Cool It

Last week I posted about the replacement gearbox and how it jumped the queue for the next post. The post that knocked down the pecking order is this one. It’s about the technicalities of fitting a carburettor spacer or replacing one.

Do you need a spacer, what does it do and what types are there? I aim to answer the questions as well as showing you how to do it. Regardless of this spacer being fitted on a Mustang, the principles are the same for most carburettor based cars, all be it the connections may vary a bit.

Why did I do this in the first place? Well it’s because I can’t go to any car shows, i had cleaned the car and I wanted to do this little project for a while now.

Types Of Spacers:

To work out what spacer style you want you need to understand if you need one in the first place. I have a problem when I sit in traffic in hot weather where the car runs erratically on idle when the temperatures gets real hot. So my research tells me that I needed a thermal barrier to replace the aluminium one I have currently.

There are usually two main reasons to fit a spacer between the carb and the intake manifold.

1) To increase horse power.

2) The carb is experiencing fuel evaporation when the engine gets hot. This causes the engine to run very erratic at idle with possible poor starting when hot.

3) Not really a reason, but fitted just for looks or bragging rights.

Spacers can come in a variety of sizes and styles depending on application.

Wood, the best heat insulator, but it’s porous and will need to be replaced fairly often. Cheapest.

Phenolic Resin. The second best heat insulator. Expensive.

Polymer. Third best insulator and lower budget compared to the phenolic option.

Aluminium. No heat insulation at all. These are very durable and the only type allowed for racing.

Styles:

There are two basic styles of spacer.

1) An open plenum: This style of carb spacer is ideal for maximizing horsepower. Their design will increase the intake manifold’s total area to build more mid-range, high-RPM power. This allows as much air fuel mixtures into the cylinders at medium to wide open throttle as possible.

If you decide this is the type for you, these can easily be stacked to multiply their effect.

2) A 4 hole plenum spacer: This type of spacer will increase the velocity of your vehicle’s air-to-fuel charge by creating a vortex to mix the fuel and air. This means you build up low to mid-range torque and a better throttle response. This style of spacer is most effective when it’s made from phenolic resin or a polymer. Both the phenolic resin and the polymer spacers can also be stacked in the same way as wood or aluminum spacers. But you should check the bore sizes are the same.

If insulation and durability are both priorities, then Phenolic would be a good bet.

Variations of spacer:

There are many types of spacer that can fitted, mostly a variation on a theme. These have slight design tweeks to help the engine at certain power bands or torque curves. These are generally aimed at the specialist tuners and can ramp up in price and complexity.

Sizes & Colours:

The thickness of the spacers can vary from the standards of, 1/4″, 1/2″, 5/8″, 1″, 2″. Of course mixing of thicknesses or stacking can be fine tuned to individual requirements, or even get a custom one made for you. The bigger the spacer tends to increase the horsepower within reason of course.

If you do stack the spacers you will need to be careful with clearances under the hood.

Colours can vary, but are mostly black for the plastic styles, wood is the colour of the wood and metal can be brushed or polished etc. Sometimes the colours can denote the insulation or particular property of the material.

Choices:

I can’t tell you what to fit, that would be based on your needs and what you want it for. I will go on the assumption that it’s a standard style, either open or bored and what ever material or thickness you go for, they are all fitted the same way.

Considerations:

The gaskets can also vary in cost, but I seriously recommend that you get some top quality gaskets as you don’t want fuel or air leaks.

Is there enough clearance under the hood to add a spacer or stacking of spacers?

Are the studs long enough from the intake to go through the spacer AND the carb? If there has been no spacer(s) before you might have to replace the intake studs for longer ones.

Adding a spacer will give you more horse power, but if you have a restricted air flow into the carb itself it may not be worth it!

When you stack spacers, you are actually improving their insulation properties, and at the same time you’re getting more horsepower.

Costs:

The total costs can vary depending on material used for the spacer; metal, phenolic or even wood options all have their own unique properties. I have seen options anything from £10 to £100, choose wisely.

What’s in the pack:

If you buy a kit, make sure the spacer fitting will match with the carb, Holley, Edelbrock, Autolite etc. The chances are that you may have to get the gaskets separately as well. If you are lucky some kits come with longer bolts for the intake manifold.

Background:

I prefer the low down torque improvements and feel of the power delivery (throttle response) that the 1″ spacer provides.

The spacer I had that came with the carb was an aluminium one with it’s own PCV recycle input. This worked faultlessly when moving, but when the engine got hot queuing to get in a car show on a hot day, the heat traveled from the engine manifold up the spacer to the carb body. The carb in turn also got hot and started to vapourise the fuel before it had a chance to enter the intake channels and cylimders. Hence the engine ran erratic, having to slightly rev to keep fuel flowing, this just got the engine hotter. The colder the fuel and air mixture that gets into the carb the better.

My personal choice was to keep the low down torque power but swap the metal spacer for a phenolic equivalent. The phenolic spacer is a special material, a little bit like a brittle plastic or simlar to the old school bakelite material by feel. This material stops heat transfer from the block to the carb. In theory this will act as an thermal insulator or heat barrier between the engine and the carb. Having a good heat barrier will also aid in hot starts of the car as the fuel shouldn’t evaporate during standing.

Tips:

1) Take plenty of photos of what goes where for your own sanity before you pull it apart!

2) If in doubt don’t mess with it. Failure to refit the carb correctly could cause fuel to pump out where you don’t want it and be a potential fire hazard on hot exhaust manifolds. I won’t take any responsibility for any of that. Get a mechanic to help?

