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Discussion Starter #1
Porter Cable - GEM - Chamberlain - Cyclo

I'm on the verge of ordering the PC. Any thoughts on what consitutes a great buffer? And what's up with the Cyclo dual head, what does that get you?

The PC is the least expensive of the group but it also has a smaller pad size. The Cyclo is a smaller one too but it has 2 pads. GEM and Chamberlain are huge - 11" & 12". What difference does pad size make except for working in tight spots? The PC and Cyclo use pads where the other two use bonnets. How long to pads last vs bonnets & are they better?

I think I'm sold on the PC but I am curious as to other people's experinces and am open to opinions...
 

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Hi Christian,
What will you be using these buffers for? I am not familiar with the GEM or Chamberlain models, but take a look at the specs compared to the Porter Cable (assume it is the 6" sander/polisher). If it has less power (opm and amps), then you should stick with the PC. It has enough power to remove minor defects and is gentle enough to apply wax and gently clean the surface with a light polish. Typically the large buffers don't generate much heat and are only good for applying wax or buffing these off (useless IMO). I'm inclined to believe this is true from your description that it uses bonnets and not pads.

The one thing I could steer you towards the Cyclo for is defect removal and speed. It is sort of the product that bridges the world between good orbitals and rotary polishers. A rotary will provide the most professional results, but requires professional skills. The cyclo will be able to generate more heat on the surface, meaning it will remove more defects and take less time to remove what is at the top end of the PC's capability.

If you are going to use the machine only for your Elise, then maybe the PC is a good choice. Any swirl removal capability (unless you get some scratches) that the PC affords should be good for a couple of years unless you don't take care of your paint. The cyclo also costs more, so you might be paying for functionality you will never use.

The PC will cost you maybe $120 plus $50 is all of the pads you will need. Is the Cyclo almost double the cost? Because I have a black car in the garage, I would get the Cyclo for its versatility. It's up to you whether you use it or not.

The ultimate combo would be a rotary and either a PC or a cyclo. It seems to me that the cyclo does everything the PC can do, but more.

Also, what color are you getting? That could give you an idea of the visibility of potential swirls and scratchces.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I am the neighborhood detailer for most of my family/friends. I work on all different colors & cars. Need a car detailed? 1 case of GOOD beer. ;)

I have the idea that I am going to get the PC for applying product and using the cheapo RO one I have now for product removal. I really notice a difference with the RO getting a better shine than with hand removal of wax. I use 2-3 bonnets to remove wax per car with good results. I've got a good supply of bonnets so I swap them quickly once they start getting loaded with wax. Non wax stuff gets removed with a terry towel (over 100 of them in my garage - sale at Pep Boys :D).

I would be happy with my cheapo one but it just can't get the more abrasive polishes to work well. It works ok but the older paint I deal with it just can't shine it up right. And since I'm steping up to the good detailing stuff I'm getting from Detailer's Paradise I figure it's a good time to invest in a PC. I know there is a limit on how good you can get old paint to look but I think that the PC will be able to do a better job.
 

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I'm pretty happy with my PC, but they sure don't make it easy to order one!

There's the motor part, which seems to have several different possible part numbers depending on what accessories are included. Most places want to sell it as a sander.

There's the two different counterweight sizes.. which is a bit confusing since I think they bundle the 5" counterweight with the 6" pad kit or something peculiar.

Then there's the pads themselves.. the PC-brand ones are each mounted on a backing and threaded post. They come in white. Everyone else seems to have a velcro back with stick-on pads.

Some places assign great meaning to the color of the pad material, but they're not consistant. What's a white pad? Yellow pad? Black pad? Seems to vary depending on who you ask.

As for bonnets, you can use them with PC just fine -- just slip them over an appropriate-sized pad. I don't use them myself, since removing wax by hand seems to work just as well.

A larger pad will take more product before it loads up and starts depositing it. A smaller pad will fit contours better and get tighter coverage.

I don't know what I'm talking about.. I just wail around with my PC on the older cars and it seems to do fine. Now I use Zaino, and not even Bill Gates can afford to apply Zaino with a machine buffer...
 

