Every so often, it's good to have a little spruce up. Well I say that with what was in mind for the initial intentions, but this one has turned into pretty much a full overhaul.
To recap on what happened in last year's van update and what has happened since then is a good idea before I cover the van changes this year. In July last year I wrote the shamelessly named "Shelving Sh*t and Magnifying It" blog which provides quite an eye-opening insight into how I kind of codge-modged things together in the back of the van back when mobile detailing was new to me (I was full time unit based before 2015).
The changes I made were never going to be permanent but were a pretty good prototype for development into what I needed long term as a proper working vehicle for mobile detailing. The main two things that have remained are the shelving unit and the upright water tank, the latter of which has proved to be much more space effective especially as my work is based around quality over quantity. But those blue water butts? They probably had a better sense of belonging in a brew house or horse stables - what was I thinking?!
To start things off I needed to get some bodywork issues sorted, so it was down to Pegasus Mobile Bosyshop to come over and repaint my rear quarter panel. Based in Leamington Spa they do occasionally come over to the Black Country if there is enough work to justify their travel. I had something else for them to paint but we will leave that for further down the line, as all other things fall into place.
From there, it was down to me to strip the van out of absolutely everything in the back. At first I only planned a re-carpet and lick of paint but the rotting plywood underneath just could not stay. It would have been a shame to go to such lengths of re-carpeting everything with new material on top of wood that was quite literally breaking apart.
So a bit of a stretch on the budget as it may have been, I opted to completely replace the ply-lining. Once fitted it was then a case of making sure that things not only looked the part now in the warm months but stayed that way in the cold and damp. Craig over at The Detailing Detectives recommended me to contact House of Mada to source some insulation to install on the interior walls and ceiling to help keep the heat in during the winter; the kind chap also offered me some advice. Had I have not already purchased my choice of carpeting at this point I would have bought these from him too.
Despite this, the first thing on my agenda was to paint the shelving unit black as it was starting to look a little tatty after a year of products and water being dashed around. Before this happened, I sawed off the top side bits to allow for the unit to sit a little closer to the wall without fouling the sides of the van.
From there, Lizzy from Innovation Creations came over and fitted the new signwriting and a new design of stripes. Here I unveil the extra bit that Pegasus painted and that was a colour coded front bumper to give the van more of a sporty look. Lizzy was able to continue the stripes onto the bumper for a flowing design and also vinyl wrap the plastic tranklements that surround the front grille.
I feel that all of this comes together to show the world a much more professional image, the kind of image that I want people to think of when Detailed By Andrew springs to mind. But not only that, the better use of space means that I can now bring along my air compressor for airbrushing various bits and bobs, or use of the Vortex upholstery cleaning gun.
I'd like to give my kind thanks to everyone involved and to those that have taken the time to read this blog and support the business.
Looking back through these blog posts I realise that it has been quite a long time since I made a case study here. You might say that I have been rather busy and have put the blog to the back of my mind, or as this case may be, waiting for something just that extra bit involved to give me a muse to write plenty about.
Facebook and social media are fantastic tools for quickly posting what you have been up to, in order to show the world and your followers what it is you can do for them. In this case however, I have taken to the blog because there is much more that I need to get across than is possible on a simple status update.
A Correction Detail in its nature, as far as my business and I are concerned, is working with the customer to outline their exact requirements and work with them to suit to their budget (within all realistic reason of course, this kind of work isn't exactly feasible for £1.52 pocket change and a packet of haribo) and meet their expectations. For this reason, every Correction Detail I take on requires a "consultation sur mesure", or a "can you come and have a look at it" in English. This is immediately obvious where paintwork enhancement and correction is concerned, in the nature that no two cars are the same, even though they be the same age and make/model, and also in the way that this is a very personal service; what may make one person happy may not be enough for somebody else. For this reason, it is imperative that a professional detailer knows how to weigh up how many hours/days may be required to meet that customers' expectations.
The most important thing is working safely within the paint-work's clear coat parameters. The process of removing swirl marks, fading, oxidation and other deteriorations by the method of compound polishing via machine is to actually remove paint after all. We are only talking a mere few microns here, but that knowledge of what one is taking on, and getting to know the vehicle before making any inklings of starting these elaborate works is absolutely vital. In this case, on inspection, I found that much of the car had been previously resprayed. Which some may say, is not uncommon for a 911!
Right, onto the day of the job being started. First things first is to look around the car again and have a final chat with the customer. The reason why is because things change, and also having a busy diary with many customers, I will have slept since the consultation! So it is always best to take in everything that is about to be worked on, and have clear communication with the customer.
As with these images above, there were many issues to be sorted. These ranged from blobs of old touch up paint to minor scuffs, faded plastic trim, swirl marks, faded porous paint, and something that had happened since my inspection - a flaking patch of paint from where a stone had jumped off the road and said hello. This being a repainted panel happened because of new paint being layered on top of old paint, and probably not being keyed down enough by the re-sprayers. When this happens, and paint starts to lift, this is what is called delamination.
Later on throughout the work, I found that the minor scuffs were satisfactorily reduced with the machine compounding process, and even though it would take a full panel respray to resolve the missing patch of paint, this was filled in with touch up paint, wet sanded and polished not really for cosmetic benefit but to buy the customer that extra bit of time and protection.
Before tackling these issues, the vehicle needs to be thoroughly decontaminated of road grime, iron fallout (little particles of rust that are present in the air from brake dust and industrial production), tar spots and anything that is sitting above the paintwork holding it back from being "clean".
The industry standard process is to pre-rinse the vehicle of loose dirt, carry out a safe wash using snow foam, a merino wool wash mitt and the two bucket wash method, and apply treatments to diminish the tar spots and iron fallout before clay barring the surfaces to exfoliate any remaining impurities.
From here, a focused and painstaking process of carefully shaving off the old touch up paint with a de-nibbing tool taken place, with any exposed chips to be touched back in later on. This leads me to another point of the importance of an inspection, is that I could ensure that a batch of touch up paint specifically matched to this vehicles' paint code would be on hand for the task ahead in advance.
Drying the vehicle highlighting how porous the paint was. It was evident that this vehicle, despite being quite clean, was rather de-hydrated and needed bringing back to life.
