Ok… I wasn’t going to do this, and I hesitate even now. This post has nothing to do with woodworking or hand tools (unless you count a toothbrush as a hand tool). Feel free to read no further as I derail my blog and veer off course into the automotive world.
In my last post, I mentioned that I haven’t been active on my blog lately because I hadn’t been doing any woodworking. I had been detailing my new (to me) dream car. After making this comment several people asked me to post pics of the car and my detailing process.
I hadn’t planned on posting anything here about auto detailing. I realize that this is my blog, and I can write what I like, but it is supposed to be about woodworking… Conflicted.
Dear readers, please excuse my one time foray into the world of auto detailing.
So here’s the story. Last year I bought a car that I have been wanting for many years. The car is a 2004 Jaguar XJR. I had been actively looking for one of the year that I wanted, with the options I wanted for about 2 years. I found one (of course) while I was right in the middle of my chicken coop build and had no spare time to detail it the way I wanted to.
Once the chicken palace was finished, I turned my attention to the car. At the start of February, I finally got started on the detailing and have been working on it a little each day for the better part of the past two months.
Since this post will deal mostly with detailing, I thought I should mention a couple of great online resources that really helped me learn how to do all of this properly.
The first is the car detailing forum at http://www.autogeekonline.net/ and their store at http://www.autogeek.net. The store has pretty much every car detailing tool, lotion, or potion you can imagine and their prices are pretty good.
The second (and my favorite), is the YouTube channel AmmoNYC. I have watched every video on the channel and have learned so much about car polishing and detailing that I can’t even begin to explain how informative it is. If you are at all interested in car detailing, go check it out!
So, here are the steps I have taken to bring my car up to the standard I was hoping for:
I started by polishing all the “chrome” trim around the windows. I used a polishing pad kit purchased from Harbor Freight and my Ridgid laminate trim router. Yep, a router! I wrote and post about this on the Jaguar Forums that you can check out if interested HERE.
I masked off the paint around the headlights and then polished/restored the headlight lenses with a kit purchased from Harbor Freight.
Then I got started on the paint. I thoroughly washed the car and then went over all the paintwork with a Meguiar’s Clay Bar kit.
I really thought that the wash job I had done was thorough, but wow did the clay ever get nasty quickly. It really makes you realize how much contaminants are sitting on top of the paint. I bought a Dual Action Polisher (also from Harbor Freight) so that I could do this job a little more professionally than simply using a rag. There are certainly better DA polishers on the market, but this was only $50 and it just for my own cars.
The paint was not in terrible shape and I didn’t want to use a heavy-duty compound. I had a bottle of Meguiar’s #2 Fine-Cut Cleaner and decided to use this as a first step. I systematically worked my way around the car with the polisher and “compounded” all the paint doing one small section at a time. Using a cloth rag, I also compounded all the paint in the door jams, back of the doors, underside of the boot and bonnet, and any jams/paintwork visible when the boot and bonnet are raised.
The compound did its job well and it was time to switch to polishing. For a polish, I purchased Meguiar’s Ultimate Polish. I changed to a lighter polishing pad on my DA polisher and repeated the whole process. I also polished all the jams and underside of everything as mentioned above with the compound. This polish was amazing and I couldn’t believe how great my paint looked after this stage. No swirls, just pure high-gloss and great depth of colour. The paint looked new.
Next up, wax. For a wax, I chose Meguiar’s Ultimate Liquid Wax. (Sorry if this is starting to sound like a Meguiar’s commercial, but that’s just the stuff I chose after reading reviews online). This stuff is actually not a natural wax at all, but rather is a polymer based synthetic wax. More of a sealant. Car show folks usually put a couple of coats of sealant on to protect the paint and apply a natural carnauba wax just before a show for added depth and shine. Carnauba wears off quickly and the synthetic waxes/sealants are supposed to stay on longer. I changed to the softer wax application pad on my DA polisher and applied a coat of wax to the whole car. Again, I did all the jams, undersides, etc. Once done, I applied a second coat of wax, but only to the exterior paintwork. No second coat on the jams.
I treated all the black plastic parts of the car, engine bay, door seals, etc. with Meguiar’s Ultimate Black trim restorer. Again, I really like this product and plastic all looks great.
I treated all the windows with RainX.
Next I moved on to the interior. The previous owner had smoked in the car and although it was not awful, you could smell it. I wanted this smell gone. Why anyone would smoke in what was originally a $90K car is beyond me! I mean really! I sprayed the headliner with a light misting of Febreze for Autos.
