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Thread: How to use the Harbor Freight Polisher to remove swirls and scratches

  1. #1
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    How to use the Harbor Freight Polisher to remove swirls and scratches

    How to use the Harbor Freight Polisher to remove swirls and scratches



    Anytime I get questions via e-mail, a PM or a FB message I prefer to invest my typing time where

    A: It's easier for me to share links, pictures and videos.

    B: More people can read and thus benefit from the information. (no just one set of eyeballs


    So I get an e-mail asking,


    Good Day Mike,

    Thou I know you are extremely busy, kindly request your advice.

    I have a 2012 Toyota Camry, Silver color with 35,000 mileage . My wife has a 2004 Honda CRV, white color with 150,000 mileage .

    I want both car to get little shine.

    I clay the Toyota Camry with Meguiar's smooth clay kit last week. After that I found ver light swirls on the paint. I found light swirls on my wife's Honda CRV even I still haven't clay my wife car yet.

    I bought Meguiar's ultimate compound, ultimate polish & ultimate liquid wax.
    I bought a Harbor Freight 6" DA polisher.
    I bought lake country's 5" backing plate & 5.5" foam pad [ 2 orange, 2 white & 2 blue ] from Autogeek & received last week. I intend to use the Lake country backing plate & pad on the Harbor Freight 6" DA polisher.

    This is my first time using DA polisher machine.

    If you don't mind, could you pls advise how many pressure & OPM I need to apply on the Harbor Freight 6" DA polisher when I use apply Meguiar's ultimate compound, ultimate polish & ultimate liquid wax to my both cars.

    Also if you have any other suggestion for the first time machine user, it will be very helpful to me as well.

    Thanking you in advance for your help.


    Brgds

    Tun





    I made his question BOLD in the above e-mail and below are my answers and after I type this out and hit the [Submit Reply] button I'll send him the link.


    Quote Originally Posted by Tun

    how many pressure & OPM I need to apply on the Harbor Freight 6" DA polisher when I use apply Meguiar's ultimate compound, ultimate polish & ultimate liquid wax to my both cars.
    Simple Simon.

    When using a copy of the Porter Cable 7424 orbital polisher, for the most part here are the speed settings,

    5-6 for compounding to remove swirls, scratches and water spots.

    4-5 for polishing - this is to refine the results created by the compounding step while maximizing gloss and clarity

    3-4 for machine waxing - for this step you're NOT trying to remove defects so you don't need speed or pressure, simply use a low speed to spread out a thin, uniform layer of the wax.


    As for downward pressure

    Compounding
    For this type of tool, for compounding you want to apply around 10 to 15 pounds of pressure. Be sure to place a black line on the back of your backing plate to make it easy for your eyes to SEE and MONITOR pad rotation. If the pad is NOT rotating you are NOT doing anything, at least in my opinion and years of experience although others seem to disagree.

    Polishing
    For polishing, you need less pressure BECAUE any defect you want removed should be removed during the compounding step. So polishing is simply refining and key word, ensuring there's no compound or cutting pad haze or micro-marring.

    Note: You cannot always see haze because the polishing oils in the compound will mask it. You often can't see it on light colors either, only dark colors. BUT it can and will still be there and this is why you re-polish using less aggressive pads and products.


    Machine waxing
    For machine waxing, just the weight of the tool.



    Quote Originally Posted by Tun

    Also if you have any other suggestion for the first time machine user, it will be very helpful to me as well.

    Sure....

    First - Join this forum and post your questions to the forum instead of sending them to me via e-mail. If you can type an e-mail you can join a forum and type on a forum. I'll even make it easy for you, here's the link to the registration page.


    Click here to join the AGO forum


    And note how I'm able to format text, include links and videos in a linear manner to "help" you take in the information in a easy to learn manner. You can't do this on Facebook and that's why I don't like trying to teach people or impart information of Facebook as the user interface is horrible.



    Second - Watch this video, it will show you EVERYTHING you need to know and do when first starting out. Most of the techniques shown in this video are from articles I've written or techniques I teach in my classes over the decades as I am the original source for this information.






    Then read these articles. I'd highly recommend reading the first one before starting and avoid all the common mistakes most people make when first starting out by getting HEAD KNOWLEDGE FIRST.