From here, the floor mats were deep cleaned by way of using the Karcher Puzzi spray nozzle to apply Koch Chemie Green Star, allow to soak in order to saponify the dirt, before agitating with a brush attatchment on one of my polishing tools (see, not just for working paint!) and using the extraction function to pull out all of the residue. The effect was most pronounced on the Porsche emblems that were previously a muddy brown rather than their intended colour stitch.
Once indoors with the inspection lamps on, we can see just how bad the paint condition was. What you see here is years of improper wash technique - and although well-meaning - constant dry-wiping at paint, as well as UV damage. This level of Correction Detail as outlined with the customer on initial inspection was to include a two stage machine compounding polish.
This is very different to the Enhancement Detail in the way that the polishing process is broken up into two or more stages or steps rather than one. The Enhancement Detail is essentially a cut down, one-size-fits-all version of the Correction Detail where I do as much as I reasonably can in one day to improve, or enhance, a vehicles' paintwork condition. This Correction Detail however, is to cut as many defects out of the paint in the first stage, and then refine down to a high gloss finish in the second stage. This is truly bespoke in its nature and I cannot stress enough the importance of assessing a vehicle, and it's owners expectations. Adding more and more stages to the compounding, or even taking on the risk of wet sanding the entire body work carries not only a substantial difference in the amount of time taken (going from 2 days to however many more) but also risk.
After restoring the faded headlights, putting so, so many hours of machine polishing work into the paint (a whole day in itself, including the door shuts) and general tidying up, the paintwork was treated to a ceramic coating, and the glass was protected with Angelwax H2GO.
As you may be able to tell, there is no way I can even hope to quote these kinds of works over the phone; they are truly unique in each and every case.
All told, around about 22 hands-on working hours were put into this vehicle. All 5 of my polishing machines were used; those including the Flex VRG, Flex PE14-2 Rotary, Flex Mini Rotary, Flex XFE, and the Vertool 12e 3-inch DA. The most nerve wracking part? Waiting for the approval from the owner once finished!
If this service is of interest to you, please see the Correction Detail service page, and feel free to get in touch at:
p: 07804 604532
f: Detailed By Andrew
Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the pictures!
The Christmas break is the perfect time to reflect on the year just gone, take a note of the positive progress and then have a look at what can be made better. It's becoming a recurring theme with the business to use this time of year to plan and pave the way for the direction it is heading.
I hope everyone thoroughly enjoyed their Christmas break and has had a great start to the new year so far. Please take a read of this blog post, preferably sat down with a cup of tea, as there is lots to take in for what to expect as a returning, or even new, Detailed By Andrew customer.
Changes to availability schedule.
The first thing requiring some thought was the business' operating times and schedule. As one man in one van, trying to keep one or two random days off in the diary for downtime just doesn't happen easily, especially when the phone rings and somebody needs something doing ASAP! Part way through last year I implemented the Appointedd booking system to the website, which not only replaces the old pen and paper diary, but also allows customers to make a booking request straight into my diary from the bottom of the Services page and Facebook page. This is great because it takes some of the admin work away from me, and even sends customers a booking confirmation and 48 hour reminder. Don't let that worry you though; I can submit bookings myself too if you still prefer to call, message or email.
Downtime is important when running this kind of business. Being busy enough to work 7 days a week is great, but it does have its vices. Firstly is tiredness, as this being quite an active profession a little rest really does go a long way. Also, it's highly important that time is set aside to clean and strip the van down, re-organise it, service the tools to keep them running sweet, and take stock of consumables so orders can be placed and delivered. Being organised makes a huge impact on the quality of service provided.
For this year bookings will be carried out on a "4 days on, 1 day off" basis with one full weekend "off" per month too. What does this mean for customers? This actually means that more weekend dates will be available for bookings than last year, and still works out at providing service 6 days a week for the most part. All phone calls and emails will still be taken/returned as much as is feasibly possible 7 days a week.
The recommended service plan.
As a detailing business, aptly named Detailed By Andrew, detailing is my speciality. Please take a look at The Intended Car Care Regimen blog post and Services page for an explanation of how the service packages are intended to be used by customers and what the benefits are. This year a recommendation will be made on all visits as to which service you might want to consider next time round. A small leaflet will also be left with customers to outline all of the services on offer.
Service Cleans are a great way to keep your car clean and tidy throughout the year, but they are not to be depended on exclusively; even with the quality products used, there's only so far a wash and valet will take you and this is why detailing exists! Perhaps there is another way to put it in terms that some people may subscribe to; just like with skin care, sometimes we have to exfoliate, face mask and moisturise to look after yourselves - it's the same with your vehicle's appearance too! I am in business to make your car to look and feel like new all year round, and it is only with the full range of treatments and processes that this can be possible.
So now that the formal bit is out the way, we can now have a look at the fun stuff! In trying to offer a premier standard of service and keep up with competition, re-investment into new tools and equipment is an absolute necessity. Whilst some of the below have been on-board for a while now, this time of year is usually the best to make these purchases, as suppliers most often put on generous Christmas and January deals. As a small business, money has to be spent wisely! I guess you could call this 'the January transfer window'...
There were two things that were long overdue, the first being an electrical generator. On a previous service visit maybe a month or so back I was left totally caught out as the electrical socket provided by the customer just did not work. As this was on a private works car park, there was no alternative except to abandon and reschedule the job.
Now being able to provide my own power means that work can be carried out in more remote locations where electricity cannot be provided, or shall I say depended on. This 3.75kVA generator from SGS Engineering has ample power for many of the tools that I use on various tasks. For the foreseeable future, the additional cost of fuelling the generator will not be charged to the customer as extra; it will rather be provided as a free courtesy because it is purely there to ensure that the job gets done when electrical mains are not available. As standard, I still kindly ask for power to be provided by the customer where possible. Due to the added weight and space in the van, the generator will only be brought along on request in advance so please make this clear on any possible booking.