3) If this is the first spacer you are fitting you may well need to adjust the carb to run correctly. Get a mechanic to help? If this is a swap out all should be the same, but I had to have a litttle tweak on idle.

Process:

Removing the carb:

This is obviously how the Holley 600CFM carb is removed and refitted. But the principle is the same, wether it’s a Holley, Edelbrock, Autolite or any other manufacturer. The fuel connection, electrical connection (for electic choke if fitted), vacuum advance (if fitted), PCV recycle connection, air filter pan and the throttle fitting.

Removing the air filter:

Unscrew the air filter top and remove the filter and mounting pan. This is exactly the same process if you were just changing the air filter. Most of the time the filter is held to the carb via centre threaded bolt. Once this is removed it will expose the carb and fittings. There should be a gasket that fits between the pan and carb, which needs to be removed, shown on the right hand pic.

Removing the PCV pipe, if fitted.

This small pipe takes excess hot oil vapours from the top of the valve cover and pipes it to the carb to be reburnt as part of the air fuel mixture. Most of the time the PCV valve is just pushed into a grommet on top of the valve cover, the other end is usually connected to the back of the carb or spacer in my case. The end connected to the carb (spacer) may just be a push fit, or held in place via a clip of some sort. Either way remove from the carb (spacer) and pull out from the top of the valve cover.

With the PCV pipe removed check for any damage, splits, perishing or cracks. If all is well, clean out the pipe if it’s clogged ready for refitting later.

You may prefer to do all the cleaning in one go with everything disconnected and removed, but that’s a personal choice of course.

Disconnect the vacuum advance, if fitted.

Disconnect the choke if fitted.

This can be done via a number of variations most common are, manual, water (heater) pipe and electric connection.

Manual choke: This is (usually) a single cable coming from inside the cabin through the firewall to the carb. The picture borrowed from Holley is the white cable on the lower left side of the picture. The cable is either a pull and twist to lock in place, or simply a push pull idea to hold the choke plate in place. The fitting is usually a single screw holding a steel cable which needs to be released. Make a note of where the fitting is secured. A possible way to do this is with a permanent marker or wrap a piece of tape around the wire to mark the location of the original positioning.

See the source image

Water heater pipe: The hot water pipe from the heater matrix runs alongside the carb to heat a bimetallic strip that in turn opens the choke plate. This can be identified by following the heater pipes coming from the firewall across the top of the engine block, and is held close to the carb’s round choke housing for the bimetallic strip by a clip.

See the source image

Electrical connection: This is a wire going to the bimetallic strip. A small 12v current is feed to the strip and heats it to rotate the choke plate. This can be adjusted by rotating the housing if you need it more or less aggressive.

Disconnect the Throttle linkage:

The throttle is linked to the carb in a number of ways, most of the time it’s a rod or cable that attaches to the carb’s throttle linkage. If an automatic transmission there could also be another wire that goes down to the transmission box for the kickdown function. This again will need to be disconnected.

In my case there is a rod from the top of the pedal assembly which attaches to the top part of the throttle linkage. In order to make the throttle return to idle there is a spring. In my case there is two springs, one inside the other for safety reasons. If the throttle sticks open you could be in a ride with an accident about to happen. Unclip the springs. Picture below on the left.

The throttle linkage can be held in place by either a nut, split pin, R-clip or similar. Remove the retaining fastener and the throttle rod will be able to be pulled from the throttle mechanism. Two pictures on the right.

All other fittings should now be disconnected apart from the fuel. (If not disconnect them).

The fuel is usually connected via a rubber hose to allow for some movement, and which is connected to the carb by a flared fitting and some sort of clip. In my case I have a “bango” fitting on the corner, where I don’t need to remov the fuel pipe from the fitting. Place a rag or similar to catch any spilt fuel under the connection. Undo the fuel line to the carb slowly in order to catch any excess fuel if removing the fuel line.

Depending on your fitting or option how the fuel is fitted to the carb; the fuel line could be held in place by a number of fittings, single ear clip, double ear clip, jubilee clip or variations there of. If there is no way to disconnect the fitting from the carb itself, you may have to remove the fuel line itself as I mentioned above. Plug or clamp the fuel line to stop any more fuel leakage.

The other option is that the fitting can be removed with the fuel line still attached with my example of the “bango” fitting. A center bolt with a hole for the fuel to travel into the carb, can be removed and the fitting is removed with the fuel line as one section from the carb. The fitting for the fuel entry into the carb sometimes have some form of filter within it. Undo the nut slowly as there should be a small rubber/synthetic seal an “O” ring ans possibly a filter. Bottom right shows the small O-ring being removed.

Check if there is a filter, which may still be inside the fuel bolt opening. Left picture below shows the filter which pushes into the bottom of the special bolt with the hole in it. The right picture shows the O ring inplace. The hole in this bolt corresponds to channels within the banjo to allow to allow the fuel in through the centre.

At this point they can be cleaned or do it at a later date. Pay special attention to the wire gauze filter to remove any debris or blockages.

Removing the carb itself:

With everything now disconnected there will be four bolts one in each corner. They will have washers under the nuts. In one corner near the throttle rod there may be a fitting where the rod, cable mount, spring holders could be held for the throttle. In my case the spring fitting, main pic on the left below. Make a note of the location and remove all the nuts, washers and fittings if any.

Place more rags around the carb as close as you can get it. The carb will hold an amount of fuel in the bowls depending on the carb size, float chambers, double pumper etc. The fuel may spill out when the carb is tipped.

