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Old 04-17-2009, 05:08 AM
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Default Polishing Your Car With Rotex - Part 2

Continued from Polishing Your Car With Rotex - Part 1.

Overall Detailing Process

In general, I have two detailing processes - one every six to eight months (or even a year) to get the car really clean and protected, and one every one to three weeks to keep it nice looking.

Clean, Polish and Seal:
1. Wash car (see above) with Liquid Dawn dishwashing soap - about 20 minutes.

2. Remove tar and sap - 10-30 minutes.

3. Rinse

4. Clay car - 20-40 minutes depending on condition

5. Re-wash (to remove cleaners) Liquid Dawn dishwashing soap - about 10 minutes.

6. Dry (see above) - above 10 minutes. (I make sure it's VERY dry.)

7. Assess paint condition -10 minutes

8. Polish Car - In general, always polish with the least abrasive and least aggressive methods first. Then, if this doesn't work, move to more aggressive combinations of sponge pad, polish, buffer speed, and/or RO/Rotex mode.

9. Here's a link on prepping a car for Zaino Sealants: Applying Zaino Show Car Polish. Also, see "Polishing Car Using the RO150", below for more info.

10. This will take anywhere from one hour to two days depending on the condition of the paint and size of car.

11. Remove polish carefully. I prefer to do this by hand, but I've done it using buffer with a microfiber buffing bonnet. - 15 minutes

12. Apply sealant. This can be done by hand or by buffer. See "Apply Sealant with RO150", below for more info. - About 20-40 minutes.

13. Wait one hour for sealant to dry.

14. Buff dry sealant. Again, I prefer to do this by hand. - 10-20 minutes.

15. Apply and buff off a second coat of sealant. About 80-100 minutes, including drying time. (Second coat goes on faster.)

16. Wipe down interior - about 2-3 minutes.

17. Clean door wells with utility microfiber towel - about 2-3 minutes.

18. Clean windows with Stoners glass cleaner (Stoner Invisible Glass Cleaner) - about 5 minutes.

19. Apply Z6 quick detailer/gloss enhancer spray and buff dry with good quality microfiber towel - about 10 minutes.

Total time: four hours to three days.

Regular Washing and Detailing:

1. Wash car (see above) with good quality car soap - about 20 minutes.

2. Dry (see above) - above 5 minutes.

3. Wipe down interior - about 2-3 minutes.

4. Clean door wells with utility microfiber towel - about 2-3 minutes.

5. Clean windows with Stoners glass cleaner (Stoner Invisible Glass Cleaner) - about 5 minutes.

6. Apply Z6 quick detailer/gloss enhancer spray and buff dry with good quality microfiber towel - about 10 minutes.

Total time: 45-50 minutes.


Using the RO150 for Detailing
Polisher Facts


In the Auto Detailing world, there are generally two types of polishers - rotary and random orbital (RO). The Rotex 150 is unique. It can act as an RO polisher and as a "hybrid" between rotary and RO in Rotex mode.

Rotary polishers are best used by professionals only. A double-edged benefit of rotary polishers is that they can generate heat. This is great for removing deeper scratches and more serious defects from auto paint. BUT... They have to be used carefully because they can burn through the paint quickly. I won't use one.

RO-only polishers are used by amateur detailers. The standard is the Porter Cable 7424 (hereafter referred to as "PC"). I have a similar one that's the same except for a larger counter weight suited for larger polishing pads (“sponges” in Festool terms).

While it's possible to burn paint with an RO polisher, it's VERY difficult unless you are really trying. With a good quality, more aggressive polish, a more intense pad (sponge), and some work, they can remove most fairly serious paint defects. The downside is that you have to change to the more aggressive pads and polish, spend more time at it, and they won't remove defects that a rotary will nail pretty easily. But again, they are safe!

And that brings us to the RO150 Rotex. The RO mode can be used just like the PC - safe, easy, and useful. When you encounter a more serious defect, switching to Rotex mode can resolve many defects quickly without changing pads or polishes. Or, you can change out the “backing plate” (“pad” in Festool terms) and pad (sponge) quickly and easily for the bad defect, and then switch back to finish the job. Changing the speeds up and down, with or without changing pads modes and/or backing plates/pads gives you a broad range of options.

