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Polished Bliss: 1973 Series III E-Type Jaguar

Discussion in 'Detailing' started by WX51TXR, Aug 20, 2007.

  1. WX51TXR
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    WX51TXR Polished Bliss

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    This month, it was the turn of the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club (JEC) to pay us a visit and gain an insight into the world of detailing and the nature of the services and products we offer. As was the case with the last club meet we organised, we offered the JEC a free Vintage correction detail in order to ensure we had a Jaguar in on the day of the meet to do demonstrations on, and they duly raffled this gift at their AGM along with various other prizes, raising over £7k in total for a local charity. Always nice to help out with the raising funds for charities; we always get a raft of bookings and purchases after club meets, so the least we can do is give a little back in return.

    The extra good news in this case was that the winning car ended up being this rather beautiful and lovingly cared for 1973 Series III E-Type convertible. A new 5.3 L 12-cylinder Jaguar V12 engine was introduced for the Series III, along with uprated brakes and standard power steering, and it is easily identifiable by the aggressive, slatted front grill in place of the mouth of earlier cars, flared wheel arches and a badge on the rear that proclaims it to be a V12. A true automotive legend, and in this case older than me! This example was fully restored around 7 years ago, and properly too, with the bodywork being lead loaded rather than filled, and original parts being used throughout. Luckily the paintwork was done by the local bodyshop we regularly use and recommend, and I was able to pop in for a quick chat with one of the owners to confirm the paint system used, and to check if there would be any surprises awaiting us – more on this later when I get to the polishing stage.

    Given the excellent condition of the vehicle in terms of general cleanliness, the task ahead of us was simple; to restore the condition of the paintwork to as close to perfect as possible, as this was sadly letting the car down a bit in full sun conditions, due to a plethora of swirls and fine random in depth scratches. The owner also asked for the engine to be cleaned if we had time. The work was all done over 2 days, bar the initial wash, which was done the evening before day 1. Upon arrival, as always, the car didn’t look too bad at all...

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    ...and I couldn’t wait to get a peak at the engine bay, with that monster 5.3L V12 lurking under the front clam shell style bonnet...

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    ...I immediately noticed the worst thing affecting the engine bay was a light loading of dust, so the first thing I did was get the leaf blower out and give it a thorough blow down...

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    ...the next thing I examined was the 15” wire wheels, which are of the original Jaguar style, using an inner and outer lacing design where the spokes connect to both the inner and outer rims of the wheel. This gives the wheel strength and is apparently the best lacing design for originality and road use, but the obvious disadvantage is the difficulty in keeping the area clean where the spokes connect. In addition to light tarnishing of the rims themselves, I also noticed that the 205/70R15 Pirelli’s P5 radials were suffering from peeling tyre paint and a somewhat patchy finish...

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    To clean the wheels and tyres, I opted for our usual pH neutral products of choice; Menzerna Gel 7.5 Wheel and Tyre Cleaner. I started out by rinsing each wheel...

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    ...and then applying a liberal coating of the gel...

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    ...this was then worked well into all of the surfaces using a Meguiars Deep Pile Microfibre Wash Mitt, as none of our wheel brushes would fit between the tight spokes...

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    ...and finally, after rinsing, the wheels and tyres had come up nicely, with all traces of both loose and bonded grime safely removed...

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    The next task was the usual wash process. In this case, the top half of the car was so clean that I felt it unnecessary to use any kind of degreaser on it, so instead I foamed the lower half with P21S Total Auto Wash through the Karcher...

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    ...and then went on to hand wash the rest of the car using Meguiars Lambswool Wash Mitts, Meguiars Shampoo Plus and the two bucket method. After rinsing, I hand washed the lower half and then rinsed again, before testing all of the main panels for bonded surface contaminants with my fingertips. I then did a little bit of spot claying here and there with Meguiars Detailing Clay Mild and Meguiars Last Touch to remove a small amount of bonded surface contamination, which mainly seemed to comprise tiny tar spots. The leaf blower was then used to dry the car off, and blow water out of all of the shuts, panel gaps arches and wheel spokes. With the wash stage complete, I rolled the car inside, shut the door and went home for my tea.

    The next day, Clark and I recommenced work with a paint inspection, and this is what confronted us when the lights went on...

