It was evident from the outset that Major Paint Correction would be required for this subject. Though not shown in this report, even prior to being washed, panels were showing evidence of significant swirls and scratches – in addition to the areas that had been previously "touched up".
The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed the red tinge to the water in the rinse bucket, and the red colour transfer onto the clay in the previous stages. These are both large warning signs that may point to either:
both of which are troubling prospects!
Accordingly, we would need to carefully assess the amount and condition of the paint on the vehicle. The "PosiTest DFT Combo" gauge from DeFelsko is an invaluable tool for this purpose. It will quickly and accurately (to the nearest micron (µm) which is 1/1000th of a millimeter) measure the thickness of a coating on any ferrous (eg. steel) or non-ferrous (eg. aluminium) surface.
In total, nearly a thousand individual readings were taken, and all panels showed slightly lower than ideal readings, with obvious respray work on the roof and front wings.
With the presence of a clear coat confirmed, we would have to be especially vigilant in looking out for thin areas!
This section details the paint correction process for each panel.
To begin, we need to establish the correct polishing compound, pad and technique combination required to achieve the desired level of correction for this vehicle’s paint.
Mindful of our concern regarding paint levels, we limited ourselves to only very mild polishes and pads, forgoing any cutting or compounding options. The combination that ultimately worked best for this vehicle was Meguiars M80 Speed Glaze on a Meguiars 6.5" polishing pad.
This was the condition of our ‘test’ area on the bonnet prior to starting.
One interesting pieces of information that the owner passed on was that after one visit to the paint shop, a panelbeater remarked that he had spent nearly 5 hours polishing to make the repair look right. Look carefully at the thickness diagram below and see for yourself what this caused. (Where the bonnet would meet the Left Front Wing)
Here the paint has become dangerously thin. (65-70 µm) Comparative measurements on areas of the vehicle that don’t have a clear top coat (Eg. Inside the door shuts) indicated that the combined thickness of primer and colour coats was between 35 µm and 45 µm meaning that as little as 20 µm of clear coat was left!
By using a Glaze rather than anything more aggressive, and limiting the machining to a maximum of 1200rpm we were able to achieve the following result with only a single micron removed from the top coat.
The roof had almost the opposite problem. It had obviously been resprayed (the scale in the diagram below is double the norm) but there is evidence of the newly applied paint ‘running’ off the top of the roof and pooling in the lower edges.
With a resprayed panel, the total thickness is less meaningful and it becomes difficult to establish how much clear coat remains on top of the many, varied layers of paint on the panel. Again, a cautious approach is called for
And with patience, a fantastic finish can be achieved!
The boot lid showed original, factory paint in reasonably healthy levels. Given that 95-99% correction rates had been achieved with our ‘gentle’ approach, we opted to persist with this method across the remainder of the vehicle also.
It was, however, looking pretty dire
With half the panel corrected, you can really see the difference in the panel’s finish.
The process is repeated across the remainder of the panel, delivering the following results:
Another re-sprayed panel. (And again, the scale has been increased by 50% below)
The usual assortment of swirl marks and fine scratches can be seen around the light sources.
Again, with the front half of the wing corrected, the contrast against the unfinished section is stark.
and the end result looks much better.
The doors down the right of the vehicle wore original paint that was dipping down into the 70-80 µm range in some spots. As we had not yet found any ‘strike through’ of the clear coat despite the red paint transfer, we were still playing it very safe
A 50:50 shot of the door during correction. Pink vs. Red!
The finished panel.
A very similar situation on the rear door.
And a similarly stunning result.
The same tried and proven formula was employed on the quarter panels.
This was the re-sprayed panel that led to the bonnet’s paint being dangerously depleted. Again, a 50% increase in scale has been applied in the paint thickness diagram below.
but still markedly improved by the removal of fine scratches. (NB. The edge of the door panel on the right of the photo has not been corrected at this stage.)
The paint on the left side doors was original, and again getting uncomfortably thin in places. (Especially on the rear door.)
There was a mixture of fine scratches as well as deep paint defects detracting from this panel’s appearance.
A 50:50 shot demonstrates the level of correction possible without removing a significant amount of paint.
The completed panel:
As well as having some of the thinnest paint, this panel had suffered the worst damage in terms of deep scratches.
In these situations, it becomes a judgment call on how far to take corrective work before the paint integrity becomes compromised.
Here, a vastly improved panel is the end result, and is achieved without removing large amounts of paint. Removing the last few remaining defects would not be possible without undue risk.
With the paint restored to the best possible condition, we turned our attention to the final details, and application of protective products to the vehicle.
Paint work was protected with the "Wet Ice over Fire" premium paint protection system from Blackfire USA. This is a three step system, beginning with a coat of their "All Finish Paint Protection" synthetic sealant, applied via Meguiars G220 (Dual Action Orbital Buffer) on a 6.5" Meguiars Finishing Pad, buffed off with an ultra plush microfiber cloth.
This product can be applied by hand if necessary, but we find that machine application helps to ensure uniform coverage across the vehicle without excess product being left on the panels. (Which can make the buffing-off process more difficult.)
This leaves a remarkable clarity and depth to the paint, as seen below.
This must be left to ‘cure’ for a minimum of 8hrs before two applications of Blackfire’s "Midnight Sun" Carnauba Wax.
While the sealant was curing on the paint, the exhaust tip was taken care of. For those readers still wondering about the red ‘paint’ transfer into our wash buckets and claybar (as well as a fair amount onto our polishing pads as we set about correcting the paint) the mystery is finally answered here.
Tell-tale product residue This vehicle had been covered in Turtle Wax "Color Magic" Red Wax. A rather unnerving situation for a detailer when combined with extremely thin paint turns out to be completely innocuous!.
Back to the exhaust – this was cleaned up with the assistance of our "Tar & Glue Remover" and Meguiars NXT "All Metal Polysh".
The difference is quite remarkable.
In addition, the following tasks were performed:
With all the hard work complete, it’s time to wheel the vehicle outside to show off
The Blackfire products admittedly do have ‘Over-the-Top’ names, but "Wet Ice over Fire" almost perfectly sums up the look of the paint in this next shot.
We had expected this job to be a challenging one, and we weren’t disappointed! In addition to having suffered nearly a decade of exposure to the elements, this Commodore had also suffered at the hands of over zealous tradesmen, jealous vandals and poor wash technique.
Nevertheless, by the end of day 3 of this detail, we were completely satisfied with the outcome. The owner loves their ‘new’ ride, and the mighty VX is safe from being traded-in for a few more years yet! For our part, we are also extremely pleased with the final product, and must now set about cleaning the red ColorWax out from our polishing pads and cloths. We are proud to present another outstanding graduate from Prestige Finishing School!