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Design and content © 2004


Mild Bill (Asshole #27)
StephG (Asshole#108)
 

Revisions/updates  2010 Keeper of the FAQ's
Schmoe (Asshole #128)

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Virtual Bar & Grill
Current Owner
LarryInEastTn Asshole #136

 


 

Cleaning 

As posted by Asshole # 112 TL Mitchell (4/3/10):

So you want to clean your Harley... (the OCD method)

Don't listen to them pikers, they aren't true sufferers of
Obsessive-Compulsive Detailing Disorder. <sfsf> Personally, about the last
thing I'd use on a finish I really cared about is cotton or a glaze.
:::shrug::: Different strokes.

Here's more than you ever wanted to know....

Prep is the total key to result. For whatever reason, H-D's clear coat on
some colors is the softest, most miserable to polish. If you touch it with
the wrong stuff you impart as many swirls as you remove. Touching any
finish, especially a soft one, that has the least bit of film or dirt on it
is a cardinal sin, IMO. Drag a finger or towel across dirty Vivid Black and
you'll spend 15 minutes with a polisher and multiple products abrading the
damage in just a small spot. As recently witnessed by some, there ain't
nothing on this planet that will instantly send me into orbit and turn me
into a raving lunatic faster than seeing someone dry-rub a dirty, gritty
black polished finish. Nothing. I think I need some couch time with a
professional. Maybe I need a white bike...

IMO and the opinions of professional detailers nothing except plush
microfiber should ever touch your paint. The true anal retentives will spend
10 bucks or more on a single 16 x 16 "rag". Assuming you simply want to
improve your finish rather than go for concours perfection here's the
primer:

You want to remove swirls or cover 'em up? Glazes fill imperfections
temporarily and look great. After a couple of washes the swirls are back. In
order to remove them the surface has to be abraded to the same level as the
bottom of a swirl or scratch, which means removing paint. Same idea as
compounding only on a finer scale.

Most products in the past have used diminshing abrasives, they had to be
worked until they break down getting finer and finer. Initial cut can be
aggressive but when they break down the finer the abrasives get the finer
your finish becomes. This can be a labor-intensive, multi-step procedure if
you really want to get anal about it. I assume few want to go to that
extreme.

Meguiar's and a few others have introduced some products in the last few
years that are total game changers. They're Super Micro Abrasive Technology
and don't break down, they cut as long as you work them and keep 'em from
drying out. Much of the better stuff is in Meg's professional Mirror Glaze
line and are sometimes hard to find OTC. Plus they're usually only available
in qts or gallons. Meg's has comparable products in their consumer line OTC.
Scratch X 2.0 and Swirl X are both SMAT and have received rave reviews.
Their Ultimate Compound is excellent as well.... the difference is in the
aggressiveness of the abrasives. They're pure compounds and polishes, no
fillers, no waxes. In order of aggressiveness Swirl X is mildest, then
Scratch X 2.0 and UC is a 10 on a scale of 1 - 10.

http://meguiarsonline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=40514

With wool and a rotary buffer UC will remove 1200 grit sanding marks like
magic. It'll also take you right down to primer if you don't know what
you're doing or catch an edge.  =:-O

The general rule is to do a test spot using the least aggressive method. If
you aren't getting the results you want notch it up a bit. This assumes you
have a cabinet stuffed full of a wide variety of products to choose from. I
would surmise this isn't your case.

If you happen to have a tube of Scratch X 2.0 or Swirl X laying around
either will do what you want, it just may take multiple applications and
some serious passion behind the pad. If you're gonna pick up a product I'd
go for Ultimate Compound due to it's versatility. Yeah, it can be
aggressive, but working by hand or a *quality* dual-action polisher you
don't have to worry about damaging your finish. Work a spot, inspect and
repeat as necessary. The older high-abrassive diminishing compounds left a
haze and marks of their own. The SMAT products leave a smooth finish and
rarely need a followup with a milder polish... they're wax or sealant ready.

Meg's Gold Class liquid wax is a pure wax, no cleaners or abrasives. Pretty
good product. IMO, you either clean/polish or you wax. If you use a
cleaner/wax you do neither effectively. It all depends on the type finish
you'll be satisfied with.