    DA Polisher Trouble Shooting Guide


    Video: Mark your backing plate to make it easy to see pad rotation


    Downward Pressure....What is "Moderate"? --> another guy started this thread by the actual "how-to" information is something I wrote back in 2004 --> original source

    How to divide larger body panels into smaller sections for machine buffing


    How To Do a Test Spot


    And that will get you going....




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  2. #2
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    Re: How to use the Harbor Freight Polisher to remove swirls and scratches

    And....


    I wrote this thread, which is a collection of my articles on how to machine polish. There's TONS of how-to information on this page and all my articles have pictures that have NOT disappeared over the years...


    DA Polisher Articles - Help for Newbies to Machine Polishing



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  3. #3
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    Re: How to use the Harbor Freight Polisher to remove swirls and scratches

    For reference....


    Whether you purchase your polisher from Autogeek or not, here's what you'll need to buff out a car....


    You'll want and need a 5" Backing plate

    NOTE: These are all 5" backing plates so you can turn and churn 5.5" foam and microfiber buffing pads which are for the most part the best all-around, all-purpose size pads for buffing out modern cars.


    Lake Country 5" Backing Plate

    Griots Garage 5 Inch Vented Orbital Backing Plate

    Buff and Shine Dual Action 5 Inch Backing Plate

    Meguiars Soft Buff DBP5 DA Polisher 5 inch Backing Plate

    3M Hook-It 5 Inch Dual Action Backing Plate - 5775



    Foam pads and microfiber pads

    Below is a list of 5.5" foam pads and 5.5" microfiber pads. Here's the primary difference if you're new to machine polishing and don't know which style of pad to go with.

    You can quote me on this statement,

    When comparing foam pads to microfiber pads, foam pads will finish out nicer and more consistently on a sider spectrum of paint systems - Mike Phillips


    What this means is, cars have paint on them. The paint comes from a paint manufacturer. There are about a dozen paint manufacturers that provide paint to car manufacturers and the re-finishing industry. (re-finishing industry is the local body shop or dealership that fixes the dents in your car and sprays fresh paint on the repaired area so it matches the rest of the car.

    Paint systems are not only different in their hardness and softness, or what I like to call polishability, but paints are ALWAYS changing. So there's no simple way to know if the paint you're buffing on is hard or soft without testing and experience, (I cover this in my how to book on page 7)

    So when I say, that foam pads will finish out nicer and more consistently on a wide spectrum of paint systems that means

    A: For the finishing step, not the compounding step. (look at what I wrote)

    B: I used the words wide spectrum because thousands of people will read this and then be buffing on a car somewhere and it will have a "paint system" on it and none of us except the person buffing on this car will know if the paint is hard, soft or somewhere in-between.


    Fibers are a form of abrasive
    Just like the headline reads, fibers are form of abrasive. A gentle abrasive in most cases but an abrasive all the same. If you put a wool cutting pad on a rotary buffer and then buff on some black paint with some baby oil, after you strip the paint of the baby oil and look at the paint there will be hologram swirl scratches in the paint. They will not have come from the baby oil or the tool, so what put the scratches into the paint? Answer. The fibers that make up the wool pad.

    You can extrapolate this out to microfiber pads for orbital polishers. While for some paints, (harder paints), you can both compound and finish out with a fiber/microfiber pad, for other paints, (softer paints), you can compound with a microfiber pad and remove defects but the fibers that make up the pad can and will leave a scratch pattern called micro-marring. That's okay if you do a follow-up step after compounding and re-polish the paint but if you're seeing micro-marring from a microfiber pad then you'll have a high chance of finishing out without micro-marring if you switch over to a foam pad.

    And the above explanation is what I mean when I say,


    "When comparing foam pads to microfiber pads, foam pads will finish out nicer and more consistently on a sider spectrum of paint systems"


    Of course, you never know what you can do until you try.... and then inspect the results. And when inspecting, to measure the true and accurate results you'll need to chemically strip the paint and inspect with a quality swirl finder light or bright overhead sunlight.



    Car Detailing History 101

    To help understand the history of microfiber pads and when and why they were introduced into the car detailing world, I like to use the Meguiar's Microfiber DA Correction System as an analogy.


