Exterior Detailing – The Products

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The last installment of the Detailing Files focused on getting the exterior paint ready to be polished, by a very thorough washing using Dawn instead of a milder automotive specific detergent.

Now that you have a clean paint surface, mostly wax free (as is evidenced by there being virtually no beading of the water in the final rinse), you can begin the restoration of the finish.

This is typically a four step process (or five if you need to use a medium cut compound).

  1. Clay bar the surface – using detailing clay to remove embedded contaminants from the paint.
  2. Cutting Compound – Assuming that you have some fine surface scratches or marring to remove, a fine (or medium in really bad cases, followed by a fine) will get the surface ready for polishing
  3. Polishing Compound – this removes buffing marks and “swirls” in the finish to leave a smooth, clear surface
  4. Waxing or Sealant – A high quality carnuba wax coat, or a polymer sealant to provide protection to your finish.

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The exterior detail – washing

Geoff's S2000

Before you can begin a proper detailing of a car exterior, you must start with a good wash, and I don’t mean just run it through the wash at the local gas station, or even a “better” wash at a dedicated car wash franchise.

The Two Bucket Wash

The gold standard is something known in the detail world as a two bucket wash. This is pretty important, as it is crucial to clean without just rubbing the dirt particles into your paint and finish.

grit guardA two bucket wash is pretty simple, although, when I started, I heard the phrase, but it didn’t click at first. You need two buckets (I use standard 5 gallon buckets I bought at Home Depot), two “grit guards“, and washing detergent. Also, while you can use a soft terry cloth towel to lather and suds your car, I recommend a washing mitt or pad.

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Stewie gets TLC

stewie

When I originally bought my S2000 (aka ‘Stewie’), in 2008, I became maniacal about keeping it clean and pristine. I learnt how to wash it properly to protect the paint, and keep it as good looking as long as possible.

I also acquired various products, accoutrements and tools to do my own detailing. From a collection of chemicals and the like, to special cloths and buffing pads, I began geeking out in detailing.

While we lived in Tucson, I religiously hand washed it every Saturday, waxed it every 6-8 weeks, and twice a year polished the finish to keep it sparkling. I knew that I couldn’t expect to keep the paint perfect being a daily driver, but I knew I could keep it pretty sharp.

After moving to Chandler, it became more difficult to keep up the washing, but except for a slight slip in the schedule, I kept up the handwashing regime.

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Notes on Perry Mason

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Being an “old fart” I enjoy watching old television programs. Rockford Files was a favorite growing up, and I watched it not long ago on Netflix. Lately, I have been programming my Tivo to capture the old Perry Mason episodes from MeTV. It is a classic, and enjoyable, but there are some attributes from its “era”.

First, unlike Columbo, you don’t know whodunnit up front. Of course, human nature causes you to speculate, but one thing is certain, the person charged is NEVER guilty, regardless of how bad it looks for them.

Second, the show ran for 9 seasons, and you can see some very distinct changes. In the early episodes, you would often see Raymond Burr lighting up a cigarette, and then in later episodes, he abstained from the weed. Of course, throughout the run, there was plenty of smoking from the cast and guests. Also, it seemed very common that there was heavy drinking, lots and lots of bottles of alcohol being tippled into tumblers.

Third, the episodes (with commercials) were an hour, and it is a pretty predictable cadence. An intro, a murder (always a murder), at about the 30 minute mark, you are in court, things look bleak for the defendant, with the prosecuting attorney, Hamilton Burger, zeroing in, and then the “twist”. Paul Drake or Della Street brings in a critical piece of information, and BANG Perry gets the guilty party to confess or act out.

Fourth, even as adversarial as Mason and the prosecutor, Burger are, they seem to have a jovial, relationship outside the courtroom. I suspect that in real life, there isn’t so much clubishness between prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Even with this formulaic structure, this snapshot of life in the late 50’s and early-mid 60’s, is amusing, and I enjoy watching.

Awful Movies – Death Race 2

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The other night, scrolling through Netflix, looking for something to watch, a “recommended” action and adventure movie was “Death Race 2“. The premise was pretty weak, at a prison, a television crew happened to capture a prison riot, and it had the best ratings ever for the TV station.

Parlaying this into an entertainment franchise called “Death Match” where the combatants were plucked from the general population, you can imagine that blood and gore lead to increased ratings, and money for the “well endowed” hostess of the show.

Concurrent to this was a bank robbery gone bad, and the capture of a crime lord’s #2 man, whose loyalty prevented him from rolling on his boss, and finds himself in the Wayland correctional facility.

Then we are treated to the deathmatch, live, and of course, as with all public spectacles, the initial thrill is gone, and the ratings slip, and the buxom hostess is enraged that its viewership share is dropping like a lead balloon.

One presumes that to get back the ratings, ┬áthis spectacle is extended┬áto cars, and a race (to the death), but honestly, I wouldn’t know, because the movie was awful. So bad, so poorly written, that after 25 minutes, I turned it off.

The only saving grace was a pretty good chase after the botched bank heist, where the #2 guy does a pretty wicked job of leading a chase by the police in a pretty trick Shelby Mustang.

Otherwise, this was an absolutely forgettable movie.