The carb will undoubtedly be stuck in place due to the gasket(s) being being stuck between metal to metal. The tolerance for the bolts through the carb is tight and the carb will need to be lifted up evenly. If it’s stuck a small flat implement to prize up or a gentle tap to dislodge. Don’t whack it with a hammer, common sense. A leather or light rubber or plastic hammer tap could help to start it moving.

If there is a spacer already fittd there remove the carb, then the spacer. If there is no spacer lift the carb up. Picture below shows the gap opening up.

If the gasket comes with the carb so be it. If not, you will need to remove it after the carb is safely out of the way. Place the carb on a surface, with more rags. (Optional).

Warning:

With the carb off the car there will be a large hole, a divided hole, holes (depending on design), where the air/fuel mixture gets sucked into. Keep this clean. DO NOT let anything go down this intake hole. Anything in here will go down the cylinders potentially damaging the engine. Place a clean lint free rag down the hole to block it it, or cover it with masking tape. If using the masking tape remember to remove it before refitting the carb!

Remove the spacer and all gaskets carefully.

The main gasket to the intake manifold could well have fuel or oil or both on it like mine here. Be careful when removing that nothing goes down that intake.

That’s carb off and now time for the clean up and prep. I seriously recommend that new gaskets are used when refitting. You can buy these or make your own like I did depending on your level of skill and confidence. If in doubt – buy them. You can see the distortion of the lower gasket above. The chances of this fitting back together again exactly without leaks just won’t happen to be honest, especially if adding a spacer for the first time. You will need two gaskets for the spacer. One between the top of the intake manifold plenum and the bottom of the spacer. The second on top of the spacer and the bottom of the carb.

Before refitting clean the intake plenum surface to remove any contamination or stuck gasket. Work away from the intake hole towards the outside. Below I used a sharb blade scraper to get it cleaned. Then cleaned the surfaces again with degreaser and a lint free cloth.

Once cleaned thoroughly and the surface should be dry and smooth. Don’t gouge chunks out of the metal!

Now get to cleaning the bottom of the carb to make sure that is also clean ready for the new gasket. Watch out for fuel spillage if tipping the carb up onto it’s side.

While the carb is off the car check all the rubber fittings that block off the additional connection points have not perished or split. Any leak into the carb will compromise performance and introduce poor running.

The spacer should also be clean and smooth on the upper and lower faces before fitting. Make sure the bore holes are clean and free from debris.

Refitting the Carb.

Double check that what ever you are going to clean has been cleaned. Now is a good time to clean all those moving parts on the carb before refitting back onto the engine as it’s much easier off the car and to allow you to see what you are doing. Lubricate the throttle linkage, lubricate the choke plate pivots. Check it all over.

Place one of the gaskets onto the intake manifold. Make sure that it’s fitted the correct way round. The spacimg of the studs is not exactly symmetrical. There should be no ripples or taught sections and should lay flat.

Below is a comparison of the metal spacer with the Phenolic black spacer on top. The black spacer has a very slightly larger diameter bore holes than the metal one below. Most of the spacers have a single way to fit them. The open side is the underside to lay on the gasket. Underside of the spacer is showing here in the pic below.

Place the spacer onto the gasket. The smooth side (top) of the spacer should be facing up as in the picture below.

Now add the second gasket on top of the spacer, making sure it too also fits correctly with no tears, ripples or stretched areas.

Now you can take your carb and gently lower it onto the spacer and gasket. Lower the carb evenly in order to not dislodge the gasket position.

Note of observation:

The old metal spacer had the PCV valve breather attacher to it under the carb itself. With some of the phenolic spacers they may do away with the breather port and use the carb’s own intake port. Below is the comparison of the spacer on the left and the carb fitting on the right. Both connections are still situated at the back. Those who are eagle eyed among you will see that the carb is a slightly smaller diameter and will require a little more tightening to get a good seal. This is fine as I used a jubilee clip as before. The carb uses a flanged end so a push fit should be possible depending on the internal hose diameter itself, but I want to make sure it stays on so I use the clip just to make sure.

Now you will need to secure the carb to the engine intake. Tighten the fasterners and washers finger tight into each of the corners. If you have a spring bracket then replace that as required. Tighten fully with the correct torque settings for the carb in an opposite corners sequence.

How you reconnect the all the linkages and fittings is up to you of course. But, with the throttle linkage out of the way the PCV pipe is much easier to fit.

Refit the mechanical throttle linkage to the carb throttle linkage and refit the springs. Check that everything moves without any snagging or any of the moving parts being hindered under the full motion of travel.

Lubricate any of the fittings that need it with the correct grease or oils. In my case the self locking nut will need a little white grease behind the washers to avoid any sticking, marked with the arrows.

Next up is fitting the electrics back to the choke, this is the single 12v wire.

The fuel fitting (banjo fit) needs to reconnect, ensure that the filters are cleaned and seated correctly when refitting them. Failure to do so could allow debris through or not allow fuel to flow through at all in the worst case scenario. Check that the O-ring is in good condition, not split or perished or you could be introducing a fuel leak. Below is the O-ring seal in place and the cleaned carb internal metal gauze fuel filter.

Vacuum pipe should be a straight push onto the carb if it’s fitted or required.

Finally check that all the connections are in place and secured properly. You can either start the car with the air filter off to see what is going on, or put it back together again.

With everything in place you can start the car. I would suggest cranking the car over for a few seconds to make sure that there is no fuel leaking after the fuel has been pumped up to the carb and fills the carb bowls.

Once you are happy there is no leak and everything is OK, then start the car normally.

1) If there was a spacer there before, you shouldn’t have to adjust anything – as long as it was the same size of course.

