Before we even put polisher to panel we measured average depths and did a thorough visual inspection of every panel paying particular care to look for any discolouration as this is indicative of low paint depth on single stage paints. Soft single stage paint has a reputation among detailers for being finicky and difficult to manage residue, heat and pad cycling while chasing a haze or tracing free finish, however after travelling on more than one occasion to the land of the rising sun to work with Japanese detailers and understand their methods for correcting exactly these type of finishes, we have a winning combination that provides just the right amount of aggression to remove imperfections without creating them again as a result of the process.
Before undertaking this training, I would have laughed at the notion of attacking delicate thin paint with wool, at any stage of the process, much less for both compounding and polishing, but having thoroughly tested this on many paint systems, we can’t imagine going any other way. It was precisely because of this knowledge we felt confident we could achieve a full correction on a car that many other detailers would be (wisely) afraid to chase to the highest levels of perfection, particularly with a fussy client who is hiring us specifically to restore and preserve the factory original paint, failure, in the manner of striking through the paint, just like respraying, was not an option!
The other benefit of using wool is its the ability to remove texture from the finish. Not only did Mitsubishi make this paint thin, soft and single-stage, they also riddled it with the orange peel! While it’s not wise to wet sand it, I knew from experience with my own Tommi that it wasn’t impossible to achieve, since I had done it before! But that’s for another article.
Armed with this knowledge we compounded with the goal of removing defects but also reducing texture to boost image clarity and reflected image quality. This gives the car a truly unique and bespoke look while also providing higher scratch resistance by reducing overall friction introduced to the panel during cleaning and maintenance, particularly with the multi-layer coating system filling and levelling the paint capillary structure.
In addition to this we had to have some passion red paint mixed up to perfectly match paint with nearly 20 years of weathering. Fortunately, we have the assistance of some very talented painters who matched the colour from the petrol flap we removed after polishing to it’s final “ready to be coated” form. This was of paramount importance when undertaking deep scratch repairs on the bodywork of the vehicle as any deviance in shade from the factory paint would stand out like proverbial dog’s balls and in actual fact be worse than the scratch itself. The other challenge is then to build up enough material thickness, achieve the right bond strength and then sand the painted area flat with the factory paint while effecting the surrounding area as little as possible to preserve the film thickness of the original paintwork.
A tedious but important part of a seamless repair process that cannot be sped up nor shortened and requires maximum concentration at all times. Once the sanding is complete outcomes the wool to level out the sanding marks and pray that we have filled the scratch all the way to the edges and created as seamless a repair as we possibly can because there would be no second chances with this paint depth. I am very proud to say we achieved it to a level where unless pointed out specifically, most people will never know the car was keyed, to begin with.
With the correction hurdle out of the way, the next major task was ensuring the single-stage paint would accept a strong bond of the ceramic coating. To achieve this we used Alchemy Prime in order to both refine and prepare the surface for multiple layers of Alchemy Excalibur. Prime is designed with coating longevity in mind and is resistant to the carrier solvent Excalibur is comprised of. Importantly, it also provides a lower friction application of the coating which is particularly important when applying to such a soft scratch-prone finish.
Excalibur was built around the concept of layering for improved thickness, gloss, durability and ease of maintenance, but it’s only possible to achieve such a system when It’s able to be applied to even the softest of paints without marring them during the levelling process. In our early development phase for Excalibur we had issues with any subsequent layer applied onto the base being too difficult to level, leading to marring on softer finishes. With this final iteration, we have eliminated the issue by solving the root causes, both in environmental control and precise timing between layers.