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Holy hell. How do the pros do this in a time that is even remotely profitable? Given that we're all stuck at home anyway, I decided to pull the trigger on my first "full" exterior detail. I watched a ton of YouTube videos on detailing and eventually stumbled on a bunch of old Junkman and ChrisFix videos that I more-or-less followed. 20+ hours later and a lot of "I'm sorry" to a very patient wife stuck watching the kids, and here's the end result...

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Mike
 

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I think this all the time about “trade” jobs. Aka. Brick layers, concrete finishers, operating engineers ( last being what i do). Anyone can “do” the job. But how the hell do you become so good that you can be profitable. I did my ss and my wifes tahoe. Then he ram. Id easily have to charge 1200 with cheap products

Looks great and i love the tail pipes
 

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Ya missed a spot......

Just kidding. Nice work! Watch the Adams Polishes videos too. Tons of good info out there.
 
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nice job..............looks great. it's incredible what can be accomplished when we all had a little more time!!!

what exhaust are you running as that's not stock for a 15?
 

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Okay now details on the detail. What did you do, skip, etc.

20 hours sounds like a lot so list it out!
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Okay now details on the detail. What did you do, skip, etc.

20 hours sounds like a lot so list it out!
Honestly, there's probably a lot of ways I could have gone faster, but since you asked....

1) Wash: 3 bucket method. Wheels first, though I did end up pulling them off the car at the end and going to town on them because I couldn't get them as clean as I wanted. Spray foam to start the car wash. Typical 2-bucket method for the rest of the car (grit guards, multiple clean microfiber mitts, no circular motions, etc). The only change I did here was to use a car wash soap that's meant to strip off old wax. Normally I use some sort of wash/wax combo solution because I'm both OCD about cleaning the car (about every other week) but also very lazy when it comes to wax, lol. Costco has some Meguiar's wash/wax that's my go-to normally.

2) Dry: I spent very little time on this since I figured water spots aren't a concern when you're about to polish. I just hit it with my dedicated leaf blower and called it good. Normally I follow that with a towel dry combined with detail spray, using these very nice microfiber drying towels that I got at Harbor Freight, of all places.

Steps 3-5 were done in-order in basically a panel-by-panel method. In hindsight, doing all of these steps to the entirety of the car one-at-a-time may have made everything go faster, but my garage space doesn't allow me 360° access to the car and it was raining most of the week I was doing this, so I improvised. I also used Steps 3-5 on the headlights and taillights and was very pleased with the way the headlights cleaned up.

3) Prep: I wiped the panel down with Mothers CMX Surface Prep. Whether this was necessary considering I used a car shampoo that should have removed all old wax, I don't know, but next time I would probably skip this and save a bit of time. I then used a clay mitt (Adams) along with some Chemical Guys clay lube. It was my first time using a clay mitt, and I'm now a BIG fan vs the clay bar. I have clayed cars in the past, and aside from the time saved, the mitt also kept me from dropping the clay bar and having to get a new one. Well worth it!

4) Polish: I followed Junkman's method here as much as possible. I bought a PC7424 DA polisher and did an initial polish with Meguiar's 105 (using an orange CG HexLogic polishing pad) followed by a final polish using Meguiar's 205 (using a white CG HexLogic polishing pad). For the front and rear of the car, a lot of this polishing was done by hand to get into the nooks and crannies. That definitely took a while!

5) Sealant: I used Meguiar's 21 Synthetic Sealant 2.0 (using a black CG HexLogic polishing pad). 2 coats, of course, per the product instructions. I seriously debated doing a ceramic coating on the car, but was worried that I'd end up sealing in some imperfections since this was my first time polishing. Besides, like I said earlier, the car 'gets waxed' regularly when I wash it. I'm not sure how much the polisher sped up this step. Seems like the pad soaked up a TON of the sealant, and I buffed it all off by hand anyway. I used these SUPER SOFT white fluffy towels I got at Harbor Freight for this step, and they did an EXCELLENT job.

