It was the dream of a perfect sports car which drove Ferry Porsche to bring us the very first Porsche on 08 June 1948. 70 years later and the dream is still very much alive and well. Here at Reflected Image, I am proud and privileged to have seen and worked on many, many Porsche Products over the years and this year I have seen a big increase of Porsche cars added to the books. I regularly see cars ranging from the early, very rare and sort after 1960's swb 901/911, right up to the present day 991 model 911's and numerous Cayman, Boxster, Cayenne and Macan to name but a few in-between. In fact I can confidently say Porsche cars are comfortably the most popular brand I look after these days, which being a big Porsche fan can only be great news!
If you own a Porsche and would like a professional with experience of seeing these cars on a regular basis to look after it from a valeting and detailing standpoint, then feel free to add it to the ever growing list!
Something that many people have asked me over recent weeks is "what is the two bucket method?" A phrase that is mentioned at any given opportunity within the detailing fraternity and should you ask anything as basic as "what is it? " you're likely to be laughed at for not knowing.
So, What is it?
In the old days, to wash your car you simply had a bucket of water, a yellow sponge and if you were very posh some car shampoo! To a large extent, if you're not bothered about surface marring, swirl marks and the like then it'll still do the job. If, however, you do care about these things, especially if you've had one of the detailing packages and had them removed, then you need to go a little further. In a nutshell, the two bucket method is effectively two buckets, one left with plain water (the rinse bucket) and the other containing your car shampoo of choice (the wash bucket). The idea being, after washing a panel, you rinse the wash media (mitt/pad etc) in the rinse bucket to 'rinse' away any dirt before reloading from the wash bucket to continue with the next panel. The contents of the wash bucket stays clean and any dirt removed from the car stays removed and not transferred to another part of the car risking surface damage.
The two bucket method forms part of what is known as the 'safe wash' wash process. Perhaps I'll do a more in-depth blog on that another month! When it comes to washing your car, or car care in general really, there is no such thing as good contact, so all we can do to take the steps available to us to prevent inducing swirl marks and marring as best we can.
For those that don’t know, I have been a specialist in machine polishing/paint correction - call it what you will, for the thick end of twenty years. Now I won’t go into too much detail now as it is such a massive and complex subject!
Back in 1997 when I first entered into the world of paint correction or “giving the car a MOP” as it was often referred to back then (and still is by some), the main tool of choice was the rotary polisher. For myself and many others what was available was pretty basic. Just the one tool - single speed, heavy, cumbersome and with a limited range of polishing pads and compounds made the job arduous at best. Good grounding though, if you could master that you could almost master anything! Fast forward twenty years and we might as well be in a different world. The technology available now is, well, just on another level! Here at Reflected Image, I have invested in some of the very best polishers, both rotary and dual action on the market today. In order to achieve the best results, it’s very difficult to do so with just the one tool. You will see in the picture below a selection of the polishers I have at my disposal. From the ‘big daddy’ Rupes 21 which lets me cover ground very quickly right down the incredible Rupes Ibrid Nano for intricate areas, where details matter! Even though technology in dual action machines has evolved massively, the rotary still plays a key part although the Flex rotary polisher I have now is a completely different beast to what I had back in the late 90‘s! The technology in polishing pads and compounds/polishes has potentially moved on even further. The sheer variety available now is huge too. Indeed, I easily carry over 10 times what I had back then in order to cover most eventualities with more on the way as new technologies and techniques help me push forward in what is possible.
So What is paint correction?
In a nutshell, it is the removal of surface scratches from a vehicles paintwork and restoring the finish, unlocking the gloss and depth of colour previously hidden underneath. Whilst not always the case, the majority of cars on the road today will have a clear coat (lacquer). This is the layer I’m working with and in most cases is thinner than a post-it note so not all scratches can be totally removed! That said, it really is quite amazing just what can be achieved.
How much does it cost?
Well, how long is a piece of string? I’m not going to lie, here at Reflected Image, I am never going to be the cheapest. Rather try to offer good value whilst keeping the quality of workmanship paramount. Like most other reputable detailing businesses, paintwork correction is generally offered as part a detailing package. In order to account for:-
a. what the vehicle needs
b. what time there is available
c. clients budget
At Reflected Image, I have three basic detailing packages which include a level of paint correction.
Light Enhancement detail:
This the ‘entry level’ if you like. Here I will use whats known as a single stage polish. Typically this will be a one product and one pad. These are products designed for this purpose and will a achieve a good level of cut but also be able to refine to a good finish too. Will this service remove every scratch and swirl mark? Unless your car is in a very good condition to start with then no. What it will do is make it much better whilst keeping time and budget down to a minimum.
Here I up the game a little. Typically utilising a heavier cut polish or compound, this enables me to chase out some of the deeper swirl marks and scratches. This is followed up with a finishing polish which is what refines the gloss. Even at this level I won’t be aiming to chase every scratch but usually aim for an 80%
improvement depending on how bad it is to start with.
