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Practical Car Care for Corvetters: Polishing
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Now, don't read that as I'm dis'ing show car people. Heck, I love you folks-you're an important part of our hobby. It's just that-well...I'm not into the serious car care thing.
You won't see me detailing emblems on "3Balls39", my C5 Z, with a tooth brush trying to obliterate every last molecule of wax residue. Nor will you find me on the ground, polishing underneath the front facia on "Barney" my purple ZR-1. And, hand-waxing "Yellow Thunder" my '71 Big-Block Coupe on a monthly basis? Not in this lifetime.
I'm lazy. Ok-there. I said it.
On Saturdays, I'd rather drive my cars like I stole 'em and Sunday, rather than hours-long wax jobs then taking one to a show, I want a couple cold beers, barbecued burgers and NASCAR or AMLS on TV.
Are my Vettes scrungy-looking, "40-foot" cars? No, but I don't maintain their finishes like some car show freaks I know, either. I wash them when they look like they need it and a wax them once a year-maybe.
On the last day of the National Corvette Museum's '07 C5/C6 Birthday Bash, I was wandering the vendors' area. After looking at some of the cars on display, I decided I ought to do better on car care.
Amongst the vendor booths, I stumbled across "C-Magic", a company which markets wax and a few related products. I've been to shows where car care products are explained, promoted, pushed, hawked, even whored. I've listened to pitches on wax, enthusiastically delivered by fast-talking marketeers hoping I'll drink their cool-aid: "Our (insert 'Zaino', 'Zymol', 'Turtle Wax', 'Mother's', 'Meguiar's', 'Klasse', 'DuPont Teflon', '3M' or other brand of your choice) will make your car look twice as good as new. It'll be an instant show winner. Our wax goes on in two minutes. So easy a two-year-old can apply it. Lasts for two years and costs only two bucks, but heck, since you're a writer; I'll give ya two of our two ounce samples."
Sometimes I listen to stuff like that then am tempted to ask something as lame as their sales talk, like: "Dude, like-how come there are two brands of wax with names starting with 'Z'?" or "I heard Jeff Gordon waxes his DuPont Chevy with Turtle Wax. Is that true?"
Thankfully, C-Magic's owner, Kermit Dye, isn't a fast-talking salesman. He briefly explained his company to me. It's one of the few and maybe the only high-end polish maker operated by Corvette owners-and I'll confess: one reason my conversation with Dye progressed past the preliminaries was that he seemed to me to be, first, a Vette enthusiast and second a maker of car care products. Dye told me believes that if he tells a Corvetter a little about the product then lets him or her think about it a while, maybe they'll try it, but once they do; they'll be hooked.
Well heck, I thought, that's pretty convincing.
My late-April resolution to "do better on car care" coupled with this research had me ordering one of the company's "World Class Corvette Detail Kits". A week or so later, FedEx Ground shows-up and a few minutes later, open on my work bench is this kit with one bottle of each C-Magic product along with a couple of microfiber towels and an applicator pad.
"Uh-oh" I said aloud, my heart sticking in my throat, "This looks like work. What this 'shop' needs is a good polisher and what I need is a cold beer."
Actually, I'd been thinking about a polisher for a while. I polled a few people in my Corvette club who are hardcore waxers (they shall remain nameless) and use an electric polisher (some call 'em "buffers") for at least part of the process. I learned most have a single-disc, random-orbital polisher such as what Porter Cable (a big name in polishers I come to find), Waxmaster or Griot's Garage sell. It seems buffers in the $75-$125 range dominate. I even tried one and while I liked the labor-saving aspect; I freakin' hated the vibration. I kept searching, looking for more higher-end products which might vibrate less and last a lifetime. That led me to the "Cyclo", a dual-head, orbital polisher made by Cyclo Toolmakers in Colorado. This piece of equipment was developed 54 years ago for polishing the exterior surfaces on large vehicles and gained widespread acceptance in the aerospace industry, the military, the trucking business and amongst professional car care specialists.
Today, among its many users is the United States Air Force 89th Air Lift Wing, the folks who fly and maintain the aircraft which the President ("Air Force One" when he is aboard) the Vice President, the Secretary of State and the Air Force Chief of Staff. If you've ever seen Air Force One, you've marveled at the aircraft's spotless appearance. How do they do that? Polishing with Cyclos is part of it.
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