There is one drawback to be considered though, and that is the slightly elevated noise. Whilst 69 decibels (inb4 lewd jokes) is well within noise pollution limits we do not want to upset the neighborhood. I would say that the most realistic comparison in terms of noise is probably to that of a burble from the exhaust of a sporty car on idle. Customers should take this into consideration and make an appropriate arrangement as the last thing I want is to end up in some Jeremy Kyle-esque confrontation when I go to work! Jokes aside, please consider any neighbours in immediate proximity that may be unwell, short-fused or have young infants if you require the use of the generator.
Early last year saw a lot of re-investment into other areas of inventory, such as improving the van layout, replacement digital paint depth gauge, digital microscope and suchlike, that perhaps the basics got overlooked. I had been getting on with the little old Karcher K2 domestic pressure washer, and it wasn't until I taken my trip up north (as covered in the blog posts) that I realised what I was missing out on.
The Kranzle K7 is the benchmark piece of kit for any mobile Valeter/Detailer, and it was about time I made the upgrade. It's quite bizarre when I look back, that I had all of this polishing equipment, and yet only a pressure washer that was recommended for occasional home use. This upgrade now means that the pre-rinse, snow foam, and wash process is now even better - giving a more professional image no doubt
There are always new tools that I look to add to the ranks, and it could go on forever, but for now any further equipment purchases will have to be spread out over the somewhat near future. I don’t want to give the game away all at once, however, but it really does hinge on how busy things get and with what lines of work. Perhaps a gloss meter and a couple more polishing machines? Who knows.
In terms of products, I continually look for new things to try and over the last few months I have been really impressed with CarPro, to the point where most of their products now feature in the inventory. Future ceramic coating jobs will be with their products, including the new anti-static super hydrophobic “Gliss” top coat that can be layered over "CQuartz UK" ceramic coating.
As for waxes, Angelwax “Enigma” will be joining the premium upgrades available on the Detailing services. This is an Si02 (the quality grade that costs £1000 a litre in raw material form) blended wax to give extra depth of shine, protection and water behaviour. Considering that a 250ml pot has an RRP of £180, I really do believe that offering an application at just £20 extra is incredibly fair and good value to the customer. You can book for this upgrade on the Enhancement, Maintenance and Correction packages.
The range of Chemical Guys air freshener sprays carried on-board have also been expanded, giving customers that fun choice of scent to accompany a clean car. When you book for any service, just be sure to let me know which one you'd like so I can make sure to bring it along. A lot of consumables will also continue to be sourced from AutoGlym too, and I would like to congratulate my local franchise Branson Autotmotive on their successes and awards at the recent AutoGlym conference.
There is one last note on consumables to point out as well - and it is that microfibre towels and applicators are frequently purchased all year round, demoted down to wheel duty, then rag duty before the bin awaits. This is critical when considering who you choose to valet and detail your car, as poor quality towels are not good for the condition of paintwork and other sensitive surfaces. Towels and other commodities can often be overlooked but when valeting and detailing properly, only the best quality will do.
The first job of the year was on this Audi A1. This particular car received a CQuartz UK ceramic coating “By Andrew” back in November 2016, and due to the car being used to travel to and from the Welsh coast with long cleaning intervals it needed some of the available upgrade extras along with its Service Clean.
Tar removal, Iron fallout treatment and Hydro2 application featured on top of all the high value for money features found in the base Service Clean package.
The car had sadly picked up a couple of marks including a deeply gouged scratch in the wing mirror. Although correction work is not included as standard with the Service Clean, this was wet-sanded and polished out as safely as possible.
The next recommended service for this car? Another Service Clean in 6 weeks perhaps, and then a Maintenance Detail in 3 or 4 months to fully de-clutter and revitalise the old ceramic coating. It is much better, and cost effective, to maintain and repair coatings rather than strip them back and replace.
In previous years “like and share” competitions featured on the Detailed By Andrew business Facebook page. This is something that has since been discontinued as sadly it didn’t quite generate the marketing impact that was initially hoped for. However, something rather exciting is now in place for all customers that book going forward. "Shout About" is a free quarterly prize draw for customers to enter simply by doing the following:
If you would like to know the full details of this prize draw please feel free to get in touch, or just make sure that you keep an eye out for the leaflets left in your car, is all I can say.
A lot of assessment has been made on the business’ performance and I have looked to address certain areas and improve on what is already doing well. From now on the main thing is a positive outlook for the future. The important thing for me is that having read this blog, and perhaps knowing of Detailed By Andrew’s work first hand, my followers see the benefits of the tools, products, experience, hard work and value for money that goes into the valeting and detailing services carried out. Detailed By Andrew is all about providing a professional service, with a personal approach. Thank you for your custom and support in 2017, now let’s see what this year will bring.
The final part of the trip for a wee Sassenach like myself was with Chris Kennedy of Mint Detailing in Denny. My previous visits up till now with Crystal Clear and Pro-Valet were fantastic for a mobile guy spending time with other mobile guys. However, this final part of the trip was to take a trip down memory lane by working with a unit based outfit.
Already having made acquaintance having a Douwe Egberts caramel coffee over with Johnnie Hamill a couple of days before, as well as our extensive Facebook correspondence in the year running up to the visit, there was no introduction needed as Chris started work pretty sharpish on the Kia Sportage that was awaiting some Winter Protection.
The preparation featured none less than the industry standard of pre-wash, snow foam, two bucket wash method, iron fallout treatment, tar spot removal and clay barring. Chris' advice here was to carry out the prep work as thoroughly and efficiently as possible, ensuring the job gets done properly and also leave as much time as possible for the polishing and protection aspect of the job. We aren't paid to drink tea you know! Even though, this did not stop me walking to the Co-op two doors down to get us some Irn Bru.
Once indoors the Kia was dried thoroughly, as we then set about pampering the paintwork with a micro-fine machine polish using CarPro Essence as a primer polish ready for our layers of protection. Chris told me that his initial experience with machine polishing was in a bodyshop capacity, and back then you would have to get the job of giving that extra bit of finesse to fresh paint with a single speed rotary polisher - a far cry to the advancements of the wide and wonderful world of various polishing machines that we have today. Even so, this was a great opportunity for me to receive some extra guidance on rotary polishing at higher speeds. In the wrong hands they can indeed do damage as they cut very quickly, but once over that barrier, turning the rotary up to higher operating speeds put me at just as much ease as the forced rotation DA that I have made an extension of my hand over the years.
