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Discussion Starter #1
I know most of you probably hand wax or hand polish, but for those of you that prefer to use tools to do the work over broad expanses of sheet metal, which polisher/buffers do you recommend.

I currently have a Makita 7" circular polisher/sander that i use when doing the initial buff from the wetsanding stage of fresh paint jobs, but it rarely does that good a job in getting swirl marks out and really putting a nice shine on the car, so i was considering buying a second orbital style buffer , like the porter cable 7424XP or the Cyclo dual head machine sold on Autogeek.net to get the finder levels of shine done quicker than it takes by doing by hand...I am just getting too old to rub all my old cars smooth every month, and need a little machine assistance. Trying to get feedback from a few that may utilize the devices before blowing 300.00 on a dual head polisher.

I've had the lower quality buffing orbital polishing machines and while they don't suck, they really don't perform up to snuff for what i'm looking for, and plan to go with a more single minded tool, Porter cable seems to have a pretty good following, but have to admit that the Cyclo orbital really looks intriguing. I'm used to using hand grinders so using the porter cable wouldn't be a major inconvenience.

Any recommendations?

Lord Warlock
 

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My primary tool is a Flex DA but it is 2x the price of the Porter Cable 7424 XP.

What do you get? A smooth running machine that just do not bog down under pressure yet offers the basic safety of a DA. The primary downside is that due to its force it rotation it needs a bit more attention to hold flat and guide...no snoozing like with a Porter Cable but when it is on it is working effectively. You can use less aggressive polishes and pads (all good things) and work faster due to the forced rotation.

The Porter Cable can accomplish about the same with the best skills in a little more time.

The key is knowing the machine, pad selection, the polish, and technique, and dealing the paint (they are different). Some paints work better than others with certain combos.

It does not matter what machine you use if you do not use the right pad (too aggressive, wrong polish, or not letting the polish break down you will spend more time getting optimum results.
 

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I have a porter cable 7424. Had it for 6 years and it still runs as good as newvand will tackle any job I need it to
 

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Pc 7424 and a flex orbital whose number I forget.
 

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My primary tool is a Flex DA but it is 2x the price of the Porter Cable 7424 XP.

What do you get? A smooth running machine that just do not bog down under pressure yet offers the basic safety of a DA. The primary downside is that due to its force it rotation it needs a bit more attention to hold flat and guide...no snoozing like with a Porter Cable but when it is on it is working effectively. You can use less aggressive polishes and pads (all good things) and work faster due to the forced rotation.

The Porter Cable can accomplish about the same with the best skills in a little more time.

The key is knowing the machine, pad selection, the polish, and technique, and dealing the paint (they are different). Some paints work better than others with certain combos.

It does not matter what machine you use if you do not use the right pad (too aggressive, wrong polish, or not letting the polish break down you will spend more time getting optimum results.
....Bunky pretty much said I was thinking. I have a Flex 3401 VRG (DA) and a PC 7336 (essentially the same as the first gen 7424). I use both since I can fit smaller backing plates and pads on the PC for tight areas.

There are a few choices of good/decent DA's out there currently. Griot's 6", PC 7424, Meguiars G110, Flex 3401, etc. Some have benefits/drawbacks vs. others. Bunky mentioned the power of the Flex while something like the Griots has a lifetime warranty.

I would suggest browsing the detailing forums on a site like Autopia.org to get a broader pool of opinions/input to help with your decision. ....I do love my Flex though. ;)
 

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...I do love my Flex though. ;)
I would add while I do like my flex for pure correction if I could only have one DA I would likely get the Griot's at this point.
The ability to use small backing plates/pads can necessary plus I do not like using waxes with the Flex if you want to apply by machine.
 

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I use a Porter Cable 7336 with Griot's pads and polishes.

Any will like work pretty well, you just want to make sure they are RANDOM ORBITAL or you can damage the paint.

 

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I would add while I do like my flex for pure correction if I could only have one DA I would likely get the Griot's at this point.
The ability to use small backing plates/pads can necessary plus I do not like using waxes with the Flex if you want to apply by machine.
....yeah, if I didn't already have my 7336, I would have bought a smaller one like the griots 3" to compliment my Flex. I have both 5.5's and 4" pads with appropriate backing plates for the PC. I also have a couple of upholstery/carpet brushes that work pretty well with it.

As far as applying waxes, I never really got into doing it by machine. For some paint cleaners, AIO's, etc. I will but for pure sealants/waxes on a polished finish, I still apply by hand most times. It really depends on the product.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
I'm considering the Griots 6 inch as a backup unit to use after using the makita on large flat panels, the makita is fine on large areas, but you gotta be careful around edges, and keep the speed down or you can cut thru. First time i wetsanded and buffed the hood i didn't tape off the edges and cut thru the paint on the edge, had to repaint and redo it to correct, now i can see where i had the tape after removing it, and can't clean it up by hand. I'd like to get the 3" to do the hard to reach areas, but it costs as much as the 6 inch costs.