    Meguiar's introduced this system to changethe production detailing industry by getting rid of the universally abused rotary buffer. The production detailing industry uses the rotary buffer for SPEED, not quality. The problem with the rotary buffer is that all to often it leaves the paint filled with holograms.

    Holograms = a circular scratch pattern IN the paint caused by the single rotating action of the buffing pad on a rotary buffer.

    Holograms mimic the pattern a rotary buffer is moved over the paint. Holograms is a SPECFIC type of scratch pattern only inflicted into paint by rotary buffers, not orbital polishers. Orbital polishers can instill micro-marring and a visible pattern of how an orbital buffer was moved over the paint can be seen on darker colors but this pattern is NOT called holograms. You can call it buffer trails, or buffer haze or buffer shadows, or buffer patterns but it is NOT called holograms.

    The idea was to replace the rotary buffer with a free spinning orbital polisher from Meguiar's called the G100 which was a copy of the Porter Cable 7424 orbital polisher, and then later the MT300, which offers the same 8mm orbit stroke length has the G100 (or the Porter Cable), but has a longer body than the G100. (same 8mm free spinning orbital polishing action)

    To make up for the loss of direct drive power and speed offered by the rotary buffer, Meguiar's incorporated a microfiber pad or a FIBER pad to assist in faster defect removal. Or you could say this as faster PAINT REMOVAL as removing defects is actually removing paint to level the surface, that is level the surface with the lowest depths of the defects you're trying to remove to create a visually flat and also visually perfect finish. The fibers act as a form of abrasives and aid the actual abrasives in compounds and polishes.


    The downside of increasing the aggressiveness or cutting ability of an orbital polisher by introducing a microfiber pad is the risk of introducing micro-marring when the fibers instill their own scratch pattern into some paints, typically softer paints. This tradeoff is considered a net gain as compared to having the detailing industry inflict every car buffed out with a rotary buffer with hologram scratches.


    The above is an attempt to explain not only why there are microfiber pads on the market but where they fit into the car detailing or car buffing processes.


    Foam pads reduce the risk of micro-marring because they offer a uniform texture of the entire face of the pad, not individual fibers, or loops of fibers in the case of some brands of microfiber pads.

    You won't know if a microfiber pad will induce micro-marring into the paint of any car you are going to buff out until you do a Test Spot. One option for detailers that want increased cutting from any free spinning orbital polishers is to START with microfiber pads for the compounding or cutting step but finish with foam pad.


    Besides pads, abrasive technology is a HUGE factor as to whether you will see micro-marring or not no matter what type of pad you use. This is why I believe the most important factor when buffing out a car is the abrasive technology, not a person's technique, not the tool or the pad. It all starts with the substance TOUCHING the paint and in the car detailing world this would include,

    1. Compounds
    2. Polishes
    3. Cleaner/waxes --> most cleaner/waxes, or cleaner/sealants contain some form of abrasive technology like compounds and polishes and this is why I include them in this group of substances that touch the paint.






    Pad options on Autogeek.com



    Foam pads

    Here is a list of foam pad options available on Autogeek.com that will fit the above listed 5" backing plates



    Lake Country Pad Manufacturing

    Lake Country 5.5" Flat pads <-- Simplest pads available, makes these bubba-proof

    CCS Smart Pads™ Dual Action 5.5 Inch Foam Pads by Lake Country

    Lake Country ThinPro Foam Pad System 5.5 Inch

    Lake Country 5.5 Inch HDO Foam Pads




    Buff and Shine Pad Manufacturing

    6 inch Buff and Shine Uro-Cell Pads

    6 Inch Buff & Shine Uro-Tec Foam Pads

    Buff and Shine 5.5 Inch Flat Foam Pads

    Buff & Shine Low-Pro Large Throw Foam Pads 5.5 Inch



    Griot's Garage foam pad options

    5.5 Inch BOSS Pads

    Griots Garage 5.5 inch Orange Foam Correcting Pad

    Griots Garage 5.5 inch Black Foam Finishing Pad

    Griots Garage 5.5 inch Red Foam Waxing Pad



    Meguiar's foam pad options

    Meguiars 5 Inch DA Foam Discs



    RUPES foam pad options

    RUPES 150 mm (6 inch) Foam Pads

    RUPES 150mm (6 Inch) UHS Foam Pad





    Microfiber pads

    Here is a list of microfiber pad options available on Autogeek.com that will fit the above listed 5" backing plates