6) Glass: For the windshield and rear glass, I 'super cleaned' them using the ChrisFix method (basically steps 3 and 5 just on the glass)

7) Black plastic trim: I used Meguiar's Ultimate Black plastic restorer.

8) Wheels/tires: At the end, I just wasn't happy with how clean the wheels were, so I ended up taking each one off the car and soaking them in Meguiar's Ultimate Wheel Cleaner (super stinky stuff that turns purple while it attacks the brake dust). That, combined with some scrubbing with a plastic-bristled detail brush behind the spokes and some very aggressive pressure washing got the wheels as good as they're ever going to get. For tire dressing, I use Meguiar's Endurance Tire Gel. I have a love/hate relationship with this stuff. It lasts better than any off-the-shelf stuff I have tried, but always flings a bit no matter what I do.

Lessons learned:
  • Harbor Freight actually has pretty darn good car wash / detailing products, especially for the money. All of the mitts, wheel brushes, applicator pads, drying microfiber towels, and polish/wax buffing towels came from them. They carry the Meguiar's polishes, too.
  • Clay mitt is worth the money, hands down
  • I probably added a step by both using a 'stripper' car wash and a surface prep spray. Next time I'll skip the surface prep
  • Meguiar's Ultimate Wheel Cleaner is awesome and is now my go-to wheel cleaner
  • Oil Vanish oil stain remover, applied to a rag, works really well to get polish/wax out of black plastic trim. Follow it with the Meguiar's Ultimate Black plasic restorer, and it will look like new
  • Next time I'll probably both apply and buff off the sealant by hand. The pad soaked up a ton of sealant, so much so that I ended up tossing it because I couldn't get it all out. Then again, maybe next time I ceramic coat instead
  • The panel-by-panel method led to a lot of time redoing areas because I would overlap. It also meant a lot of cleaning polishing pads, washing microfibers, etc. I'm sure doing steps 3-5 to the entirety of the car, in order, would have saved time. I just didn't want to pull the car out of the garage and into the rain to do it.
Hope this helps someone,

Mike
 

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NICE WORK!! I'm a multi-day detailing fan so I can totally understand the 20+ hours you put it into... You're probably a bit sore as well!

This year I plan to ceramic coat my SS using Adam's Polishes.... I did the wheels at the beginning of the pandemic BS, but I've been a bit leery to purchase the rest of the products, and 15" Swirl Killer polisher, until life settles a bit back to "normal" when it comes to my work life.

Having said that, I already have my 3-day plan worked out almost hour by hour... talk about OCD!

Again, looks GREAT! Muffler tips especially impressive.

//Brew
 

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I started this last year... never finished and was likely looking at double that time.

my wheels have corrosion that i am having a time getting off as well.
 

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Get some Adam's Tire Shine, it doesn't sling at all. Also, you will want to use the surface prep after polishing but before you apply a sealant, wax, ceramic, etc. You can also just use isopropyl alcohol here to save money. I would suggest also investing in some better microfibers, I really like the Cobra purple towels Autogeek sells. Meg's 105 and 205 are fantastic. You also shouldn't apply a sealant with the polisher, as you found out it is very thin so the pad soaks at all up.
 

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Wait, so I'm supposed to wash my SS?? I had no idea it could look like that, haha.

I'm still having PTSD from recently finishing the main exterior on my Supra. 4+ months and hundreds of hours. Haven't even gotten to the door jambs, wheels, interior or engine bay yet. {twitching as I type this}
 

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Nice, Camera picking up a radiant glow...
And the black and gold I plate looks very normal too me.
i remember those as a child :)
 

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I would suggest a newer polisher. The 7424 was good for its time but the new stuff is much easier to use, less vibration, better coverage, etc. Adams 15mm swirl killer is a good inexpensive unit to start with. I just bought 2 new cordless units from Flex. Need to get them going!

and check out Theragcompany.com for towels. They have some pretty good sales.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Get some Adam's Tire Shine, it doesn't sling at all. Also, you will want to use the surface prep after polishing but before you apply a sealant, wax, ceramic, etc. You can also just use isopropyl alcohol here to save money. I would suggest also investing in some better microfibers, I really like the Cobra purple towels Autogeek sells. Meg's 105 and 205 are fantastic. You also shouldn't apply a sealant with the polisher, as you found out it is very thin so the pad soaks at all up.
I'll have to try Adam's Tire Shine. Thanks! As for the Final Prep, I looked into it a bit more later and realized that, yeah, it's more meant for right before the wax/sealant step.

