Swirls, Holograms and Buffer Trail
I'm sure you've seen this, in the video, before at the marina or maybe its even happened to you. You take the time out to hire a guy to detail your boat for the Fourth of July and you get to the marina and your baby looks like that in the video. I'd be pretty pissed of if it was me. Here's the funny thing about it. Everybody who ever has picked up a rotary buffer/polisher has created swirls, holograms and left a horrendous buffer trail. For the detailers, you ever do a black boat and thats the day you get your detailer eyes and the sun shines down on the hull and you don't know how to correct it, so you just hope the boat owner doesn't notice?
You might find it hard to believe, because a lot of boat owners don't notice a hack job of a boat detail. We're not like most boat detailers we go out our way to educate the customer of our processes, proper boat detailing procedures, transparency about the products we use and why we use certain strategies on severely oxidized boats we wouldn't use on a boats that have been maintained and the gel-coat is in healthy condition.
Reason Why Boat Owners Don't Notice a Hack Job of a Boat Detail. More common than not, people are more concerned with price rather than good craftsmanship.
I have spoken to several boat owners that have come over to observe while we were working on boats. They usually want us to take a look at their boat, and I tell you, it's rare that I find a boat that has been maintained, in most cases it hasn't been detailed/waxed in the last 2-5 years.
I begin explaining the process it takes to remove oxidation: anytime you do heavy oxidation removal, you will have to do at least a (3) step process in order to restore the health of the gel-coat if you want it to look right. If you don't want it to look right its a huge chance your boat is going to look like the boat in the video above; swirls, holograms and buffer
trails. You will be very disappointed if you take short cuts and you will call us or whoever did it and want us to travel three counties to come back out there and fix resolve the problem. there times there is no call, they just move on to the next cheap detailer next year; as result of "shopping for price" or "the other guy said he will do it cheaper."
TRUST THE PROCESS
When customers try to get me to skip processes that I know will produce horrible results and ruin our reputation, I learned to walk away.
Detailers have some techniques we use when we don't want to be involved in certain projects. Bid high and walk away. First, bid it extra high so that the customer doesn't call back. You might say well how do you make money if you keep scaring people away? Well, if the professional knows that you are going to have to wetsand this 45 FT boat with the flybridge that hasn't been detailed in 6 years, compound, rinse between compound, polish and then wax. He'd let someone with less experience deal with that because they've already been down that road. You need a crew of skilled technicians out there in order to pull something like that off in 3-4 days. Not to mention clean canvas, cockpit detail, polish metals, vinyl treatment etc. The point is, it's better to let someone else do it or let the customer do it themselves. We've learned over time to turn down projects when the customer wants us to risk ruining our reputation by not following proper procedures. I worry about the other boat owners at the marina who will see the poor quality result, your neighbors, for those with a boat on a trailer, or maybe another detail company.
Most of the boats we do are oxidized boats so having a proven system is important. I know one guy who has been detailing for about 15 years, he has secrete mixes he puts into squeeze bottles and these mixes change up every boat he does; that's how I learned how to buff. I'm sure there's a lot of guys that do the same and I'm not judging you for doing that but I found it a lot easier to train contractors having an easy to follow system in place for how beautify boats. Making a bunch of mixes of different products got confusing when I started hiring other people because nobody could remember the mix ratio but me. So I always had to be at the job site if I wanted to get the quality we are known for.
We offer seven (7) different levels of deck polishing and seven levels of hull polishing. The level of care each boat receives depends on the level oxidation ranging from no oxidation to severe oxidation. We offer different levels of service to better serve our clients because each boat is different and has its own unique set of circumstances therefore you have to have a wide variety of tools and pads to leave a swirl free finish.
PRODUCT AND PAD COMBINATIONS
You need different pads for the different processes. Don't polish,buff or wax with your compound pad! Wool compounding pads are used for exactly what they say they're for; compounding. Mike Phillips, over at Auto Geek, says, "the wool compounding pad is like a jack hammer in a detailers tool kit." I thought that was a good comparison, the wool pad does all the heavy lifting. You can use the wool pad for removing heavy oxidation, black marks and surface scratches.
When detailing your boat you don't want to contaminate the new clean surface with dust particles from the compound and create swirls. Therefore, It's important to rinse/wash the boat so its free of dust before polishing and waxing actions. Yes, since we're restoring the gel-coat on a 45 ft. yacht, you have to unwrap all those 50 ft. extensions cords, put the buffers and compound away and wash the boat in between the compounding and polishing stages. Sometimes when you're compounding with a heavy cut paste compound you make a lot of dust so it requires a big cleanup.
In some instances, you can jump straight to polishing.
If your gel-coat only has light oxidation or even no oxidation you can produce a high-gloss by using a quality polish and a soft foam pad.
Medium oxidation can be eliminated by using one of the two liquid compounds you see above in the picture. But that's where it gets tricky. However, foam pads are known to gum up, so you have to keep the pad clean spurring it out often, sometimes after every 2' x 2' section you complete. What I like about the liquid compounds is they work like a compound and polish; for a deeper shine and removing blemishes its good to follow up it with a finish polish. Lastly, you want to follow up with a high quality wax, coating, or sealant for protection.
If you don't follow us on Instagram I encourage you to follow us. For those that do then you know we go in depth explaining processes, product pad combinations and how all this plays out in producing a deep shine on the gel-coat.
If you have questions or a particular topic you would like us to cover send us message on Facebook, Instagram or via email.