My first attempt at 'detailing' an A Class by hand

Discussion in 'Motorhome Detailing' started by TheWM, Oct 20, 2015.

  1. TheWM

    TheWM Read Only Funster

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    So - I've been thinking for a while now to give the MH a good clean, but as my ankle break earlier this year and operation (see avatar), I've been unable to do much more than think, and then the detailing forum has come on here and has made me very keen to get going! So, it's been just over 3 months since my op and I have partially stopped using crutches 3 weeks ago. The truth is I'm nowhere near ready to be going up and down ladders etc... However, I'm an impatient guy, besides what's the worse that could happen...? :rolleyes:

    So. This wasn't at all intended to be a detailing my MH thread, my only intention was to protect my MH. It's the most expensive thing I have ever bought (bar my house) and I've also never spent more than £2,000 on a car, so normally haven't been that bothered about getting a full on show finish ever.

    I just wanted to share my experiences on washing, but as you'll see things progressed a bit. This was my go as a completed novice. Whilst I have done a bit of reading and spoken to friends who own show cars, I was doing this from a standing start, so I hope this helps someone (even if it's what NOT to do)

    Whilst I washed the MH when I bought him in June, I could tell that he had not had much in the way of polish previously. Whilst I bought it from a dealer, she had told me the previous owner had been ill for 2 years and not had the chance to use the MH much, so effectively, I've got a few years of dirt and grim to remove. I went out and bought some goodies:

    I knew I had to get the MH clean, before I could protect - so how do I go about doing it? I know the guys in the detailing world always start with snow foaming with a pressure washer and snow cannon. I went out and bought some goodies:

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    Revolution wheel cleaner and Bilt Hamber Auto Foam for the snow cannon.

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    A Farecla G3 clay mitt - this is used for taking off nasties off the body work, getting it prepped ready for a good wax (you don't want to wax over the dirt and get it trapped in right?)

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    Collinite 476s wax and a foam applicator.

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    Some spray bottles for the wheel cleaner and the lubricant for the clay mitt.

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    I had this lying around which I was going to use for my lubricant, mixed with water - I used a ratio of 1:10.

    Not shown are a wash bucket with grit guard, a karcher K2 pressure washer and a snow cannon (shown below).

    So, let's get started! I was very eager to use a snow cannon. In my mind I was going to spray the MH and as if by magic, the dirt would just fall off and that would be it. Here is a pic of my roof:

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    Loaded up the snow cannon:

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    I used 4:1 mix (water:autofoam) and a drop of Mer I had lying around and mixed with warm water.

    Off I went spraying (y) I sprayed and waited 10-15 mins, used the Karcher to jet the roof down and guess what? It looked almost exactly the same. In my downbeat frame of mind, I didn't even take any photos as there's nothing to see (you'll see some later so you can see). Lesson #1 - there are no short cuts here. This is going to take time. Lots of it.

    I had kinda bargained on having to do the 2 bucket method of washing after I had snow foamed (all this means is one bucket with car shampoo and another with plain water to dip your mitt so the dirt doesn't get put back onto the car). But, I didn't think that I would essentially have to do all of the hard work by hand.

    So off I went up my ladder, with the 2 buckets and started cleaning. Here's a pic of the roof part way through. You can see what the snow foam left on (note to self - clean the hallway window!)

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    How do you get to those hard to reach places, like under the satellite dish? Raise the dish! (y)

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    You will note there are stubborn brown marks in and around the satellite dish. These bugged me and I couldn't remove them and spent a while trying. Let's hope the clay mitt works.

    To be continued as I cannot attach more file in this post, stick with me folks....
     
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  2. TheWM

    TheWM Read Only Funster

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    So I've never used a clay mitt, but I used the same method with 2 buckets, with the lubricating mix as detailed above (with hot water to help the clay part of the mitt loosen). Here's how it came out:

    IMG_2504.JPG

    Those brown marks did come off! But it took a long time. And lesson #2 - clay mitts do not work well on textured surfaces, which the majority of my roof is. And lesson #3 - clay mitts can leave clay residue (well it's not really clay but some polymer I think) and you panic as you do not know how to remove it. Don't panic. Let it dry and simply remove with a microfibre cloth (took me 2 days to figure this out).

    At this point I was about 5 hours in, up and down ladders and my leg was starting to give up. I made an executive decision to wax the roof so I didn't need to go up there again. Whilst waxing, I saw some what can only be described as patches of swirls show when I removed the wax, which was annoying to say the least. Here are some photos, I hope you can see what I mean (god look at those gutter rails - they will need cleaning too!)

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    The other side too suffered:

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    To say I was a bit miffed is an understatement. However, here is the roof, washed, clayed and waxed. At least it is protected.

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    It definitely is a big improvement. It's not perfect. I know where the imperfections are. But after 6.5 hours, I was done. Oh, and I still had the rest of the MH to do.

