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Thoughs on my first paint correction with the FLEX


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I finally got to do a full paint correction this past weekend with the FLEX 3401. I made the upgrade from the PC 7424 and I'm glad I did! The thread can be seen here: http://www.adamsforums.com/forums/detailers-write-ups/14600.htm

 

Before:

 

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After:

 

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The FLEX is pretty incredible compared to the PC. There's certainly a learning curve. I did a lot of reading before I picked one up, and I read even more before I used it for the first time. For me, a few of the big differences are:

 

1.) How LITTLE product I had to use. I started with the hood and masked it of into 1/4s. The first section, I made a small X on the pad with the SHR, worked it until it flashed (which happened very quickly), and then with each successive panel, I only added 3 pea sized drops, until I got to the rear fenders. By then, I had enough product in the pad that I only needed 2-3 sprays of detail spray to re-activate the product that was already in the pad, no additional polish had to be added to the pad. That NEVER happened with the PC.

 

2.) You have to keep moving! Since the FLEX has forced rotation in it, it generates MUCH more heat than the PC. I learned this the hard way on the roof when I began to see dusting. As soon as it started, I stopped the machine, flipped it over to feel the pad, and it was very hot. I let it cool down, gave the pad a few squirts of DS, and continued on, but moved much faster, almost feeling like I was going too fast, but that's how the FLEX works its magic.

 

3.) I really like the square handle on the front of the machine. My PC had the handle on the side, and I thought it was great...until I got the FLEX in my hands. It's so much easier to apply even pressure with the handle on the front, rather than on the side.

 

4.) Catching the edge of a panel, going over panel gaps, or touching trim/wiper nozzles/emblems is a BAD idea. The forced rotation of the flex will cause it to jump if you touch anything other than a flat panel or surface. Again, I learned this the hard way on the wheel arches. :)

 

Those are just the things that currently come to mind, as far as differences between the PC and FLEX polishers. In the future, I'll pick up another PC for getting into tighter spaces, but for now I just use the 4" focus pads on my cordless drill for that duty.

 

:cheers:

Edited by Nick@Adams
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Interesting... the reduction in polish almost seems backwards. When I think about it, it seems the flex is certainly capable of working the polish harder and faster, reducing your time spent on each area by causing it to flash sooner. If that is the case, it seems you would need to use at least as much, or more. :confused: I'm not a flex owner yet, but I can tell it's in my future so I'm trying to learn all I can.

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Interesting... the reduction in polish almost seems backwards. When I think about it, it seems the flex is certainly capable of working the polish harder and faster, reducing your time spent on each area by causing it to flash sooner. If that is the case, it seems you would need to use at least as much, or more. :confused: I'm not a flex owner yet, but I can tell it's in my future so I'm trying to learn all I can.

 

I was in your same position, I read and read and read all I could so I could decide whether or not I really wanted to upgrade from the PC.

 

I was a little surprised as well about the amount of products I used. My guess is a lot of it has to do with the pads themselves.

 

Nice review. I know there are a lot of us out there that are on the fence about getting a flex. I might tip soon! :cheers:

 

That's partially why I made the thread. If you're on the fence, bite the bullet and get one of these bad boys. You'll be glad you did! :banana:

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4.) Catching the edge of a panel, going over panel gaps, or touching trim/wiper nozzles/emblems is a BAD idea. The forced rotation of the flex will cause it to jump if you touch anything other than a flat panel or surface. Again, I learned this the hard way on the wheel arches. :)

 

 

So what's the best way to use a flex on edges/contours? Or generally on any areas that aren't perfectly flat? Most videos I watch only demonstrate a flex/pc being used on the hood or perfectly flat surface.

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Avoid those areas if possible. Don't cross panel gaps with the machine running.

 

As far as contours are concerned, it depends on how severe the contour is. I used the flex on a GTO and there isn't really a "flat" panel on the entire vehicle. However, it handled it just fine. Just try and keep as much of the pad in contact with a panel as possible.

 

Only having a portion of the pad in contact with a panel is very hard on the pads and the machine as well, especially at the higher speeds.

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So what's the best way to use a flex on edges/contours? Or generally on any areas that aren't perfectly flat?

 

That's just it....you don't. One of the big things you'll end up doing differently is learning to stay away from things like that. As the OP says, there is a learning curve. On body contours, you'll learn to angle the pad so it stays parallel (flat) with the surface you're polishing. Some areas you just can't do and it's a risky proposition to try.