That brings us the issue of burning paint. Yes, you could burn the paint more easily in Rotex mode. But you'd have to try pretty hard. Use Rotex mode, high speed, a yellow (aggressive) pad, and a heavy cut rubbing compound on a door edge and you go through the paint pretty quickly. Then again, you can do that with a PC polisher too. It would just take a little longer. OTOH...

Use Rotex mode, speed set at 3.5 to 4.5, a normal polishing pad, a standard polish (like Menzerna Intensive Polish or Final Polish II, or Zaino PC) on a flat panel and your chance of burning paint is minimal. The key technique is to always use the least aggressive mode, speed, pad, and polish combo to get the job done in a reasonable time. And always be careful of edges (like door edges).

Turning to polishes, I'm not a fan of Meguiars products. I think that they are better now, but in the past most auto detailing enthusiasts would not touch them. I've used Menzerna, 3M, and (more recently) Zaino PC polishes successfully. If there is a knock against Menzerna polishes, it's that they take longer to break down (work). Rotex mode helps with this.

Regarding lambswool bonnets, I have only one piece of advice - NEVER use them on car paint. They are incredibly aggressive. Stick with foam - either Festool or other brand (I use Lake Country pads).

Why the Festool RO150?

The Festool Rotex 150 is considered by many to be the ultimate auto detailing buffer. Besides the standard benefits that woodworkers appreciate (quality, lack of vibration, etc.), they have two unique benefits for detailers:

First, the Festool RO150 gives you the gentleness of an RO buffer with the speed and power of a rotary buffer in one tool. The 150's gentle RO mode gives you all the benefits of other RO polishers but with virtually no vibration. But, in Rotex mode (as you know) it really takes off. When you need power, it's there at flip of the switch. One reviewer said that it has 95% of a Rotary buffer with virtually no chance of burning the paint!

Second, a Festool RO150 can use a detailer's current polishing materials. The polishing plate will work with polishing foam pads that are 6" or above, and use a 6" hook and loop backing pad (like the Lake Country pads). Since many detailers have an inventory of pads (I have about 20) that can easily exceed $200, this is a MAJOR plus.

You can find more help here, including a very recent RO150 review by a detailer. Search for "Festool": Autopia - Autopia Home.

Sponge Buffing Pads and Backing Plates

A word about terminology... "Backing Plate" is the standard term used in the industry. Festool's term for Backing Plate is "Polishing Pad". The industry refers to "Foam Pad". Festool calls them "Polishing Sponge". Generally I'll refer to them in the industry standard term because you will probably want to use non-Festool Foam Pads and need that term for searches.

Different vendors have pads of different shapes and sizes. After looking at lots of vendors offerings, I started with Lake Country 6" pads and then quickly moved to the Lake Country CCS Technology 7.5" sponge pads from Proper Auto Care. The LC 7.5" pads are nice because they have four separate surfaces that can be used for polishing or applying sealant. The edges are soft and a bit pointed so it's easy to get into crevices and odd spots. And, they have a separate plastic backer that keeps that pad flat. The plastic backer also makes it easy to align the RO150's polishing backer pad.

Edit: It looks like Lake Country has introduced some new 6-1/2 inch, CCS Technology Pads. I have NOT used these, but these might fit the Festool backing plates better.

One MAJOR point of confusion is that Lake Country and other manufacturers make specific pads for specific on-line retailers. AFAIK, the LC "Advanced, Hi-Gloss, Constant Pressure Pads 7.5 inch" pads are only available from Proper Auto Care. However Auto Geek Curved Edge polishing pads 7.5 inch Foam Pads has "Curved Edge Full Contact 7.5 inch" pads that look very similar but are (AFAIK) different and only available from Auto Geek.

I believe that Proper Auto Care pads have a plastic backing to which the loop and hook is attached. And they use "Constant Pressure" foam and have a concave section in the middle. The AutoGeek pads don't have constant pressure foam or the plastic backing, but they lack the concave section in the middle. Which one is better? I don't know.

Tip #1 – Check the size of the "Backing Plate" required. Some 6" and larger sponge pads use a 6" backing plate/pad (Lake Country and Sonus SFX pads). Others (like the Sonus Dual-Action System (DAS) pads) use a 5" backing plate.