    More to come guys - I'm being called for dinner...
     
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  3. Figaro

    Figaro Funster

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    Is that a solar strapped to the sat dish, never seen that before !
     
  4. TheWM

    TheWM Read Only Funster

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    So, in my mind (as a bit of a perfectionist) I was a bit unhappy with how much time and effort went in vs the results I achieved. Now I know this is my first time, but I thought I had a good shot at getting it nailed, so I spoke to my pal about the swirls. His first question was "what polish did you use". Polish? Who needs polish when you're going to the effort I am? In what can only be described as a scene from Star Wars, he transforms into Yoda and tells me in no uncertain terms to get the best finish, not only do I need polish, but also a quick detailer (what's this?!) and seriously, you want me to add in additional steps? Why you m*^(%$£*^!!!!

    So I go to bed, sore and leg has swollen up. Perhaps tomorrow will be a better day.

    I get up. Leg still works (dammit I was sooooo looking forwards for an excuse to quit). I figure that maybe I could do with some help. I call my brother - he's due to come round anyway, so even if I can use him for a couple of hours under STRICT supervision, that's gotta help. For the purposes of the next few posts, I'll try and concentrate on the same side of the MH so you can see progress in the same spot. Here he is:

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    Yes. I don't like those black streaks either. Go to the snow foam, then rinse. Better but not great, 2 bucket hand wash leaves me with this:

    IMG_2516.JPG

    Again, better - but would you want to roll around in this calling it clean? Not me. That's OK, as I've still got some claying to do. Same process as before (long) and here is what I ended up with:

    IMG_2521.JPG

    Again, as the roof. A noticeable difference for the better - but not perfect. There are still black marks around the van and what's worse is that the claying has removed some of the marks in places after hours worth of work but - you can see what has been left behind:

    IMG_2523.JPG

    this is replicated around the MH. This is just not on! And my 'helper' turns up 3 hours late when the sun has started to go down and I'm again knackered. Leg is not doing great either and his suggestion to go down the pub, whilst is well received, I spend the evening thinking again on what I'm going to do to sort out this mess. Today's work was foam, rinse, 2 bucket wash, clay. About another 6.5 hours and I can't see the tunnel, let alone any light :(

    Perhaps tomorrow will be a better day (I've heard that before somewhere....)

    The next day actually happened to be the morning after the night before and a few too many were sunk in the pub. Whilst I wanted to take a day off work to do this, realistically, I'd only sleep. So I went to work and booked today off. I picked up some more product:

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    This is the polish and quick detailer, followed by:

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    Tar remover and glass cleaner. The tar remover because I think I have lots of tar (or insects) at the BACK of the MH. Look!:

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    Why have I never noticed this before??? And how do I remove it all? :unsure:

    More to come....
     
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  5. TheWM

    TheWM Read Only Funster

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    So, armed with my tar remover, I start getting to grips with the black streaks. These are really getting to me and the mood that I'm in, I would rather cut them out, than see them on my MH after the work I have put in.

    So off I go and look what happens:

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    They're gone! And, it didn't take a whole load of effort and energy, literally, straight off. There is a god! Buoyed by my success I do the rest of the MH. Look at the cloth:

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    This is what removed from a 'clean' MH. I have to say though, I'm getting happier wiping the panels. It feels so smooth and the cloth glides like a fairytale princess at a ball. Then reality sets in. All of this poncing around has taken 3 hours and I still need to polish and wax. Argh. Before that I need to rinse the MH and get it dry (again) before polishing....

    So, the polish. Zymol Cleaner Wax. In truth, this is an all rounder, rather than a deeper cutting compound. But my pal told me it smelt of coconut and I was sold. And it does! So, on it goes. How much do I use. How long should I leave it for? I don't know is the answer. So I put a thin line onto my foam applicator rubbed it on, waited 5 mins and took it off with a clean microfibre cloth. I think it did a fairly good job although lesson #4, next time use a harsher cutting compound as it didn't remove all the bits I thought it would. I mean by eye, you can't tell, but up a ladder face to face with a patch you can.

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    Here's a whole side:

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    I was starting to get a bit more positive now with my chances of success (insomuch as getting a decent finish and protective layer over it). And now the wax, which I applied with a bit of quick detailer as recommended by my mate. I took his word for it as I could happily eat my dinner of the inside of his wheel arches on his camper, 'Dave' - it is that clean. If the truth be known, I now felt in some kind of weird competition with him. Lesson #5 - he drives a VW and is far smaller than my MH - horses for courses, don't get sucked into a detailing oneupmanship!!! Here is the 'finished' article. Apart from its not. I want to apply more layers of wax now, but for the purposes of this thread:

    IMG_2536.JPG

    Sorry, the light was fading. Here's another:

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    But no. It's not finished. What about the wheels and the glass..? That's where the glass cleaner comes in. Here is half cleaned (on the left):