    Lake Country

    5 1/4 Inch Microfiber Cutting Pads - 2 Pack

    5 1/2 Inch Microfiber Polishing Pad - 2 Pack



    Buff and Shine

    5 inch Buff and Shine Uro-Fiber Pads



    Meguiar's

    Meguiars DMC5 DA Microfiber Cutting Discs - 5 inches

    Meguiars DMF5 DA Microfiber Finishing Discs - 5 Inches



    Griot's

    Griots Garage 5 inch Micro Fiber FAST Cutting Pad

    Griots Garage 5.5 Inch Micro Fiber FAST Finishing Pad



    RUPES

    RUPES 150mm (6 Inch) Blue Microfiber Cutting Pad - 2 Pack

    RUPES 150 mm (6 Inch) Yellow Microfiber Finishing Pad - 2 Pack



    As of today, June 19th, 2017 - the above list of backing plates, foam pads and microfiber pads is up to date and accurate.



    Hope this helps...



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  4. #4
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    Re: How to use the Harbor Freight Polisher to remove swirls and scratches

    Continued....


    Need a dual action polisher?

    Below are the simple, safe and easy to learn how to use dual action polishers available at Autogeek.com

    These tool all offer an 8mm orbit stroke length and work best with the thin pads and matching backing plates shared in this article. These tools all operate the same way just some of them use a longer body style for those that prefer a traditional shaped polisher.

    Note: Some polishers are available with a heavy duty 25' electrical cord pre-wired into the tool. These are exclusive to Autogeek and when purchased through Autogeek you get the same factory warranty as the version with the stock electrical cord. The longer cord enables you to safe time because you don't have to mess around with extension cords coming un-plugged. The 25' cords also use the recommended heavy gauge wire to protect the tools electronics. Using an extension cord that uses light gauge wiring can damage your tool and void your warranty. Wiring in your own extended cord will void your warranty.



    Porter Cable 7424XP - Standard cord

    Porter Cable 7424XP - HD Cord - 25' Heavy Duty Cord already pre-wired

    Griot's Garage 6" ROP - Standard cord

    Griots Garage 6 Inch Heavy Duty Random Orbital Polisher - HD Cord - 25' Heavy Duty Cord already pre-wired

    Meguiars MT300 Dual Action Polisher

    Chemical Guys TORQ 10FX Random Orbital Polisher

    Shurhold DA Polisher






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  5. #5
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: How to use the Harbor Freight Polisher to remove swirls and scratches

    And just a comment....


    Since I'm being asked about a polisher we don't sell, that is the Harbor Freight knock-off of the Porter Cable, I figure I'll do the right thing and answer this guys question and also point out some real simple information.


    First we, as in Autogeek and me specifically, have been answering questions for people on our discussion forum all my life about products not sold on the Autogeek Store. It's simply a professional courtesy as I know most people have know idea that my time and the resources that are required, (resources means money), to make this forum exist today and into the future requires money.

    The money it costs the company to pay my salary plus everyone's paycheck here at Autogeek comes from sales at the Autogeek store, ---> Autogeek.com


    So when I answer questions on how to use Adams products, or Zaino products or the Harbor Freight dual action polisher it's a professional courtesy because I understand the people that are asking these questions simply want to detail their car, they don't put any thought into what it costs to get good helpful and accurate information.


    That's what this forum does.... it is a resources for good, helpful and accurate information. Most of the time when I answer a question it's


    • In detail
    • Includes pictures that expound on the words I've written
    • Sometimes includes videos that really complete the information by showing how-to do something with action that is better than just pictures



    The hope of course, is that by providing customer support, (and that's what my replies on this forum are, a type of customer support just like if you call our 1-800 customer care hotline and get help), that down the road, when the person getting the help on this forum need tools, pads or products, they will remember where they received their help and give us a chance for their business.



