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  1. #1
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    Removing Orange Peel & Sanding Marks with the Griots ROP and the Wolfgang Twins

    Removing Orange Peel & Sanding Marks with the Griot's ROP and the Wolfgang Twins



    List of products used
    Griot's Garage Random Orbital Polisher
    PosiTest Paint Thickness Gauge
    Brinkman Swirl Finder Light
    Wolfgang Total Swirl Remover 3.0
    Wolfgang Finishing Glaze 3.0
    Nikken #2000 Finishing Papers
    Nikken #2500 Finishing Papers
    Nikken #3000 Finishing Papers
    Meguiar's E-7200 Rubber Backing Pad
    Lake Country 5.5" Yellow Foam CCS Cutting Pad
    Lake Country 5.5" White Foam CCS Polishing Pad
    Generic Spray Bottle with Clean water and drop or two of Pinnacle Bodywork Shampoo
    3M Scotch 233+ Premium Automotive Masking Tape 18mm x 32m
    GritGuard 5-Gallon Bucket System with Dolly - Red
    Autogeek Complete Two Bucket Wash System - Red
    Brass Shut Off Valve
    Brass Quick Connector Set



    IMPORTANT
    I don't recommend anyone to sand on a factory baked-on clear coat. The paint is thin and usually hard, (relative to fresh paint and most single stage paint), and unless you're very careful it will be very easy to make a mistake. Also, as I listed below, in most cases, a rotary buffer is the best tool option for removing sanding marks out of any kind of paint. That said, I know a lot of enthusiasts are experimenting with wet-sanding factory baked-on finishes and then trying to remove their sanding marks using a dual action polisher. So keep this in mind before you tackle sanding factory paint and trying to remove your sanding marks using a DA style polisher and above all... do a TEST SPOT before attempting to sand and buff the entire car.



    A few very important things to keep in mind.
    1. The best tool for the job when it comes to removing sanding marks from an entire car is a rotary buffer with a wool pad, the appropriate compound and a little experience.

    2. Factory baked-on paint is usually thin and hard, that's two HUGE negatives working against you should you be in a position to want or need to sand on factory paint.

    3. Always use the least aggressive approach to get the job done

    4. Always do a Test Spot to a small section and make sure you can get 100% of your sanding marks out before sanding further.

    5. Only sand enough to remove or improve the defects you're trying to remove

    6. Remember that sanding removes paint as does the compounding and polishing process, so take this into account as you science-out the project.

    7. If possible, use a Paint Thickness Gage to measure the film-build before sanding an note on a form the reading you take for before, during and after. A Paint Thickness Gauge is a handy tool to give you and indication as to overall paint thickness as well as any bodywork or re-paint that has been done to spot areas or entire panels. (Even an entire car although this articles is focused on factory paint)

    8. Don't sand too close to edges or hard/sharp body lines. It's easy to sand paint next to edges and hard/sharp body lines but it's harder to remove your sanding marks by machine in these areas without the risk of buffing on the actual edge or body line and risk burning through the paint. Usually paint is thinner on edges and body lines to start with so it's even riskier than in the middle of a flat horizontal panel. You can come back and remove your sanding marks by hand with a product like M105 or even Ultimate Compound as both of these products are aggressive enough and safe enough to pull sanding marks by hand.

    9. Most important - Always work clean. This includes your shop environment, the vehicle, your buffing pads, your tools, your polishing cloths, everything you have control over.

    In the below write-up I've included some tips for wet-sanding by hand and documented how much paint is being removed during each step. All the work is being done on the factory finish on a GM Hood so that its' a better comparison of apples to apples for those of you working on factory paint

    The good news is by using quality products and good technique and finishing out to #3000 grit "Nikken Finishing Papers" it was easy to remove 99.999% of the sanding marks with only one single tracer discovered.


    Soak your papers at least 15 minutes before use.
    The Nikken Finishing papers have a latex rubber impregnated paper backing that is waterproof and this prevents the finishing paper from breaking-down into pulp from over soaking. I've personally soaked these paper in water for over 2 years with no visible sign of deterioration. (This was by accident as I lost a sealed Tupperware container filled with water and Nikken papers I used to take with me to demonstrations)

    It's possible for grit particles to enter into your water source so if you can, use Grit Guards in the bottom of your bucket.