After the machine polishing process was completed, we protected the vehicle with products from Chris' brand of choice - IGL. On the job we used IGL Ecocoat Wax, which contains trace amounts of Si02 as found in Ceramic Coatings, followed by IGL Ecocoat Premier hydrophobic coating spray.
Needless to say, the customer was delighted with her car, noticing how silky smooth the paintwork was, with assurance that the water repellent behaviour now evident on the paintwork would protect it over the harsh Scottish winter.
The feeling of making genuine friends throughout this trip was undeniable. Johnnie Hamill, his partner Mel and Chris so kindly taken me for an amazing meal at Canada Wood on the final evening, and I was treated to a visit to Stirling Castle on the morning that I had to leave, a sight to behold with plenty of history to see.
A write-up on the whole trip featured in the Pro Detailer magazine issue 6 brings us to an end of this great journey working with fellows of the trade, broadening horizons and learning just that little bit more. It is however, not the last time I will meet these great friends that I have also made, and who knows, perhaps another trip may be in order for the not too distant future... Thanks for reading! - Andrew
Whilst Detailed By Andrew has many customers that use the Service Clean package to maintain their vehicle after having a Detailing service package carried out, there are many out there that choose to wash and clean their car themselves afterwards, which is absolutely fine.
I know full well that many people may want to look after their car by themselves on the regular after having the detailing work done, for many reasons. As a result I am often asked for aftercare advice and so here I hope to give a bit of direction for the weekend warrior. In this product review I offer my two-penneth on CarPro's offering on a quintessential piece of kit that should belong in any avid car washer's arsenal; the merino wool wash mitt.
Above picture courtesy of CarPro, used for reviewing purposes.
So what is it?
It is a densely packed washed merino wool wash mitt with a pouch at the back to ergonomically put your hand in during use, offering control and less chance of resigning it to the bin after dropping it on the gravel. The high quality material medium ensures that a gentle and effective wash can be achieved when shampooing your car; being sensitive to paintwork when used properly.
Why I like it.
Okay, so you are here reading this blog because you might trust my recommendation on a product. The CarPro Merino Wool Wash Mitt has a long pile, meaning more surface area to carry suds, shampoo, and any other detailing geekiness out of that product bottle and onto your car. There isn't much softer out there than merino wool, and this higher surface area means that tiny bits of sediments are kept away from the paintwork when you "swipe" along the panel, as opposed to being ground in, causing all sorts of marring, scratches and swirls as you would otherwise incur when using a sponge or harsher item. When using this mitt, you can hold as little or as much product as you will ever need. It just holds loads of shampoo - meaning that if you want that extra bit of slipperiness on the panel, you can crank a load of it out before having to go back to the buckets.
Something to take note of here, always use the two bucket wash method. That means, once you've cleaned a couple of panels, starting with the cleanest first, wash the mitt out in a clean bucket before soaking it up in the shampoo bucket again. Grit guards help, and pre-rinsing the vehicle of as much sediment as possible is vital before considering wash contact. As a final pointer, you may want to consider the purchase of a foam lance attachment for a pressure washer or hose pipe, so that the panels can be foamed up for extra lubrication after that initial pre-wash and pre-rinse.
The old saying goes - you get what you pay for. I have seen many wash mitts in the DIY shops, online stores and eBay, at a fraction of the price; but their longevity, construct and safeness on your vehicle's delicate surfaces match their price - cheap. Granted, the CarPro Merino Wool Wash Mitt isn't going to be considered cheap by general members of the public, and I think these days especially in the detailing scene that this doesn't come to much of a surprise. This item comes in at £18.99 with VAT included, but with any possible delivery charge on top. This is in no means to say that it is overly expensive at all; this is a premium product that has been well constructed out of quality materials. Again, you get what you pay for and the value is there. Indeed, many a wash mitt are in this price bracket, and sometimes even higher. I have previously used similarly priced wash mitts in the past and I am far more impressed with this one for it's softness, ease of maintenance and build quality.
What to be careful of.
The long pile means that sticking this mitt right under the pits of your car will see you unable to get it clean again very easily. The debris from the lower, grittier, grottier areas will prove to be difficult to fully remove from those long fibres when out on the job. No matter how thoroughly you pre-wash and pre-rinse these areas, they will always be the most filthy areas to contact wash. For this reason, this mitt in my opinion is more suited to the top panels of your car. For instance, the roof, glass, bonnet, boot and higher parts of the sides. For the lower parts of the car, I recommend using a shorter pile mitt, such as the Dooka Wash Pad, Sam's Luxury Wash Mitt, or Paragon Microfibre Mitt as these have shorter fibres and "release" debris a lot easier.
Do not use the black netting to scrub your car! Perhaps my only criticism of this mitt is that it isn’t double sided with wool. However, I dare say that if they were, their production cost would be nearly doubled.
As with all long fibre wash mitts, brushing them out after use is necessary. If, like me, you wash cars frequently, it's worth having more than one to allow you that little bit of squad rotation to avoid getting caught out playing a brand new one against Guardiola on the Sunday, and a tired one against Pardiola on the Wednesday. One or two can rest on the bench waiting to be brushed out ready for the next job. There just is no room for error where cross-car-contamination is concerned.
If you are interested in buying this item, it can be found direct from the UK official CarPro site here: https://carpro.uk.com/products/merino-wool-wash-mitt
As with all advice found on the internet, you carry out any works on your own car at your own risk. Detailed By Andrew does not accept any liability for your actions taken as a result of any advice given, reading this article or any other found on this website. One final piece of T&C small print; Detailed By Andrew's reviews are strictly impartial with no third party influence.
If you have any comments or questions please feel free to post in the comment section below. Thanks again! - Andrew.
So it was not to be, I couldn't stay in Middlesbrough forever no matter how much I enjoyed my stay and the company of Mr Fryett of Crystal Clear. After the completion of our task on the Audi S3, we packed our tools away and said our fare-thee-wells. Dusk set in as the trusty Detailed By Andrew wagon sailed off past the Why Aye land of Newcastle just up the road...