For the microfibers, I've definitely seen where folks are big fans of the ones from The Rag Company, Chemical Guys, Autogeek etc. FWIW, I have a pack of CG microfibers that I used for buffing off the polishes. But, seriously, I would suggest folks maybe take a look at these Harbor Freight microfibers, too. For the money, and for the convenience of being on the shelf as opposed to mail order, I think they're very good.

Here are the ones I used to buff the sealant: Microfiber Spa Polishing Towels, 2 Pk. . These things are the softest thing I've ever touched. You almost wanna grab a pacifier and take a nap cuddled up with one, lol!

For drying towels, I use this one: 6 Sq. Ft. Premium XL Plush Drying Towel . This is a VERY plush towel, and has a nice weight to it. Used in conjunction with a leaf blower, 1 will dry the whole car.

I also use these wash mitts, mainly because they're cheap enough to throw away and not feel super guilty about it and because they have a lot of mesh surface area to help with the stubborn stuff. Their only downside is that they can catch on corners, so it's not uncommon to get a random blue strand every once in a while: 2-in-1 Microfiber Chenille Wash Mitt

I'm sure there are other microfibers out there that are much better, don't get me wrong. I just wanted to throw out some options for folks. HF can certainly be 'bottom of the barrel' (their basic MF rags are REALLY thin and not that great), but they also have some decent stuff. I wasn't expecting it, but I ran into these while picking up their $80 pressure washer (which is awesome for car washing, btw), and decided to give them a try. As with all towels that will touch the paint, I always wash the MF stuff before using them and after every use using MF detergent in the wash.

I'm still having PTSD from recently finishing the main exterior on my Supra. 4+ months and hundreds of hours. Haven't even gotten to the door jambs, wheels, interior or engine bay yet. {twitching as I type this}
I'm still too chicken to do the engine bay. I keep telling myself I'm not doing it because I don't spend any time with the hood up so it doesn't matter, but the real truth is I'm still paranoid I'll mess something up. That's after watching countless how-to videos on the subject, too.

And the black and gold I plate looks very normal too me.
i remember those as a child :)
For personalized plates, they're actually cheaper than the normal CA plates. I like the look better, so win win.

I would suggest a newer polisher. The 7424 was good for its time but the new stuff is much easier to use, less vibration, better coverage, etc. Adams 15mm swirl killer is a good inexpensive unit to start with. I just bought 2 new cordless units from Flex. Need to get them going
Funny you mention that because I was gonna ask. I picked up the PC because the Junkman video I watched recommended it and because Home Depot sells them (I had a gift card from Xmas that I did't have a use for otherwise). Like most say, it doesn't seem to be a bad unit, but it does seem like there could be better. It's almost numbing to use, the ergos are so-so, and it seems like it doesn't take a lot of pressure for it not to rotate (of course, that's probably the point). Still, I wasn't planning on getting rid of it, but then my father got me a TORQ-X DA polisher for my birthday that came as part of a CG package deal along with CG polishes, more HexLogic pads, etc. Apparently, he thought I had done the whole car by hand and that's why it took so long, lol! So now I'm debating which of the two to keep, or maybe I get rid of both and pick up the Adams unit or the Rupes that I hear so much about? Dunno. Thoughts?

Thanks for all the feedback, folks! And I appreciate the compliments. The car gives me a smile every time I go out to the garage!