 

Using a FLEX (and even more so, a rotary) forces you to become a more skilled "human" polisher. It's not just the machine, but the technique. That's why you'll see lots of people tape those areas and keep the machine away. They are best done with the focus pads on a PC or by hand.

 

- Darryl

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That's just it....you don't. One of the big things you'll end up doing differently is learning to stay away from things like that. As the OP says, there is a learning curve. On body contours, you'll learn to angle the pad so it stays parallel (flat) with the surface you're polishing. Some areas you just can't do and it's a risky proposition to try.

 

Using a FLEX (and even more so, a rotary) forces you to become a more skilled "human" polisher. It's not just the machine, but the technique. That's why you'll see lots of people tape those areas and keep the machine away. They are best done with the focus pads on a PC or by hand.

 

- Darryl

 

Ok, good now I'm getting somewhere. So even if you machine polish your car, inevitably there will be areas that will have to be done by hand? Does this include; swirl removal, polishing, and glaze as well?

 

The way I'm reading into this is that there is no way the human hand can replicate the repetitiveness of machine polish, if this is the case, then difficult areas will not be able to be swirl or scratch free?

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Ok, good now I'm getting somewhere. So even if you machine polish your car, inevitably there will be areas that will have to be done by hand? Does this include; swirl removal, polishing, and glaze as well?

 

The way I'm reading into this is that there is no way the human hand can replicate the repetitiveness of machine polish, if this is the case, then difficult areas will not be able to be swirl or scratch free?

 

Odd are these areas will either be in spots that you simply can't see the swirls in (direct intense light usually isn't going to hit spots where you can't reach with pads) so the need to 'fully' correct them is much lower.

 

But to answer your question, you can do SHR and FMP by hand in those areas, Usually I just do a quickie with Revive since removing swirls just isn't needed.

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With time and patience, you will learn how to better control the machine and get right up to edges, contours, washer nozzles, etc. without bumping into them sending the machine dancing all over the place. Areas that are tight and areas that are right next to sharp angles will always have to be done by hand but the good news is that those areas will also not be as noticeable as large flat panels and tend not to get as swirled. Hand polishing can remove swirls but it takes a tremendous amount of time and repeated passes to make even the slightest improvement.

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Thanks you guys, didn't mean to hijack this thread lol. I've always done my cars by hand and there's a lot of info to digest regarding machine polishing.

 

Not hijacking at all!

 

If you've never polished with a machine before, I'd advise against the flex and start with the PC 7424XP. It's definitely more user friendly. The flex is a much more powerful machine with a considerably steeper learning curve.

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If you've never polished with a machine before, I'd advise against the flex and start with the PC 7424XP. It's definitely more user friendly. The flex is a much more powerful machine with a considerably steeper learning curve.

 

Ok, I am not criticizing this post but just responding to this as I have seen this thought shared in many other posts and have the opposite experience/impression and wanted to share a different perspective. I DON'T have dozens or hundreds of cars experience with both polishers... but I do own both the PC and the Flex. The Flex was an addition last year and I love it. My regret is waiting as long as I did to get it. It is more intuitive, easier for me to use and less time spent compared to the PC. The Flex feels smoother and as a result have less fatigue. I found its learning curve to be very short in comparison to the PC.

 

At this point the PC is relegated to being used for applying MSS and also for use with the 4" Focus Pads.

 

Just an other opinion. :cheers:

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hmmmmmmmm why wouldn't you just use the PC and the focus pads for the tight areas? Once I get enough money saved the Flex is my next stop. Right now all my detailing money is going to supplies and baby stuff. lol

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I sold a flex to a almost family like friend. Hes used his PC to death, built it a few times. Finally he was ready to step up to the flex. He wishes he did it sooner.

 

For his first time we knocked 85% of the car out in 6hrs. Prep, wash, clay, taping off trim etc....

 

He did his old BMW in maybe 15hrs in total with the PC.

 

PC can really wear your hands/arms out. which needs breaks.

Flex he didnt stop only to smoke a cig. Lol

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My PC will be used for MSS and *possibly* light correction with FMP... otherwise it's the Flex or rotary, depending on the need. Right now I can see using my PC for maintenance on my Gen Coupe (FMP & MSS), while I need to finish correction on my dd (Scion xB), so the Flex (or rotary) will be employed.

 

Using the right tool for the job, with the correct technique, is usually self-evident....

 

Peace,

[m]

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