The roads became more narrow, twisty and bleaker as I traversed through Northumberland National Park towards the Scottish border. My sense of direction dwindled as did the available amount of radio stations. It came to a point where I seemed to be driving forever with no hope of a service station, and I was left with no choice but to pull over in the woods, only to feel like I was on set in "The Hills Have Eyes" for the most eerie, erm, stop for a sight-see I have ever had.
Many miles later I finally arrived in Falkirk to my Premier Inn hotel where a couple of pints of Guinness and a Beefeater meal greeted me just as well as the the locals. Seriously, as an Englishman visiting Scotland my welcome proved there was nothing to fear. As it was just the start of the weekend and I was booked to be up there until Tuesday I had a night to relax and catch up with some personal admin work.
Before my scheduled visit I really needed to get my barnet sorted. A quick Google search lead me to The Ross Carter Barber Shop and I tell you now, they do a really sharp job there. Sat waiting in the queue I was familiarly acquainted with the usual Premier League commentators voices, Stoke were being beaten to my delight, and it was in no time at all that I was asked "So what is your preference - Celtic or Rangers?" A question that a young wee English lad alone in Scotland best answer diplomatically! In a strange twist of fate, Ross's father used to be a barbering tutor at a college local to me - Dudley Tech. I left, truly with a very fresh trim. With the brisk Falkirk air hitting the sides of my head - man, was indeed, not hot.
This window of time proved well in the end as Saturday's appointment to attend an Audi RS5 with Johnnie Hamill of Pro-Valet (www.pro-valet.net) fell through as the customer was sadly called into work on short notice.
These are the perils of our trade; we fully intend to provide our service to please the customer and pay our bills, but unexpected situations can dampen our efforts somewhat. Not to fear though, as Johnnie had another job lined up on a 2010 Mini Cooper that desperately required some love so he did.
Johnnie's works van is a mobile guy's dream. An MWB Transit T280 with enough space to pack everything you could require into. Much like the Crystal Clear van, I soon appreciated my own efforts to equip my diddy Peugeot Partner van in a space effective manner, otherwise there was just no way I could effectively compete!
Rocking up in the van, firing up the generator and linking the pressure washer to the water supply we were soon on our way after the initial inspection, and meet and greet with the customer.
Johnnie has been in the trade for more than 30+ years so there is more to his wealth of experience than I could possibly hope to include in this write-up, which is why I was keen to get some hours down working with him. There is only so much you can hope to learn on your own, or by reading books, or by watching videos after all.
Sadly this Mini was bereft of TLC, and Pro-Valet was the port of call to get it shining once more. I picked up tips from Johnnie to further up my game on the clay bar process, to name just one of many. Not that I had been doing it wrong or inefficiently, but there are some little tricks to make the side panels a little more comfortable on the hands.
One of the main educational points for me was getting to try the Rupes Bigfoot 15 for size (myself being a die-hard Flex user this was akin to a West Brom fan trying on a Wolves shirt, as some would say), but jokes aside it proved an opportunity to try out some polishing tools that I otherwise would not have unless I committed to buy them. In a strange turn of events, a young man happened to walk by wearing a West Brom jacket... Stifling my temptation to shout "Pulis Out!" Johnnie imparted some advice on how to get the most of the light cut pad and polish in conjunction with that particular machine.
I thoroughly enjoyed working alongside Johnnie, and the lessons I learned will always shine through in my future work.
It wasn't just the tricks, working manner and tools that I had the benefit of learning form either. There was a particular protection product used on this visit that really shone through. I'll keep it a secret for now though, as I really want to offer it to you, the potential customer, some point soon... But not only that, some methodology that works well for mobile guys putting up with unpredictable weather. The customer was delighted with her car, and with Johnnie and I working somewhat in tandem we managed to get the whole thing done in 3 and a half hours. Those are Usain Bolt stats right there!
It is mesmerising isn't it? How a chain reaction between two chemical elements results in the production of a vivid colour... Out of nowhere, purple liquid just seeps out of the paintwork's pores to prove as a visual that one element of your cleaning and decontamination process can be witnessed with a colour change as proof of efficacy.
Colour changing Iron Fallout removers have been on the market for a decade at the very least. The first one I personally tried was CarPro Iron-X. As the market leader in Iron Fallout removers, most brands have upped their game to keep pace and produce an alternative to challenge the original colour changing Iron Fallout removers.
Before I delve into the car detailing geekiness involved with reviewing such a product, I would like to quickly give you a run-down on what Iron Fallout actually is. Brake dust and factory pollution contain iron particles that just love to sinter into your paintwork, and from there start a chain reaction of tiny bits of rust into your finish. It is better to arrest the affects of this process by nipping it in the bud before it takes a serious hold. This is why Iron Fallout removers are formulated. They break these deposits down into a water-soluble compound that just rinses away.
Autoglym have recently stepped into the fold by launching their own colour changing treatment called "Liquid Clay". Interestingly, they have had an Iron Fallout remover on the market for many years, which is an Oxalic acid based product that does not change colour on application.
Firstly, I would like to echo the rhetoric that this product is perhaps a little misleading in its nomenclature and printed description. Autoglym have said that the use of the use of this product will result in smooth paintwork, just as if you have clay barred it! Personally, if I were employed by their savvy marketing department I would have dubbed it "Clay Mate". Why? Because treating Iron Fallout, as well as tar spots, should be done in conjunction with clay barring for a fully comprehensive clean of the vehicle's bodywork.
So, the product itself. It has a zesty scent that overpowers the usual eggy-fart smell that is all too well associated with these types of products. A bonus for the user before we have even started, in my books! Some would argue that perfumes hamper the yield of these treatments, but this one delivers well and truly.
I put it to good use on a worthy recipient - that being a 27 year old Nissan Allstar, in all its glory with white paint. If any colour change effect was going to be best visible, it was going to be on a truck like this one, what with some areas of surface rust quite literally running down the paint.
Within 5 minutes the "bleed" effect was evident in abundance. Application was smooth, it would seem a little goes a long way helping this product to be economical in repeat use.
In terms of price, you will have to contact your local Autoglym sales rep for exact cost as this is currently a product only available through your local franchise. For a 5litre container, you should expect to pay around £40, making this not quite the most expensive deal, but not the cheapest outlay either.
