CLASSIC DETAILS - A Touch Cleaner

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CLASSIC DETAILS - A Touch Cleaner

Post by PoshTwit » Mon May 12, 2014 11:51 am

© Richard March 2014
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A Touch Cleaner

So now you have a lovely clean-looking car, but is it really clean? There are many myths surrounding the next steps of preparation and I hope to dispel some in the following blurb as this is where it begins to get a bit more in-depth.
Once again, have a good close look at your paintwork – has your wash left any spots or bits on the car? It is important to remove these before you apply your chosen wax or sealant but more important to identify the remains in order that they can be removed correctly.

Tar Spots and Bug Splats:
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No matter how careful you are around roadworks and freshly resurfaced roads you will always pick up some tar spots, and we all know how sticky flies and insects can be when they impact your bonnet. I’m sure I don’t need to describe dead bug remains, but tar spots appear as small black or dark brown specks and dots and will be especially prevalent on the lower portions of your car. Many people will tell you different ways to remove them if your standard 2-bucket wash has failed, but the correct way to do it is with a proprietary “Tar and Glue” remover of which there are several to choose from, be it off-the-shelf in a high street store, or mail order. Soak a cloth with your chemical of choice (gloves are recommended to protect your skin) and hold it onto a spot until the apparently black spots turn brown and begin to run. It is vital that you wait until the tar has dissolved in order that you can wipe the tar away gently instead of resorting to rubbing it off. Before you start, just bear in mind that if it sticks so well to the side of your car – how many sharp, gritty particles are also stuck to it, ready to scratch your nice clean paintwork!

Fall-out and brake dust:

This type of contamination is made up of often microscopic metallic particles which are produced when any two metallic surfaces come together for example train wheels on the track or even your own brakes. All cars will have some fall-out contamination and the key is to identify how much there is to be sure you use the right treatment to remove it. With the back of your hand, or even with your hand in a plastic bag to amplify the effect, gently feel the surface of your car. Is it silky smooth, or is it grainy? My money is on it feeling almost gritty, but are the “bits” close together creating a sandpaper-like surface (you would be able to see it if it is!), or far apart more akin to woodchip wallpaper?

If you have a “sandpaper” car, you should resort to a specialist fall-out remover. These are even harsher than Tar and Glue products as they are designed to dissolve the minute particles and I would recommend researching these yourself rather than me providing general directions as each product will have its own requirements. I have generally only come across cars like this in heavy industrial areas or next to railway lines.
Hopefully you will have a “woodchip” car and the contamination is spread out across the surface. If so – go to clay. Do not pass go. Do not collect £200!

Detailing Clay and “Claying”:

The single-most misunderstood and misused item in your detailing armoury is detailing clay, so let’s dispel some myths first and foremost.
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To begin with – it isn’t even clay! It is a mineral-based putty compound which, like polishes, comes in varying levels of aggressiveness for use depending on the level of contamination. For the hobby detailer there should never be any need to go beyond a mild or soft claybar.

So what is it actually for? (bear with me – it’s going to get a bit technical!)

Let’s go right back to the beginning and look at what your paintwork actually is. Regardless of how “flat” or perfect your paint appears to be it is not solid. If you were to look at it under a microscope you would see thousands of tiny holes (I normally refer to them as pores – but I am a weirdo) across the surface and it is these that cause us problems. Microscopic contaminants (like the above fallout)and sticky tree sap grab onto these pores and cling on for dear life making them impossible to remove with a simple washing process and it is these “bonded contaminants” that clay is designed to remove, leaving as near-perfect a surface as possible for your next step be it polishing, glazing or sealing. Standard washing cannot remove this type of contamination and when you are preparing your car for the season it is important that you get rid of it all before you continue the process otherwise these particles will be either polished into the surface causing harm to the car or sealed in by your sealant or wax making them even more difficult to remove the next time.
I have been asked many questions about clay - it is not absorbent (it will not soak-up oil stains) it will not remove or disguise scratches (in fact it will inflict marring) and it should certainly not be used regularly, only once or twice a year and even then only if necessary.

How does it work?