2) If this is a new spacer you will probably need to adjust air fuel mixtures and idle for the carb.

3) In rare cases you may have to make some minor timing adjustments.

Time Taken:

Two hours with all the cleaning.

Like I said at the beginning it was after replacing this spacer and going for a test run that I noticed the noise in the gearbox. The two are completely unrelated and didn’t cause the gearbox issue. But there is an improvement in the car’s performance.

This is definitely a worthwhile project if you are having issues in the heat with fuel evaporation, or warm starting problems. If you want a little more power then this is a quick win for relatively little money. However as you have to take the carb off the engine this isn’t for the faint hearted. It’s a straight forward enough procedure, but you need to put things back where they should be. The fact you are playing with fuel lines tells you that you will need to take care of course.

If you mess it up – don’t blame me! 🙂

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A Sickening Sound

This week has been a very stressful week for me as my pride and joy has had to go and get some serious repairs. During this Covid lockdown like many of us we are finding things to do and pamper our cars. I have been no exception to that of course, with a LED upgrades going on, carb spacer swap out all of which I have to post about and will be coming soon. But this update jumps the queue. I said when I was restoring my car I would post about the good, bad and everything else. This is one of those gone wrong posts. Mustang Maniac may cover my story this weekend as well, to help each other out we have swapped some photos between us. 👍

Background is that I had a mini project to replace a carburetor spacer from the old metal 1″ style to the new phenolic spacer. This meant that I ‘had’ to test drive the car t make sure all was OK, while on my way to take some exercise of course. During the shortish journey of ten miles round trip or so the car started to make a whine noise, almost like a super charger. This annoying noise was coming from the gearbox area. The car started to make a significant thud when selecting reverse or drive gears from park or neutral. I called Adam at Mustang Maniac to explain what was going on. He listened to my explanation and said that he would open a slot for me at their yard.

I drove down on the Monday morning very gently I might add and the whine was getting worse. I knew something was wrong and hoped it was an adjustment somewhere. When I arrived and was greeted by Adam and Yogi, both said to put it straight onto ramps when they heard it. Within a couple of minutes Yogi had listened, diagnosed the problem and said gearbox was trashing itself, and probably the torque converter too. This was bad, real bad. The decision was made to drop the gearbox out to investigate after the dipstick for the gearbox was checked and was covered in foam.

The oil was drained out and the proper dark red colour was a foaming mess of pink slop.

While the “liquid gold” as Adam calls it, was draining out the prop was removed, the speedo cable, handbrake cables, and the exhaust split from the headers.

A conversation was had with Adam and I was given the option of what gearbox I would like and he went of to get it from his secret stock. The sound of expensive parts arriving in the trolley was sad sound to hear. Adam returning with the parts.

Yogi and Stuart jacked up the gearbox lift up to the gearbox to support the weight while it was lowered out.

These C4 gearboxes were clever for their time in the fact that they had cooling pipes that ran from the gearbox, up to the front of the car, which were then in turn connected to the bottom of the radiator. The pipes in the bottom section of the radiator shares the cooling with the engine block’s coolant. The cooled oil returns back to the gearbox ready to reapeat the process. The cooling pipes have their own entry and exit fittings to the radiator. It was here that the problem was caused; the internal loop of pipe within the radiator had failed somewhere. The water pressure from the radiator had forced water into the oil cooler channels because the gearbox oil is under less pressure than the engine’s coolant.

With the gearbox down on the floor the investigation could begin. Yogi had an airline on the cooling pipes which were still on the car, with a jet of air the water was expelled at a high pressure, confirmed water (and anti-freeze) was in the gearbox.

The bottom of the C4 gearbox has a removable pan that allows access to a serviceable filter to protect the delicate interior. The filter had done its job and stopped all sorts of debris and was getting near to clogged. The gearbox tension bands, seals metal on metal parts had indeed started to disintegrate. By feeling the gunge on the filter there was some swarf or tiny metal particles. Yogi was right, the gearbox was starting to eat itself, and it was very hungry.

The torque converter was removed and checked, draining the contents more swarf was found inside. With the oil pan emptied more traces of fine swarf were found at the bottom. The expense was starting to ramp up.

The water had in effect contaminated the oil and strated to break the oil’s properties down and failed to lubricate the gearbox along with the torque converter, thus unable to keep it all cool. The end result was the bands were slipping in the gearbox and the engine coolant had caused the gearbox to overheat. I was told I was a lucky boy as it could of just let go, dumping the contents of the gearbox on the side of the road leaving me stranded. The radiator was low and topping it up gave us an idea of how much water had got unto the gearbox. The top up was almost one liter.

The new gearbox was a genuine 1966 date coded C4 green dot fully rebuilt gearbox. This was a rare part, let alone to have a choice of them straight out of stock.

The new torque converter was screwed into the bell housing and the careful alignment to refit back into place. The gearbox was lifted up into place and little magic the gearbox was roughly in place.

With the gearbox now bolted into place, the finely tuned machine that is Mustang Maniac had a gearbox out and back in place within a day. Yogi was pleased with the day’s work, it was time for me to go home and leave my very poorly car on ramps for the night.

The next day I was back at the yard in the afternoon. Yogi had completed the rest of the refit and and all was back in place.

The next problem was the radiator the proximate cause of the problem. Again Adam asked me what style, cooling performance and look that I wanted. I went for the upgraded three row (which I already had) from the standard factory two row, with the OEM stock look. The expenses were ramping up even more.

Yogi pressure tested the old radiator and it had indeed failed in the oil cooler loop. A rare failure by all accounts that had catastrophic consequences on the gearbox. Why it failed we can’t be sure, perhaps a failed weld, or rusted out or crack? Without cutting the radiator open we won’t know.