The RO150's Backing Plate ("Polishing Pad D6 - 485748") is 5" wide. So the 6" LC foam pads and the Sonus SFX pads will work fine. OTOH, the Sonus DAS pads on an RO150. (They may work on an R0125 though.)

Tip #2 – To reduce vibration, ensure that the sponge pad is aligned perfectly with the buffer's backing pad.)

UPDATE – Using Lake Country Pads with Festool Backing Plates

Issue #1 – The Festool backing plates ("pad" in Festool terms) has very aggressive hooks. These are the best I've seen. They hold the loops on the Festool pads ("sponges" in Festool terms) VERY well. The downside of this is that they are difficult to remove. Not a killer issue, but be careful removing the pad from the backing plate.

Issue #2 – The size of the Festool backing plates is somewhat bigger issue and a bit more complex. The Festool "6 inch" polishing backing plates are actually 5 inches in diameter. The purpose is to fit the 6 inch Festool sponges and allow a little overlap. This protects the paint finish. A little confusing perhaps, but all is well when using Festool sponges.

When using Lake Country pads (sponges), things get very confusing. Lake Country makes pads in multiple sizes and configurations - current sizes available at www.properautocare.com from 4", 6.5", and 7.5". The new pads use something called "CCS technology" and are decidedly different from the old style pads that I have. The old ones came in 4", 6", and 7.5" sizes. Although the sizes are similar, the shape, configuration, pad top, and backing are different.

Regarding Festool backing plates and the new Lake Country pads... Both the Festool 5" and 6" backing plates will fit the Lake Country 6.5" CCS pad. The 6" sanding backing plate appears to fit the 7.5" CCS pad. I'd suggest NOT using the 5" polishing backing plate with the 7.5" The key issue to watch for with the 6.5" pads is centering - carefully center the little guys.

Polishing using the Festool RO150

In general, always polish with the least abrasive and least aggressive methods first. Then, if this doesn't work, move to more aggressive combinations of sponge pad, polish, buffer speed, and/or RO/Rotex mode.

Based on my experience with a Porter Cable buffer and feedback from RO150 users, here's the process that I have used and will use with the NEW Rotex 150 FEQ:

1. Using four Festool "Polishing Pad D6 - 485748" pads, and attach four LC 7.5" sponge pads - two white, one yellow and one red - to them.

2. Remove the RO150 FEQ's DC attachment and set the 150 to RO mode.

3. Using a white LC pad, mist the pad with a little water from a water spray bottle and then drizzle a little finishing polish (e.g., Menzerna Final Polish or Zaino Z-PC) on the surface of the pad.

4. If the sponge pad has NOT been used during this polishing session, you need to season it.

To season a pad, lower the buffer speed to about 1-2, set the pad on the paint surface, and slightly raise the back of the machine so you are working with the top 1/3 of the pad. Start the buffer. After polishing for a minute or two the pad will become more evenly saturated with product and actually become softer from heat build-up. At this point, you can safely transition from a tilted up to a flat position.

5. Reset buffer speed to about 4 and work the polish in a small area (two to four square feet) in a figure 8 pattern. Go over the area in a left-to-right figure 8 pattern and then an up-and-down figure 8 pattern until it starts breaking down. Consult your products instructions to determine when you should stop. When finished with one area, move to a new section and continue.

6. When to remove the polish depends on a number of factors, include type and brand of polish, temperature and humidity, and your own process.

Using Menzerna polishes, I typically work it until it breaks down but BEFORE is dries completely. I finish several 4 sq foot sections (e.g., the hood) and then remove the remainder by hand. I mist the surface with water (remember, this is polish not sealant) and wipe off with a soft microfiber buffing towel.

7. Examine the surface to determine if more aggressive polishing is needed. If there are few minor spots, re-polish using the same setting and polish and increase your speed up to 5 and then 6. (Remember... Least aggressive first.) If this doesn't work, set the buffer to Rotex mode and try the remaining spots again.