    If you want to get really D.O., you can place your papers in dedicated buckets and also use dedicated backing pads for the different grits. The idea is to avoid instilling deeper scratches as you work upward to less aggressive products and to avoid any kind of abrasive particle trapped between your sandpaper and the finish to avoid Tracers.

    Dedicated buckets for specific grits of paper. Grit Guard Inserts in the bottom of each bucket.
    (You could theoretically use 2, even 3 Grit Guard inserts in each bucket for even more protection)



    I'll start with Nikken #2000 Grit Finishing Paper



    I'll remove the #2000 Grit Sanding Marks and replace them with #2500 Grit Sanding Marks



    I'll do my final passes using ultra fine #3000 Grit Nikken Finishing Papers




    Add just a few drops of a quality car wash soap to help add lubricity to your water. If you're working on Fresh Paint and/or in a Body Shop, (Fresh Paint Environment), then you want to make sure you're using a body shop safe soap.



    Add fresh, clean water. Also be sure to wash and rinse out your buckets before starting, everything must be surgically clean before placing your papers into the buckets.



    It's normal for your papers to roll up like this,







    Mark you buckets so you can quickly and easily identify which buckets hold which papers.





    To be continued...

    Mike Phillips
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  2. #2
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    Re: Removing Orange Peel & Sanding Marks with the Griots ROP and the Wolfgang Twins

    Continued...


    Run what you brung - Use what you have
    Black paint always works best for most paint related demonstrations. Black paint is also best for capturing photos of sanding marks plus before and after reflection shots but for this kind of demonstration it's important to be working on real-world paint which means a factory baked-on clear coat that's as thin as the norm for factory paint. I'm a big fan of using what you have and what I have is a beige colored hood off a 1999 Chevy Silverado that's never been repainted.

    For this experiment I'm going to sand in three different section and do my very best to sand each section equally, as though I were actually sanding the orange peel flat and then remove my sanding marks and throughout the process measure and record 4 places in each of the 3 sections and then look at the numbers to see how much paint is being removed. At some level this will be a test of my ability to remain constant in my sanding ability, something that is key in the real world when hand sanding paint.

    Whenever you do any kind of testing it's vitally important to remove and reduce as many variables as possible, so I came up with a way of using 3M Painter's Masking Tape to create a grid pattern on the hood that I could use to locate the 3 locations in a repeatable method.

    I then used the 3M Painter's Tape Grid System to take my measurements with the goal being to record measurements from the same locations for each reading as much as possible. To check myself and my consistency in sanding and compounding, I chose 3 places to duplicate the same test and recorded all the measurements as a "control".


    So here we go...

    A grid pattern laid out to provide 3 areas to test that are all flat in shape and in places where we would hope the paint thickness or film-build would be as uniform as possible from a factory paint job as compared to testing on the hood, a door, (vertical panel), or some other curved or slanted panel. Again, trying to reduce the variables as much as possible.

    3M Painter's Tape Grid System



    Three sections marked A, B, and C. The piece of foam is marked with the letter E which stands for "Equalizer" as I need a quick simple tool to help me place 4 dots on the paint in roughly the same place for each step and measurement. I hindsight a piece of thin cardboard with 3-4 holes punched into the corners would have been more accurate but this isn't Rocket Science, I'm just trying to show how much paint is being removed on average when hand-sanding with the higher grit papers like the average online enthusiast might do in their garage. In other words, I'm keeping it real-world.








    Then I used the PosiTest Paint Thickness Gage and measured each dot 3 times and took the average of the 3 readings. I started in the upper left hand corner and moved around the dots in a clockwise manner. In this picture I've just finished taking the last reading of the number #4 dot at the C location on the panel. (The upper left hand corner dot)



    Here are the results from the first set of measurements from the three locations on the paint panel.







    Before removing the tape used to make the grid pattern I marked where the tape was located on some patches of tape at the ends of each strip so I could accurately replace the tape in its original location after each step for future measurements.



    If you look you can also see I made some additional marks on the hood to help me relocate the strips of tape on the hood and also marked where they intersected a strip of tape I applied across the width of the hood. I'm not sure how much more D.O. I can get than this as I've pretty much hit mi D.O. Limit.






    To be continued...

    Mike Phillips
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  3. #3
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    Re: Removing Orange Peel & Sanding Marks with the Griot's ROP and the Wolfgang Twins

    Continued...