The engine block had to be drained and flushed before the new radiator could be fitted and more fluids replaced.

The rest of the plumbing was reconnected and filled up. The car fired up and the gearbox whine was gone. Selecting a gear; there was no thud and the engine didn’t stall out.

The engine idle on the carb had to be reset and a road test. The was a little more dark art of carburettor fettling going on after the road test, the tuned ear of Yogi jumping from one screw adjustment to another and back again.

My drive home was a different car altogether, it was again effortless and a joy to drive. The joy of owning a classic car can be bitter sweet. I have had some wonderful sweet treats, and then this week the very bitter pill of a transmission failure. There you have it, a very big downer for me with things not going to plan. I was lucky that I got to Mustang Maniac how and when I did. Keeping it quiet is not what it’s about for me, this blog shows the good with the bad.

A huge “Thank You” to all at Mustang Maniac.

I have some mini projects coming up and detailing product reviews too, I will be posting them soon. But, first I have an excuse to clean the car engine bay again as it got a bit grubby after all the work being done on it. Many wouldn’t notice anything to be honest, as it was cleaned up pretty well. But I’m just pleased my little lady is back home and I again can pamper her and give her a nice clean up. I’m lucky to own a classic Mustang so I can’t complain. I don’t thrash my car so perhaps that helped me in getting down to the yard without a breakdown. If you own a classic car these things can happen, but not to often I hope!

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Big Name Wax vs Luxury Hand Blended Wax

During this lockdown I have been asked a number of questions about car detailing, which surprised me a little as everything I know is self taught, trial and error, research with an empty wallet as a result. I love detailing the Mustang so the questions are a pleasure if i know the answer. These questions are probably being asked because like me they can’t get to car shows, so they clean their cherished vehicles instead. I had been working on a little something a while ago and decided to finish it off for todays little article.

So what is the question that is often asked, but never really answered; is there a difference between big name brands and the much more expensive luxury hand poured waxes?

Just quickly before I answer the questions; a little while ago I had done a comparison test of ten products from the top manufacturers to find out what is the best. The results were not quite what I expected to be honest. You can read my comparison test here.

https://onemanandhismustang.com/10-wax-side-by-side-showdown/

Or watch the full video review here.

This article will not be a repeat of that testing, but more of an explanation why some waxes cost more than others due to their ingredients, performance, processes and of course that all important name on the tin, bottle, spray pot or what ever you bought. There’s even an amount of snobbery if should be so bold to say that.

I must state that trying to find out exactly what’s inside the products from anybody is a closely guarded secret, for obvious reasons. Although I will not be mentioning brand names, as in who has what in which product, the following information is from various sources that I have managed to find out about and collate myself with phone calls and research. I may not be 100% accurate, but it all makes perfect sense in a bigger picture.

Firstly a little about the main product used for car waxes; Carnauba.

Most car products contain some sort of carnauba percentage within their products, unless it’s fully synthetic of course.

Carnauba is also known as Brazilian wax and palm wax. Carnauba is a wax from the leaves of the palm Copernicia prunifera, a plant native to and only grown in the north eastern Brazilian states of Piauí, Ceará, Maranhão, Bahia, and Rio Grande do Norte.

Carnauba is also known as the “queen of waxes” when in its pure state it usually comes in the form of hard yellow-brown flakes.

See the source image

The wax is obtained from the leaves of the carnauba palm by collecting and drying them, beating them to loosen the wax, then refining and bleaching the wax. It’s also used as a food additive, its ‘E’ number is E903.

Fact 1: Did you know that raw Carnauba can be harder than concreate.

Fact 2: Carnauba is used in many other products such as; candy (yes you can eat it, but the body can’t digest it), medication coatings to aid swallowing, dental floss, hair crème, leather to aid in waterproofness and is also used in explosives like TNT. For the ladies carnauba is used in many cosmetics formulas where it is used in eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow, foundation, deodorant, soap, to thicken lipstick, various skin care preparations, sun care preparations, etc. It is also used to make cutler’s resin and adhesive.

Fact 3: Carnauba wax is sold in several grades, labelled as; T1, T3, and T4, depending on the purity level. Purification is accomplished by filtration, centrifugation, and bleaching or not as the case may be.

Fact 4: It is practically insoluble in water, soluble by heating in ethyl acetate and in xylene, and practically insoluble in ethyl alcohol. (More on this as a percentage in the base carrier notes later.)

Fact 5: Carnauba’s Melting point is 82–86 °C (180–187 °F), among the highest of the natural waxes, considerably higher than beeswax which is 62–64 °C.

Fact 6: There is no synthetic equivalent for carnauba.

So to have a product based on say half carnauba, it would be incredibly hard to apply. Carnauba needs to be reapplied due to the natural product. The synthetic wax products have a longevity advantage and will adhere to the surface better, due to the chemicals designed just for that job. In fact it would be virtually impossible to have 100% carnauba product.

Big Brand Shop Wax.

Most of these products are price based and to keep the cost down there is one main ‘base’ ingredient. This carrier (base) is petroleum based usually Kerosene or paraffin or a combination of both. (I will just call it kerosene from now on). Other chemicals are added to the ‘base carrier’ in order to make it pliable, UV protecting agents, spreadable and even maintain a shelf life. Ever noticed that old wax tend to dry out and crack? The quickest way to tell the product is kerosene based is the smell. Some have that quite distinctive petroleum based smell, but most of the time that potent smell of paraffin, kerosene or aviation fuel or heating oils, an additive is used to disguise that base smell and make the fragrance much more appealing to the user, such as vanilla, apples, mint, roses, coffee or chocolate etc. What ever works best for various manufacturers. Often the fragrances are used to sell the product, but in actual fact the artificial fragrance is a disguise. How’s that for marketing?