If the problem spots exist and especially if a large portion of the working area in poor condition, snap off the white polishing pad/finish polish combo and snap on a white pad and use intensive polish (e.g., Menzerna Intensive polish). Start with RO mode again and change to Rotex mode if necessary.

If the problem STILL exists, snap off the white pad, change to a yellow pad with Intensive polish. If really bad you may want to use a compounding agent like a 3M Fine Cut Compound: 3M Perfect-It Rubbing Compound. Be very careful at this point because you can damage the paint regardless of the buffer used.

Key Tip #1 - The more intensive polishes/pads WILL knock down the shine. After using a more aggressive pad/polish combo, wipe the panel COMPLETELY clean and use your white pad/finishing polish combo again to bring up the shine.

Key Tip #2 - Do NOT get your pad/polish combos mixed up and NEVER mix polishes on the same pad. (I have four white pads and two yellow pads for this purpose.)

8. Continue until the car is completely polished.

9. Now, wipe down that car completely with a CLEAN microfiber buffing towel to ENSURE that the surface is pristine. At this point, you should see a major improvement in the paint. Here's a tips links for prepping and applying Zaino sealants.

I haven't tried this, but the new Z-PC Fusion Dual Action Paint Cleaner Swirl Remover: Zaino Store polish looks interesting.

Applying Sealants with RO150

I've applied sealants by hand and using a buffer. The best method depends on the sealant

If by buffer, use a very soft Red pad and apply sparingly using lower speed (3-4) in RO mode. Note that this process assumes you are using Zaino products.

1. Mist the Red pad with Zaino Z6 gloss enhancer. (It's purpose is similar to water in the polishing step.)

2. Mix the amount of sealant necessary for your session. (Zaino sealants are two part - a sealant and an accelerator.)

3. Apply the sealant (e.g., Zaino Z2 Pro) VERY sparingly in multiple small dabs to the pad. Smear it around with your fingers and cover all sides of the pad. (My pads have 4 sides.)

4. Season the pad as described in the Polishing step above using a low speed to prevent splatter.

5. Set the buffer speed to about 3 and apply the sealant VERY sparingly to a small six square foot area. Don't spend lots of time buffing it in. You are just interested in a very thin, even coat. Do NOT remove it at this time.

6. Continue to apply in a new area until the car is done.

7. When the car is complete, wait until the sealant is COMPLETELY dry. In dry, warm weather this can be as little as 30 minutes AFTER you finish the car. In cool moist weather, this may take several hours or overnight.

To test for dryness, wipe a clean, dry finger across the haze. If you see shiny paint, it's dry. If the haze smears, it's still wet. Go get a <beverage of choice> and chill out. Then try again.

8. Using a microfiber buffing towel, buff off the haze. If the sealant is applied thinly, this goes pretty quickly - about 20-30 minutes to buff the car down.

9. Spray Z6 gloss enhancer and buff dry.

10. Do step 3 through 9 to apply a second coat.

11. Now you're done. (Come back in 6-8 months and do it again.)

Cleaning your pads

When you are finished with your car detail, clean the sponge pads in a special pad cleaner like "Snappy Clean": Snappy Clean Pad Cleaning Powder. After rinsing thoroughly, attach the pad to the buffer in Rotex mode, place buffer head in large bucket, and spin at low speed (1). This removes most of the water and allows them to dry within an hour or two.

Additional Resource Links

Detailers Guide - Autopia has "Guide To Detailing" that is great for newbies: Guide to Detailing - Autopia.org

Zaino main web site is: Zaino Store

IMO, the best final step product for light clear coated finishes is Zaino Z2 Pro. And the final step product for dark clear coated finishes is Z5 Pro. For single step finishes (like the old boat), you'd use: Z3
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Last edited by DanClark; 04-17-2009 at 05:12 AM.
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Old 04-18-2009, 09:19 AM
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Default Re: Polishing Your Car With Rotex - Part 2

Very nice detailing write up Dan! Do you use the Rotex for woodworking also or is it dedicated for detailing? I have been using a Flex XC3401VR but have been thinking about a Rotex. But I can't see spending that amount of money for detailing when I already have a Flex and a PC.

