Mirka Abralon Foam-Backed Discs.

Mirka Abralon Foam-Backed Discs will win you over the first time you try them.  They are so flexible, and can contour to surfaces better than any other sanding disc I’ve tried.

The face of the disc is a very thin and pliable knitted fabric material (Mirka’s literature does not make mention of what the material is made of).  From the magnified shots I’ve seen, it appears that each strand is made up of eight very thin individual strands (not twisted).  Individually, each strand can contour to odd surfaces, yet because they are bunched in sets of eight, Abralon Discs also give the material impressive strength.  Thanks to the design, liquids and abraded residue are able to migrate between the strands.

Silicon Carbide abrasive grains are attached to each strand, so as the disc changes shape, contouring to surface nuances, there is a high likelihood that at least some scrubbing power will be available at all times.  Silicon carbide is a relatively inexpensive material when produced (natural silicon carbide is somewhat rare, thus expensive), yet it is nearly as hard as a diamond!  Therefore, if you don’t abuse Abralon Discs by using too much pressure or speed (when machine sanding), the will last a long time.

The integrated foam center of the disc serves triple-duty.  First, it helps to distribute applied pressure, which delivers a more consistent cut across the face of the disc.  If you happen to be sanding by hand and are not using a sanding pad, the foam will help to minimize finger ridges (marks that form in the sanding surface due to concentration of pressure at the tip of each finger).  Next, the foam is able to store large amount of liquids (water, oils, or solvents), which helps keep the disc clean, and the sanding surface lubricated.  Finally, the foam adds cushioning, which allows the fabric face of the to stay in contact with virtually any surface shape.

The “grip” or loop backing is compatible with all hook-type backing pads & plates.

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The Rotary Buffer. Nostalgic? Perhaps. Obsolete? Apparently Not!

As of late, there have been substantial advances in the world of paint polishing.  Discussions pertaining to compounds, polishes and pads (and the methods used to polish automotive paint) riddle the various detailing forums on the Web.  It is an exciting time in our little world, and many of us that partake in the online dialogue really take the debates to heart.

In our sphere, there are essentially two types of machines that are used to polish paint: the rotary polisher, and the orbital polisher.

The rotary polisher creates a simple yet effective rotating motion, and for decades it was the way to compound and polish automotive paint.  Note: There is also a drum-style or barrel polisher which uses a rotating motion, but the pads are barrel shaped as opposed to disc shaped (imagine a stack of foam buffing pads, turn the stack on its side, and mount the stack to a machine that then rotates it like a tire).

As things inevitably evolved, so too did the tools used to polish paint.  Enter the orbital polisher.

There are a few variations of the orbital available, which are:  a standard orbital polisher (which almost nobody uses to polish paint at the moment), the random orbital polisher (which is currently the most popular orbital machine), and the forced rotation orbital polisher (which has become quite popular, particularly in the last few years).

An orbital machine that creates two independent directional motions and sums them is referred to as a dual action machine, or simply as a DA polisher.  Purists argue that unless these motions are mechanically driven, the machine is not a “true” dual action machine.  I completely disagree with this viewpoint, but this is perhaps a good topic for another day.

Where am I going with all of this?   Nowhere really, except to say that there are so many interesting discussions pertaining to the benefits and drawbacks to each machine.  Some guys absolutely adore the rotary, perhaps because it is such a difficult machine to truly master.  Once you’ve put the time in to learning to properly use one, it is quite difficult to abandon its allure. The fact is, as of today, the highest paid and most respected paint polishers in the world still use a rotary polisher on a regular basis.

On the other hand, popularity of the random orbital has gained incredible momentum.  These machines are comparatively easy to use, and thanks to advances in buffing liquid technology, they are every bit as capable as a rotary, for most tasks.  As polishing enthusiasts learn to trust in the capabilities of the random orbital, they will certainly squeeze the maximum potential from these machines, just as the rotary polishing masters have done with their trusty steeds.

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Buffing Pads.

Ah, the buffing pad.  So many variations, so many uses.  Comparatively, they are the equivalent of sockets in the hand tool realm.  A mechanic may only own a handful of ratchets, but will typically line his tool chest with dozens, or even hundreds of sockets.

Some buffing pads are designed to accomplish very specific tasks, while others can handle a bevy of duties.  Really though, so much can be accomplished with any particular pad.  A machine change (equivalent to the ratchet, I suppose), an adjustment to machine speed, arm speed, applied pressure, amount of product, primed or not primed, polishing angle, a spritz of water (and perhaps a few other things) can make a really big difference to the pads characteristics.

In the months ahead, it would be informative to delve into the differences in pads, and how they can be manipulated to deliver maximum performance.  Sound like fun?!

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Meguiar’s Detailer Line.

Originally, the Meguiar’s Detailer line consisted of only four products.  It was introduced within the Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze line in the mid-nineties. Products included:

M7601 All Purpose Cleaner (greenish-yellow colored)
M7701 Silicone-Free Tire Dressing (water based, non-flammible, phosphate-free, pink colored)
m7801 Wheel Brite (oxalic acid, safe all surfaces except anodized, dark beer colored)
M7901 Wash and Wax (purple colored)

Today, there are dozens of items branded with the Meguiar’s Detailer moniker.  If you are looking for cutting-edge performance at a reasonable price, you owe it to yourself to search out Detailer-branded products.  They can be found online, or via route trucks that frequent detail shops, dealerships, and other outlets featuring detailing or cleaning products.

Of course, you can also purchase Detailer products at www.buffdaddy.com.  While we are still ramping up our stock of Detailer items, we have a lot on hand that are not yet listed on the site.  The great thing is, Kevin has used gallons upon gallons of Detailer products, so recommending one to you is a snap!

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Meguiar’s M105 & M205 To Polish Metal.

The next time you need to polish aluminum, chrome, or stainless steel, give Meguiar’s M015 Ultra-Cut Compound or Meguiar’s M205 Ultra Finishing Polish a shot.  Before you blurt, “What?!  That product is made for polishing paint, not metal!”, let’s think things through.

Metal polishes are available in liquid, paste, slurry, or bar form.  Typically, metal polishes use abrasive grains to scrub metal away.  The abrasive grains are mixed with all sorts of other ingredients, most of which are designed to keep the abrasives under some sort of control (so they won’t dust away).

Variations of grease, oil, animal fat, silicone, wax, (and other products) are used to act as a buffer of sorts, helping to minimize scouring of the freshly polished surface by floating or encapsulating the freshly abraded metal remnants.  Finally, waxes, silicones, or polymers are designed to form a micro-barrier of protection in order to slow oxidation of the finely polished surface.

A big problem often arises when polishing metals via machine.  As the surface is polished, the metal that is removed  from the surface can attach to buffing wheels or pads (for this discussion, let’s assume we are using a rotary or random orbital polisher, paired with a wool, foam, or microfiber pad).

Since machines work so much more quickly than hand application, abraded metal residue can quickly gather on the pad, and scour or gouge an otherwise pristinely polished surface.  Thanks to the greases, oils, silicones, and waxes, the residue is not easily removed from the pad, so unless you change them often, you will have a rather hard time achieving a perfect result.

Meguiar’s M105 Ultra-Cut Compound and Meguiar’s M205 Ultra finishing Polish aren’t thick and greasy.  Yet, they contain abrasives that are more than capable of polishing aluminum, chrome, and stainless steel.  Once these liquids start to dry or attach to the buffing pad, a spritz of water upon the polishing surface can loosen the abrasives from the  pad, allowing you to use them for longer periods of time.  The water helps to keep the pad pretty darned debris-free too, so scouring of the surface is greatly minimized.

Still, expect to see some scouring (because as metal is removed from the surface, it inevitably will scratch it).  However, since the pads can be kept clean… you should clean them often.  Use plenty of buffing liquid while you polish too, because the excess will help to float or encapsulate abraded residue.  Most of the buffing liquid and metal residue will eventually fling away, which is a good thing.

Once you’ve done the heavy cutting with M105, use a fresh pad and M205.  You will see a big difference in the final finish.  Then, if you’d like to finish things off using a metal polish, give it a shot.  I generally final polish using a fresh microfiber towel and M205 (flipping the towel almost constantly to avoid scouring).  In my experience, the abrasive grains used  in M205 are much finer than those used in most metal polishes.  On several occasions when polishing softer metals (aluminum), I’ve had to re-polish (using M205 once again) after a metal polish left the surface in worse condition than the finish left behind by M205.