    I've removed the grid tape strips and am ready to start sanding. First some pictures of the areas to be sanded. They're already flat because we sanded and buffed this hood in our last Advanced Class here at Autogeek.net


    Before
    Close-ups with the overhead florescent tube light reflection on each section

    A Location



    B Location


    C Location




    I've removed the grid tape strips and am ready to start sanding. I'm going to start with Nikken #2000 then follow this with Nikken #2500 and then follow this with Nikken #3000




    First up is Nikken #2000 and my personal preference is to wrap each half-sheet around the backing pad.







    One side is covered with a seamless portion of sandpaper. This of course is the side you sand with.



    Another option is to fold a single half-sheet of paper in half once and then fold this around your backing pad. Some people like this method better and there are some that say it's possible to put deeper scratches in the paint from the sides of the backing pad due to the way the paper will tend to bow. If you hold your backing pad at an angle when sanding this shouldn't be a problem but most people don't concentrate enough on the task-at-hand and sand with the backing pad perpendicular to the direction they are sanding or moving their hand. So if it can happen, then it might be an issue and I just wanted to point this out in an effort to be thorough.

    Folding a sheet in half and wrapping it around a backing pad.








    One side is completely covered, this if course is the side you sand with.



    Half sheet folded around the backing pad.




    What it looks like from a top view.




    Each person should try both ways and decide for themselves which method works best for them. Also, finding a way to grip the backing pad and at the same time place equal pressure over the top surface of the backing pad is tricky. I find I have to grip the sides with a pinky and a thumb and then use my 3 middle fingers to apply pressure to the back face of the pad in order to sand without losing grip or control. Practice and find a way that works for you.

    Next, use plenty of water from a clean source to lubricate the surface while sanding. Add a little soap, (a few drops is all that's needed, don't go crazy with the soap), and as you sand, continually spray water to the section you're sanding as this will make each stroke easier. Seriously, spray water onto the surface after every other stroke or two you'll find the paper will cut a lot smoother.




    Hold the backing pad canted, or at an angle, see how the tip of the paper-wrapped backing pad is leading as I move my hand forward. Don't hold the pad squared-up as you sand because you'll tend to cut deeper ruts if you sand with the pad in perfect perpendicular alignment in the direction of your strokes.


    Right - Hold backing pad at a little bit of an angle while making front to back strokes.






    Wrong - Don't sand with the backing pad in a perpendicular alignment with your front to back strokes, you risk gouging or putting in deeper scratches where the paper is cutting on the outside edges of the length of the backing pad.




    This is going to surprise you!

    For each section I sanded, I used 200 single strokes for an area about Approximately 16" to 17" long and 8" to 10" wide. Moving my hand the length of this section one time was one stroke. I counted out 100 back and forth strokes then stopped and wiped off the water and paint residue. This is what it took to sand each section uniformly flat using #2000 grit.

    Why 200 Strokes?
    In a body shop situation sanding out actual orange peel you would start out with a more aggressive paper like #1200 or #1500, (some guys go lower), and you wouldn't have to make near as many strokes to remove the same amount of paint. Keep in mind, this panel no longer has any orange peel and this article is about showing enthusiasts how to work on factory baked-on clear coats, it's not directed at anyone working in a body shop on fresh paint that's thicker and softer.

    Anyway, I stopped at 50 back and forth strokes for the first section, wiped off the residue and inspected and for that size of an area it still needed more sanding to be uniformly sanded over the entire area. Note then when hand sanding you really need to focus on equal pressure over each square inch so you remove the same amount of material with each stroke. I could reach further but

    A), This is a demo.
    B)If you start sanding larger sections it can get real easy to not remove as much material at the far end of your stroke.

    (In the real world I would machine sand this panel )

    After experimenting with the first section to see what it was going to take I then duplicated the 200 single strokes, (counting 100 back and forth strokes as I moved my hand fast enough that I couldn't count 200 single strokes), for the other two sections and for both of the next two grit levels.

    So each section was sanded for approximately 600 strokes.

    I told you this would surprise you but wait till you see the measurements from the thickness gage readings and again, keep in mind that the #2500 and especially the #3000 grit papers feel like notebook paper, (almost).


    Note the direction of my strokes and note the angle at which my pad is laying on the paint with one of the edges leading. This is correct backing pad alignment for hand sanding. The white stuff in the water is clear paint particles that have been sanded off. If this were a single stage paint you would see the color of the pigment in the water.




    After
    Close-ups with the overhead florescent tube light reflection on each section.

    A Location



    B Location



    C Location


    To be continued...