One for the perfectionists! Now I must stress, unlike somepeople out there I will never promise complete and total correction as this is, in virtually all cases impossible, sorry! The aim here is to utilise everything I have at my disposal (and that is quite a lot these days) to correct the paintwork to the very best I can where and when safe to do so. This is quite time-consuming of course but the end result is often quite something. This does not including full wet sanding. That's another topic altogether and one I would discuss on an individual basis.
So costs. Detailing and paint correction is never going to be dirt cheap and prices will be to be tailored to your exact vehicle. What I will say is this. If someone says they “have a mate that’ll mop your car for £60” you need to ask some choice questions. Firstly, have they the faintest clue what they are doing. Sounds daft but there has recently been an explosion of ‘I’ve done mine and my mates car, been on a course and now I call myself a ‘master detailer’. Before I even think about putting pad to paint a number of things have to be done first. It needs to be prepared by the way of a three-part decontamination, paint depths need to be taken and an assessment of the vehicles paintwork made. That is the best part of the morning gone! Paintwork correction itself is not a five-minute job and if they are going to get it done before lunch then what corners are being cut. Do they have the correct equipment to do the job in the first place and then the big one. Are they correctly insured? I hear of so many that say they are but all they really have is public liability and whilst this may help if you trip over their extension lead, it simply will not cover them if they get carried away and burn through your paint!
Finally, managed to get the first car for 2018 coated with a relatively new product, SiSTAL from Krystal Kleen Detail. One I had the pleasure of being involved in during the testing stages before launch in the back end of last year. From the coating "family" SiSTAL takes a different route in a number of key areas. Firstly and most importantly, unlike many full-blown ceramic coatings, SiSTAL isn't too fussy when it comes to application conditions. Low humidity and higher temperatures are not vital and you don't have to hide the car away for a good few hours after before it can get wet. It doesn't offer scratch resistance but does give high gloss and durability from the elements. There is also a significant cost saving over ceramic too!
12 months is probably realistic in regards to durability (depending on how the car is used and maintained). This particular new Audi Q3 belongs to a regular client of mine, so I will be keeping a close eye on how it performs!
ReGLOSS from Krystal Kleen Detail is one of the very best glazes and a product which is kept on the Reflected Image van. ReGLOSS Plus builds on what ReGLOSS offers and becomes an ‘all in one’ product. Containing micro abrasives to aid removal of light swirl marks and holograms whilst also being a glaze combined with a wax and polymer film. This not only provides depth of gloss but also durability of somewhere in the region of six weeks or so on its own, or can be topped with a traditional wax to enhance gloss and durability further.
A picture paints a thousand words so here is a 50:50 before and after. Application is by machine polisher only. Look at it as Autoglym’s Super Resin Polish on steroids! Whilst not a product for every car and job that is for sure, I’m sure there will be occasions where this will do nicely. Perhaps filling the gap between an exterior valet and one of the detailing packages maybe!
The first visit to undertake a maintenance detail on Greg from Today Magazine's new Misano red Audi S4. Here you can see Krystal Kleen Detail Blizzard ph natural snowfoam being used during the prewash stages to help removal of as much winter road grime as possible before any physical contact with wash media. Dramatically reducing the risk of inducing scratches and swirl marks.
The 'Level One valet' is the entry-level package offered at Reflected Image. Ideal for regular maintenance following a more in-depth valeting/detailing service or even for anyone whose car isn't particularly dirty or not wanting to have anything too comprehensive.
What does a Level one valet involve?
Using a range of specifically developed wheel cleaning products and wheel cleaning tools, both the wheel face and barrels are safely cleaned.
• WHEEL ARCHES
A Prewash detergent is applied before being pressure washed to remove dirt and debris from the vehicles wheel arches.
It is very important to remove as much dirt from the surface of the vehicle as possible before physical contact is made with any wash media. This is to minimise the risk of inducing surface damage to the paintwork. One or two stages may be required ranging from a citrus prewash to a ph balanced snow foam. All products used are designed purposely for this job and are safe on trims such and chrome window surrounds.
The vehicle is hand washed using soft, paint-safe wash media and very high quality car shampoo utilising the 'two bucket method'. Essentially two buckets, one containing just water and the other car shampoo. The plain water bucket acting as a rinse so any dirt taken off the car is not put back on again. Special guards are also at the base of each bucket to help trap any dirt and prevent it being transferred to the paintwork. A second wash pad is used purely for the lower areas ie. under the sills as these areas trap more dirt. Once rinsed the vehicle is dried using a range of plush microfiber drying towels.
Once the car has been washed and rinsed a paint sealant, which also acts as a rinse aid to help drying is applied via the lance. This adds gloss and protection.
The interior is given a thorough vacuum, including the floor mats and boot. The dash and plastics are dusted and any small obvious stains are removed where possible (obviously if the seats/carpets are badly soiled then further work will be required).
All windows are cleaned both inside and out. The mirrors are also included too!
To finish the job the tyres are dressed and toned to how you like them, matte or even gloss.