How To

Restoring Single Stage Paint: Part 4

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by Mike Phillips  More from Author

Removing oxidation without abrasives.

Removing Oxidation Without Abrasives
Now that all the bonded contaminants have been removed off the top of the paint it's time to remove the dead oxidized paint off the surface and to some degree some of the embedded dirt and oxidation below the surface. To do this we're going to use a plush, microfiber polishing towel with some Meguiar's #7 Show Car Glaze.

Always fold your microfiber towels 4 ways
What you want to do is take your polishing towel and fold it 4 ways to create a working cloth that is large enough you can place you hand on it when working the #7 over the paint. Folding the cloth 4 ways will also provide plenty of cushion to spread out the pressure of your fingers and palm. This enables you to work gently and safely on antique, fragile paints and will also help you to avoid instilling fingermarks.

Non-abrasive abrasives...
Here's a close-up of the tufts of microfibers that make up the working face of this microfiber polishing towel. When used dry this microfiber polishing towel is soft and absorbent. The way we're going to use it however, it will still be soft and gentle to the paint except that I'm going to put a little passion behind my hand as I move this microfiber towel over the paint and the pressure I apply is going to engage the microfibers with the paint and provide a very gentle scrubbing and even abrading action.

Tufts of microfiber threads... these are your abrasives...

Shake well before using
Shake your bottle of #7 up exceedingly well. One of the reasons #7 used to come in clear glass bottles and later clear plastic bottles was so that you could see that the product had separated out and the hope was that as a thinking human being you would see the product had separated in the bottle and thus shake the bottle till the product had a uniform color and consistency.

After you shake the product up well you want to pour a generous amount of product out onto the face of just one side of your folded microfiber towel and note that you're going to use this one side for each panel over the entire car.

The words or terms for how much product you use goes like this,

Use the product heavy or wet

Because this is important, let me repeat these instructions...

Use the product heavy or wet!

This means you use a lot of product, you want the surface wet with product as you're working a section. You're trying to saturate the paint to gorge it with the rich polishing oils found in the #7 but you're also trying to emulsify and loosen any embedded dirt or oxidation off and out of the paint. For this car I used one full bottle on just the hood and the top of the trunk lid and most of another bottle for the passenger and driver's sides. The horizontal surfaces are always the worst because they are exposed to direct sunlight, water from rain and air-borne pollution and contaminants and thus always require the most work to clean, revitalize and restore.

Fold the cloth into itself to spread the product out and wet the face of the cloth.

"It ain't braggin' if you can back it up" -Dizzy Dean

Now comes the passion: Start working the #7 Show Car Glaze over and into the paint in a vigorous manner. I'm in pretty good shape as I work out at the local gym and lead an active lifestyle that includes rubbing out cars both by hand and by machine.

I also dare say I'm pretty good at rubbing out cars by hand. I'm not bragging, just stating a fact that I can back up. It's more work than most people think and my point is this, rubbing this behemoth of a vehicle out by hand vigorously got me breathing hard and made my hands and arms tired.

Here's the point I'm trying to make...

If you're not breathing hard and you're not getting tired then you're not working the product over the paint vigorously enough.

Out of all the steps, this is the hardest, most time-consuming and most important step there is to do and it is this step that will determine your end results. If you don't remove the topical oxidation and embedded dirt and oxidation during this step then it will still be there when you make the final wipe to remove the wax. So put your heart and soul into this step. If you need to, take a break in-between panels.

It is vital that you work the #7 against the paint vigorously...

Rub out one panel at a time
After you work a small section, about 20" squarish or so, stop, re-apply fresh product and move onto a new section and be sure to overlap a little into the previous section.
  • Panel = a door, the hood, the roof, etc.
  • Section - a portion of a panel

Note the color being transferred onto the cloth. Part of the color you see is the color of the #7. The other part of the color is the dirt coming off and out of the paint and part of the color is the oxidation coming off the aluminum flakes.

Work a panel at a time, section by section
Continue working your way around one major panel until you've worked the entire panel. In this example

This is key...
Saturation Application --> The First Application
This is a mostly unknown technique and that is to let the first application penetrate and soak into the paint for up to 24 hours before wiping the product off. The idea being to really apply the product wet and work it in really well and the walk away.

The idea is to allow the heavy concentration of oils to penetrate and seep into the paint for maximum saturation before removing the product and continuing with the process. In this case I finished applying the first application of #7 around 9:00 pm and then left the #7 to soak in until the next day. I started wiping the product off then next morning right about 10:00am.

Some will argue if this works or not buy my experience is that with a porous single stage paint it does in fact help. One thing for sure it can't hurt.

Paper Test for Capillary Action
If you place a few drops of #7 onto a piece of paper and then monitor it over a few days you will see the oils in the #7 migrate or seep away from the actual drop of product. It does this through capillary action and the same thing can work to your car's paints' advantage if it's a single stage lacquer or enamel paint.

I placed a few drops about the size of a nickel on a piece of standard printer paper around 3:00pm.

The next day I took these pictures at approximately 10:00am, (19 hours later), note how the oils in the drops of #7 have migrated outward via capillary action.

Feeder Oils penetrate or feed the paint
This same effect can take place in a single stage paint but not only will the oils travel horizontally, they will also travel vertically, that they will penetrate downward "into" your car's paint and this is where the term feeder oils comes from as the oils penetrate into or feed the paint. The result is they will condition the paint restoring some level of workability as compared to just working on old dry paint, and they will also bring out the full richness of color, something that will showcase the beauty of your car's paint.