The Pakshak microfiber towels are the best that I have tried. Check out PakShak Auto Detailing Forum for the forum and Aloha & Welcome to Our Oasis for All Your Auto Detailing, Auto Detailing Supplies, Auto Detailing Equipment, Auto Detailing Products, & Auto Detailing Accessories for all your Automobile Detailing for the towels.

Ive been using Z5 for daily drivers and it has great durability. I do not get 6-8 months though. Collinite 845 wax lasts for awhile but is not slick like a sealant.

I would suggest noting that if you are using a clay bar and you drop it on the ground, toss it in the trash and get a new piece.

Grit Guards for the bottom of the five gallon buckets- one for soap (wash) and the other with clean water (rinse) work well at keeping the dirt at the bottom of the bucket.

Foam guns are a real time saver. I like the DP Extreme car wash.

Optimum No Rinse (ONR) is good for in between regular car washes. It can be diluted for different uses like a clay bar lubricant, quick detailer or a wash .

Use distilled water in the windshield washer fluid instead of hose water to reduce water spots on the glass or paint.

I like to apply the wax or sealant in one direction like sanding with the grain instead of overlapping circles. Same with removal and final buffing.

Menzerna polishes is what I have been using recently but I hate how they tend to end up with a fine dust that has to be removed before the final application of wax. I would like to try P&S Full Throttle next, I have heard good things about it.

Thanks again for the great posts!
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Old 04-18-2009, 08:17 PM
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Default Re: Polishing Your Car With Rotex - Part 2

Thanks for taking the time to do this, Dan. Very helpful information (including all the guidance on HOW MANY backing plates and pads to have on hand - special thanks for taking all mystery out of that question for me)!

Believe it or not, I'm now 99.3% sure what I'm going to do about the boat, with the remaining .7% to be resolved by the end of the day...

Great work - thanks!!!
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Old 04-18-2009, 09:21 PM
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Default Re: Polishing Your Car With Rotex - Part 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by balrog View Post
...
Do you use the Rotex for woodworking also or is it dedicated for detailing? I have been using a Flex XC3401VR but have been thinking about a Rotex. But I can't see spending that amount of money for detailing when I already have a Flex and a PC.

...
I would suggest noting that if you are using a clay bar and you drop it on the ground, toss it in the trash and get a new piece.

Grit Guards for the bottom of the five gallon buckets- one for soap (wash) and the other with clean water (rinse) work well at keeping the dirt at the bottom of the bucket.
...
Balrog,

Thank YOU for the great followup!!!

Regarding the Rotex, I use it for everything. Besides the woodworking and polishing paint, I've used it for finish-honing limestone and travertine. (600-800 grit Stonetech powder brings out the color but doesn't leave it too shiny.) It's a great all-around sander polisher.

Flex makes a good product. You might get a lot of overlap if you bought the Rotex. Might not be worth the money just for detailing.

Regarding the clay bar point and your post in general... I put a link at the beginning of Part 1 pointing to your post and urging folks to read it. Your clay bar point is spot on (as Colin would say). I added this this warning:

Quote:
WARNING: In Balrog's followup post, he pointed out a cardinal rule that I believe in but neglected to include: Never, EVER, and I mean EVER reuse clay that you've dropped on the ground!!! ALWAYS throw it away!
I also forgot to mention grit guards. I use 'em and strongly believe in them!

Thanks again for a great post!

Regards,

Dan.
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Old 04-18-2009, 09:26 PM
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Default Re: Polishing Your Car With Rotex - Part 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by hasslefactor View Post
Thanks for taking the time to do this, Dan. Very helpful information (including all the guidance on HOW MANY backing plates and pads to have on hand - special thanks for taking all mystery out of that question for me)!

Believe it or not, I'm now 99.3% sure what I'm going to do about the boat, with the remaining .7% to be resolved by the end of the day...

Great work - thanks!!!
Laurie,

Actually, I didn't show all of my backing plates/pads/sponges (whatever they're called). I have a box full of the new CCS pads/sponges that I haven't had a chance to use and aren't shown in my pics.

Regarding the small(?) matter of your boat, I hope that we've been helpful. As I mentioned before, all of our opinions are not worth Poodle-spit if the end-result doesn't work for you.

Good luck with your decision.

