View Full Version : got'ta hand it to them?

01-19-2004, 03:32 PM
Recently, on another thread (https://www.britishcarforum.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=1&t=001512), we'd been discussing electric polishers. One hears many anecdotes warning of the dangers of electric polishers. Indeed, you'll often hear folks expressing disdain for powered polishers and insisting that their cars only be polished by hand.

Now it is true any power tool can be misused. You can certainly screw up a paint job with a power polisher. For anyone who insists that hand polishing is the only way to go I'd like to suggest a field trip.

On a nice warm sunny day** go wander around a parking lot full of cars. Look at their paint. Look especially closely at dark cars, black, blue, red, green. Some will look good. Many will be a mess. You'll see lots of cars covered with swirl marks.

Do these swirls show the telltale arcs of a poorly handled rotary buffer? Do they exhibit the hazy stripes of a misapplied random orbital polisher? I'll bet they don't. I'll bet you won't find even a single one that does.

What you will see are the aimless rambling swirls of misguided hands. That's what I've seen (and living in the freeway traffic capitol of the world I see an awful lot of cars).

So is hand polishing more dangerous than machine polishing? If you go only by the numbers of cars with messed up paint you'd have to answer yes but the fact is it's more complicated than that. The machine, be it orbital, rotary or biological, works as a system with the chemicals, pads and cloths used.

Hand polishing is certainly safe when done correctly. Judging from the sheer numbers of swirled up cars a lot of people out there don't. What machines do give are consistency and speed that no human hand can match. Used correctly this can translate into higher quality results, faster and safely.

So whether you choose to work by hand or machine pick your products carefully and use them wisely. Your LBC will thank you.


** like we've had this last week here in Southern California images/icons/grin.gif

[ 01-19-2004: Message edited by: PC ]</p>

01-21-2004, 11:30 AM
You make a good point. It is possible to do a great job polishing by hand, but the quality of the finish (especially on a dark car viewed in sunlight) is wholly dependent on the quality (or otherwise) of the cloths used in applying and buffing the product. Most people are not aware of the scratching caused by the wrong fabrics.

Having a Porter Cable buffer, I am a convert. I may do the final removal of wax by hand (therapy, pure and simple) but for cleaning and polishing it's a machine for me.

01-21-2004, 12:42 PM
THat's the key too Steve. Someone who doesn't take the time to buy and care for the good towels, or buy and use the right products isn't going to be any better off using a PC or orbital buffer. I think that's where the big "warning" comes from too - knowing that the people who constantly get lousy results with their hands are probably going to do worse with a tool for the same reasons.

If you follow some of the threads on other forums, notably autopia, you'll eventually see pictures of paint damaged by a car owner that decided to use something like scotch-brite or a scouring pad to remove bugs from their car, leaving heavy scratches. That person probably isn't a candidate for a buffer I shouldn't think images/icons/wink.gif

Super 7
03-09-2004, 12:11 AM
A lot of polishing compounds made for hand use are pretty darned abrasive.

03-11-2004, 02:53 PM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Super 7:
A lot of polishing compounds made for hand use are pretty darned abrasive.<hr></blockquote>

Quite right Super 7. That makes sense.

Since the area you'll be able to rub by hand in any given period will be far less than with a machine the hand compounds need to be much more aggressive to have any effect at all.


03-15-2004, 04:33 AM
OK, now we have a forum. So Cal has a man who IS the consumate (spell check needed) car care expert & has a site called..autopia-carcare (I think). His name is David Bynon. It was on my old PC and I haven't pulled it to my new one. But he and Sal Zaino, a chemist from New Jersey,(I think his is zaino.com) have sites on car care and paint care. I could make this note long but, bottom line... Don't polish with anything except pure 100% cotton towels, remove the sewn border (it is sewn with nylon), and wash, wipe, dry, and polish in a straight line not in a familiar circle pattern. Use Zaino products or Blackfire products and not the 7-11 quality stuff sold at Auto Zone and Wal-Mart and your car will not have swirls at all, anywhere any time, any way.
Cheers DUDE, Steve

03-16-2004, 12:07 AM
The debate on what to use (IE: Zaino, Megs, P21, etc) is an endless one, as evidenced by the myriad of threads on autopia.com - the other runner up is towels, 100% pure cotton made in USA as per Sal Zaino, or top quality microfiber. I prefer Sal's approach and order my towels by the half-dozen.

As was mentioned before, autopia (https://www.autopia.org) is the place for info on the tools and materials for car care - including a great list of places to order from. A few of the people there make polishing their cars a weekly event.

The latest craze seems to be Meguiars NXT (just did the MG with it - once it's done I'll have new pictures...hint: it's parked next to the always-Zainoed black Corvette, and it looks as good maybe better than Zaino at this point), but any number of products and methods have their following there, along with pictures to brag about their success.

04-16-2004, 11:41 PM
As to the original question, I use an orbital. But, no amount of waxing/polishing will make my crappy rattlecan paint job look good. Right, Steve?