Hey everybody, first up, happy new year! So this is our first Blog Post to start off a new year, and will be the first of many. On the 4th of January we had an amazing opportunity to work on a very unique car. We are a massive fan of this particular brand and the owner is definitely not the type of person to buy a car like this and store it away in a darkened garage for no one to see. It has been driven like its supposed to be, and you can tell that is what it was made for - to be thoroughly enjoyed and driven to its fullest.
We arrived at the "Secret" location and as we pulled up I could see a garage which I could only have assumed that the Lotus would be in there, I was kindly greeted by the owner and as we talked and walked to the garage I was excited to see it for the first time, he opened the door and there it was, hidden away in its Carbon Grey paintwork. The owner fired the Lotus up and the sound of the 3.5L V6 burbling away was a song to my ears, he pulled it up to where I was going to do the Wash Stages before pulling it back indoors for a Stage 1 Paint Correction and Protection Detail.
We got the Evora in the right place for the wash, so I went around the vehicle assessing what had to be done and what approach to tackle it with, and also to check for any damages, one thing that I will always do before I touch any vehicle and will mention to my clients if I see anything worth mentioning. So getting on with the job we were here to do I set up my wash equipment and tools. I opted to go for a pre-wash with the snow-foam gun to prevent me instilling any swirls/scratches into this expensive machine, followed by a three bucket-method hand wash.
So I snow-foamed the vehicle using my Honda Pressure Washer and Snow-foam lance, I chose "Chemical Guys No Touch Snow-foam" to use as I feel it gives me the best dwell time for the product and effectively works the best by drawing the dirt from the paintwork to the ground where it should be. I tend to leave it on the vehicle for roughly 10 minutes to get the best out of the product, while its working its magic I go round all the windows, light clusters, number plates, grills, mirrors, door handles, wipers and any other crevice where road film can linger, I use my Boar hairs brush from Polished Bliss and AutoSmart G101. (All Purpose Cleaner) By now the foam will be a few minutes into its job so we set out on to the gorgeous wheels and HUGE brakes it had.
The face of the wheels were not really that bad but the wheel wells had a covering of brake dust so I got my Wheel Bucket by me and used applied Auto Finesse Iron Out to the wheels and left it to get to work and start deteriorating the iron contaminates, I used my Wheel Woolies to get in every nook and cranny on these 18" alloys, I sprayed the inner arches which were carpeted to keep down road noise with APC and used a stiff brush to loosen all the leaves and dirt from the carpet fibres. As I worked round one wheel at a time ensuring that no product dries on the wheels, by now the wheels did start looking like new again. The tyres also got a good scrub with APC and my Wheel Wedge to remove any previous tyre dressing and road grime, you always need a perfectly clean base so that tyre dressings can get into the rubber and protect them, whilst giving them that shine or matt finish.
I pressure washed the wheels and arches dislodging the grime and then worked onto the body of the vehicle, it already looked 100 times better with just the prewash stage done. Now time for the Two Bucket Method Hand Wash, we filled up our two 20L buckets and placed the grit-guards at the bottom to prevent scratches/swirls, today we chose to use Hubikote Shampoo, it has a wonderful lime smell to it and it isn't that sudsy (doesn't produce much shampoo bubbles) which I prefer and the lubricant factor is immense, perfect for insuring to not instil swirls, which is the main focus when working on any vehicle.
I used a Lambs wool wash mitt and carefully started at the top of the half of the vehicle e.g. roof, windscreen, rear window, boot lid, bonnet (I always start on all the horizontal panels of the vehicle as there generally the least dirty and the wash solution will run down the vertical panels and make it abit easier when I get to them. Although that is just my personal preference). When I finished I rinsed the car down to remove it of its shampoo solution, this is a must as you don't want the product left to dry on the car, unless you are using a rinseless shampoo.
So now the Wash Stageis complete I went on to the 'Decontamination' process. I'll go into a bit of detail about what contamination is and why it is one of the biggest factors to complete whilst detailing a vehicle.
Contamination is pollution from the elements e.g. break dust, air traffic, tar, bird bombs, tree sap... it relentlessly pursues your car the second it leaves the factory until your car is then protected. When contaminants get a solid grip on your paintwork, washing alone is not enough to remove them, they are rough to the touch and sound like sand paper when you rub your hand across the paintwork. You may think your car is free of them but I guarantee its not, in the detailing industry we have a term called the plastic bag test, place your hand in a plastic sandwich bag and gently run your hand against the panel, the plastic bag makes you feel all the little bits of iron fallout attached.
