Extreme auto paint care

In 1997 I had "Stongard", a clear 3M film applied to the lower 12" of the hood and other leading edges of my 1988 Porsche 911 Carrera  to protect the paint.  After 11 years the film started to yellow and corners were coming up in spots so I had it professionally removed (to avoid risking having the clear coat come up). 

Unfortunately the edge of the film on the hood left a horizontal line all the way across the hood (about 2" above the crest).  I’ve spent the last 3 weeks learning how to fix paint blemishes like this.  Tonight I declare victory!  As you can see from this picture there is no line and the paint is absolutely perfect (modulo 21 years and 30K miles of wear).  It took an incredible amount of work to get here, mostly because I had to learn along the way.

First, I tried to remove the "scratch" using my Griot’s orbital polisher.  After many hours of hard work I really made no significant progress, even using Griot’s #1 polish. I consulted with a professional detailer who has done our other cars (Aaron at 3LG Auto Detailing).  He informed me that while the Groit’s polisher is good for "weekend warriors" it really lacks in cutting ability.

But I have always been very scared of using commercial polishing machines because I have heard how easy it is to permanently damage paint with them. Aaron informed me that there is a "professional" quality "dual action orbital" polisher that blows the Groit’s machine away:  The Flex XC 3401 VRG.  I ordered one along with a Manzerna polish and pad kit that Aaron recommended.  They arrived yesterday.

I also came to learn that to really remove blemishes like the one I was dealing with polishing would likely just keep "pushing" the scratch down into the clearcoat.  And that I needed to wetsand to really get it out.  This scared the crap out of me.  I couldn’t imagine rubbing SAND PAPER, wet or not, on the finish of my beloved 21  year old car.  What if I screwed up?

Youtube to the rescue.  I found a bunch of really good videos on Youtube that demonstrate how to safely and effectively wetsand auto paint.  Here are the basic steps I followed:

  • Wetsand using 2000 grit wetsand paper using a flexible sanding block. Light pressure, lots of water, moving at a 45 degree angle to the scratch. Only a few strokes at a time, checking progress to ensure I didn’t go to deep.
  • Polish with Menzerna PowerGloass Compound using the Flex 3401.  Compound is a very aggressive (according to Aaron on a scale of 1-10 it’s an 8) polish that removes the wetsand marks.
  • Polish with Menzerna Intensive polish (5 on the 1-10 scale).  I did the entire front clip (hood/fenders) starting with this step (the rest of the car looks great from the work I did with the Griot’s products).
  • Polish with Menzerna Nano Polish (PO 106).  3 on the 1-10 scale.
  • Polish with Menzerna Micro Polish (PO 85RD). 0.5 on the 1-10 scale.

I actually did a few of these steps multiple times because, as Aaron showed me, I was not using the Flex polisher correctly. I was running it a too low an RPM (he suggests full speed) with way too much polish and I was not letting the polish "let go".

Finally I applied a coat of my favorite Carnauba wax: One Grand Blitz wax, dressed the rubber, cleaned the glass and took this picture:

When removing the crest on the hood it broke. So I ordered a new OEM crest from Pelican Parts and installed it:

I’m having new film applied next week.  This time I’m having the entire hood covered. It’s great to know that the paint finish under that film will be absolutely perfect.

© Charlie Kindel. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *