripping the polish/compound residue, prepping it for wax/sealant/coating (necessary for the last two for them to bond properly).

 

Keep asking...it's what we're here for!

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1 hour ago, RayS said:

Thank you Tim for the compliment on the vehicles.  I'll recommend you go look at some of the work that Shane and his team of professionals have done, it always amazes me.  I also know that with enough practice and effort, that even as a hobbyist I can start to compare mine with a professionals and see my areas for improvement.  When it comes to interiors, that's a different story, I can do ok, but Shane's team, that's not just a different league, it's a different planet.  

 

I keep a bottle of IPA ready to be sprayed when the polishing is done to ensure the surface is ready for whatever is being applied.  If I am doing the Ceramic Spray Coating, then I use the Surface Prep since I know they have been tested together.  From the looks of the scratches on your hood, you might need to go over them twice to be sure you get all residue out of them and then you should be good to go.   


Thank you for the kind words. They mean a lot. I’ve mentioned long ago that a hobbyist can obtain professional results. The difference is usually just experience, process and equipment. I wouldn’t expect a hobbyist to have an extractor, steamer of our capacity, selection of polishers, etc at their disposal. Those things simplify our process. 
 

I will pass your kind words on to the “team.” The reality is we are still very small operating on an appointment only basis. We are a team of three. Myself, marquis and Justin. We continue to grow and improve. We were talking the other day about where we started to where we are now and some of the cars we’ve been fortunate to work on. We are accredited/certified for multiple ceramic coatings and we don’t advertise, yet we continually grow. Every time we seem to be “running out of work,” we end up with a full schedule again. 
 

Watch soon for some interior pics. We have a few nasty ones coming up. One client is waiting until December since that’s when we can get her in and her “new to her” car is pretty nasty. I think we got it handled though. I’ll attach the pics she sent me to show where we are starting. Oh yeah, and it’s a 2017...

 

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17 minutes ago, 53flattie said:

I had no idea what “IPA” meant (other than India Pale Ale) until I googled it. Sounds like it strips and cleans the surface. 
Please forgive my ignorance, but would that not remove all the work I just did?  
 

Or am I confusing “paint correction/polishing” with waxing?  In that polishing simply smooths the surface whereas waxing leaves a product on the surface?  So wiping with IPA, at this point, would simply remove the leftover correcting compound from the scratches and prepare the surface for a wax coating.

 

Thank you guys for your patience and answers!


So let’s clear a couple of things up here to help you out. When you polish a vehicle, you’re leveling the clear coat. So you’ve taken all the protection off the vehicle and you’re left with paint and clear coat. Polishing will take away some of that clear coat and leave your vehicle glossy and smooth. When polishing is done though, there’s no protection in the form of coatings, wax or sealant. This step is what gives you a glossy look. It’s not wax that makes a vehicle glossy. 
 

Using an IPA wipe will remove residues and such and allow the best bond for your protection. If you’re using a sealant, apply it first and you can wax over it for extra protection. 
 

I’ve attached a couple of charts to help people understand about paint and it’s defects. 

 

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A1B2EF79-3C08-43CB-A94B-1F04EF682EF5.jpeg.3c41009199b3289a7a09b96a59431ffd.jpeg

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9 hours ago, shane@detailedreflections said:

So let’s clear a couple of things up here to help you out. When you polish a vehicle, you’re leveling the clear coat. So you’ve taken all the protection off the vehicle and you’re left with paint and clear coat. Polishing will take away some of that clear coat and leave your vehicle glossy and smooth. When polishing is done though, there’s no protection in the form of coatings, wax or sealant. This step is what gives you a glossy look. It’s not wax that makes a vehicle glossy. 

 

Using an IPA wipe will remove residues and such and allow the best bond for your protection. If you’re using a sealant, apply it first and you can wax over it for extra protection. 

 

This statement clarified so much for me.  Thank you!

 

It looks like the ceramic kit has the IPA prep, sealant, booster, and towels - all in one convenient bundle. Would you guys recommend that?
 

 

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