Author Topic: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...  (Read 3210 times)

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Offline live4ever

  • Posts: 785
Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« on: August 02, 2018, 05:40 PM »
So I’ve recently started doing more auto detailing by machine.  I used my RO150 on 2-3 speed with Lake Country CCS pads for some mild cutting polish and glaze, and while the results were excellent, the machine left me quite fatigued.  I felt like I was really having to fight against its power.  The RO90 was awesome for smaller panels and headlights, but impractical for most of the body.

So my question is, which dual action polisher do you use for auto polishing and would you recommend?  Or was my experience with the RO150 indicative of a technique problem?  Thanks!
Current systainer to productivity ratio:  very high

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Offline Dick Mahany

  • Posts: 382
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2018, 05:56 PM »
My favorite polisher is the variable speed Flex VRG 3401.  I use the interchangeable pads and foam discs from Lake Country Mfg.  It is a forced rotation dual action polisher and as such, it needs to be held so that the pad is normal to the surface being polished, otherwise it will "walk".  Some find this behavior bothersome but to me it is reminder to keep the machine properly held. 

Used in combination with the correct polishes and pads, it will do a very quick job of correcting swirls and scratches without leaving "buffer trails" or "holograms" in the finish.  It is completely safe and won't burn through corners and edges like a rotary buffer will if not used carefully.

I also have the Porter Cable DA machine, but found it to be too slow for my liking and was easy to stall the pad rotation so now I just use it to spread waxes.  I have read many good things about the Rupes large throw DAs, however have no experience with them.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2018, 11:24 AM by Dick Mahany »

Offline RKA

  • Posts: 1223
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2018, 07:11 PM »
Rupes LHR21.  I have the 15 and if I could do it over again, I would get the 21. I would say these are analogous to the ETS line of sanders, being smooth and well balanced and easy to handle, but they are still big polishers.  They do have enough grunt to do some serious correction, unlike the PC polishers.  The Flex 3401 by comparison, is analogous to the Rotex.  Weight wise it’s comparable to the Rupes, but the tendency to walk will initially involve a learning curve.  It has a whine that’s irritating to me (at least compared to the Rupes).  But it’s every bit as capable as the Rupes, if not more so. 

There are Asian born machines offered by griots, Adams and a bunch of others that are lighter and pretty capable.  I don’t have experience with them, and with respect to the Adams, detest the fact that it was a rip off of the Rupes in every way.  Anyway, for random orbitals, number 1 and 2 are Flex and Rupes in no particular order.
-Raj

Offline Peter Halle

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Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2018, 07:19 PM »
I have one of the Griots machines.  Also use the Rotex 150.  The polishing pattern on the Rotex is different from what I have read.  I don't do this as often as I should or like so will stick with what I already have in my arsenal.

Peter

Online Cheese

  • Posts: 4949
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2018, 11:10 AM »
I've always used a Milwaukee 5540. It's a 7"/9" diameter beast though at 9# and 11 amps. It spins at 0-2800 rpm.

Because it's so heavy, I recently purchased a selection of pads for my Rotex 125. I'm going to try using that and see what kind of results I get. I have used my Rotex 90 for small areas and that works well.

Offline live4ever

  • Posts: 785
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2018, 11:40 AM »
I think I'm leaning towards the Rupes 15 or 21, previous generation.  Probably a much nicer polisher than I need or deserve, but I'm really prioritizing comfort and low noise after my experience with the RO150.

@RKA Do you use 5.5" pads with the LHR15 or can it take 6.5"?  I read somewhere that it vibrates badly with a 6" backing plate while others said it performs well. 
Current systainer to productivity ratio:  very high

Offline RKA

  • Posts: 1223
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2018, 12:27 PM »
My pads are 5.5"-6.0" mostly (I might have a 6.5" depending on who made it and the available sizes I could get).  You want the pad supported by the backing plate behind it.  Any part of the pad that extends beyond can't do as much "work" because it lacks the support of he backing plate, but it won't do much harm other than limit your ability to sneak up to edges near trim and what not.  Up to 1/2" beyond the backing plate is insignificant, when you get to 3/4" and 1.0", I think it creates those usability issues.