So, you polish and it looks great. You wax and it looks better. Then you
take it out in direct sun and there's those damn marks again! You have to be
able to see what you're doing. The pros use 1000-watt halogen light stands
with one shining direct and another at an angle. They go over every inch
with a handheld Xenon light and LEDs. Over the top for the backyard waxer
but you get the idea.... you've got to work in good light. Always inspect a
polish job in direct sunlight before you top with a Last Stage Product
whether it be a wax or synthetic sealant to make sure you're really done
polishing. LSPs are a matter of personal preference, they all protect and
add shine. Some like to layer LSPs thinking they're getting more protection
or a deeper shine. Not so, a 2nd coat assures even coverage but rarely will
you find a product with pure layering capability. Zaino stuff is an
exception but they're priced in the stratosphere.

Step 1, it's gotta be clean. No dirt, no wax, nothing but paint. Dish
detergent is a cardinal sin for washing paint. However, if you want to strip
to the clear coat Dawn dishwashing detergent is the ticket! The S100 cycle
wash at the dealers is a rebranded P21S product made in Germany. Detailers
use it to strip and degrease and usually diliute it 4:1. I can't believe
people actually spray their bikes with that caustic shit and expect a
spray-on/rinse off wash! If you've got some dilute it and it'll get right
down to the clear.

Inspect in sunlight to see the true condition of the paint. Polish inside or
in the shade with the best light you've got available. Inspect in sunlight
before you decide you're done polishing.

I use wool for serious cut, various densities of foam to polish and
microfiber to apply LSPs. YMMV. The yellow Meg's polishing pads work great
as do many others. Polish in a single direction, no circles. Many advocate
polishing in the direction of the wind or slipstream.

If you've got a console or anything bordered by rubber or plastic tape it
off with painter's tape or masking tape. Trying to get polish residue out of
rubber is a PITA. If you do need to remove old wax or polish, believe it or
not, peanut butter takes it right off. I'd recommend smooth, crunchy is
kinda hard to work with. <g>  Actually, it's the vegetable oil that does the
work so a wipe with an oil will remove it as well.

All microfiber isn't created equal. The el cheapo stuff is great for wiping
out door jambs or under the hood but if you use it to remove polish residue
on a highly polished surface you'll be in for an unpleasant surprise. As far
as OTC reasonably priced MF, Pep Boys has some nice soft ones in 10-packs.
Target's Vroom MF is reasonably priced and nice as well. You'll be amazed at
the uses you can find for them around the house. Clean glass and mirrors
without cleaner, just lightly moistened with water.

Work with CLEAN towels. If you get some crud buildup or drop a pad or MF
towel, pitch it in the rag bag for washing. Ain't no sense polishing to
perfection if you're gonna drag grit back over it.

Improper or careless washing and drying is where swirls come from in the
first place. With a polished surface many true anal-retentives use 2
buckets, one for wash media and one to rinse out their wash mitt or MF rag.
They also use grit guards on the bottom of the bucket which effectively lets
the crud sink to the bottom preventing you from picking it up in your mitt
again and marring the finish. The idea being that it's easier to prevent
marring the finish than it is to do paint correction.

If clear coat is really soft lightly misting a MF towel with a quick
detailer spray makes wax or polish residue removal much cleaner. Use a quick
detailer on anything more than dust or extremely light dirt at your peril.
The stuff is more abrasive than you would believe.

Meg's Gold Class car wash is a good middle-of-the-road product. It has high
lubricity and mixed properly doesn't strip wax or sealants. They've recently
introduced a Wash n Wax product that supposedly leaves some protection after
rinsing. I suppose it might look a little shinier but the protection isn't
lasting. I'm not much of a fan of combo products.

Blow-drying is the ticket, any time you avoid touching paint you're avoiding
marring it. There's always residue though. Most polishing microfiber lacks
absorbancy. Microfiber waffle weave towels are the answer. Megs makes some
and there's some cheapies in the housewares section of Wally World that work
OK. Keeping 'em clean is essential. The Vroom drying towels at Target are
real nice for the price too.

One good use for cleaner waxes is on everything that *isn't* paint. Multiple
steps is overkill on unpainted surfaces. The abrasives clean and they leave
some protection so bugs and crud don't etch into the finish.

So, your paint is now shiney and swirl free, aluminum and chrome are looking
good but your cast wheels look like shit ! Kinda diminishes the rest of your
work. Cleaning and shining polished aluminum that has brake dust etched into
it is a PITA and sometimes downright impossible. The S100 polishing soap at
the dealer's is one of the best products I've found. It's also a rebranded
P21S product at half the price of the original stuff. There just isn't an
easy way out for wheels, here an ounce of prevention is probably worth 10
pounds of cure.