    Mike Phillips
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  4. #4
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    Re: Removing Orange Peel & Sanding Marks with the Griot's ROP and the Wolfgang Twins

    Continued...

    After wiping the surface clean, I placed the 3M Painter's Tape Grid System back onto the panel as best as I could and then made my marks using the Foam Equalizer and then used the PosiTest PTG to take measurements and record them.







    In this shot I'm taking the last measurement in Location C and then recording it.



    The PosiTest Paint Thickness Gage is easy to read...







    Close-ups of the sections sanded after measuring.

    Location A



    Location B



    Location C



    Next up, re-sanding each section with #2500 Nikken Finishing Paper.


    To be continued...


    Mike Phillips
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  5. #5
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    Re: Removing Orange Peel & Sanding Marks with the Griot's ROP and the Wolfgang Twins

    Continued...

    Next up, re-sanding each section with #2500 Nikken Finishing Paper.







    Each section was sanded with a dedicated, unused side of paper to remove the variable of using a paper more than once.



    After sanding

    Location A



    Location B



    Location C



    The 3M Painter's Tape Grid System has been re-applied to the paint and next I'll mark the general areas I've been measuring.




    Again, this isn't Rocket Science, it's an attempt at doing a good job of measuring as close to possible, the same general area after each step.




    This is test mark 1 in Location A - 5.6 mils



    Second reading in the same place = 5.6 mils



    Third reading in the same location = 5.5 mils
    2 readings out of 3 are the same I went with them so in this case the reading is concrete at 5.6



    This is testing the 4th mark in the Location C, after 3 tests it was concrete at 5.5 mils



    To be continued...

    Mike Phillips
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  6. #6
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    Re: Removing Orange Peel & Sanding Marks with the Griot's ROP and the Wolfgang Twins

    Continued...

    Next up, re-sanding each section with #3000 Grit Nikken Finishing Paper








    After sanding, re-applying the 3M Painter's Tape Grid System and marking the measurement spots.





    This is the fourth measuring spot for Location C



    These are the end-results...


    To be continued...

    Mike Phillips
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  7. #7
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    Re: Removing Orange Peel & Sanding Marks with the Griot's ROP and the Wolfgang Twins

    Continued...

    Next up, removing the #3000 Sanding Marks. To do this we're going to use the following,

    Power Tool
    Griot's Garage Random Orbital Polisher

    Pad & Product Combo to Remove Sanding Marks
    Lake Country 5.5" CCS Yellow Foam Cutting Pad
    Wolfgang Total Swirl Remover 3.0
    Speed Setting 6.0
    Approximately 20 Section Passes


    Pad & Product Combo to Polish Paint to High Gloss
    Lake Country 5.5" CCS White Foam Polishing Pad
    Wolfgang Finishing Glaze 3.0
    Speed Setting 5.0
    Approximately 20 Section Passes



    First we removed the 3M Painter's Tape Grid System






    Here's some close-ups of the ultra refined sanding mark pattern left by the #3000 Grit Nikken Finishing Papers.

    Here's what you want to look at, the DOI

    DOI = Distinction of Image

    Look at the reflected image of the florescent tube light in these pictures and not how much more clear the image is as compared to all of the previous shots after sanding with #2000 grit and #2500 grit papers.

    The difference is these reflections of the long narrow bulb are starting to reflect a more sharper image of a long narrow bulb whereas the reflection shots of the same bulb, from the same location after sanding with the #2500 and even more so the #2000 grit papers show a much more foggy and fuzzier reflection.

    The point being is that as we move up in grit particle size the finish takes on less of a sanded appearance and more of simply dull appearance and where this means something to you is these dramatically finer or more shallow sanding marks are going to buff out quick and easy.

    Generally speaking, spending more time upfront in the sanding step where you continually refine your sanding marks to be more and more shallow equals less and less work buffing out the sanding marks. And keep this in mind, wet-sanding is cool , machine compounding is warm and in most cases hot especially if you're using a rotary buffer with a wool pad and a compound. I add this tidbit because clear coat paints don't tend to like hot temperatures. Warm is okay but hot is not. (Hey that rhymes).

    There's a ton of confusion across all the car forums where people post something like this,

    "Heat is needed to break down the abrasives"

    That's simply not true. Pressure over time is needed to break down diminishing abrasives and heat is an unwanted and unnecessary by-product of the buffing process when it comes to working on clear coat paints.