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I wouldn't bother using a PC on the Elise. I have one (well, both ;) ), and the PC, and other buffers for that matter, really seem to work better with large, simple surfaces. The Elise has so many edges, nooks, and crannies that there's not much surface area you could use the PC on.

Works great on my other cars, though!
 

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There seem to be some difficult spots certainly and I don't think a PC for the sake of applying product (working it in is another story) will be that beneficial. However, a flexible backing plate with a variable contour pad may help a little in this regard.
 

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Someone would have to seriously convince me that these are an improvemtn on elbow grease. All the sharp edges of the Elise would seem very easy to remove a lot of paint.
 

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As Christian alluded to, there are certain things that are virtually impossible by hand that an orbital can accomplish. There are then things that are impossible with an orbital that only a rotary can accomplish. A PC does not remove a lot of paint in my opinion, compared to what a rotary can do. An amateur can do some real damage.
 

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>>>I wouldn't bother using a PC on the Elise. I have one (well, both ), and the PC, and other buffers for that matter, really seem to work better with large, simple surfaces. The Elise has so many edges, nooks, and crannies that there's not much surface area you could use the PC on. <<<

I agree. Plus in my case I use easy to use glop such as P21S/S100 carnauba wax.

If ya gotta have a powered approach, get one with a small head diameter to help out with the Elise contours.

The Elise is so small that it doesn't seem to take long at all to put a coat on.
 

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I don't think a PC would be a good idea on the areas of the stick on letters in the rear, you run the risk of peeling them. Besides the car is so small had waxing is a snap.
 

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With all due respect(sincerely),I cannot see the buffers being any good for the composite body work of the Elise in the long run as the paint will be hotter at the point of contact with the buffer than it would be with a car with a metal body.
I'm afraid there will be cosmetic problems that will become more severe as the car ages, or sees more exposure to the elements.

An example is the bad finish on the composite curved rear wing and trunklid of the original M3 when compared to the rest of the metal body.

At a minimum, you are going to have to be uncommonly skilled if you use a power buffer.
m
 

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The Cyclo is great on vast flat surfaces, but when you start working in tight areas with lots of curves, you would be much better served with the PC.

I equate the PC to a quick and nimble sports car and the Cyclo a GT. Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the Cyclo. I have many polishers, including the Cyclo, and it definitely has its place. I just don't think it is a good fit with the Elise.

My suggestion is you get the PC7336SP and a selection of curved edge pads. All of the Porter-Cable random orbital sander/polishers have the same motor and housing. The only difference are the accessories and counterweight. The 7336SP has the heavier counterweight, so you will never need to worry about changing it.

A curved edge pad will create a couple more inches of distance between the machine and the car. This helps to ensure you don't bump the car as you are working the tight curves.

As far as heat goes, you will need to run your machine at full speed in one spot for more than a minute before you get to even 200 degrees. You car gets this hot sitting in the sun. So, sure, you don't want to park the machine on a sharp edge of the car, but indecental contact isn't an issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Just to clarify, I am getting the buffer for more than just the Elise. Over the weekend I worked on a Subaru with bad water etching & my 87 Scirocco with major paint issues. I went over the Subaru for 12 hours washing it, waxing, polishing & such but the buffer I used barely could handle it & didn't really do that much to help the paint. Better yes, but not good enough for me.

I agree that new paint will need little to help it out. And the Elise is a sexy curvy number that would may make the buffer a pain to use.
 

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Have to agree with Nick on this one. I don't see the RO Porter Cable generating enough heat to cause a problem. This is why it is a great machine for inexperienced users.

Thegit may have been commenting on a rotary buffer.

Then again Christian, don't expect miracles from the PC. It will be a big improvement over by hand defect removal, but it's not a rotary by any means. It has been sufficient for me, thus far...
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
I don't expect miracles, just not to be so tired of "Wax on, Wax off" by hand so I can do more & faster. The Sears special buffer gets bogged down under its own wieght too easily. It's nice for removing product but it doesn't have the speed to really get the abrasive stuff to work right.

In the long run I would like to get & learn how to use a rotary but I would worry too much about using it on other people's cars.
 
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