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    ...just the usual deep swirling, random in depth scratches and in this case, light in depth wetsanding marks, all of which would be robbing the car of clarity and reflectivity. Paint readings confirmed an average thickness over much of the car of 600-700 microns, which under normal conditions would be indicative of a rather thick respray, but in this case I knew differently, as I had already consulted with the bodyshop who had undertaken the paint application as part of the restoration work. They advised much of the paint thickness would be high build primer (used to smooth the panels before the topcoat was applied), and that the actual two-pack colour topcoat would only be around 50-60 microns thick. Good job we have a composite paint gauge then, as it enabled us to test this advice and measure the thickness of the topcoat, because the density difference between it and the base was high enough to be confidently detected by ultrasound. The gauge revealed that 50-60 microns was a bit generous, with a lot of areas giving readings a fair bit lower, down to 25 microns in some places. After a couple of initial tests, we determined that the paint was on the hard side, so opted to use Menzerna Intensive Polish PO85RD3.02 and a Meguiars Soft Buff Polishing Pad on the Makita’s for the larger panel areas, and the same polish using a Lake Country Light Cut Spot Pad on the PC for cutting in tighter areas. As it turned out, the rotary combination still needed a couple of attempts on most panels at 1800rpms to give 95% correction using the zenith method, while the dual action unit required a lot of pressure at speed 6 and up to 3 attempts per work area to achieve the same level of correction. Here are the tools and products used...

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    With half the car done, we stopped and moved onto the cleansing and waxing steps, as we only had a few hours left before the club meet was due to start. We firstly cleansed the paint with Zymöl HD-Cleanse, this time choosing to apply it using a Meguiars Microfibre Pad and a little spritz of Meguiars Last Touch, in order to help keep the residue moist. After cleansing, we then applied a very thin coat of Zymöl Vintage, using the red side of a German Applicator Pad. The trick to pad application is to get a little warmth into the pad, either by rubbing it in your hands or holding it in front of a halogen light for a few seconds. With the wax softened nicely, applying a thin coat is very simple, and the curing residue can then be left for an hour or more without any fear of making the buffing stage difficult.

    While the wax was curing, we cleansed the glass with Zymöl HD-Cleanse (this time applying it using the white side of a German Pad to get extra scrubbing power), and cleansed/protected the metal trims and wheels with Jeffs Werkstatt Prime Strong (applied in the same way), in order to remove light tarnishing and seal the finish. The tyres were dressed with Zymöl Tyre Preserve rather than our usual choice of tyre dressing, as on a classic like this, we prefer to see a matt look with a hint of satin rather than a glossy look; in this respect, Zymöl Tyre Preserve is excellent. Finally, the wax residue was buffed off using a couple of fresh towels, and the whole car then given a final wipe down with Meguiars Last Touch in order to ensure a perfect finish...

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    The club meet then went ahead in the normal way, with me giving a general introduction and then a talk through the various stages involved in detailing, and Clark giving demonstrations of the methods involved on the boot lid of the car. Once again, the session was very enjoyable, with a lot of relevant and insightful questions coming from the floor, and the 7pm-9pm session soon overran by a healthy hour or so! After packing up, it was home again to bed for some sleep before coming in to finish the car off the next day.
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  2. WX51TXR
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    WX51TXR Polished Bliss

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    The following day, I had all of the remaining polishing work done by early afternoon, and as I sat in the office eating my sandwiches I couldn’t help but smile at the rare sight looking into the studio...

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    After lunch, I tackled the interior, which required no more than a wipe down, a thorough vacuum and a leather feed. The rubber mats were treated with Meguiars All Purpose Cleaner cut 4:1, and then rinsed and dried, while the glass was cleansed with Zymöl HD-Cleanse, again using the white side of a German Pad for a little extra cutting power. I decided to leave the rubber mats out for the final interior shots, as the carpets looked great...

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    After finishing the interior, I moved on to completing the exterior work by cleansing and waxing the paint on the unfinished panels, and then attending to the final little touches, including defluffing and protecting the fabric hood with 3M 3434 tape and Zymöl Field Glaze respectively, followed by a wipe down of the whole car again with Meguiars Last Touch diluted 1:1. Typically, the weather had taken a turn for the worse over the course of the detail, and the outside after shots were taken in less than ideal conditions...

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    ...I was so fed up with the overcast lighting that I finally moved the car back inside to get some shots that would better show off the finish we had achieved...

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    Overall then, a very enjoyable detail, and another fantastically rewarding club meet. In all honesty it would be possible to spend many more hours on this car and still not get everything finished; I ran out of time and couldn’t get the engine done before close of play on the last day, and a good couple of hours will be needed on this in the not too distant future. Also, the exterior metal trims all need a thorough machine polishing if they are to be presented perfectly at future shows, and further coats of wax would benefit the finish for sure. Very few cars these days have any kind of emotional impact on me, the last being the Porsche GT3RS we detailed in the spring, but this one was a bit special, and our thanks to the owner and the JEC for a memorable few days...

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    :)
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  3. Boydie
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    Boydie Guest

    very enjoyable read Rich - great work :D
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