As far as vibrations, I only use foam pads and they are so light that the machine doesn't typically behave differently regardless of which pad I've put on it.  It still runs very smooth with anything I've thrown on it.  If the pads were heavier, I would expect the counterbalancing inside the machine to be affected.  On my old porter cable I do recall replacing the counterbalance to accomodate the 6" pads, but it wasn't terrible with the 5" weight in the machine.  It probably helps with long term tool longevity more than anything. 
-Raj

Offline SouthRider

  • Posts: 145
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2018, 11:28 PM »
My fave auto polisher?

He's about 27, 5'6", drinks too much, but does a mean detail job when he shows up......
"We, the willing, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible, for the ungrateful. We have done so much, for so long, with so little, that we are now qualified to do almost anything, with nothing at all."

Offline lunchman

  • Posts: 123
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2018, 03:26 PM »
I have the Porter Cable 7424 which I bought when I first got into detailing some 10+ years ago. For smaller areas, and especially for the Miata I also own a Griots 3" polisher.

It's been a while since I've used either on my own cars which could use some TLC. A few weeks ago I was showing a buddy how to get swirls out of his paint and remembered that my other hobby has been taking a back seat to woodworking. Time to get out the detailing equipment. 

I'm not up to date on any of the newer machines, these two serve their purpose for me.


Offline ben_r_

  • Posts: 1090
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2018, 01:33 PM »
Been using a Porter Cable 7424 for the last 12 years and its never been anything but perfect.
If at first you don't succeed, redefine success!

Offline Bigdaddy65

  • Posts: 20
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2018, 03:01 PM »
Flex 3401 can't be beat for versatility. The Groits or RUPES long throw polishers are nice for large vehicles but you can stall if not using proper technique.

Offline leakyroof

  • Posts: 2197
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2018, 09:20 AM »
Festool Shinex-    Straight/plain rotation rotary Polisher. Took me a bit to get used to it since I had used DA style polishers for years previously .
 Faster than DA style, easier to get fast results on tough spots, but you need to be careful with the power from a rotary machine.  Festool does recommend only 6” diameter pads and I haven’t tried a 7” pad on mine, but it doesn’t seem like it would be a problem.  Very quiet and lightweight, almost the size of the RO 90

Griots 6” DA,, slower, but does many jobs well.  Definitely spring for the long cord version if you get one.  Basically similar to the Porter-Cable machines that are common.
3” Griots- for those places the bigger machines won’t fit into to.

With these 3, I rarely feel the need to clean up one of my Rotex sanders to polish with.
Not as many Sanders as PA Floor guy.....

Online Cheese

  • Posts: 4949
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2018, 11:19 AM »
Well this is timely...all I can say is that the tools and the polishes have certainly changed in 15 years. It was about 15 years ago that I last polished a black vehicle using Meguiars polishes, a Milwaukee 5540 9" polisher and a lambs wool pad. My arms, shoulders and neck ached for days afterward and the vehicle had small white drops of dried Meguiars polish splattered in every impossible to clean nook & cranny on the car. It took another day to remove the hard, dried spots of Meguiars.

So yesterday I polished another black vehicle using a Rotex 125, Menzerna 2500 and an orange sponge pad. Wow...  [jawdrop]  what a difference in effort and I think the results were maybe even better than the Milwaukee/Meguiars process. The Menzerna didn't splatter and was very easy to buff off with a micro fibre cloth. I hit the tail light lenses and headlight covers at the same time and that also made a huge difference. It was more noticeable on the headlight covers which already looked fine, but after a buffing they just got that little bit clearer and whiter....a bit more sparkle to them.

So, I think I'll be on the lookout for a Shinex on the Festool reconditioned tool program and be putting the Milwaukee down the road.  [big grin]

Online Cheese

  • Posts: 4949
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2018, 12:14 PM »
Worth noting is how durable the Festool orange waffle pad is. It did the entire car and has been washed 3 times and still looks good except for a slight edge divot.
As a follow up, I’m going to go over the vehicle with some Menzerna 3500 and a Festool blue waffle pad.