Percentages of the product;

Most of the time base carrier tends to be around 70% (maybe more maybe less), and the rest made up with the actual performing ingredients for the product. For the majority of time the remaining 30% can be made up of Carnauba, beeswax, silicon, acrylic additives, cleaners etc. Now this is where things go a little bit fuzzy and grey areas appear should we say. The remaining 30% could be made up of 50% carnauba. Now that carnauba 50% is of the remaining 30% which will leave a remaining 15% for other additives which I will get to in a moment. The label stating that it has 50% or 54% Carnauba and so on for the carnauba content is not necessarily 50% of the total product by volume! In other words a 200g tin of product is not necessarily 100g of carnauba. But, this is open to interpretation should we say. What is the “50%” actually of within the product? Is that 50% of the total of waxes used with the other 50% being beeswax for example?

The remaining percentages can be beeswax, or silicon or microscopic aluminium particles for cleaner pastes, colourings, fragrances etc. Messing around with the mixture’s formula will obviously give different properties and products. The remaining percentage apart from the ‘base’ could then be made into a synthetic formula if no carnauba is used, replaced with the silicon content which could be increased, dyes for the wax, maybe fillers to hide minor swirl marks.

To make the liquid version of the product (see ‘Fact 4’ above), the base needs to be blended with other chemicals to make it pourable as you would expect. The original 70% may now be 40% / 30% mix of kerosene / ethyl acetate for example, or what ever the formula mixture requires. However, the carnauba content will still be the same as in the paste equivalent to keep the product performance the same. In fact Meguiar’s told me there is “no difference between their wax paste and liquid variation of the same product”. By pure definition there may not be a difference with the product ingredients formula as such, but the base carrier has to be different as one is a paste and the other is a liquid or crème as they prefer to call it.

Application;

The application from a tin is fine application to spread thinly. The main reason being the chance for the base to evaporate and leave the product behind on the paint to do its job. This evaporation is also known as the “flash point”. The flash point could be speeded up or slowed down depending on the requirements of the product. The haze or white misting of the product is what is left after the evaporation or flash point. In order to check the product has ‘cured’, or ready for buffing is the wipe of a finger across the product technique. If nothing is left behind then the product can be buffed to a shine removing the haze which in turn leaves the carnauba behind, which will leave behind the gloss shine you want.

Have you noticed that if you apply heavy layers of wax onto the paint it becomes a nightmare to remove it? This is due to the fact the base is unable to evaporate properly and you end up pushing around the base kerosene with the buffing cloth which will cause drag on the cloth. The principle is simple; the smoother and even layer the product can be applied, the better light will reflect from the paint surface, giving a better finish, impression of depth and overall clean look.

Synthetic blends.

These are predominantly more silicon based still using the carrier base which also gives a great shine and various additives to make the product bond to the paint. There is also a growing trend to use ceramic hybrids which provide exceptional hydrophobic properties and some nice gloss. The principles are the same for the base carrier, but obviously the formulas are heavily altered to make sure the ceramic, silicones and base carriers all stick together. Notice how you have to shake the product as they separate out when left standing?

Price;

The cost of the base carrier is much more affordable than the high end products (which I will get into later). The variations of the remaining product such as scent, carnauba content, colourings, fillers, cleaning agents, gloss enhancers, silicon etc. will all determine the cost of the raw materials. I am not including the marketing or the R & D in this, just the basic ingredient costs.

The better the quality of carnauba T1 or T3 etc. has the overall bearing on the costs.

Premium Waxes

These products can vary in costs wildly, from a reasonable £50 to £1,000 and more. The main difference here is that these products are naturally occurring oils base. The carrier base oil maybe something like melon oil or a coconut oil, maybe a mixture of both. Here is a view of natural Kalahari melon oil in the top picture and raw coconut oil in the picture below.

See the source image
Is Coconut Oil Good or Bad for You? - The New York Times

The remaining ingredients are then mixed into the base oil product for its desired results, gloss, filler, longevity etc. The most basic of base blend carrier of a premium ‘wax’ can be made from three base oils. The more complex blends having a formula of around twenty to thirty five ingredients.

To find out what’s in these products is very difficult due to the secrecy involved. However, I have it on good authority that these premium hand blended car waxes also have a lot in common with the beauty industry as well.

Carnauba has a naturally sweet smell, and it can be said that candy and carnauba smell similar.

Application:

You will notice immediately when you open these products that they feel very different. The wax feels greasy as you would expect from an oil and they smell very different. Very little fragrance is used unless a particular oil doesn’t smell to good, but could be great for reflection or a filler for example. Some oils when blended can thicken the formula and add shelf life or natural UV filters.

Again application is very much ‘little and often’, the more purest of waxes are almost clear on application and can only really be seen when the light catches the applied product on the surface of the panel. It’s sometimes recommended to use these waxes when they are warmed up slightly in the sun for a little while, which will allow softening of the wax and oils to aid in ease of application. These premium waxes can feel like spreading a soft butter with very little effort. The main difference between these natural products and petroleum based product is the ‘flash point’. The premium waxes and oils as such don’t tend to evaporate leaving the product behind in a haze. In fact the applied product is the majority of the product you buff to a shine. Again carnauba can be treated, reduced, added to or thinned out maybe, whatever the specification for the product needs to do in order to achieve the consistency and required formulas. I have been told (from my very reliable source), that there are better oil combinations for gloss than just carnauba alone. The down side is they are extremely difficult to harvest and cultivate and a single fluid ounce can be extremely expensive, much more than any precious metal comparison.

