Fun Fact of the Day: The Carrera GT rear tires are nearly three Pop-Tarts wide.
By the time we've thoroughly rinsing the vehicle again, we're still checking for small clues about the finish. Here's one important factor we keep in our minds: by the time the car is at this point, water beading shouldn't be present on the finish. Clear-coat doesn't naturally bead water, and a lack of beading is a sign the finish is sanitized of any oils or residue from any other products. While this may seem like a small detail, it will equate to us knowing later when we do a thorough paint inspection that there isn't anything on the finish hiding or concealing defects that should otherwise be removed with machine polishing.
Here, you can see the distinct difference in the trunk's lack of beading while the paint protection film (clear-bra) is still beading on the front end:
Water running off flat, just as intended.
To dry the vehicle quickly and safely I used a leaf blower. This removed the majority of the water on the wide surfaces and crevices. Tim followed behind with microfiber waffle weave drying towels on the reachable areas.
Once the vehicle was dried and moved to a more suitable location inside the building we proceeded to clay the car. Clay will remove the contamination in the finish that won't come off with normal washing. There are small particles stuck in the clear-coat which can not be removed with other methods. Once again, this will allow for a completely sanitized surface for better evaluating the finish, and won't risk contaminating our polishing pads in the near future.
Very little contamination as a whole, but still impressive for this type of vehicle with low milage.
Finally prepped and done for day one!
The following night, my girlfriend and I went to Ann Arbor to watch Michigan take on Notre Dame in Michigan's first ever home night game!
After a crazy fourth quarter come-back, Michigan scored to win with 2 seconds left. One of the best Michigan football games I've been to!
Getting back to work, we started on the next phase of bringing out the best of the Guards Red paint. The entire vehicle had a uniform hazy / milky finish. Looking at the reflection of the overhead lights, you can see a halo around the lights from a lack of clarity.
Upon a closer look, we can see the root of the problems in the paintwork which lead to this haze effect: scratches on the surface that cause light to be refracted and scattered, and the color to be "whiter" in this case. True color purity and maximum reflectivity is achieved when the surface is as smooth as possible. This is the essence of polishing and why detailers call the process Paint Correction; a perfectly smooth and flawless clear-coat shows the finish as the manufacturers intended it to look.
The most prevelant type of scratch on this vehicle were Dual Action sanding marks from the factory, which look like tightly knit crescents. The entire finish was covered in them:
Even the plastic third brake was missing clarity due to light scratches and swirl marks:
As were the tail light lenses:
With a paint job thin enough to see the carbon fiber weave underneath, paint thickness measurements help to ensure maximum safety for the vehicle.
Standard coating thickness gauges do not read on composite materials, so only the detailer who has invested in an ultra-sonic thickness gauge, as we have, can know the depth on the finish and thus the capability of the paint they're working on. In our case, our Defelsko 200 Advanced is accurate enough to read the clear-coat separately from the primer sealer and base-coat, allowing us to track the actual clear-coat thickness to a thousandth of a millimeter as we polish.
For an additional step towards safety, flexible low-tac tape is used on all delicate trim that might otherwise be damaged by a rotating buffer. Alternately, we use the same tape to limit polishing / residue dust build-up in certain areas for faster, easier, and most importantly, more complete cleaning.
Machine polishing began with a couple different pad + polish combinations using the Dual Action polisher to test how hard or soft the finish was, and how it would react to different combinations. Here, Tim has a section of the fender taped off to frame a distinct line, making it easier to see and compare different polishing combinations. On the left side is Meguiar's 105 with a Surbuf pad and on the right is Meguiar's D300 on a microfiber pad.
With a half dozen polish + pad combinations working to bring additional clarity to the finish, they all failed to remove the sanding marks. I made a phone call to Bob Willis of Auto Concierge for some encouragement. I knew he had more experience with CGT's and wanted to know if the extreme amount of sanding marks was a normal occurrence on these cars, and if so, his experience removing them with or without having to do some sanding himself. When it comes to my work and my clients expectations, I won't allow self pride to get in the way of perfection. We've gone as far as consulting with the actual painter who worked on a specific car, or talking to indivuduals who were directly involved in the production of certain cars.
It seems this might be the worst factory prepped Carrera GT made. There would be no short cuts on this project, only a long road with many polishing steps, with thorough visual inspections and thickness readings taken between each. Even the infantry needs assistance at times. It was time to call in some artillery for fire support; the rotary polisher, wool pads, M105, and plenty of patience.
To give a better idea of the original condition of most of the car, I offer you the side of this front passenger fender.
"50/50" with one side polished and the other not:
Up a bit closer, you can see the left side still needs additional work with a few stray sanding marks still plaguing the finish:
Though not close to done, the difference was outstanding. This was after two of the eventual four compounded passes:
After the heavy compounding was completed, Tim thoroughly polished with a DA, a Surbuf pad, and the same M105 to rid the finish of the rotary trail marks.
Two polishing steps to go, the progress is easily noticeable.
The door and fender were looking better, but the lower side sill needed to match. Anyone can properly work large flat panels, but the "details" are in the small tight areas that are uncomfortable and awkward to spend time on.
Thin, ultra-hard paint full of defects, in a tight space, using lower rotating speed on the machine (to avoid as mush heat build-up as possible) means a very steady and smooth technique is needed. A long day of fine motor skill use is physically and mentally tiring, part of the reason we tried to limit ourselves to 6-8 hours of heavy polishing per day. A slip or momentary lapse in concentration could equate to thousands of dollars in value lost.
Some areas, like the driver's side rear fender caused more problems than others. Despite three or four lighter passes using the rotary, we still found enough defects to spoil the progress. More readings were taken once the paint was at room temperature before additional polishing commenced. Doing so made sure that the readings we got were accurate, so paint thickness safety always came before getting out that last scratch.
Let's not forget all the small areas!
The A-pillars were later refined with a 3 inch DA polisher:
More tight polishing...
Did you forget how those tail lights looked before we started? Neither did we...
Using a smaller 5.5 inch Surbuf pad allowed Tim to effectively work areas with complete percision, and allowed for better access to areas the rotary couldn't polish as perfectly.
While we have a lot of tools at our disposal, some areas can't be reached with a machine. Tim spent about half an hour on the mirror stalks, with an outstanding result.
It would be nice if the mirrors were the only unreachable places on the vehicle, but that wasn't the case.