    Providing customer support for other companies

    There is not a Harbor Freight Car Detailing Discussion forum just like there's not an eBay Car Detailing Discussion Forum or an Amazon Car Detailing Discussion Forum yet when people make their purchases at these other places - here on this forum as a professional courtesy we will do our best to provide customer support for these other non-Autogeek businesses as both a professional courtesy, (because I know most people don't "think" about what they are doing as they simply want to buff out their car), and also in the hope that if we provide this educational service, that perhaps we will sometime in the future earn the person's business.

    Even if these companies did have car detailing discussion forums they would have to hire someone to be the answer-man and that person will have had to obtained their "info" or head knowledge from somewhere and often times.... that's this forum.


    At the end of the day or at the end of our lives.... everything works out for the right reasons....



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  6. #6
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    Re: How to use the Harbor Freight Polisher to remove swirls and scratches

    Continued.....


    The Complete Guide to a Show Car Shine




    This how-to book covers everything you need to know about using ANY free spinning orbital polisher like the Griot's Garage 6" DA, the Meguiar's MT300 and G110 and G220 poishers, the Porter Cable 7424XP, 7424 and 7336, as well as any similar 8mm oribital polisher


    Paperback version

    E-book version

    iBook version





    DVDs

    The below DVDs all show how to use 8mm free spinning orbital polishers. While the tools, pads, products and even the people in the videos may vary, the information shared is accurate for these types of tools.



    Autogeek Show Car Garage Mike Phillips' Principles of Machine Polishing DVD





    Machine polishing is easy and anyone can do it. Mike Phillips thoroughly explains the what, how, and why of detailing with a polisher by using two popular machines: the Porter Cable 7424XP and the Cyclo. The techniques shown for the Porter Cable 7424XP also apply to the Griot's Garage Random Orbital Polisher, the Meguiars Dual Action Polish G110v2, and any other orbital polisher. Learn how to use the Porter Cable 7424XP Polisher and the Cyclo Orbital Polisher with the Autogeek DVD hosted by Mike Phillips.




    Mike Phillips' How to use the Meguiars G110v2 DVD 41 minutes




    Host: Mike Phillips

    Covers these topics...

    • Introduction to the G110v2
    • What’s in the box
    • External features
    • Internal features
    • Attaching the backing plate
    • Attaching the D Handle
    • Machine polishing
    • 5 Basic polishing techniques
    • Priming and buffing
    • The polishing step
    • Other products
    • Sanding with the G110v2
    • Quick highlights




    Pinnacle Complete Car Care System Instructional How-to DVD - 52 minutes




    Stars Matt Steele from Truck U and Trucks Gone Wild

    The Pinnacle Instructional DVD walks you step by step through the Pinnacle Natural Brilliance System. This video shows the actual process and results achieved with Pinnacle products. Plus, you’ll see what tools and accessories work hand in hand with Pinnacle to give your vehicle the best possible finish. Mike Phillips and special guest Matt Steele demonstrate how to use Pinnacle products to create a sizzling shine.
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  7. #7
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    Re: How to use the Harbor Freight Polisher to remove swirls and scratches

    The fact that you took the time to cover a product that you don't sell is deserves a BIG amount of respect.
    '03 Corvette Z06

  8. #8
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    Re: How to use the Harbor Freight Polisher to remove swirls and scratches

    Quote Originally Posted by WRAPT C5Z06 View Post
    The fact that you took the time to cover a product that you don't sell is deserves a BIG amount of respect.

    It's merely an attempt to help others and a professional courtesy to people that more than likely are brand new to car detailing and specifically machine polishing.


    Most people don't realize the reason they get started down the road of machine polishing is because, generally speaking, modern clearcoats tend to be hard, at least harder than what the average person can work on by hand.

    So after a person starts getting into car detailing, since they already own a hand or two that's how they start. That's how I started. That's how everyone reading this thread started.

    What they find out is with all the work they put into trying to improve the appearance of the paint on their car by hand.... they find out they simply cannot achieve the results they are hoping for and dreaming about. This then will typically send them to Google and with just a few key words they'll start to pull up information about car detailing and machine polishing. Because I have a lot of how-to info in all forms of media and I'm pretty easy to find via e-mail or Facebook I tend to get a lot of people contacting me and asking me for help.