Offline RKA

  • Posts: 1223
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2018, 01:40 PM »
@Cheese
The merzerna polishes are excellent!  I've been using them for over 15 years and haven't found a reason to stray.  But Meguiars has spent a lot of time improving their polishes to cater to the RO polishing market.  There are tons of comparisons that show the M105/205 combo with a microfiber polishing wheel providing a faster and better result compared to the Menzerna products.  It does dry up quite a bit quicker, which is why I prefer the Menzerna.  But it's hard to go wrong with either, they just work a little differently. 
-Raj

Offline RobBob

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Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2018, 04:23 PM »
This is probably a stupid question, but when using a Rotex, do you use it in RO or Rotex mode?  Any other tips or cautions when using a Rotex for car polishing?  TIA

Online Cheese

  • Posts: 4949
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2018, 05:23 PM »
This is probably a stupid question, but when using a Rotex, do you use it in RO or Rotex mode?  Any other tips or cautions when using a Rotex for car polishing?  TIA

Not a stupid question at all...yes use the Rotex mode, the RO 125 max's out at 600 rpm. That's probably right at the edge of function vs efficiency. The 2 Shinex versions turn at 600-1400 rpm and 900-2100 rpm and that's using a 150mm pad.

Still, it's pretty slick.

Offline Bill Chang

  • Posts: 50
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2018, 05:46 PM »
I got tired of the Festool recon website so I went with a Flex 3401 and a PE8.  Just got to drop it in a systainer and I’m good.

Online Cheese

  • Posts: 4949
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #18 on: September 11, 2018, 06:32 PM »
@Cheese
The merzerna polishes are excellent!  I've been using them for over 15 years and haven't found a reason to stray.

Ya Raj, I’m pretty stoked over the Merzena compounds. I like that they dry to a hazy finish instead of a white finish. I’m thinking that a Shinex (600-1400 rpm) along with the RO 90 could be a pretty competent 1-2 punch 🥊.  [big grin]

Offline manuc

  • Posts: 12
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #19 on: September 11, 2018, 08:34 PM »
Rupes Mille. Finally got to use it two weeks ago. Made quick work and wasn’t fatigued at all. If you use the Rupes system you’ll get great results.

Offline live4ever

  • Posts: 785
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #20 on: September 12, 2018, 01:24 AM »
So to update, I did get the Rupes LHR15 II and used it with Lake Country ThinPro pads.  Overall I really like the polisher - smooth and definitely not as jumpy as the Rotex 150.  I think the RO150 does work a little faster given that it has some rotary action.

The combo of the Rupes and the RO90 was pretty sweet.  I just love the RO90's weight and size for all the nooks and crannies.  Made doing the initial correction on my wife's new Model 3 a real pleasure.

Current systainer to productivity ratio:  very high

Online Cheese

  • Posts: 4949
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #21 on: September 12, 2018, 08:32 AM »
Overall I really like the polisher - smooth and definitely not as jumpy as the Rotex 150. 

The combo of the Rupes and the RO90 was pretty sweet.  I just love the RO90's weight and size for all the nooks and crannies. 

Ya, I noticed that when buffing the roof/hood/trunk, the areas where the RO 125 was being held at arms length, it did want to bounce a bit.  However that was corrected with a quick repositioning of the hands.  [big grin]

That Large & Small combo is pretty sweet.   [thumbs up]

I'm also interested in what compounds/polishes/glazes you/everyone is using?


Offline Dick Mahany

  • Posts: 382
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #22 on: September 12, 2018, 08:57 AM »
I'm also interested in what compounds/polishes/glazes you/everyone is using?

I'm using the Megs 105/205 combination however as several have mentioned, I do spend more time than I'd like cleaning the remnants up (even though I tape all seams, trim and openings).  I tried some Menzerna SF4500 (may have a new name now?  EDIT: Now called SF3800 in their new packaging scheme) as a final polish on a Navy blue Tahoe.  Made my eyes pop as it imparted a shine like I had never achieved previously.  Plan on switching to more Menzerna now, but the 105/205 sure worked well for so many years.

For small touch up jobs I find the standard retail Megs Ultimate Compound does a respectable job.

Using the Flex XC3401 VRG with 25' cord and the Flex PE 14-2 150 and couldn't be happier.  I recently acquired an RO90 however have not yet tried polishing with it.