    This is true no matter what the abrasives in the product, diminishing or non-diminishing. Buffing cool is cool, buffing hot is not.

    Without further ado, here are the close-up shots of the 3 test locations after wet-sanding with Nikken #3000 Compare these reflection shots with the close-ups after sanding with #2000 and #25000

    Location A



    Location B



    Location C




    Now let’s remove our sanding marks!



    Again, removing sanding marks is best done using a rotary buffer with a wool pad and an aggressive cutting compound but this article is to show that if you should decide to tackle this procedure using a dual action polisher then you're going to want to use the maximum power afforded by the tool you're using.

    In this example I'm using the Griot's Garage Random Orbital Polisher on the 6.0 Speed Setting.




    I've placed an ample X-pattern of the Wolfgang Total Swirl Remover 3.0 onto the face of a 5.5" Lake Country CCS Yellow Foam Cutting Pad. I buffed each section with approximately 20 Section passes. That's right, twenty section passes. That's one nice feature about the Wolfgang TSR 3.0 is that it has a long buffing cycle and even after buffing for 20 section passes it still wipes off very easy. The goal was 100% removal of all sanding marks and basically I picked an arbitrary number that I figured would do the job and I could repeat over each section.

    Normally I would test to see how many passes it would take by doing less than what was needed and then adjusting till the sweet spot was discovered. That's another test for another day, you can if you like do your own testing when you tackle this procedure on your own car in your own garage.


    Ready to remove #3000 Grit Sanding Marks from Location A



    Repeating the above process at Location B




    Repeating the above process at Location C




    The hood has been wiped clean using only a microfiber polishing cloth.




    The 3M Painter's Tape Grid System has been re-applied.




    Measuring the 4th spot 3 times at location A



    Measuring the 4th spot 3 times at location A


    Measuring the 4th spot 3 times at location C





    Notes:

    The definition of Section Pass taken from this thread.

    Tips and Techniques for using the PC 7424XP Dual Action Polisher to remove Below Surface Defects

    The definition of a pass
    There are two definitions of the word pass as it relates to machine polishing with any type of machine.


    Single Pass
    A single pass is just that. It's when you move the polisher from one side of the section you're buffing to the other side of the section you're buffing. That's a single pass.


    Section Pass
    A section pass is when you move the polisher back and forth, or front to back with enough single overlapping passes to cover the entire section one time. That's a section pass.

    To be continued...

    Mike Phillips
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  8. #8
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    Re: Removing Orange Peel & Sanding Marks with the Griot's ROP and the Wolfgang Twins

    Continued...

    The last step before taking the final measurements and inspecting the results is to machine polish the sections. To do this we're going to use,


    Power Tool
    Griot's Garage Random Orbital Polisher

    Pad & Product Combo to Polish Paint to High Gloss
    Lake Country 5.5" CCS White Foam Polishing Pad
    Wolfgang Finishing Glaze 3.0
    Speed Setting 5.0
    Approximately 20 Section Passes



    For polishing with the Wolfgang Finishing Glaze 3.0 I'm going to bump the speed down a little. On the GG ROP this is still plenty of power and probably easily in the power range of first generation PC style polishers.



    New, 5.5 Lake Country CCS White Foam Polishing pad with an X-pattern of the WG Finishing Glaze 3.0



    Repeating the polishing step at Location B



    Repeating the polishing step at Location C




    The panel has been wiped clean using an microfiber polishing cloth



    The 3M Painter's Tape Grid System has been re-applied. I didn't notice the horizontal strip of tape wasn't perfectly aligned till later when looking at the pictures but at this stage of the process all measurements were averaging-out pretty much the same all over the section












    All numbers were recorded and it was time to start uploading pictures to a dedicated photo gallery just for this experiment. This would end up taking two days working on it in-between regular job duties.

    Dedicated Photo Gallery
    Removing #3000 Grit Sanding Marks using the Griot's Garage Random Orbital Polisher




    To be continued...

    Mike Phillips
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  9. #9
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    Re: Removing Orange Peel & Sanding Marks with the Griot's ROP and the Wolfgang Twins

    Continued…

    Final Results

    Personal Inspection
    After the machine polishing with Wolfgang Finishing Glaze 3.0 and then taking measurement, I did my best to inspect the finish to post an accurate description of the finish quality for each of the 3 sections.