The use of this product certainly broke the back of decontaminating this truck, which was then followed with clay barring and a light cut machine polish with dual action machine utilising CarPro Essence polish, with Bilt Hamber Hydra-wax.
Would I buy again? Certainly. It isn't the cheapest per litre, but spreads much better than the cheapest - giving it that economic value so much well known by the dish wash soap that we dare not use on our cars. If they choose to make a 25 litre offering, I will be all over it. Andy out!
Detailed By Andrew as a business is exactly what it says on the tin - a #Detailing company! 🌠🚙 Only the best products, machines and techniques are used to polish and protect your vehicle to high standards. This is what it has been all about since initial establishment in 2011.
There are very fine lines between detailing, valeting, and just washing a car that are sometimes difficult to distinguish and explain simply. In summary, you cannot give a vehicle the #WowFactor by relying just on washes. Pollution, contaminants and contact marring are why detailing processes exist - to get your vehicle in A1 condition and keep it that way!
After careful consideration there are some guidelines in place ready for 2018 to help ensure that the business' customers utilise the services on offer for the intended purposes and of course; best effect and value for money.
The "Service Clean" on offer is the answer to a proper valet. Featuring snow foam, the three bucket wash method, wheels attentively cleaned with brushes, door checks cleaned, and dried with 1000gsm towels in conjunction with certain products to top up shine and protection, this is the perfect upkeep clean for your vehicle's exterior. The interior is vacuum cleaned, with the fascias, fittings and glass maintained. The bolt-on extras available (such as fabric shampoo extraction machine) make this service ideal for a one off visit, particularly on vehicles going back to lease company. Otherwise, this is an ideal service as a regular follow up to detailing packages.
There are three core detailing services on offer.
The first is an "Enhancement". This is a thorough decontamination of the vehicle from any stubborn debris and iron fallout pollution, using processes such as clay barring to leave the surface perfectly clean. The paintwork is then machine polished in a single stage (medium polishing pad with a diminishing polishing compound) in a focused manner to alleviate around 75% of defects such as swirls, light scratches and marks whilst imparting a great shine. A full paint depth measurement will be carried out throughout the task, and the results are inspected with various lighting tools. Finally, a layer of protection is applied by hand before the interior is treated as per the "Service Clean" as courtesy for the sake of doing a complete job. This package is ideal for those who can't be without the car for more than one day, and in most cases can be carried out at customer's premises as long as there is a clean and spacious environment. Takes between 7-13 hours depending on vehicle size so more of a summer job unless being done indoors.
"Service Cleans" will help to maintain the vehicle afterwards, and around 6 months down the line it is recommended that the "Maintenance" package is carried out. This features similar preparation cleaning to the "Enhancement", but this time is just a very light polish with the machines using a soft foam and CarPro Essence; to tidy up any mild defects accrued in the last 6 months, boost gloss and add trace elements of protection. This is then followed with a layer of protection by hand and the usual interior clean. In the case of vehicles that have had a ceramic coating prior applied, the light polishing process will instead be done with CarPro Essence Plus - a zero cut repair polish that keeps the coating in ideal condition therefore making it last longer, whilst providing semi-permanent defect filling capabilities.
Of course, there is also "Correction" on offer, which is multiple stages of compounding and refining to get the very best result reasonably possible. This particular service takes many, many hours over at least two days and must be done indoors.
If these services appeal to you please visit www.detailedbyandrew.com/services for a full list of services, prices and add-ons available.
Whilst the "Service Clean" is popular and I want you to use this particular service, there is a limit to its use. It isn't intended as a stand-alone service - it is indeed part of an ongoing car care regimen! Going forward recommendations will be made to customers on what service is due on next visit, and repeat "Service Cleans" may have a cut off point after 6-9 months before a "Maintenance" is due *if it is of professional opinion to be needed*. I want your cars to show the full benefit of the services I specialise in!
Thank you for reading! All the best - from Andrew
An industrial conurbation known as the Black Country, where I was born, is vastly all I have known in a practical working sense for all of my life, much less my valeting and detailing career. It has a unique, abstract yet proud background deeply rooted in the industrial revolution and a hard working character, with an intriguing throwback Anglo-Saxon accent to accompany it.
Working in the West Midlands and its surrounding areas provides no dull moment. It is a great place that I enjoy working in, whether that be serving customers in good old Gornal, suburban areas such as Droitwich or Wombourn, M6 J10, or quaint villages such as Kinvere and Enville. However, there comes a point in one's career where there is just that bit more to learn and experience where the norm has to go out the window, so to speak.
By saying this, I don't just mean geographically either. Myself initially cleaning, polishing and inspecting my car to obsessive standards in early 2010 and first starting as a business in 2011, have always had that express desire to constantly improve and learn. In contrast I feel such a disdainful emotion of disappointment when I hear, see or read of individuals who act so arrogantly and be all too prepared to shoot their peers and fellows down in the name of being, quite frankly, pretentious. It is far better to be humble, make allies out of your peers and accept that there is always something new to learn; there is always an aspect of your game you can proactively improve on. This, in my opinion, gives a professional the ability to work on a priceless Supercar one day, but still earn the bread and butter working on a Ford Fiesta the next. As they say "If you can walk with crowds and hold your virtue, or walk with kings nor lose the common touch"...
As a result, It was decided a couple of months ago that I would set aside six or seven days in November to do a little bit of travelling.
This wouldn't just be any old aimless travelling though. As part of this blog series I want to share with you my incredible journey learning and gaining experience with some of the people who have helped me to an extent they didn't quite realise, before I had even met them personally.
Jonny Fryett of Crystal Clear Valeting and Detailing was one of the first Professional Valeters and Detailers Association members to personally welcome me to the group on my acceptance back in September 2016. At the time, I struggled with pricing my work. Yes it sounds ridiculous to hear from me, but newly starting as a mobile business from a previous unit based set-up in a Kingswinford trading estate, whereby everything I offered was considered a "rip-off" without actual consideration of the full process and cost, I (re-)started off well but fell into the trap of the dreaded "mini-valet". What is a mini-valet anyway? As far as I'm concerned in hindsight it was a cheat code that the public used to get a neglected car to look like new at the fraction of the cost of the full valet that it should have been booked as. Needless to say, despite the full paintwork enhancements I was busily carrying out I soon ended up tearing my hair out, at all the excessive pet hairs I was tearing out of these mini-valets.
