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Porter Cable Use

Porter Cable 7424

 Use and Advice

The Porter Cable 7424 (also known commonly on detailing forums as a ĎPCí) is an incredibly versatile tool that anybody can use. With as soft and easy as our paint is to scratch and swirl, I think this tool should have come with the car. If you havenít polished your car since you bought it then you likely have noticed the swirls and marring on the paint. A lot of that comes from what you use to wash and dry it with, but regardless of how the marks got there, they can be easily wiped out with the right tools.

There are a lot of differences between buffers, polishers, random orbit polishers, rotary, power buffers, and whatever else people name their polishing tools. Letís just make it easyÖ.

This is what I would call a ĎBufferí or ĎOrbital Polisherí.

Buffers are what I call Ďel cheapoí products. You can get them from anywhere between $20 bucks and $80 bucks. Even the highest priced buffer is nothing compared to a PC. They are all the same and it just comes down to what they are made of. Some have metal gears and some have plastic gears. Obviously the plastic geared ones are the cheaper ones and will just break sooner. They will all cause you the same grief. For an amateur a buffer is only good for one thing and that is waxing. Try to use this to remove swirls and you may end up with the famous buffer burn that Iíve mentioned before. These things generally

generate too much heat when turned up fast enough to break down polishes and they cause these funky 3D looking holograms in the paint. That is called Ďbuffer burní.  Examples of Buffer Burn can be seen on the Photos page. 

This is a ĎRotaryí polisher.

All I can say about a rotary is that I donít use them. They are a more effective version of a buffer that is capable of literally polishing the paint right off your car. While a buffer will just screw up the paint, a rotary can remove it. Sometimes you need power like that, but againÖ for an amateur these machines just create problems. Get experience with a PC before you step up to a rotary. Rotaries are professional tools that require some skill to use. I donít use

one because I simply havenít ever come across a problem that I needed one for. The PC has always done the job for me.



And this is the Porter Cable 7424 (PC)

The PC is the safest of all the polishing tools. It is a random orbit polisher. What that means is that the pad spins while it rotates. Kind of like how the moon rotates while it orbits the earth. The pad on the PC does exactly that. On one hand the pad is spinning fast, but it is also on a second sort of off center spin that causes it to orbit. The effect is a kind of Ďjiggleí of the pad that helps avoid burning the paint. The pad simply doesnít spin in one place long enough to cause any damage. That isnít

saying that if you were using a cutting pad and a very aggressive product that you wouldnít burn paint off the edges or even the middle of a body panel, but used with a little common sense and practice you will find that this tool is the safest and easiest to use out of all of them. If you gave this machine to a 5 year old with the right pad and a little wax then they could quite safely wax your car with it. I couldnít say that unless I had tried it too.

You can use the PC either with two hands or one hand. In some cases it is necessary to use both hands, but when reaching across the roof or hood it is sometimes difficult to have both hands. The nice thing about this tool is that it isnít going to get away from you if you are only using one hand. Just keep a grip on it and you should be fine. Here are some examples of what Iím talking about. You can tell by the pad on the PC that this is through 3 different stages of polishing. The red pad is my cutting pad for swirl removal. The green pad is what I use for applying the paint cleaner (in this case the Wolfgang Pre Wax Polish Enhancer) and the black pad is what I use for applying the final wax or sealant (Wolfgang).

The more you use this tool the more certain muscles will get a workout. Donít be surprised the day after your first full polish job when you are sore in different places or if you have a blister on your thumb. That is just the way it is until you get used to it. Obviously Iím not the biggest guy in the world, but polishing a car is a good workout and you will definitely notice it in your arms and shoulders after awhile.

Very Important! Here are a couple tips on PC usage that you may not have considered. Never lift the PC off the paint while it is spinning. Always keep contact between the paint and the pad while the PC is on or else you will just end up flipping product all over the car, the walls, and yourself. Trust me on that. Turn the machine on and off while the pad is on the paint. Also, donít wear anything that will scratch the paint. Necklaces, belt buckles, rings, watches, etc.. All of that can cause damage if you accidently rub against the car. I wear an apron for a couple reasons. Number one it is a great place to carry product around with me while Iím polishing the car. Number two is that my belt gets another layer of material between it and the car. When you are reaching across the hood or over the roof you donít want to hear a grinding of your belt buckle and the paint. Especially on our paint. That is another reason to be careful with your watch. Large metal watch bands would love to scratch your paint. Take off your watch and rings while detailing if you feel they will be in the way. One more tip is regarding the cord. The best way to keep the cord from dragging along the paint is to throw it over your shoulder. That way you never have to worry about it. It is also much easier to move around the car when you arenít trying to flip the cord out from under the tires or get it off the side mirror.

Cleaning your pads on the fly is pretty easy. Pads are much easier to clean when they are freshly used than after they have dried. What I do with mine is simply spray them off, shake the water out, and then put them on the PC for a short spin on setting 6. That usually gets enough water out that you can get back to work. If you spray the pad with high pressure and only aim at the front, then usually the back doesnít get wet. If the Velcro gets wet on the back then you will have a hard time getting it to stick back on the PC. I would also suggest letting the pad cool down a bit before washing it off. Right after use there is a lot of heat that has been transferred from the pad up to the backing plate. The glue on the Velcro backing might be a little soft and it is a good idea to let it cool down before you risk getting it wet.

Something else that you might want to consider when polishing your car is to tape off the plastic trim. Polishes stain plastic trim if you donít clean it up right away. The only trim on the Legacy that I see problems with is the area around the sunroof. Everything else seems to clean up pretty easily. To mask off the trim you want to protect, just use normal blue painters tape. It doesnít leave sticky stuff behind and it will protect anything you donít want messed up. You can also use it to cover any seams you donít want product getting in. Just keep in mind that anywhere you tape off isnít going to get polished or waxed. If you need to mask off seams around the door handles or body panels, then you might want to consider using really thin strips so you donít end up with swirls left underneath where the tape was.

One other tip that isnít PC related is in buffing off the product. I use a towel under each hand so that Iím not leaving streaks or smudges on the car. I also use latex gloves while detailing since all those chemicals can dry out your hands. After you have spend a few hours polishing up your ladyís car the last thing you want is for her to be in the middle of rewarding you and then make a comment about how dry your hands are.

If you run into stubborn areas where the product just doesnít want to buff off then you might want to spray a little quick detailer or even just water on it. I keep a bottle of Four Star Gloss Enhancer handy for those situations. If nothing is available then you just need to use a little pressure on the towel while buffing. This is also an effective method:

The bottom line is that the PC is the easiest tool for detailing that you can use. You may have a lot of questions about how to use it and what to use with it and a million others, but once you get the tool in your hands you will figure it all out.  It is an amazingly easy tool to use and you have nothing to worry about.  If you do decide to get something like this and you have any questions, then donít hesitate to drop me a line.  Iíll be glad to offer any advice that might help.  Enjoy your detailing!


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