    My estimation is that under close scrutiny, and I mean inches away from the panel looking at the surface from an angle, there is approximately a 99.9% successful removal of the sanding marks. Considering there were zillions of straight-line marks, or scratches if you will, in the paint, it was difficult to locate the very few remaining scratches that were not removed. These are called Tracers. They are typically the deepest of the sanding marks and thus after all the shallow sanding marks are removed the only marks or scratches left are called Tracers.

    Tracers show up because now there are no scratches surrounding them to mask or camouflage them.

    These results are outstanding in light of the fact this is a factory finish and we used a dual action polisher with a foam pad and a medium to light in aggressiveness SMR, (Swirl Mark Remover) to do our cutting work.

    Had I used a rotary buffer with a wool pad and an aggressive cutting compound the sanding marks would be 100% removed and it would have taken less work, less passes and of course less time.

    Here are a some pictures of the very few Tracers I was able to find and then capture with a camera. Just to give you an idea as to how hard it is to find these very fine, shallow scratches, check out how close my camera is to the surface as I captured these close-ups.

    I've maxed out the camera's close-up focus ability, that is to say, with this standard 18-55mm lens that came with the camera.










    These sections are 800 pixels wide and 640 pixels tall that I cropped out of the originals. They have not been resized or altered in any way.














    Here are a few shots of the Florescent Tube Lights used throughout the process to show the results of each sanding step. In a perfect world I would have used a hood that was black with the factory clearcoat still in tact and the sharpness would be a lot more dramatic versus a metallic beige finish.







    Next we'll crunch the numbers to try and show how much clear paint was removed from this procedure.


    To be continued...

    Mike Phillips
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  10. #10
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    Re: Removing Orange Peel & Sanding Marks with the Griot's ROP and the Wolfgang Twins

    Continued…

    Number Crunching Time!
    This first set of numbers are the measurements taken after each wet-sanding step to show how much material was removed.




    This second set of numbers are the measurements taken after each machine cleaning and polishing step to show how much material was removed.



    Crunching the numbers, here's the results...



    Here's a graph showing the very small amount of paint removed during each procedure.



    Most car manufactures say that .5 mils can be removed safely from a factory finish. During this entire process my goal was to approach the sanding and buffing just like I would if I were really sanding down the factory finish on a customer's car.

    I let the PosiTest Paint Thickness Gage tell its own story as I measured after each step as accurately as possible.

    From the measurements taken, it looks like the process in totality removed approximately .5 mils of film-build. This is at the safety margin.

    This hood started out with the normal orange peel when we obtained it for our Advanced Class. During our Advanced class approximately 10 people were sanding both by hand and by machine and buffing using rotary buffers with wool pads and compounds. Pictures from this class can be seen here,

    Pictures & Comments from October 4th, 2009 Sunday Detailing 102 - Advanced Class


    This means by the time I did this demonstration there was no orange peel left on the hood so I was starting out on very flat paint.


    Here's my theory...
    Had I started out with pure, good old fashioned GM orange peel I would have only sanded enough to remove the tops of the orange peel and would have removed less paint overall, at least less than .5 mils of solid, uniform coverage. There would be less risk and more paint to last over the service life of the car. At least that's my theory.

    Big picture conclusion...
    At least on this paint system being used in 1999 on GM Silverado trucks, the factory baked-on paint can be sanded and then buffed using a DA style polisher to remove 99.9% of the sanding marks.



    Summary

    Dual Action Polishers
    Then new generation dual action polishers like the Griot's Garage ROP, the Porter Cable 7424 and the Meguiar's G110v2 offer a lot more rotating power under pressure than first generation models and with the right pads, chemicals and techniques can remove sanding marks in the higher grit range.

    Historically, the direct drive rotary buffer has been the tool of choice for removing sanding marks fast and effectively because of the power it provides from the motor and also the direct drive nature of the design of the tool. This direct drive design also brings with it some risk because if you're not careful you can easily buff to long in one area and remove too much paint and expose the color coat under the clear layer in the case of a basecoat/clearcoat finish or expose the primer under the color coat in the case of a single stage finish.

    The new generation of DA style polishers offer more power and can do a better job of keeping pads rotating, this would include the PC 7424XP, the Griot's Garage ROP and the new Meguiar's G110v2

    As this demonstration has shown, a DA style polisher can be used successfully by enthusiasts and Pro Detailers to remove sanding marks as long as they have the right tool, the right pads, the right chemicals and use good technique. It's a given that you should always try to finish out with the highest grit papers possible to make the buffing process the easiest and fastest.