Jonny spent the time talking me through where he drawn the line between his distinctly separate service packages. He didn't have to, but he did, and at great length. We discussed in depth the kind of questions to ask punters on the phone, where to draw the line when a vehicle is presented in an unacceptable condition, and more. I had also met members of Jonny's family when they were visiting Kinver and a bird had bombed all over their car. Jonny gave me a call as a trusted individual to clean the Mercedes in a manner that the car wash just didn't care for. A gentle pH neutral cleanse of the bird lime, or an acidic splash and dash? The choice was simple.
So on the morning of Thursday 2nd November I got my van somewhat ready for a trip across the M6, M42, M1 and so forth before I reached Teesport and rocked up at Mr Fryett's. Our initial plan was to get some choice shots of our work vans in the local sightseeing backdrops, except the borrowed DSLR I had was out of charge and I kind of didn't have the charger pack. We made do with phone pictures whilst I went into the local electronics store to purchase a universal battery charger. With the Nikon battery confidentially on charge we headed out to an all-you-can eat buffet where I sampled the local delicacy called Parmo!
The next day, Jonny had a rather mucky Audi S3 booked in coinciding with my visit. Starting with a Citrus pre-wash applied through a pump sprayer, the car was then pressure rinsed with the Kranzle K7 powered by the generator. The customer was not home at all during the visit, so a fully mobile service was required seeing Jonny providing both water and electricity. We then cleaned the wheels with a non-acid based formula paying attention to scooping the build-up from the inside of the wheel barrels and arch wells with EZ Detail brushes. A safe wash to the bodywork was then attentively provided utilising the multi-bucket wash technique and mitts; carefully cleaning the mitts between each panel contact.
The car was then treated to safe iron fallout removal before a final rinse down and air dry and gentle plush towel dry. The customer specifically asked for attention to the tail pipes so after we hand polished the car my secret combination came into play from the bench to get them looking like new and sealed. Jonny explained to me that his speciality currently stands at hand polishing so we each grabbed a hand polishing pad with some Scholl S20 and met in the middle. Hand polishing can indeed provide some level of cut and a great finish. Jonny then phoned the customer to offer the various options in terms of waxes he carried on board to suit his customer's needs. Britemax Vantage was the order of the day, so whilst Jonny got on with this I tended to sealing the alloy wheels and dressing the tyres.
A layer of SiCoat was laid down on the doorshuts whilst Jonny got on with most of the interior work including a KKD Lush Leather clean treatment. All that was required following here was an attentive vacuum of loose carpet debris, a light spray to the interior fabric with Autoglym Interior Shampoo, some light dressage to the plastics, and Krystal Klear glass polish before the finishing touch of carpet stripes and leather scented air freshener.
Needless to say, Jonny received a text message form his customer to relay the delight in the work, and as the sun went down I headed towards an eerily quiet route towards the next part of the trip...
In this latest post, I aim to provide a bit of insight for members of the public, and potential customers in particular, as to what paintwork protection actually is, and what type they may consider the most suitable for their needs. I also understand that amongst the audience of this blog that there are fellow pros and enthusiasts so I hope they find this article to be mildly stimulating at the very least. Please note that what with the intricacy and ever expanding offering of products I aim to cover things in a broad sense and make no claim to this post qualifying as a perfect dissertation.
First things first, bodywork. Your vehicle is constructed out of various substrates such as metals, plastics and as we progress into high end sports cars and specialist vehicles, some weird composites as well such as Carbon Kevlar. An illustration I made for a previous blog post features to demonstrate and recap the layers found on your bodywork. Essentially, you will have the substrate, then primer layers to help the above colour base-coat bond to the substrate, and then (barring old cellulose and single pack paints) a clear polyurethane lacquer to protect the base-coat underneath.
This clear lacquer is what gives a vehicle that lustrous shine when it rolls out of the factory, and from there on in will be subjected to road debris, general contact and car wash chemicals. We want the paintwork to look as clean, shiny and as blemish-free as the day as it rolled out of the factory for as long as possible - and this is why Detailing exists, as well as the plethora of treatments that entail.
Below I will give a brief outline of the various types of protection below, and whilst I am no scientist or "master", hope to advise on what offering may be of best interest to you. Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for any use of product that you may personally carry out having read this blog.
Liquid Detailing Sprays and Sealants
Two similar product kinds combined into this segment because they are both similar in their application. The simple, to start with. Detailing sprays are the most inexpensive, easy to use, and minimal risk of all offerings. As they are a liquid, by working them into the paintwork with a suitable high quality plush towel, the risk for marring clean paintwork should be minimal, and can be done during the drying phase to be time efficient, and even make drying the vehicle easier and safer for your paintwork's finish. Detailing sprays should not be used on dirty paintwork, or the action of moving dirt around on your paintwork can induce marring, the presence of fine hairline scratches in your paintwork often casually referred to as "love marks", or as I call them, "rub rash".
Some examples include: Autoglym Rapid Detailer, Meguiars Last Touch, and Krystal Kleen Detail Mist X. Detailing sprays; whilst their design often does not usually offer much in the way of water beading and sheeting as a stand-alone product, I have included them here as they are there to be implemented into a car care plan because they should not strip or deteriorate any existing protection - therefore being an essential asset to any car care regimen.
Liquid sealants are similar to detailing sprays in their application and use, but will contain some kind of carnauba wax, polymers or other kind of water repellent ingredient that technically means they can act as a stand-alone protection product, but even better when layered over something more robust. The trade off for this protection means that in some case, they may not bond or be as durable when applied on a wet vehicle.
Examples of liquid sealants include: Optimum Opti-seal, Krystal Kleen Detail SiCoat (a product on offer at Detailed By Andrew), and Sonax Brilliant Shine.