    What they don't understand is,

    Typing out in-depth answers via e-mail or any form of messaging is both time-consuming and a poor leverage of my typing time.


    E-mail cannot be trusted to display a picture or a link correctly. Sometimes a website address gets cut into sections in their device and when they >click< on a link I send them it doesn't work. Sometimes they think I don't know what I'm doing but the fact is links don't always work across all devices and all operating systems. Same goes for pictures and videos.


    So when I get an e-mail or Facebook message asking for help I know 100% for sure I can control all aspects of my reply via this forum. So this is where I prefer to invest the companies' investment in me.

    Then I can create a TinyUrl like that WILL work in my e-mail reply or Facebook message reply that will direct and lead the person back to >here< where they can get the help they were looking for.



    I get questions about the Harbor Freight polisher all the time. That's because the tool is cheap to purchase and most towns have a Harbor Freight store nearby. What you cannot get at Harbor Freight are,

    1. Good pads
    2. Good backing plates
    3. Good products
    4. Good help --> as in help to understand how to use the tool and how to detail a car.




    So that's what this article is about and what our forum is here for, to help people via education.


    We of course don't sell the Harbor Freight polisher but we do sell all the stuff people need in order to use the very inexpensive knock-off of the Porter Cable polisher. Like the saying goes.... if you can't beat um.... join um... kind of sort of...


    I know our Autogeek Detailing 101 Facebook page is incredibly popular but it's really hard to display and format information in a tiny message box, at least any how-to information that offers any substantial amount of useable information. All Facebook groups while they can be very helpful, they are also like a cyber wild west where you have all types of goofballs posting "stuff" and I'll just leave it at that. It's hard to control and even harder to measure any results from positive or negative.

    So I prefer to answer questions where I have control and the information will be here into the future. Once you post something on Facebook it disappears in a few minutes and is a lot more difficult to ever find again and this makes the info useless and the time invested in creating the info a waste of resources. Creating the info here and then sharing it on Facebook mitigates the waste and of course the info can be located over and over again quickly and easily if you have any experience at all using Google and you can think up a few key words and then type them somehow.


    For me... I HATE doing things twice. Now with this article, every time someone asks me what they need for any free spinning orbital polisher like the Griot's, Meguiar's, Porter Cable, DAS 6, Harbor Frieght, etc. - well now I have all the information in one place and with any luck, well gain a sale for the company.



    But thanks Mark....

    Lots of detailing experts in the blogosphere now days.... don't see very many of them creating original content or any substantial content for that matter....



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  9. #9
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    Re: How to use the Harbor Freight Polisher to remove swirls and scratches

    Quote Originally Posted by WRAPT C5Z06 View Post
    The fact that you took the time to cover a product that you don't sell is deserves a BIG amount of respect.
    Agree.

    I don't think a lot of people just starting out realize how similar the HF, PC and maybe some of the other less expensive free-spinning DA polishers really are. Mike's posts are a perfect example. You can take that advice and apply it to a host of different machines. Just because the brand name on the box doesn't match what a particular vendor sells or what everyone is talking about doesn't make the information less applicable.
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    Save the Manuals!!

  10. #10
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    Re: How to use the Harbor Freight Polisher to remove swirls and scratches

    And....


    Here's the TinyUrl link for anyone that ever wants to share the link to this thread


    http://tinyurl.com/ybgcwodj


    I'm sure many of our forum members meet people in the real world and in the online world that need a backing plate and pads for whatever tool they had...


    And if you look at the title of this thread, it is now a >clickable< blue link that you can use your mouse to highlight, right click on and then copy and paste anywhere on this forum or any other vBulletin forum.


    And with this post I'm now sending Tun the link to this brand new article. Hope it helps him to polish out his 2012 Toyota Camry and his wife's 2004 Honda CRV.

    Both great modes of transportation that if they are regularly maintained will last for years, even decades.



    Mike Phillips
    Host - Competition Ready on Velocity Channel
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
    IDA Board Member
    CD-SV, RT
    Competition Ready Facebook Page
    Mike Phillips Facebook Page
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    Click on a book to get your own copy.



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