Clay is sticky. In basic terms, it adheres to the bonded contaminants and pulls them out of the pores in your paint and away from the surface of your car. It is always worth bearing in mind that clay represents a flat surface (there is no “pile” to lift particles away from your car) and as such when in use it will (there is no avoiding it) inflict marring to your paintwork as the ex-bonded contaminants are pulled out of the paint. In my day job I will not use clay unless there will be at least a single-stage polish carried-out to remove the damage, and I will resort to the above methods of sympathetically removing contaminants instead. For the hobbyist, it may not even be noticeable however so don’t get scared!

OK – how do I use it then?
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Carefully! You will need your chosen claybar, and also a lubricant. As there are so many clays to choose from I would recommend following the manufacturer’s recommendations, but here are some general instructions based on my experience:

1. You have washed your car, dried it, removed any insect remains and tar spots and are left with just the bonded contaminants to remove before you can apply your polish, glaze, sealant or wax.
2. Dust will have settled on the car in the meantime so it is worth giving each panel a spray with a Quick Detailer and gentle wipe before you begin the claying process. As with everything else, the “orange principle” applies – for those who have forgotten or weren’t paying attention to the last load of waffle I wrote, start at the top and work gradually around and down the car as though you were peeling an orange.
3. Break off a piece of clay. Experience will teach you how much to use, but for a Scimitar GTE-sized car about 1/3 to ½ the bar should be sufficient. Now knead it (clay works best when it is warm and malleable) and roll it into a ball, then into a sausage and then flatten it. It is vital to keep the clay warm otherwise it can become brittle and ineffectual.
4. Staring with the roof, and working a 2ft square area spray your lubricant onto the surface, just enough to make it wet all over, spray the clay and then gently – using just enough pressure to hold the clay onto the surface – work the clay back and forth until the resistance subsides and it glides smoothly over the surface.
5. Knead the clay to keep it malleable and fold it to present a fresh, clean face before moving on to the next area.
6. Never clay dry paint and if you feel the resistance increase under the clay, spray on more lubricant.
7. Always apply a wax or sealant after you have clayed the car as most claybars will remove any residual wax other than the most hard-wearing glass or ceramic-based sealants.

Once you have been all around your paintwork, you could continue to clay your glass and then your wheels (in that order!), always ensuring you present a clean face to each new section.

Is that it?
This may seem like an odd place to leave you all hanging, but after a thousand words on claybars it would be unfair of me to subject you to a further load of blah about polishing and glazing – the next steps in the process - and then waxing or sealing to protect your now near-perfect finish.

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I will aim to have another article ready next month.

As always, if you would like any advice or product recommendations, or if you would like to book me for any detailing work or a Noggin Detailing Day, please contact me through http://www.classic-details.co.uk.


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Re: CLASSIC DETAILS - A Touch Cleaner

Post by scimmy_man » Mon May 12, 2014 12:36 pm

so sitting here with a clean car, do I throw a sheet over it in the garage? or let the dust settle?


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Re: CLASSIC DETAILS - A Touch Cleaner

Post by PoshTwit » Mon May 12, 2014 12:41 pm

Don't cover it - the cover will do more harm than the dust.


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Re: CLASSIC DETAILS - A Touch Cleaner

Post by scimmy_man » Mon May 12, 2014 3:38 pm

even in the garage?


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Re: CLASSIC DETAILS - A Touch Cleaner

Post by PoshTwit » Mon May 12, 2014 4:57 pm

Personally, yup. Do you clean the inside of your cover before you put it on the car?

Airborne dust is less likely to do any damage than particles trapped under a cover which can then be scraped over the car like a scouring pad every time the cover moves.


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Re: CLASSIC DETAILS - A Touch Cleaner

Post by scimmy_man » Mon May 12, 2014 6:21 pm

I was more bothered about walking round the car and catching it, its a proper car dust sheet I "acquired" some years ago.

I can blow the dust off as soon as it leaves the garage.
thanks


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Re: CLASSIC DETAILS - A Touch Cleaner

Post by PoshTwit » Mon May 12, 2014 6:35 pm

Its a personal thing. I would be happier with being careful around the car and maybe having one or two slight marks, versus thousands of marks every time the cover is put on, taken off, moved, etc.

I just don't like car covers!!


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