Look before reserving


If you though this blog was getting boring well thanks to my stupidity I now have another ‘little’ project.

As you can probably see from the above picture I was reversing in haste and managed to collect a raised road divider with a sign sticking out of it. The result of that was a lot of black scuff marks on the bumper but also a crack as you can see just above the exhaust pipe.

The impact also broke off some pieces from the under tray lining but the crack in the bumper is the really annoying part as it is a vivid reminder of how stupid and impetuous I am.

No use crying over spilled milk, time to work out how to get it fixed.

I have spoken with Sal at Racing Red and he can get it fixed but as you would expect it is bit more than few hundred dollars to repair, which I totally get.

The crack appears to only be on the exterior, it doesn’t appear cracked all the way through, so in theory it shouldn’t be ‘too’ hard to fix right?

If I tape it off, stand back the crack, touch it up with some paint I would think that would be adequate in preventing me from constantly seeing the reminder.

Hmmmm…let me see what Gary at Prestige Auto Dent Removal says first while I do some more research into fixing this myself.

I would think that if I tried to fix it up and stuffed up I could simply take to Sal and get it fixed?

Anyway, another chapter opens in the reference manual of my life with the F355. Stay tuned as this new story unfolds.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

The last post I wrote focused on kicking off of my adventure into detailing and a few things that I have learned to do, and more so what not to do. I recently attended a Saturday morning detailing course at Car Care Products in Sydney which was really good. For $40 they spend a whole morning running through aspects of detailing. If you are at all interested in doing detailing correctly then I’d recommend this course to you.
Most of what they covered in the course I did have some awareness of but it was good to actually get hands on with doing some pain correcting and polishing using a machine polisher. That’s given me confidence to go and invest in one soon.
However, what you firstly learn is that the best way to wash a car is not to touch it, because no matter how careful you are, touching a car with anything can scratch it. So the first option is to use something known as ‘snow foam’ to coat the car and them let it dissolve the grim just like in this video:

The idea is to coat the car in foam, then leave it on for 10 – 15 minutes and then rinse off. Thus, if you have good paint protection on the car already you’ll have a clean car without touching it.
Of course, it would rare that you’ll get off all the grim using this method but it certainly makes a great pre-wash. However, the downside is that you need to purchase a bit of equipment to do this.
Now, the first bit of equipment you’ll need is a pressure washer. It would seem to me after my limited research that something like the Karcher K 2.180 would do the job.

It is small, cheap (about $130) and doesn’t have too much power. You need to be careful using too much pressure on paintwork as it can damage it. I need to some more research on the best pressure washer for a car but the good thing is that there are plenty around and they aren’t too expensive.
Next you’ll need a foam lance.

You basically fit to the end of you pressure washer and partially fill the bottle with detergent. The lance allows you to adjust the foam spray and coat the car as shown in the video.
Now an Autobrite Snow Foam Lance from Car Car Products is about $120. You need to make sure you get the right one for your pressure washer.
The final thing you’ll need is the snow foam itself that you’ll coat the car with. Unfortunately, like most actually cleaning products there is huge variety to choose from, however a typical one is Mint Snow Foam for about $15.
Unfortunately, I don’t really have a location on which I could use a pressure washer on the F355 so I think I’ll have to give this option a miss for the time being. I might still look at getting one down the track to see whether it does make things easier and to get some experience but for now I’ll have to give the snow foam step a miss in my situation.
However, this dive into cleaning products raises a good question. How can I measure how well a product works? How do I know the more expensive ‘name’ brand cleaner is doing a better job than a cheaper alternative? If it is better, how can I tell how much better? It would be really nice to have some scientific measure that I could apply when testing these products to give some true indication of how well they actually do their job.
This question about measuring how well products clean a car is going to come up more and more as I progress through all the different detailing stages. As such, I’m trying to work out some way of achieving this and lending some sort of measure again which products can be compared. If you have any ideas on how I can measure this I’d love to hear.
So, there you have it. First stage in cleaning your is to give it a pre-wash using snow foam.

Detailing done right

If you are an enthusiast you probably like to keep your car clean. If you are like me then perhaps you also have a compulsion to have it ‘perfectly’ detailed. That I see more as a journey than a destination (how very Zen eh?) but it is certainly a path that leads to a lot of discovery.
After getting the F355 I decided that I really wanted to understand what the detailing best practices where. I knew I couldn’t go to the extremes but hopefully I could improve. Shockingly, what I have learned so far is that for all these years I have been doing even the basics of just washing my car all wrong!
What I’ll start to incorporate into this blog is the road to enlightenment that I am undertaking when it comes to correct car detailing. I am going to start this journey with an empty slate and take nothing for granted. Any results that I achieve I want them to be both understandable and reproducible.
So let’s start this process with what what I know NOT to do.
1. Washing your car with dishwashing liquid. I did learn this a while back but it is worth re-iterating to be thorough. Dish washing liquid is designed to strip grease and food matter from plates, it is therefore quick an aggressive cleaner, especially when it comes to oils and fats. This means that it will generally strip away any waxes or sealants you have on your paintwork. It will certainly clean the paintwork but it will leave it exposed to the elements without any protection which is not good. So don’t use dishwashing liquid.
2. Use a sponge. Say what? I hear you say but the problem with sponges of today is that they are rock hard. If you have ever found a natural sea sponge you’ll know the difference. You don’t want anything hard trying to remove dirt because it doesn’t, it simply grinds that dirt into the paintwork marking it. You want to use a lamb’s wool or microfibre mit instead.
3. Use a single bucket. You need to use two buckets. One bucket you fill with your cleaner the other you fill just with water. Your wash mit (not a sponge) goes into the cleaner bucket and you then use it on the car. Before you dip your wash mit back into the cleaner you dip it into the water bucket. This rinses off all the dirt that you just collected with the wash material. If you don’t do this the dirt goes back into the cleaner bucket to be potentially picked up by the mit and then ground into the paintwork. Thus, into the cleaner bucket should only go a mit that has been rinsed to remove any dirt.
4. Wash the car directly without rinsing. This will remove any loose dirt and provide lubricant for the surface. It will also give you a better idea of how protected the surface is. If the water beads and runs off the paintwork then generally there is good protection. If the water clings to the surface and fails to drain away then the paintwork needs protection.
5. Wash the wheels before washing the paintwork. Most wheels contain a significant amount of brake dust and other material. If you do your wheels before or while you are doing your paintwork (and you are using a single bucket) then that material ends up on the paintwork and ends up scratching it. If you want to do the wheels first, either use a third bucket or completely rinse out any buckets you use before moving onto the paintwork. To me it makes more sense to do the wheels after the paintwork to avoid getting anything from them into the paintwork.
6. Wash in direct sunlight. Washing a car takes a while to get around all panels and if you are washing in direct sunlight chances are these panel will dry out before you get to them. That may mean you are then rubbing a hard sponge with dirt all through it directly onto the paintwork without any lubrication. You need to ensure that all panels stay cool and wet when washing as this also avoids water marks.

Doing the above items, especially in combination, allows your paintwork to be cleaned but upon closer inspect you see that it is covered in ‘swirls’ like shown above. These become quite pronounced in day light. These are minute scratches in the paintwork that can typically only be removed using some form of pain ‘correction’.
When I inspected my daily drive I noticed that it was indeed covered in swirl marks from incorrect washing procedures over the years. It was now time to start rectifying the wrongs and I’ll start covering off what I now do and the results of my research as well as the questions I am still researching as I continue along this detailing journey.
Stay tuned for a deep dive into the world of car detailing.