Orbital Buffer or Rotary Polisher
Orbital Buffer or Rotary Polisher
There is a place for both a random orbital buffer and a high speed polisher in a detailer’s toolkit, once you are proficient with an orbital all that is required to ‘step-up' to the polisher is practice, practice and then more practice, which should be done on a scrap vehicle panel as opposed to your own or someone elses vehicle
Some methods described may be beyond the capabilities of the average detailer or enthusiast; in this case we strongly encourage the reader to consult a professional detailer or body shop concerning the matters discussed herein. The writer assumes no responsibility, expressed or implied, due to misuse or misinterpretation of the information or Methods used, or for any vehicle damage or injury that may occur due to the suggestions and information offered.
Sometimes a dual-action polisher just isn’t enough for really tough scratches and swirls. You need the cutting power of a rotary polisher to penetrate the clear coat and smooth over rough edges to restore your paint to its original flawless finish.
- Orbital Buffer (ROB or PC):
Flex XC 3401 VRG would be the best option prior to stepping-up to a rotary polisher (Rotary 101, if you will); this tool was made for paint correction (used by EU car manufacturers, much like the Cyclo is in the for US production line paint correction) it is far superior in its paint correction abilities than a Porter-Cable (PC) Ultimate Detailing Machine (UDM) however it will not make paint corrections as fast or as thoroughly as a rotary polisher.
Like all tools there is a learning curve with it, so first gain experience on a paint surface that doesn’t matter i.e. a scrap panel, practice until you feel confident enough in its use and capabilities to use it on your own vehicle. The immediate future in automotive clear coat paint is something very similar to CeramiClear i.e. very hard. A Flex has the ability to correct this type of hard paint, whereas a PC/UDM requires a quite a few passes to correct them, and also struggles to breakdown diminishing abrasives (something else that car care products are going over too) as it doesn't provide sufficient friction)
- Porter-Cable 7424 - a US power tool company, Porter-Cable established in 1914, began manufacturing an electrically operated Variable-Speed Random-Orbit Sander in the 1990s for the wood-working industry, now one of the most popular tools used by professional and enthusiast automotive detailers alike. Often known by the companies initials PC (Porter-Cable) but also called a ROB (random orbital buffer) or DA (duel action) polisher
The random orbital buffer gets is name from the action of the buffer (or polishing head) This operates by the shaft rotating and spinning the back plate on an orbit radius or an eccentric offset (or throw) of 5/32-inch as opposed to a revolution on a direct-drive system, and within this eccentric orbit it also rotates in very small circles
The random orbital buffer operates with a variable speed, user adjustable, from 2,500 – 6,000 orbits per minute. (Speed # 1-5 also have a half speed setting) The application of detailing products with a random orbital has the advantage of ensuring an even pressure and constant contact speed, mimicking free hand motion but at a far greater speed. By allowing the weight and the random motion of the machine do the work, thus ensuring that the product is applied in a thin even layer, and will allow products to get embedded deeper into the paint film surface's porosity.
Apply wax or polish at speed 3, remove polish at speed 5-5.5 (I would not advice using speed 6 for long periods due to heat generated to the Velcro® on the backing plate may cause delaminating of the glue that adheres the Velcro® to the foam pad. A random orbital buffer won't leave swirl or buffer marks on your paint. That's because it doesn't spin like a rotary nor does it have the rotaries speed or power. The elliptical motion mimics hand movements, only much, much faster.
The random orbital buffer gets is name from the action of the buffer (or polishing head) This operates by the shaft rotating and spinning the back plate on an orbit radius or an eccentric offset (or throw) of 5/32-inch as opposed to a revolution on a direct-drive system, and within this eccentric orbit it also rotates in very small circles After using a high-speed rotary polisher use a random orbital buffer at speed #3 and Zaino Z-AIO, which will provide an extra depth and added gloss
Pros- the random orbital buffer is manufactured as a sanding machine, but can be adapted as a very safe polishing machine, as it lacks the power to burn paint. It is very easy to use and is ideal for very minor paint correction and the application of car care products
Cons- it lacks the power to produce the friction-heat required to breakdown the diminishing abrasives in polishes designed for hard clear coats and / or paint correction / renovation, although it could be used for this purpose utilizing 4-inch foam pads to increase surface friction / heat it is very time consuming
Alternative random orbital buffers - Flex XC 3401 VRG, Bosch Gex 150 Turbo, Festool Rotex - RO125, Makita BO6040 Polisher (alternate between circular or dual-action modes)
Notes – 1. If you are using an orbital on a ‘hard’ clear coat (i.e. Audi, BMW Corvette, GM, VW, etc) use a 5-inch Lake County (LC) closed cell structure (CCS) foam pad and a 4.5-inch baking plate
2. One of the better polishes I've found that will reduce imperfections and finish down the furthest is Menzerna PO106FF or PO 105FA; this polish is foam pad ‘dependant’ as far as its paint correction abilities are concerned. I’d recommend a two level foam pad / polish system to really bring out the paint. Start with PO 106ff and a primed LC Orange foam pad and follow with white foam. Menzerna polishes will not finish up dry, but will always have a hazy film to them, use them until the haze changes from the polish colour to almost transparent
3. Use a single ‘line’ of polish / compound on a rotary, use an X on a random orbital
- 'Rotary Polisher (HSR)
A high-speed rotary polishing machine (Porter-Cable 7428, a Makita, DeWalt, Metabo, Hitachi, etc, which are all fine machines) that have a direct-drive with selectable speed control that maintains a constant speed under varying loads conditions.
Used mainly by body repair / paint shops or professional or very experienced detailers due to its ability to both quickly and efficiently rectify more serious paint film surface imperfections; paint renovation / correction. Using a Velcro baking plate, foam pads of varying coarseness and an abrasive compound or polish to remove swirl marks, scratches and paint defects, using their high (revolution) speed and friction heat to enable diminishing abrasive compounds to abrade the paint film surface that require more power /speed than a random orbital buffer can provide. (See also Section 13 HS Rotary Polisher)
- Safety hazards - always remember that you are using a power tool that must be given the respect it deserves. As with running any power tool, read the manual and understand how to safely operate it and what its limits are and the potential dangers that could result by using it. Never forget for a moment that given the right conditions, it could kick back and jump out of your hands. Always wear safety glasses and hearing protection. Also, polishing compounds often contain silicates that become airborne in the polishing process, inhaled they could represent real health concerns. Read the safety data sheets and follow safety directions. Personally, I almost always wear glasses, hearing protection, a quality dust filter or mask and a buffing apron when buffing.
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- “Automotive Detailing Inside & Out, A Knowledge Base for the Perfectionist"– by Jon Miller