I cleaned all the leather (seats, doors, and dashboard) with Blue Magic Leather Cleaner, a tooth brush, and a nail brush. The previous owner had done a decent job wiping down the leather to clean it but only superficially. It was not filthy, but there was dirt deep in the grain of the leather. Most of the stitching however was pretty gross. I used resolve carpet cleaner and a toothbrush to clean the stitching. This took FOREVER!!! There is so much stitching in an XJ. It’s everywhere, sure the seats are expected, but it’s also all around the center console and dashboard. The stitching was brown and grungy, now it is all white and clean. This was a lot of effort, but well worth it. It really makes the interior look new. Once all the leather was clean, I treated it all with Meguiar’s Ultimate Leather Balm. This stuff is very nice and smells great. It makes the car smell like coconut (for a couple of days at least). I haven’t done it yet, but I think that I am going to apply a second coat of this Leather Balm.
I have a Hoover SteamVac carpet shampoo machine for use in the house. Pets and kids kind of make this a necessity. The machine has a hand-held upholstery attachment and I decided to use this to shampoo all the carpet in the car. I used hot, hot water and the cleaning shampoo (I don’t remember which brand). I used the hand held attachment to spray on the water/shampoo mix and then scrubbed it with a stiff bristled brush. I then sucked up all the water with the attachment. I doubt that the carpet in this car had ever been shampooed before. The water that I emptied out of the tank was nearly black. The carpets looked great after cleaning, and while they were still wet, I used the brush to put some lines in the carpet. I also shampooed the carpet floor mats using the same process. The car also came with a set of black rubber winter floor mats and I cleaned these and treated them with the Meguiar’s Ultimate Black.
The front seatbelts were both dirty, but the driver’s side was nasty. Using a tip I picked up on AutoGeekOnline I pulled the belts all the way out and put a clamp at the top of the belt so that it couldn’t retract. I put a large white plastic (HDPE) cutting board in the car and cleaned and scrubbed the belts against the board using the carpet shampooing machine. Spray the water/cleaner on, scrub it with a brush, and suck all the water back out. I then left the seatbelts fully extended for a couple of days to completely dry out. This worked beautifully and the belt even retracts much better now when I take it off.
Next, I turned my attention to the wheels. A few months ago when I put new tires on, I had a lot of problems with frozen lug nuts and had to drill off three of them. I wanted to remove the wheels and de-rust the hubs and rotors and change the lug studs and lug nuts. This was the longest part of the project and took me about three weeks to complete all four wheels. With the brake calipers removed, I was able to remove the very rusty rotors, from the very rusty hubs. That’s where I hit a snag. I discovered that there is no room behind the hub to remove the wheel stud. No matter how you rotate the hub, there is not enough clearance to remove the stud. I re-seated the wheel lug stud resolved myself to cleaning all the lugs with a wire brush.
I put a wire brush in my angle grinder and cleaned all the rust off of the hub, wheel studs, and rotor. I treated all these parts with Ospho rust converter. I painted the rotors with high temp caliper paint and put a light coating of high-temp copper grease on the hubs and lug stud to prevent future corrosion.
The Bembro brake calipers are supposed to be silver, but mine were black. While all the brakes were disassembled, I cleaned the calipers with de-greaser and a toothbrush. It took a long time, but they cleaned up nicely. I also cleaned/detailed the whole wheel well while I was in there. I treated the wheel well liner with magic black.
Once all this was done, I cleaned/detailed the wheels. The 20” Sepangs that are on my car are very nice looking but are a bitch to clean. The spoke configuration makes it very hard to clean the inside of the rim and it can only really be done properly with the wheel removed. I doubt that this has ever been done on this car, so there was 12 years of brake dust and grime on the inside of each wheel. I used a scrubbing brush and Purple Power degreaser to clean the wheels, hosing them down frequently to check on my progress.
Once the wheel was dry, I worked on the stainless steel trim rings. Two of the wheels had no scuffs but the other two had a little bit of curb rash. I had originally thought about unbolting the hubs and removing the trim rings to polish them. I read too many horror stories about braking the titanium bolts and decided to try and work on the trim rings in place. I sanded out the damage as best I could and then polished the metal using the same method that I used on the window trim above. The polishing pad in my router couldn’t get into all the nooks and crannies, so I completed the job with metal polish and a toothbrush.
Once the trim rings were done, I polished all the painted surfaces on the wheel, both front and back, using the same process that I used above for the paint on the car. Compound, polish, and wax. I estimate that it took me 2-3 days per wheel to complete this whole process.
As I reinstalled each wheel, I installed new wheel center caps and new lug nuts. The last thing I did was replace the two fading/peeling Type R badges on the fenders. I still want to replace the XJR badge on the boot, but haven’t been able to source one yet at a reasonable price.
I finished the job and gave the car another wash. I hadn’t been able to drive the car for about 6 weeks while I’ve been doing all of this and I’ve really missed driving it. I took the car out for a drive and took a bunch of photos.
Here are more than enough photos to show you what I’ve been up to (I don’t think that it looks too bad for being 12 years old):
Ok, enough auto detailing.
I do hope to return this blog to woodworking and antique hand tool restoration soon.
– Jonathan White