37 Year Old Paint Soaking in Seven...

The worse condition the paint, the more times you repeat the #7 conditioning step
For this project I applied, worked and removed the #7 four times to the hood and tops of the fenders. After the initial saturation application I applied and worked in the #7 three more times the next day.

I put as much energy into the last application as I did the first application and in order to do this right it takes the desire for excellent results as well as the human elements of care and passion to rub out a hood 6' long and almost 5' in width 4 times like your life depended upon it but the results will be worth it.

After approximately 12 hours of soaking in #7 Show Car Glaze, we're ready to wipe off the first application off this 37-year old paint.

Look at the paint surrounding the towel...
In the picture below, note how after just one well-worked application of #7 the finish is now more smooth and clear and the color is more vibrant and even.

Look at the color of the residue coming off the paint and onto the white terry cloth towel; it's black. The single stage paint is butterscotch gold.

Question: Where's the blackness coming from?
Answer: The aluminum flake.

One of the benefits that we enjoy when car manufacturers switched over to basecoat/clearcoat paint technology is there's a clear layer of paint covering over the color coat of paint and this seals the paint and keeps it from oxidizing and deteriorating. This enables metallic finishes to last for a long time without oxidizing and this is why you no longer see any black residue coming off modern metallic finishes.

Up to this point, I've rubbed out the paint on the horizontal surfaces of the front clip 3 times. I have not included the pictures from the 2nd and 3rd application and removal because all it's going to show is product going on and product going off.

The picture below show the 4th application of #7 after I've worked it in thoroughly over the paint.

#7 = Non-drying Oil
#7 doesn't really dry but remains an oily film. Wipe off is easiest with a stout towel like a cotton terry cloth towel and that's what I used for the first and second applications. For the third and now fourth applications I've switched over to a microfiber polishing towel as the fibers are more gentle to the finish and it removes trace residues better than cotton fibers.

Polishing paint is an art form
Remember, polishing paint is an art form, not merely a grinding process. As you work the paint to a higher and higher level of quality of finish, you need to amp up your level of technique for applying and removing products and insure everything that touches the paint is the highest quality you an obtain.

Ready to wipe-off the 4th application of #7 Show Car Glaze

As you can see, at this stage I'm no longer seeing heavy concentrations of black oxidation residue coming off and out of the paint. This is a good sign. This is what you want to see when restoring a single stage metallic finish.

Here are the results of 4 applications of #7 Show Car Glaze as seen from overhead looking down from a ladder; the paint is clean and clear and completely gorged to whatever level is possible with the rich feeder oils found in the #7 Show Car Glaze.

Maximizing the full richness of a single stage paint...

It's hard to get great reflection shots out of light colors like you can dark colors and blacks and in these lighting conditions I was having a hard time even getting this shot, but you can see the paint is clear and clean as well as smooth and glossy.

At this point, if the goal was purely to revive the paint as best as possible without abrading it with any type of mechanical abrasives then you would stop here and apply a coat of wax or a paint sealant to seal the paint from exposure to oxygen and moisture in the air.

After I finished the hood I repeated the same process to the deck-lid. This is the first application of #7 and you can see the paint looks wet but is not as clean or clear as it will be after 3 more well-worked applications of #7.

I'm still using the same microfiber polishing towel and you can see I've removed a lot of black oxidation out of the paint.

Your towel acts like a filter
Here I've unfolded the towel to show you what it looks like. As you can see the towel is completely saturated through and through with the polishing oils found in #7. The towel acts like a filter: as new product is placed onto the working face of the towel some product seeps through while the majority is worked into and over the paint after the towel reaches maximum saturation. The oils that filter through the towel are different than the original product that comes out of the bottle. If I were to refold the towel when applying the #7 I would be in essence changing the product as I would be introducing the fresh product out of the bottle to a different version of itself on a different fold of the towel. I could switch out the used towel for a fresh towel but then I would have to re-saturate the towel all over again and that would use up a lot of product.

Visually inspect the working face of your application towel
After each application I inspect the working side of the microfiber towel and if I see any particulates I remove them, one thing for sure, once you break in your towel it requires a lot less #7 to coat over and work the oils into the paint than when I first started out with a dry towel. This technique is actually written about in the booklet Bill Stewart wrote. I know it doesn't look pretty but it works in that the paint comes out looking great and after towel break-in you really feel like you're reviving the paint in very wet manner as you work around a panel. Keep in mind single stage paints are much different in their polishability and workability than a modern clear coat paints. Clear coat paints don't absorb oils like a single stage paint and they are scratch-sensitive, that is they scratch very easily and the scratches are easy to see.

Restoring Single Stage Paint: Part 1
The secret to removing oxidation and restoring a show car finish to antique single stage paints.

Restoring Single Stage Paint: Part 2
Choosing the right polish.

Restoring Single Stage Paint: Part 3
Cleaning your paint.

Restoring Single Stage Paint: Part 4
Removing oxidation without abrasives.

Restoring Single Stage Paint: Part 5
Sealing the paint.

Restoring Single Stage Paint: Part 6
The first polishing steps.

Restoring Single Stage Paint: Part 7
The final polishing steps.


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