Author Topic: Tell me about your favorite auto polisher...  (Read 907 times)

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Offline live4ever

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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

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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

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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.

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.


Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 4686
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: 777
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

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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. 

Offline SouthRider

  • Posts: 140
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

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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.