The only real drawback to using M105 or M205 to polish metal is… it can be a bit messy, especially if you use lots of water.  For me, it’s worth the mess.

Other than that, use plenty of caution when polishing chrome.  Chrome is very hard, but incredibly thin.  Overdo it while machine polishing, and you’ll cut through the chrome, right down to the nickel coating underneath.  M105 will truly eliminate scratching, which doesn’t usually happen when using chrome or metal polishes… but there is some risk involved.  A keen eye and diligent inspection while you polish should keep damage at bay.

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“Why Does Meguiar’s Make So Many Products?”

When a question arises pertaining to  Meguiar’s products, would you care to wager what question I hear the most?  No need to risk your dough, because the answer is in the title of this post: “Why does Meguiar’s make so many products?!” 

Most of the confusion comes from the fact that Meguiar’s is distributed through different channels, and there are products or entire lines of product designed to be available in those channels.

Some examples:

Mirror Glaze / Professional
The Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze/Professional moniker identifies a Meguiar’s product as being made for professionals.  Mirror Glaze products are very specific, and some products require a high level of skill in order to use properly.  Mirror Glaze products have been available for well over sixty years.  It is a very diverse line.

You’ll find Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze Products available at reputable paint and body equipment stores (PBE), or in stores that have a customer base that demands products that are tailor-made for very specific tasks.  Occasionally, you’ll see some Mirror Glaze Professional products lined up next to Marine, Detailer, or Consumer products.  This is usually done to fill a “gap” when another product in the store’s primary Meguiar’s line does not exist.  Stores such as www.buffdaddy.com are full-line dealers, so we stock or can get every product Meguiar’s makes.

Meguiar’s Detailer products are also tailored-made for professionals, with an eye towards detailers, detail shops, and car dealerships.  Some of the products are available in jumbo quantities.  It is very rare to find a Detailer product in a consumer-level automotive store.  However, Detailer products are readily available online, or via route trucks that frequent detail shops and dealerships.

The Meguiar’s Consumer line of products are readily available .  You can find Consumer grade products in auto parts stores, hardware stores, department stores, tire and wheel shops, and even grocery stores.  In addition, there are complete lines of products within the Consumer line.  As an example, the Meguiar’s Gold Class line features virtually everything you might need to cosmetically maintain your vehicle.  Need to revitalize your leather seats?  Then you’ll be happy to learn that Gold Class leather care products are available in foam, spray, lotion, and wipe-on versions.  A small store could feasibly carry only Gold Class products, yet manage to offer a customer everything he might need to maintain his ride.

Things get confusing once you realize that there are also Meguiar’s classic products (packaged in burgundy bottles), NXT products, and now, Ultimate products.  Most of the confusion stems from the fact that these sub-lines also feature products similar to those available in the Gold Class line!  It is easy to understand how a person could become confused, even if he considers only products in Meguiar’s Consumer line.

If you are not sure what product is best for you, ask an expert!  Meguiar’s keeps a wonderful staff on hand, ready and able to answer your questions.  Their toll-free number can be found on every product they offer.  You can also e-mail or call us at www.buffdaddy.com (use the link to the right for more information).

Oh yeah- Meguiar’s also offers a complete Boat/RV line and a Motorcycle line (and there are quite a few bottles of the Furniture line lying around).

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Put Some Spring Into That Step… With An Interface Pad.

When machine sanding, an interface pad is placed between the sanding disc and backing plate.  Its job is to allow the sanding disc to flex, so that it can contour to curved or oddly shaped surfaces.  Of course, if a sanding disc features a stiff backing, it will not flex as readily as a sanding disc featuring a soft backing.

Although some folks reckon that an interface pad automatically lessens the ability of a disc to level a surface flat or true , this is not always the case.  To envision this, first imagine a sanding disc with a very stiff backing (such as a piece of plate aluminum).  Without an ability to flex, an interface pad would not improve the contouring ability of the disc.  On the flip side, a very pliable sanding disc will respond well to the implementation of an interface pad.

Interface pads are available in a variety of diameters and heights.  It is important to note that an interface pad may affect the motion created by the machine via absorption, or cushioning.  It therefore makes sense to assume that a tall or pliable interface pad will affect machine motion to a greater degree than a short or stiff interface pad of a similar type.  The cushioning of machine motion is especially noticeable when the machine features a very small stroke diameter (a 3/32″ diameter stroke or smaller).