Problem i have with the makita is that the foam pads i have aren't really geared for a special purpose, the paint shop doesn't carry mutliple pad densities that i'm aware of, if they do it isn't out front. I never use the wool pads. I have smooth pads, and have varied texture pads (looks wavy) I'd like to get a good selection of pads to use with it. maybe when i order the new buffer, i'll order some extra pads for the makita. I like the flexibility the makita has with its 600rpm starting speed, mine has a variable speed trigger though.

I don't use the makita for waxing, i tend to do that by hand.
 

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I have had good luck with the cyclo polishers. It will not do paint correction as fast as some but it is a lot safer for most users. It will provide great swirl free results to even a beginner.
 

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I have had good luck with the cyclo polishers. It will not do paint correction as fast as some but it is a lot safer for most users. It will provide great swirl free results to even a beginner.
....I know some professionals that still use their Cyclo. It's a good, highly reliable machine and likely one that some may find more user friendly than the DA's mentioned. There are some compromises though and cost is one of them. ....a new Cyclo comes in at ~$290 vs. something like the PC 7424XP that can be had at ~$130.
 

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I have two old Cyclo's I purchased back in 89'. Both of them still running incredibly strong. I use one for scrubbing carpeting, etc (mostly in the house, lol!) and the other one is for heavier polishing work. I tend to wax the Challenger by hand since it was new and didn't have all the scratches and such that my older cars had.
 

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I would never, ever use anything like an orbital or a DA on my car, however thats just me and my preference.

Im curious tho, doesnt this leave swirl marks? Not to mention I feel that the paint on these cars is extremely thin! Id be afraid with a more powerful piece of equipment that it could literally remove some of the paint!
 

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I use a Porter-Cable 7436. It is similar to the 7424, but it is billed as a "polisher/sander." It came with accessories to use it as a sander. I thought if I were going to pay the money for a tool like this I would like for it to be multi-purpose. Haven't used it as a sander yet... I'll have to remember to make sure it doesn't have 60 grit sheets on it when I go to apply the wax! Ha Ha.
 

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I would never, ever use anything like an orbital or a DA on my car, however thats just me and my preference.

Im curious tho, doesnt this leave swirl marks? Not to mention I feel that the paint on these cars is extremely thin! Id be afraid with a more powerful piece of equipment that it could literally remove some of the paint!
….I’m not trying to sound harsh but your preference is based on lack of understanding.


There are a variety of “polishers” on the market today with various capabilities and characteristics. Most of the ones discussed in this thread are commonly referred to as “DA” (dual action) polishers or ROB’s (random orbital buffers). Unlike rotary polishers that simply spin, a DA head spins on a spindle (like a rotary) but that spindle also rotates on an eccentric offset. This causes small orbital movements (appears as a “jiggling” action) while the entire pad face rotates.

courtesy of Autogeek.com


Unlike rotaries, DA polishers are quite user friendly. They don’t get the surface hot enough to burn paint, they don’t take a lot of finesse/technique to get a good finish (no holograms, buffer trails, etc. to worry about), are generally easy to handle and are relatively slow (by comparison) in their corrective ability. In fact, with some machines (like my Porter Cable), the rotation of the head is not “forced”. In other words, the head will actually stall if you apply too much pressure (it will simply jiggle in place). On the other hand, a unit like my Flex has a direct drive unlike my PC’s clutch-like action. ….and while I would consider the Flex a more stout machine than most DA’s, it is still relatively safe and easy to use even for some beginners.

Whether you need or want to use a polisher will depend solely on your goal. While some use them for applying waxes/sealants, the main reason most will buy one is for correction. ….by “correction” I mean actual polishing/abrading the surface of your paint to remove and/or soften blemishes. There is really no other way to actually eradicate scratches, etching, etc. from your paint. Products with fillers can help hide some imperfections but they will eventually return along with any other new flaws introduced to the surface. This is why it is so important for those looking into this kind of solution to first evaluate their regular routine (i.e. washing, drying, quick detailing, etc.). It makes no sense to spend time correcting your paint if your technique, tools and/or products (in between full details) are contributing to the problem.

When you tell folks that they are actually removing paint when they use an abrasive polish by hand or machine, they usually panic. However, you need to understand that paint isn’t actually as “thin” as you might think in relation to how much you might actually be removing by correcting most blemishes. I wish I could find the thread (on one of the detailing forums I frequent) that demonstrated this. The test included measurements using a PTG (paint thickness gauge) at each step in the process. In a nutshell, after using several aggressive products on his test vehicle (on purpose), the end result was a measurable yet relatively low loss of clear on the finish.