Mike
 

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I would suggest a newer polisher. The 7424 was good for its time but the new stuff is much easier to use, less vibration, better coverage, etc. Adams 15mm swirl killer is a good inexpensive unit to start with. I just bought 2 new cordless units from Flex. Need to get them going!

and check out Theragcompany.com for towels. They have some pretty good sales.
For the occasional once a year user of the PC7424, I feel it’s fine.


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I must agree you have to try Adams Polishes....they are the best. Also they have a shop in Anaheim now (not sure how close that is to you) so local pickup is possible now.

I ended up with a Cyclone DO polisher years back. Thing is a work horse, love it.
 

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I'll have to try Adam's Tire Shine. Thanks! As for the Final Prep, I looked into it a bit more later and realized that, yeah, it's more meant for right before the wax/sealant step.

For the microfibers, I've definitely seen where folks are big fans of the ones from The Rag Company, Chemical Guys, Autogeek etc. FWIW, I have a pack of CG microfibers that I used for buffing off the polishes. But, seriously, I would suggest folks maybe take a look at these Harbor Freight microfibers, too. For the money, and for the convenience of being on the shelf as opposed to mail order, I think they're very good.

Here are the ones I used to buff the sealant: Microfiber Spa Polishing Towels, 2 Pk. . These things are the softest thing I've ever touched. You almost wanna grab a pacifier and take a nap cuddled up with one, lol!

For drying towels, I use this one: 6 Sq. Ft. Premium XL Plush Drying Towel . This is a VERY plush towel, and has a nice weight to it. Used in conjunction with a leaf blower, 1 will dry the whole car.

I also use these wash mitts, mainly because they're cheap enough to throw away and not feel super guilty about it and because they have a lot of mesh surface area to help with the stubborn stuff. Their only downside is that they can catch on corners, so it's not uncommon to get a random blue strand every once in a while: 2-in-1 Microfiber Chenille Wash Mitt

I'm sure there are other microfibers out there that are much better, don't get me wrong. I just wanted to throw out some options for folks. HF can certainly be 'bottom of the barrel' (their basic MF rags are REALLY thin and not that great), but they also have some decent stuff. I wasn't expecting it, but I ran into these while picking up their $80 pressure washer (which is awesome for car washing, btw), and decided to give them a try. As with all towels that will touch the paint, I always wash the MF stuff before using them and after every use using MF detergent in the wash.



I'm still too chicken to do the engine bay. I keep telling myself I'm not doing it because I don't spend any time with the hood up so it doesn't matter, but the real truth is I'm still paranoid I'll mess something up. That's after watching countless how-to videos on the subject, too.



For personalized plates, they're actually cheaper than the normal CA plates. I like the look better, so win win.



Funny you mention that because I was gonna ask. I picked up the PC because the Junkman video I watched recommended it and because Home Depot sells them (I had a gift card from Xmas that I did't have a use for otherwise). Like most say, it doesn't seem to be a bad unit, but it does seem like there could be better. It's almost numbing to use, the ergos are so-so, and it seems like it doesn't take a lot of pressure for it not to rotate (of course, that's probably the point). Still, I wasn't planning on getting rid of it, but then my father got me a TORQ-X DA polisher for my birthday that came as part of a CG package deal along with CG polishes, more HexLogic pads, etc. Apparently, he thought I had done the whole car by hand and that's why it took so long, lol! So now I'm debating which of the two to keep, or maybe I get rid of both and pick up the Adams unit or the Rupes that I hear so much about? Dunno. Thoughts?

Thanks for all the feedback, folks! And I appreciate the compliments. The car gives me a smile every time I go out to the garage!

Mike
Take a look at the date on The Junkmans video. It’s been a while since AJ posted those. And he will tell you technique triumphs product every time!
That being said, I like the newer Flex products for dependability and ease of repair. I attended a class with a group of pro detailers and most said they would take Flex over Rupes for those reasons. If you want inexpensive machines with good reviews backed by a company with a great guarantee, go with Adams Polishes.
I have two new cordless Flex units and a Rupes Nano.
 
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car looks great take a lot of work to keep cars looking like new ,and once they are done you dont wont to take them out in the elements ,keep up the good work .........
 
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