Interface pads can also help to distribute applied pressure and weight across the face of the disc, resulting in a more consistent sanding result.

Fortunately, interface pads are inexpensive, so having a few on hand doesn’t require a big investment.

To learn more, visit the interface pads page.

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More About Pad Diameter.

Pad tangential speed aka edge speed aka linear speed.

Imagine you are standing on the platform of a merry-go-round, and it is rotating at the rate of one revolution per minute (1 RPM).  If you are standing at the center point of the platform, the speed in which you are rotating is pretty darned slow.  Should you decide to venture towards the edge of the platform, your speed of circular motion would increase as you approach the edge (not the speed in which you are walking, but the speed in which you are traveling in a circular direction).

The increase in speed is due to the fact that although the merry-go-round’s rate of travel is still 1 RPM, you are traveling a longer circular distance the farther you venture from the center of the platform.  If we rate your speed using a common measurement such as miles per hour (MPH), then for any given RPM, your speed will increase as the diameter of the path you are traveling gets bigger.

The same dynamic occurs when you use a large diameter pad as opposed to a small one.  Therefore, for any given RPM setting, a large pad will reach a higher MPH rate along its edge versus a small one.  The speed along the edge of the pad is referred to as tangential speed (not common), edge speed (common), and linear speed (also common).

The increase in speed can change the dynamics of a pad entirely.  Higher edge speeds can cause the pad to heat the polishing surface more rapidly, or raise the temperature to a higher level altogether.  In addition, a potential exists that sees the pad becoming less pliable as it travels more rapidly.  This is because there is less time for the pad to contour to the small nuances of a paint surface.  Instead of contouring, the pad compresses, and then ends up forcing its way through nuances, or obstacles.

If the area you are working on allows you to physically fit a large pad in the vicinity, start with a large pad first.  By tilting the pad and then adjusting speed and pressure, you can mimic the total surface area of a small pad.  You’ll get more edge speed if you need it, yet you’ll be working with more surface area, so the pad can be used longer before it needs cleaning.  Obviously, this information applies to all sorts of buffing pads, including foam, wool, microfiber, and microfinger pads.

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How Pad Diameter Affects Polishing Performance.

How much difference does the diameter of a buffing pad make in regards to polishing performance?  It may be a lot more than you realize. First, lets consider surface area.

If we compare a 3-inch diameter pad to a 4-inch diameter pad, there’s only a one inch difference between the two.  What you may not realize however is that although the 4-inch pad seems to be only marginally larger, the increase in surface area of the pad face is about 77.7%!

This means that you can potentially polish more surface area in the same amount of time, or polish the same amount of area in less time when using a 4 inch pad.  It also means that you can use a 4-inch pad longer before it saturates with abraded paint residue and other performance-robbing goop.

A pad featuring a large diameter also distributes applied pressure and weight across a broader area than a small diameter pad (all other parameters being equal).  This assumes that the entire face of the pad is in contact with the surface being polished.

Reasoning things out, you might conclude that the net effect of the size discrepancy is a concentration of polishing power when using a smaller diameter pad, and you’d be right. However, don’t assume that there will be more or less cutting or finishing ability all the time, because there is another component to consider, which I’ll cover in my next blog post tomorrow.

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Billy’s One-Wheeled Canyon-Running Machine.

As Billy entered the zone, his concentration was paramount. The valley he planned to traverse while operating his one-wheeled machine was treacherous. One false move, and its effects would be irreversible.

The intimidating machine partially masked Billy’s vision as it traveled the gully. To combat the blind spots, Billy  steered utilizing a zigzag pattern, avoiding the ridges along the way.

Billy’s reputation was one of fearlessness, but truth be told, he was just plain lucky. Should the electric-powered wheel tear through the base of the canyon, his confidence would be blown to bits.

Moments before Billy completed his quest for glory, a shrill screech broke his concentration. Billy was visibly shaken, but managed to grind the machine to a halt.

“Do you think you can remove that scratch from my hood, young man?”

Billy  forced himself to respond, using an even-mannered tone.

“Yes, Mrs. Smith.  I think everything is going to turn out just fine.”

Billy winged the throttle of his rotary polisher, inspected its wheel, and got back to work.

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