This isn’t to say that your concerns of removing too much clear coat are invalid. You really need to assess each situation and take this fact into consideration when it comes to pad/product choices. The key is to use the least aggressive combo necessary to get the results you are after. However, you also need to be realistic in your expectations and weigh the consequences. In other words, trying to eliminate RIDS (random isolated deep scratches) in the hope of a “perfect finish” comes at a cost. You never want to do more harm than good by thinning out areas simply to chase a few RIDS. Same goes for heavy correction especially on aged finishes. ….there comes a point when you need to tell yourself that “this is as good as it’s gonna get” without making things worse.

I have been using DA’s for years. My last vehicle was 8 years old (purchased new in 2002) and was considered quite soft (paint-wise). It had a reputation for scratching quite easily but was also easy to correct as a result. In either case, I never had an issue with strike-thru or noticeable “thinning” of the paint. ….it actually looked quite healthy for a car of its age/mileage.

If you are really interested in learning more about the subject, I would be more than happy to point you to some articles, video links, etc. that will help.
 

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I use a Porter-Cable 7436. It is similar to the 7424, but it is billed as a "polisher/sander." It came with accessories to use it as a sander. I thought if I were going to pay the money for a tool like this I would like for it to be multi-purpose. Haven't used it as a sander yet... I'll have to remember to make sure it doesn't have 60 grit sheets on it when I go to apply the wax! Ha Ha.
....if you do use it as a sander, I would caution you to make sure the machine is clear of all debris before using it on your car. The last thing you would want is a stray piece of wood, metal or whatever working its way out of a crevice and into the path of your pad.
 

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Kean: Thanks for all the great info,however, I still wouldnt use one.

I guess its just me, but I prefer doing myself :) without using one of those machines in between me & the car lol

I started using Zaino when I bought the car and the ease and incredible outcome from using it had me sold the first time I used their products. From their clay bar to polish..to their show car spray & leather conditioner..all of their products are incredible and super easy to apply and remove.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Good points on the orbitals, fortunately, i understand the principles of the different polishers, I have a full compliment of sanders, including two makita 5 inch orbital sanders (wore out the motor on one, just replaced the hook and loop pads on both) as well as a couple palm sanders, sheet sanders, board sanders, flexible pad fender sanders etc, when you paint the odd car or two you tend to use lots of sanders. And no, i'm not afraid to sand on a nice looking paint job if the surface looks a little rough.

I do pretty well with the 7 inch makita sander/buffer, i never use it for sanding, its a buffer only. Unfortunately no matter how careful you are, if you fail to take precautions and tape off sharp edges it will eat thru the clear and into the color pretty quick. Which is why i'm looking at the new orbital, it has a little more finesse to it. I used to have a 10 inch orbital buffer from sears but never cared for the flimsy bonnets it used, never thought about using just the foam pad to polish with, not sure where it walked off to either, maybe its in the attic, or maybe i tossed it.

When waxing, i rarely need to use a buffer, hand waxing is fine most of the time, but not if you just got done with a circular polisher. detailer type finish waxes are simple to handle. Occasionally i like to do a proper polish job on it though, or try out a new machine wax and see if it works out well or not. (try some real carnuba sometime)

On a new car, like the challenger, there isn't much need to use a full blown polisher on it, but as you know my hood is self painted, and i still have to work out the edges where i taped off the edge and can still see where i didn't sand it out properly. I also have to repaint the leading edge of the hood where a few chips have developed. When i take the hood off to install the airbox for the TA hood (if i ever finish it) i'll repaint the edge and probably remove the scoop itself and reclear everything. I still have enough clear to redo the hood, just need more paint. Meanwhile, i'm currently working the fender of my charger r/t, and after i finish the paint work on it, then i have to paint the stealth again.
 

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Kean: Thanks for all the great info,however, I still wouldnt use one.

I guess its just me, but I prefer doing myself :) without using one of those machines in between me & the car lol

I started using Zaino when I bought the car and the ease and incredible outcome from using it had me sold the first time I used their products. From their clay bar to polish..to their show car spray & leather conditioner..all of their products are incredible and super easy to apply and remove.
.....again, it really depends on what your goals are as to whether or not you would even see a benefit in a tool like a DA. I've been using Zaino products for many years myself (and still do depending on the situation). One thing you need to understand though is that Sal's flagship polishes (Z2 and Z5) are actually sealants and have no corrective ability. Z5 has some limited filling characteristics but no abrasives. In recent years Sal introduced ZPC (a light polish that can be used with a DA) and ZAIO which has chemical cleaners along with some light abrasives (along with a sealant).

Most of the folks who are posting here are simply looking for a different result that simply wouldn't be possible by using these products alone. One thing I have learned over the years regarding detailing is that everyone has varying degrees of what they can tolerate in a finish and what they consider acceptable. You seem to be happy with the outcome of the products you are currently using which is all that matters. ....my only point was to help provide you a glimpse into another facet of detailing.
 

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....if you do use it as a sander, I would caution you to make sure the machine is clear of all debris before using it on your car. The last thing you would want is a stray piece of wood, metal or whatever working its way out of a crevice and into the path of your pad.

Noted.... I'm no professional detailer, but I get by ok.
 
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