Liquid Paste Wax and Sealant
You've got the gist of quick sprayable detailing sprays and sealants, we now move on to products that are still a liquid, but are a little more paste like and need to be applied with an applicator sponge. Rather than a sprayable water-like liquid, they have a viscosity similar to yogurt. The fact that they have to be lightly rubbed into the paintwork, left to cure before being buffed off means that the vehicle needs to be more thoroughly decontaminated than say just a regular wash. When applying any product that requires buffing we don't want there to be a presence of tar spots or suchlike in case they come away from the paintwork onto the buffing implement, and then end up being dragged along other areas of the paintwork, potentially causing what we call random deep scratches. Therefore, at the very least a tar remover should be appropriately applied to the car during the wash phase. Their effect is further amplified by polishing the vehicle first but may not be necessary, and their application and buffing should take around 20-40 minutes.
Examples of liquid paste waxes and sealants include: Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax, Poorboys EX-P Sealant, and Collinite #845. These kinds of products add gloss water repellent behaviour that should last 3 to 6 weeks, which minimal fuss of application. They bridge the gap between a liquid spray sealant and a hard wax.
Good old carnauba wax. Scraped from the leaves of the Copernicia Prunifera ever since the day we got jelous of how shiny the leaves on that tree were, and how they repelled water. Tried and trusted for decades, and have been blended with polymers and other protective chemicals over the years. The preparation for a hard wax to be applied is more stringent than the previous two types of protection mentioned above, as you may notice I personally only offer hard waxes as optional extras to Detailing specification works, and not at all in Service Cleans.
A little unfair you may ask? Not at all. When a hard wax is to be applied, the surface should be perfectly cleaned of all contaminants, meaning tar spots, iron fallout and anything that the paintwork did not have sitting on it when it came out of the factory. Therefore a full process including clay barring needs to be completed primarily. Then, once the paintwork is clay barred it must be polished as clay barring by essence, whilst beneficial in removing microscopic deposits, can marr the finish as after all, you are rubbing two surfaces together to remove debris. This marring is only faint, and comes away easily with polishing. Moreover, some hard wax manufacturers recommend their own pre-wax cleaner polishes to help their own product adhere to the surface properly - such cases being Autoglym Pre-Wax Cleaner and Swissvax Cleaner Fluid Regular. When opting for my Detailing services, you will only ever receive polishing via machine, as opposed to by hand, as it is much more effective in giving a superior result and uniform finish.
Hard wax offers an amazing shine, and depending on vehicle use, aftercare and mileage can last for 3-6 months depending on which one used. Although some premium waxes such as Swissvax Best of Show (a product I use) can cost as much as £225 for a 250ml jar, hard waxes can be relatively cost effective, with some costing as little as £20 for a similar jar. At around £45 for a 150ml kit, Autoglym's HD Wax offering makes a great entry level upgrade which lasts for quite a while. I always felt that HD Wax made my own Peugeot 206's black paintwork look better at car shows than other products in its price bracket.
As I have mentioned, the process in getting a vehicle ready for applying a hard wax is much more time consuming than anything discussed in this outline so far, and the actual application is also much more time consuming. On average it takes me 40 minutes to 1 hour onwards to apply and remove a hard wax purely down to it's nature. In cold and damp environment this can be even trickier as the carrier solvents struggle to escape as the product cures, often involving many passes with a towel to level it off nicely. I'm sure you can now understand why these products are a premium extra to my service as it's not just the cost of the product but business working time on top.
So who would benefit the most from a hard wax? They are right at home on classic cars and show and shine entrants. As they do not permanently alter a vehicle's finish, they can always be removed and re-applied for that freshly done look that is very hard to replicate. The every day car enthusiast or customer who would like a shiny car would also see benefit. On the other hand, unloved vehicles that transport sales reps up and down the motorway may need to look at something else.
Ceramics have been the buzz word of the last couple of years, with their potency ever increasing. They are formulated out of Silica and its derivatives, such as Silicon Carbide and Silica Nitride. These compounds form a cross-linking layer on the paintwork's surface, essentially adding another micron or two to the total paint thickness reading.
They are incredibly durable, some offering 12-18 months, with some manufacturers claiming a lofty 5 years+. However, the higher the potency, the greater the need for a controlled application environment. Ceramic Sealants such as Feynlab Universal I find are happily applied outdoors in the summer given high temperatures, low humidity and zero wind to blow debris onto the surface during application. Whereas those that claim higher defensive properties require specific indoor conditions not just during application but also through a specified curing, or "gassing out" time, often being between 4 and 24 hours.
Often times you will find coating specific to certain vehicle components, such as CarPro FlyBy Forte to glass, Krystal Kleen Detail R-Evolve X for alloy wheels and so forth.
The main benefit of a ceramic coating is it's durability, so is most suitable for those who want easy aftercare and minimal fuss. Although, my main concern is managing what people should expect from it. Contrary to some videos circulating, it won't defend your car from laser beams, rocket attacks or stone chips - it will help to minimise wear and tear though. Another point is to ensure that customers look after their car properly afterwards. I always make a point of informing customers of the importance of washing their car at least once a month, as road salts and contaminants will degrade the coating over time; to be kind to the coating is to keep it clean, so it can keep looking after your paint. If it can be layered over with products that top it up, even better, which is why products like CarPro Reload exist. Products such as CarPro Essence Plus exist to be lightly polished into old coatings that may be showing signs of needing revitalising, so there will always be a need for ongoing maintenance.
The main considerable point with ceramic coatings is cost. If you struggle to justify the cost of an Enhancement Detail, which restores your vehicles finish, you may as well forget ceramic coatings which can go well into three figures cost for the prep and application, with some companies charging well into four figures for top-end specialised coatings to be applied.
As per the hard wax paragraph, a ceramic coating would be a little out of place on a classic car where that particular original factory paint is in its own right, a historical document. The Ferrari Testarossa I worked on would be a little bizarre to have received a ceramic coating. Cars like my own Peuegot 206, which is undergoing part-restoration and lives indoors, a ceramic coating would be wasted on, so a hard wax would be preferred. On the Detailed By Andew works van, however, a ceramic coating would be right at home as it is a high mileage vehicle that doesn't get much of a look-in.
There are other things I could cover, such a paint protection film (a clear laminate applied to panels) but they are another type of vehicle installation all together. Either way, I hope you enjoyed this article and that it has given you some food for thought - which one would your vehicle benefit from the most? Let me know in the comments below.