    IMG_2537.JPG

    Those watermarks are a bugger to clean!!! Now to the wheels. They were blasted with that Revolution stuff I showed earlier, about a 1:10 ratio. Here is how they started:

    IMG_2497.JPG

    Dirty. I then foamed, jetted, dried. I should have clayed, but I was losing the will to live let alone the energy. So I tried some of that tar stuff I had. Didn't remove as much as I wanted. But after rinsing, drying and waxing (with detailer) they ended up looking like this:

    IMG_2543.JPG

    Again. Not perfect, like the rest of the MH there are places that need improving. I know that. And quite possibly my skills could do with improving too. But that took another 9 hours today. So to get to this juncture - 3 days and about 21 hours. That's full whack. No stopping for cups of tea (or even lunch). But I do hope now that now everything is clean(ish), waxed and sorted, (and after I do apply another coat of wax), that this process should take 2 hours and hopefully no more, as I will have a decent layer to remove the dirt from, rather than straight from the paint.

    Hopefully Charlie or someone will tell you all how you can cut this process in half so you don't have to suffer like I did. I'll be honest, if I knew it would take this long, I would not have started. But that is a good 7 years of dirt that has come off and I need to be circumspect. I set myself a challenge and to varying degrees I completed it. I've learnt lots and I need to realise that this isn't a bad go as a complete novice.

    I'd be happy for any pointers/questions...
     
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  6. barsteward

    barsteward Funster

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    Cracking thread, I think we all learn by trial and error and it doesn't matter how many post there are you always learn something(y)
    Look forward to your next instalment.:)
     
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  7. funflair

    funflair Funster Life Member

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    Looking good, bit of tyre dressing will finish those wheels off a treat, it should be a bit easier next time(y).

    Martin
     
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  8. bellabee

    bellabee Funster

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    I think you've done great! I bow to your superior expertise (and stamina).
     
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  9. TheWM

    TheWM Read Only Funster

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    Yes, that is on the list. Followed by opening all the windows/skylights/doors and doing the bits I didn't get too. Also have ordered something called 'gumi pledge' which is for the seals to prevent them going brittle. I could also do with some stuff to go on the plastic trims / bumpers. The satellite dish needs a proper clean too as does the solar panel. Did I mention that the inside might need a clean too....? :sick:
     
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  10. gus-lopez

    gus-lopez Funster

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    Excellent work. & your leg never fell off either !(y)
     
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  11. TheWM

    TheWM Read Only Funster

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    No, - apart from falling off the ladder a few times but I shit you not, when I waxed the roof - I almost slid off over the windscreen it was sooooo slippery!!!!
     
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  12. Judge Mental

    Judge Mental Funster Deceased RIP

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    OMGG.....think I will stick with a panelvan! :(
     
  13. TheWM

    TheWM Read Only Funster

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    Just keep it clean from the off and keep it waxed/protected. I (hope) that I will never have to go through it again if I keep it topped up with wax every few months (I'm planning to do it twice a year).
     
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  14. Carol

    Carol Funster Life Member

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    :mnythnks: Think that was a really good thread to show what hard work and effort can do, the van looks good as well.
     
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  15. FJmike

    FJmike Funster

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    You mentioned tar on the rear panel, if your Rapid is rear wheel drive most of this is metal contamination from the rear discs. Getting rid of it is a PITA, careful use of contamination remover and clay bar, under no circumstance should you polish before you remove the contamination. I have to admire your perseverance and you should be very proud of what you have achieved. Good stuff Gummy Fleg, I use it on all my Premium valets, it not only keeps the rubber supple but stops the rubber sticking to the windows
     
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  16. TheWM

    TheWM Read Only Funster

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    Thanks mate. No, we're FWD. I got rid of the tar, but there were red spots that were a real PITA to shift. Still don't know what they are and I hazard a guess at bugs that have ended up leaving their blood after impact on the MH? When I go for the full clean again, I'm thinking of getting some Auto Glym degreaser stuff which I hope will shift anything.
     
  17. TheBig1

    TheBig1 Funster Life Member

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    i found a way to get those results with very little effort. pay a Polish or other eastern european chap to do it for you in the autumn and spring. you then just keep it clean between pro cleans
     
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  18. TheWM

    TheWM Read Only Funster

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    The worse thing is - I'm planning to go to Scotland in December... I hope it only needs a rinse when we're back!
     
  19. dippingatoe

    dippingatoe Read Only Funster

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    I LOVE this thread, and I have to say your motorhome looks incredibly good compared to what you started with. If it cheers you up someone quoted £400 today to do mine. Needless to say it didn't get done :) :) :)
     
  20. Wickolad

    Wickolad Funster

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    I think you've done a cracking job, you should be proud of yourself for sticking it out when the going got tough, with a diff leg at that. It looks a different MH and will be far easier for you the next time round. Well done.
     
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