« Last Edit: September 12, 2018, 09:13 AM by Dick Mahany »

Offline RKA

  • Posts: 1223
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #23 on: September 12, 2018, 10:32 AM »
This is probably a stupid question, but when using a Rotex, do you use it in RO or Rotex mode?  Any other tips or cautions when using a Rotex for car polishing?  TIA

Not a stupid question at all...yes use the Rotex mode, the RO 125 max's out at 600 rpm. That's probably right at the edge of function vs efficiency. The 2 Shinex versions turn at 600-1400 rpm and 900-2100 rpm and that's using a 150mm pad.

Still, it's pretty slick.

I think the main take away is if you're not aggressive enough it just takes more time to break down the polish and work the paint.  That's okay, you'll work faster as you get more comfortable.  If you're too aggressive, the paint will heat up, the polish might dry and gum up and you'll start to get frustrated.  Back off the speed and/or pressure if you get this far.  Do note that metal panels and plastic panels behave differently.  Metal dissipates the heat better, so you can be more aggressive.  For plastic panels the heat builds up faster.  Generally I back off the speed 1-2 notches on the dial.  Touch your hand to the surface as you work.  Warm is fine, hot is not.  If you want, use an infrared gun to measure the temps.  Usually around 120F is as far as you need to go (I think - I've just checked by hand to make sure I'm not getting too hot when I'm concentrating on a particular spot on a plastic panel, so that number is my faint recollection from somewhere on the net).
-Raj

Offline live4ever

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Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #24 on: September 12, 2018, 12:59 PM »
I'm also interested in what compounds/polishes/glazes you/everyone is using?

I'm using mostly Chemical Guys stuff.  For polishes, I have their V32, 34, 36, and 38 (got them as a set during a deal).  I tend to use the V34 and V38 combination most, which easily handles swirls and most light clear coat scratches.  Final polish with V38 on a white pad.  That gets me corrected and ready for glaze or wax.  Then I use Chemical Guys' Blacklight (glaze/sealant) as my final step, which is awesome on dark paint.  Maintain with Hybrid V07 spray sealant. 

For my wife's new car I'm going a different route because the paint is too frickin soft (built/painted in CA).  The paint swirls if your microfiber even looks at it funny  [blink].  So honestly the less I touch it the better.  DIY ceramic coating for that car, but I polished with V34/V38 to prepare for that. 
Current systainer to productivity ratio:  very high

Offline live4ever

  • Posts: 785
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #25 on: September 12, 2018, 01:04 PM »
@RKA or anyone else...
How do you know how far is too far when you're correcting out scratches?  I had a clear coat scratch I was trying to polish out with the Rupes and an orange pad.  Scratch doesn't catch a fingernail so definitely would be considered polishable.  But the Rupes was taking quite a while to get it out (and I realize not being rotary it's going to be slower), but how long could I keep going without wearing down the clear coat too far?  I realize one could use a paint depth gauge, but any other tips or rules of thumb?
Current systainer to productivity ratio:  very high

Offline RKA

  • Posts: 1223
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #26 on: September 12, 2018, 01:53 PM »
I generally don't worry about it as long as my fingernail doesn't catch on it.  I'll keep working that spot until it's 90-100% gone.  The RO machines don't remove material like a rotary polisher.  If it's really taking a long time, just like sandpaper, you need to step up to a more aggressive polish and pad.  But it's not a bad thing to start off with something mild that works for the overall condition of the paint, then go back and touch up the areas that aren't right with something more aggressive as needed. 

Just to complicate matters, realize that polishes are different.  Some have diminishing abrasives, where the abrasives break down into smaller particles as you work them.  That gives a single polish a very wide range of work, from initially correcting to bringing out some luster as you finish.  For something like you're describing, you may need repeated applications, working the polish for 2-4 minutes with each cycle or just get a polish that does not have a diminishing abrasive, which you can continue to work until it starts to dry up on you. 
-Raj

Offline kevinculle

  • Posts: 224
Re: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...
« Reply #27 on: September 12, 2018, 09:17 PM »
Porter Cable 7424