    Of course a HUGE factor that will determine how easy or difficult it is to remove sanding marks with a DA style polisher is how soft or hard is the paint. A better way to say this is actually, how workable, or polishable is the paint and this is something you don't know until you do some testing in a small area.

    Because paints vary after they are cured in polishability, it's not wise to make sweeping generalizations like, all Honda's have soft paint therefore they are easy to sand and buff. The truth is, you really don't know if a paint is going to be hard or soft until you test.


    Fresh paint versus Factory paint
    There's also a huge difference in working on fresh paint, paint that is less than a week old and typically in a body shop situation, less than a few days old when they do the sanding and buffing, and sanding and buffing paint that has been baked-on at the manufacturer's assembly line. By the time a car leaves the assembly line the paint in most cases has already reached full cure and is completely dried and hardened to as hard as it's going to get. Again, hard or soft or how polishable or workable the paint is on each car is a variable that you won't know until you do some testing.



    Risk Factor - Thin Paint
    Factory paint tends to be thin, at least thinner than a good quality re-paint at a reputable body shop. Keep this in mind should you decide to sand an isolated area or an entire panel or an entire car. Thin paint means there's not much room for error. Also remember that sanding removes a measurable amount of paint and so does the step where you cut the sanding marks out with an abrasive compound or swirl mark remover.

    That said, I know a lot of enthusiasts and even Pro Detailers do this, or are planning to do this so I did my best to show the results from a standard and simple hand-sanding technique.

    Next, I demonstrated that fine or shallow sanding marks can be removed using a quality dual action polisher with foam cutting pads and in this case, a quality swirl mark remover. In their simplest form, swirls are a type of scratch and the Wolfgang Total Swirl Remover 3.0 is an excellent swirl mark remover and capable of removing at a minimum, #3000 grit sanding marks, at least on the factory baked-on paint used in this demonstration.

    Before you decide to sand down an entire car, if it were me, the first thing I would do is a Test Spot to insure your choice of pads, chemicals, tools and your own personal skill level will be good enough to remove the sanding marks in your Test Spot.

    Use the results from your test spot to confirm your plan of attack and give you the confidence to proceed, or if you run into problems, come back here to the Autogeek forum and ask for help and our online community will go out of their way to see you through to success.

    While a rotary buffer with a wool cutting pad and an aggressive compound is the best tool for removing sanding marks, I know that a lot of people don't own a rotary buffer and/or are not ready to move up to a rotary buffer but do own a dual action polisher.

    In this demonstration I used 5.5" pads and one thing to consider is that you can also use 4" pads for even more correction power as the smaller diameter will enable a dual action polisher to better rotate the pad. Paint is removed best when the pad is rotating, not merely vibrating or jiggling against the paint, so be aware of this and always mark your backing plate with a black mark so you can easily see that your pad is rotating, or if it's simply jiggling against the paint.

    There's a huge difference in the quality of sandpapers on the market, and whenever you do any wet-sanding on clear coat paints it is important to use the best quality paper you can obtain.

    Avoid basic wet-dry papers as there's little or no control over grit particle size or grit particle distribution. These papers will put horrific tracers into the paint and the only safe way to get them out is to re-sand using premium quality paper like the Nikken brand. So start out working smarter instead of harder and just get one of the best papers available before beginning any project.


    List of products used
    Griot's Garage Random Orbital Polisher
    PosiTest Paint Thickness Gauge
    Brinkman Swirl Finder Light
    Wolfgang Total Swirl Remover 3.0
    Wolfgang Finishing Glaze 3.0
    Nikken #2000 Finishing Papers
    Nikken #2500 Finishing Papers
    Nikken #3000 Finishing Papers
    Meguiar's E-7200 Rubber Backing Pad
    Lake Country 5.5" Yellow Foam CCS Cutting Pad
    Lake Country 5.5" White Foam CCS Polishing Pad
    Generic Spray Bottle with Clean water and drop or two of Pinnacle Bodywork Shampoo
    3M Scotch 233+ Premium Automotive Masking Tape 18mm x 32m
    GritGuard 5-Gallon Bucket System with Dolly - Red
    Autogeek Complete Two Bucket Wash System - Red
    Brass Shut Off Valve
    Brass Quick Connector Set


    That's all, let the discussion begin!

    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
    IDA Board Member - Certified Detailer - Skills Validated Detailer - IDA Recognized Trainer
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