Too ensure when you wax/polish/protect your vehicle it is a MUST to remove all contamination. The contamination prevents light from reflecting off the paintwork giving you that amazing deep wet look paint and rich glossy clarity, it gives it a dull look and if you're applying a protective coating to your paintwork without decontaminating the paint, you will just be protecting the contaminants and wasting product and money. When you remove all the Iron Fallout it leaves a base layer for the protective coating to go down onto the perfectly clean paintwork, ensuring that you will get perfect looking paint and the durability of the coating to its fullest. I like to use a brief term when speaking to my clients that when you remove the contamination from the paint work, its like exfoliating your skin and pores so that you keep clean and can moisturise your skin, so its exactly the same here, your exfoliating the paint to ensure that there is no dirt in the way to protect the paint.
Anyway enough about that, lets get back to that beautiful Lotus.
I went round the vehicle with Auto Finesse iron out covering mostly the lower halfs of the vehicle and left it to dwell for a few minutes, I decided to tackle the worst of the contamination with Iron Out and then hit the rest of the spots with the clay bar.
I drained out the now dirty wash water out of my buckets and refilled with new clean water and hubikote shampoo, if im doing a full decontamination ill use my shampoo mixture as lubricant for the clay bar. This Lotus was one of the worst decontaminated vehicles I've ever come across, the rear of the car was the worst but the finished results were truly remarkable, our client was deeply impressed by the result.
I finished claying the vehicle and I got my hose and gently sheeted the water over the bodywork so that the water runs straight off to save the drying time. I then got my Ammo Hydrate (Drying Aid) and sprayed two squirts onto my damp microfiber cloth and fully dried the vehicle.
The client then moved the vehicle back into the garage so I could get to work on the Paint Correction and Protection.
So first off, we set up our lighting and machine polisher, and used our Das6 Pro Dual Action machine, we then picked a test spot for the vehicle and chose the pads/polish starting from the least aggressive. So I chose a white hex logic pad with V38 polish, both supplied by Chemical Guys UK. The test spot was the rear passenger quarter panel a 2ft x 2ft area. The chosen combination managed to remove 60% of the swirls but not as much as we were hoping for, so instead of changing a pad, I kept the white hex logic and went for the V36 polish (slightly more aggressive) and this really did the job I was expecting. Managed to cut right through all the bad swirls. Remember this is just a 1 stage machine polish, but I did have to do about three stages on the bonnet where the customers, believe it or not, Goat tried getting on it and scratched it up pretty badly.
So after a few hours and a aching back of machine polishing, I finally get to the bonnet, the worst part of the vehicle from those damn Goats. For this I had to use a Micro-Fibre Cutting pad to be able to cut a lot better than the hex logic pads previously used, with about half a dozen passes I was able to remove all the scratches. I followed up with the white hex logic pad to refine the slight pigtails left by the MF cutting pad.
After a good few hours doing a 1 stage machine polish to remove the slight swirling on this beautiful Lotus from improper washing & drying techniques, we moved onto protecting the paintwork, I chose to use my favourite sealant to use, as its so easy to apply and remove, and the results clearly speak for themselves, I chose Chemical guys Jet-Seal 109. I applied two small lines on my black soft applicator pad and squeezed the applicator together to do the butterfly effect, I always apply it in straight lines to maximise coverage and to insure perfect layering. The good thing about jet seal 109 is that it can be applied to pretty much everything, except I don't use it on the trim. I applied it to the paintwork, glass, headlights, and wheels and you have to leave it to cure for 20 minutes, so while I was waiting for it, I dressed the Tyres with Ammo Mud (Tyre Gel), and also dressed the black trim with it. I managed to polish the exhaust tips with AutoSol before it was time to take the jet seal off. I got my plushest MF cloth and started from the front of the car removing the sealant from the car, making sure I didn't miss any parts as people will always notice the bad bits you have missed on a car before the good, I find.
I was happy to finish the Lotus as it was a long day, but I am so glad I had the opportunity to work on such a unique vehicle, so thank you for reaching to the end after a very long read on my first write up.
Will be happy to hear your comments on how I've done.
Shane - Auto Pro Glow Detailing Ltd
Ps, go check out the photo's of the Lotus on my showcase, and keep an eye out for more blog write up's in the near future.