Best regards,

Dan.
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Old 05-14-2009, 03:24 AM
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Default Re: Polishing Your Car With Rotex - Part 2

Couple of questions about cleaning foam polishing pads (specifically, the LC CCS pads):

1. How clean is "clean"?
Let's say we compound a lot of black gelcoat with a yellow foam pad, soak the pad in a cleaner similar to Snappy Clean, scrub all the "gunk" off of it, and spin all the excess water out (with our Rotex ) . Should the pad look like new? Slightly discolored? Tiny gray spots in a few of the cells? In other words, is cleaning pads as picky as cleaning paintbrushes (which need to be rinsed until the water runs completely clear or their performance will be impaired)?

2. Ever seen this?
You mentioned that the Rotex backing plate's hook surface is so strong, it's difficult to remove the pads. That has been my experience as well, with all but ONE of my pads. This one seems to adhere just fine when I'm compounding. However, after I wash it and try to use the Rotex to spin the water out, it flies off as soon as the machine gets up any speed. I'm using a bucket to catch the sling, so no squirrels have been whacked (so far, anyway... but I admit the idea has some appeal). What do you think? Defective pad? Defective operator? Perfectly normal?
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Old 05-14-2009, 04:01 AM
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Default Re: Polishing Your Car With Rotex - Part 2

Another alternative to the Snappy pad cleaner is Dawn Power Dissolver.

I would try cleaning the yellow pad again if there is some residue left over.
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Old 05-14-2009, 06:58 AM
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Default Re: Polishing Your Car With Rotex - Part 2

Thanks, balrog! I've taken some photos to be more clear....

Yellow and white pads after pre-cleaning on site with soap and water (they were both BLACK before this washing):



Yellow pad after soaking for an hour and scrubbing (with fingers) in DP pad rejuvenator - would you still rewash it?



All pads drying on towel - note the dye bleeding on all the foam pads except the red one...



Wool pad - slightly gray after compounding (wool stains easily, so I figured this was normal - maybe it's not):



Thoughts?
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Old 05-14-2009, 03:18 PM
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Default Re: Polishing Your Car With Rotex - Part 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by hasslefactor View Post
Couple of questions about cleaning foam polishing pads (specifically, the LC CCS pads):

1. How clean is "clean"?
Let's say we compound a lot of black gelcoat with a yellow foam pad, soak the pad in a cleaner similar to Snappy Clean, scrub all the "gunk" off of it, and spin all the excess water out (with our Rotex ) . Should the pad look like new? Slightly discolored? Tiny gray spots in a few of the cells? In other words, is cleaning pads as picky as cleaning paintbrushes (which need to be rinsed until the water runs completely clear or their performance will be impaired)?

2. Ever seen this?
You mentioned that the Rotex backing plate's hook surface is so strong, it's difficult to remove the pads. That has been my experience as well, with all but ONE of my pads. This one seems to adhere just fine when I'm compounding. However, after I wash it and try to use the Rotex to spin the water out, it flies off as soon as the machine gets up any speed. I'm using a bucket to catch the sling, so no squirrels have been whacked (so far, anyway... but I admit the idea has some appeal). What do you think? Defective pad? Defective operator? Perfectly normal?
Laurie,

Hi. My older pads in the yellow, orange, and white colors are grayed out a bit. I think that's normal.

Regarding the little gray spots in the cells... If it's discoloration, that's probably not an issue. OTOH, if they are bits of polish or other material, I'd use a small stiff brush to scrub them out. I don't then you want them hitting your finish.

Regarding the pad that falls off during the "spin cycle", I vaguely remember that I had an issue like this too. it might be that the pad is soaking up more water than the others. Try shaking most of the water out manually. Then spin it in the bucket, but start at a slow speed. After most of the water spins out, then increase the speed. Please let me know how this works.

Regards,

Dan.
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Old 11-16-2012, 04:59 PM
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Default Re: Polishing Your Car With Rotex - Part 2

I have searched several forums for an answer to this but can't find it: Can you use the Festool ETS 150/3 or 5 instead of the rotex? I have a small rotex and the ETS 150/5. I don't want to take a chance on screwing up the paint but if I understand it correctly, it would be fine but lack some of the power of the rotex. Am I reading it right?
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