The flash point of the premium waxes could by design be a little carrier evaporation. So in theory, the longer these premium waxes are left on the car to ‘cure’ and bond to the paint, the more time they have to settle into the microscopic pits and troughs to form a smooth even barrier. It’s recommended to leave these premium waxes to cure for at least an hour. If you can apply in the morning and remove in the evening that would be ideal, or even overnight. However this may not be ideal depending on atmospheric conditions with dust and pollen flying around.

Percentages:

The carnauba used for the hand blended product tends to be the top percentage of the T1 classification for raw carnauba. filtering and decontamination is the highest priority as is the quality control. As I mentioned above the product you apply is the product that is applied to the paint, as there is very little if any flash point. So if for argument sake it is noted that the carnauba content is 30%, that is still potentially double that of the shop brands by volume in the example I gave above. Other ingredients could be added to make the oils last longer on the paintwork, hydrophobic properties, gloss, wetness, warmth of colour, or the other way around to make the exceptional gloss for car shows, but it may not last very long. So a balance is often dialled into the mix for the blend depending on the market it’s aimed at.

Some small fragrances like Jasmin can be used, just for the user’s experience or perhaps just to add a bespoke brand product fragrance.

For something extra during a hand blend there is the option to add some random ingredients such as gold or silver particles to give that glittery look. Some additives are used which can enhance the metallic fleck in paintwork.

Price:

The raw materials being a natural product, and only found or created in very small quantities drive the cost of these products. Some of the ingredients are very rare and sometimes unavailable for what ever reason maybe seasonal etc. The oils used tend to be super filtered and again the best of the best purest oils used.

Due to the availability and quantities of a number of the ingredients, some hand blenders make extremely limited batches or bespoke “pours” to order. In fact some of these top branded waxes are only made in a single 200g batch per year.

Additional points for waxes:

No mater what you choose the waxes are better when they are layered. This is especially true for the premium hand blended waxes, but the whole process of layering a premium wax and curing can take a long time for the reasons I mentioned above.

If you have a great quality paint job, and use the cheaper market brands the wax could in fact reduce the gloss refraction of your paint. Just as you can’t make rubbish paintwork glow with premium wax, but you will protect it.

So the fact of the matter is that most of the time, off the shelf or big name brand products are more than capable of doing their intended job. A great shine and longevity to protect the paint finish and there isn’t much to choose between them as I found out.

However, if you want to use the best of the best it’s all in the prep work. Cleaning, decontamination, correction, sealer and then the wax, then a couple more wax layers to get the very best results. Big name products tend to do most of the hard work for you, especially the cleaner waxes or the all in one products from multiple suppliers.

When paying big money for a top quality hand blended product, you may be disappointed if you don’t put in the prep work and blame the wax, it about the time and effort to get the rewards.

Is there a difference apart form the obvious price banding? Well yes, I have noticed the difference after a single application of a hand blend. The cost is the downside, but the results are visible and from my point of view, the money is worth it. I enjoy the whole car detailing thing so I want results from my products I use.

Conclusion:

For a daily run around, then big name products are perfectly acceptable. Even some hand blends made with predominantly silicon can be used for a daily. But if you have a show car, classic car or something you cherish, then perhaps treat yourself to some quality hand blended products. Work out what you want from your wax, gloss, beading, protection etc. before making your purchase.

I hope that answers some of the questions, and I learnt a bit from the research as well.

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Another Lighting Upgrade

During this lockdown we can’t go out in our much loved and pampered cars to any car shows. We can start them up and clean them. Something which I have been doing a lot of recently as well. As time has gone on my love for my Mustang has never waned or faltered ever! Since the car has been on the road technology has moved along in respect of the lighting on cars. DRL or Daytime Running Lights have become the norm as has LED headlights. LED technology has taken over where the HID bulbs left off. The HID had to have a massive current draw have their own relays etc. LEDs don’t have that problem. So I had a word with Adam at Mustang Maniac and he has been researching for me and came up with a little prototype pack. This is the story of the pack which consisted of two lenses and two sets of LED bulbs. Both sets were similar in specifications, but different fitting styles.

My brief to Adam was that I wanted the replacement bulbs to be like the original standard ‘sealed beam’ style which I had refitted back on my car with correct Ford logo lenses.

These are the proposed replacements with optional side lights.

The side by side comparison of both bulbs, Ford on the left and the proposed replacements on the right. Not to bad at all and I certainly didn’t want the clear type lenses.

The replacement halogens looked great and provided a nice upgrade compared to the fillament ‘candle’ power of the originals.

All the lightbulbs on my car are LED, and I just wanted that super white look on the headlights and of course the increased night vision and visibility to other road users.

Adam always comes up with a solution and asked me if I wanted to trial them for him. Of course I jumped at the chance. So here is the walkthrough of that process.

Process:

Removing the headlight.

The headlight doors are held in place by four screws, one in each corner.

The headlight door is not attached to anything and can be lifted off cleanly.

With the door off the headlight retaining ring becomes visible which in turn is held in place by three screws. Removing the threee ring screws will release the glass and could fall out if you are not careful.

With the ring off it was an ideal time to give the brightwork another polish and clean up before being refitted. Metal polish applied and buffed to a shine. I was surprised just how dirty they had become.

Lift the bulb towards you to expose the wire loom fitting behind the bulbs. Disconnect the plug fitting and the sealed bulb unit will come free.

