Daily Archives: December 21, 2012
There are six final steps in giving the paint it’s maximum gloss. There are three sanding steps where we sand the paint with progressively finer sandpaper until all the flaws are removed from the paint. We completed all of the sanding yesterday.
After the sanding removes all the flaw we polish the paint to restore the gloss. As you can guess, no matter how fine the sandpaper, sanding the paint is going to dull the finish. There are three step in the polishing process. The first step removes the dullness left by the sanding, but it leaves the paint with “swirl” marks in the paint. We also completed this step yesterday.
So for today we need to get the swirl marks out of the paint. This is what the second polishing step accomplishes. Where the first step uses a relatively aggressive polish, the second step uses a very mild polish. The entire process is designed to remove the flaws in the paint as quickly and efficiently as possible. I suppose you could skip all the sanding steps and the first polishing steps and go right to the second polishing step … but you would be working on the car for weeks polishing the paint. Better to get “aggressive” with it at the beginning to speed the process along.
If this were a light colored car, we would stop here. Light colored cars, whites, silvers and the like, never have the depth in their paint that dark colors do so additional polishing does them no good. But as you can see, this car is as far from white as you can get so we go another step when polishing.
The third and final step removes an ethereal haze left behind by the previous polishing step. After the first polishing step it is easy to see the swirls, but the haze left by the second step is almost impossible to see. The light has to be just so and the only time you can tell it is there is when the third step removes it from an adjacent area. It very hard to see and even more difficult to describe, but we have the ability to remove it, so we do.
These three photos show the car after all the sanding and polishing is complete. The car looked pretty good when it arrived … well, except for the bent front fender … but it looks a lot better than just pretty good now.
The first three pictures show the fenders after they have been coated on both sides with our epoxy primer. The primer binds to the bare metal and provides a durable protective layer against rust. It also provides a surface that promotes adhesion, especially for the paint on the top side.
The next two pictures show the underside of the fenders coated with Raptor Liner. Because of the two-dimensional nature of photographs its hard to tell, but the fenders are scooped out away from you in these photos. The Raptor Liner protects the underside of the fenders from damage caused by rocks and other debris that may get flipped off the road … and it looks really good while doing it.
The last two photos are of the top sides of the fenders, the part you see when you open the hood. Because this side of the fender doesn’t need the protection that the underside does, these are painted in a semi-gloss black just to dress them up and make them look nice.
Now that we have all the parts of the car you rarely see, the trunk and fenders, looking so nice, I wonder if I can talk the owner into painting everything in between? Hmmmm …
What makes a High Performance Finish pop is not only what we do to the car before we paint it, but also what we do to the car after we paint it. A High Performance Finish involves three separate sanding steps followed by three polishing steps.
The first three steps is the wet sanding of the car. Wet sanding sounds exactly like what it is, the car is sanded while wet. The water acts as a lubricant that helps prevent the sandpaper from removing too much material from the car. It also highlights any flaws in the paint that otherwise would be difficult to see by washing away the removed clear coat and providing a slight gloss to the paint.
We first hand sand the car with 1,000 grit sandpaper on a soft block. 1,000 grit sandpaper is so fine that you can’t feel the abrasives other than as friction when you drag your finger across the paper. The cutting action of the 1,000 grit sandpaper is fairly aggressive at this level and is used to remove the tiny imperfection in the paint. These imperfections are so difficult to see that most people can’t see them … until they are gone.
The second step is another round of hand sanding, this time with 2,000 grit sandpaper on the block. As you might guess, this sandpaper is much finer than the 1,000 grit and the abrasives are so fine that you feel nothing at all other than the typical feel of paper. This step further refines the surface of the paint and it also removes most of the sanding marks left by the first sanding step.
The third and final wet sanding step is performed with 3,000 girt sandpaper on a DA (Dual Action) power sander. This step further removes any sanding marks left by the blocking steps and randomizes the sanding marks so that the polisher quickly removes the marks leaving behind beautiful depth and gloss. As you can imagine, sanding paint is going to dull the finish, no matter how fine the sandpaper, and you would be right. But the 3,000 grit sandpaper is so fine that it actually begins to return some shine to the paint.
The first three photos show the paint after the first blocking with the 1,000 grit sandpaper. This is as bad as this paint will look and will only improve from here. What this dullness is hiding, however, is a gloss that has to be seen to be believed.
In picture four Chris has completed the wet sanding and is now beginning the polishing process. Polishing does the same thing that the sanding process does, it removes imperfections from the paint, imperfections introduced by the sanding process. The imperfections left by the sanding process are much, much finer than those removed during sanding, but they scatter the light more effectively leaving the paint looking dull and lifeless. The car will be machine polished three times, each time with a finer abrasive until dullness is removed and you are left with paint that has a glass like smoothness.
We only had time today to complete the first of the three polishes. This first step uses a polish that, while much finer than even the 3,000 grit sandpaper, is still quite aggressive. This first step removes the dullness left by the wet sanding. After the first polish the car will have it’s shine restored, but the paint will be full of the dreaded swirl marks.
The last three photos, five, six and seven, show the car after the first polish is complete. The car actually has more gloss than it appears to in these photos because the car still has the polishing compound on the paint. If we were to wipe the car clean it would appear to be done in the photos because at this distance the camera can’t resolve the swirl marks. Even the human eye would have trouble seeing the swirls, except when the light plays across the surface.
Step two of the polishing will be with a finer polish yet and it will remove the swirls from the paint and leave a mirror like gloss behind. The third and final polish will further smooth the paint surface so that the paint has the maximum gloss. But those two steps are for tomorrow.
Wet sanding is tiring, boring, messy work, but it has to be done if you want the best the paint can provide. I kept telling Chris today that it was like a day at the beach with all the sand and water. I’m not certain he was buying into the idea though.