The main problem is that there is a clearance issue behind the bulb. With the sealed beam and fitting plug in place there is just a few millimetres at most.

The LED Bulb Sets:

There are many options of LED bulbs. Most of the high power LED bulbs will need to have some sort of cooling. That may be provided by the use of built in mini fans or heatsinks. The passive heatsinks are predominantly bigger and will definitely not fit behind the bulbs.

Active bulbs have a fan which will extract the heat produced from the LEDs over the cooling fins thus enabling the LEDs to operate properly and last as they are intended to do so, 30,000 hours or just under three and half years in this bulb set case.

Here you can see the comparison of bulbs. The standard length of the H4 bulbs on the left and the LED option on the right without any excessive heatsink. The blue LED much larger base contains a small fan built within it and is considerably shorter than some other LED fan options available. Even so, the additional 10mm longer, plus the loom fitting causes the problem of clearance at the back of the bulb when test fitted. It was worth the try and would have been a very neat option. This was the “it could fit” option, but these will not fit as they are. Yes you can cut the connector of and make individual blade fitting but that is a real pain and will still be very close the fender fronts and not recommended.

The other option of bulbs to try was the fan and heatsink. In order to make this fit a wire pigtail will plug into the loom fitting and not plugged in directly behind the bulb itself. Not as common, but a very nice alternative. Also with LEDs there is an option to customise the colour of light from the LEDs. These are the 6000k option which gives a very clean crisp white light, very much like the HID bulbs. Of course the 3000k or the 4000k options will give the more standard filament bulb warmer look. These are the “they should fit” option.

With the additional pigtail connection this means that the bulb body can be longer itself without being a problem. Below is the longer fitting bulbs compared to the other already too long option in blue. Although the bulb is even longer the net length is shorter as the fitting is held away from the bulb itself via the pigtail. The pigtail and loom connection will tuck neatly behind the bowl at the back. Comparison of the bulbs getting longer left to right., Halogen, all in one, and the pigtail variation.

Bulb Power:

The power of a bulb is rated on its output power known as Lumens or ‘lm’ suffix.

– Halogen standard bulbs are rated at 1000 – 1500lm. Although some bulbs can be tweaked to give more, but are much more expensive than their standard counterparts.

– The blue LED bulb has a rating of 12000lm total which is 6000lm each side.

– The pigtailed version is rated at 10800lm total which is 5400lm each side.

Thus the LED giving off considerably more light than the halogen, more on that at the end with comparison shots. Supposedly these LEDs are 300% brighter. I don’t think it’s near that, but they are certainly much, much brighter.

The pigtailed bulb has a clever fitting for the sprung loaded fitting or the normal H4 recess cut out. The LED bulb twists out via bayonets and allows the plate to be swapped over for both style of fittings as required. A nice touch by the makers.

Lenses.

The option I have here is the pattered type (as I wanted) lenses with the side light option. The lenses come with a dust cap, pre fitted H4 halogen bulb and sidelight.

Standard clip to remove the halogen bulb.

The sidelight option is removed by pulling from the snug fit grommet and is also a standard BS9s filament bulb.

As I have LED/indicator side lights at the front this additional sidelight isn’t required at the moment, so I removed the bulb and will be blanked. I may refit the bulb later if I get the urge, as long as it’s an LED alternative of course.

Measuring the height of these replacement lenses the standard 6″ depth with the longer bodied LED (blue) bulb is past the limit with the loom fitting plug in place. Verified by a test fitting.

Sidelight Options.

You can leave the sidelight in place and use it, leave it in place not used, or blank it off. I did the later using the original grommet and slightly smaller blank off grommet inside the other hole to fill.

In order to avoid the black plug which can be seen through the glass I decided to spray them with a little left over chrome car spray I had left over.

The results were good enough and can just bout see them. The pic on the left is the hole exposed and the right is blanked off.

Fitting The LED Bulbs:

Test fitting of the pigtailed LED bulbs showed that the dust cap will not allow the bulb to be fitted with the dust cap in place as the bayonet fittings are covered up.

The answer is to turn the dust cap inside out and cut back the additional internal collar with a sharp knife, I used a scalpel and a new blade. When the dust cap is reverted back to the correct orientation it clears the bayonets fine.

Note: Before cutting the dust cap I did confirm a test fit that the lens and the bulb fitted together back into the bulb bowl, there was enough clearance to allow the air flow at the back for adequate cooling.

Another reason the bulb plate is removable because the spring loaded clips will not bend around the motor and heatsink. Clip the plate in place first without the main body of the bulb. (Test fitting of the bulb without the dust cap in place is shown in the larger picture).

Now the clever bit; place the dust cap over the bulb and insert the LED main body into the base plate and twist the bulb until it clicks in place. You can see from the Picture here below that there is space around the bulb for the heat exhaust.

Important:

To align the beam pattern which is so much more visible now, the LEDs are to be facing 9 – 3 orientation, or the centre of the flat bulb vertical. You may need to adjust this angle once the bulb is fitted back in place and to then checking the aim of the lights as well.

Refitting the Headlight

Clip the loom connector to the pigtail.

Move the headlight back into the mounting bowl and thread the wiring to the back of the headlight bowl.

The headlight has three ridges which sit within the headlight bowl to stop it twisting and moving the headlight pattern. Seat the headlight in place and fit the retaining ring onto the lens and tighten up properly when all is held in place.

Check the headlight aim and all is working correctly.

With everything working and in its correct place refit the headlight door.

Time Taken:

In theory it should take around half an hour to replace a headlight bulb each side.

However as I was trialling different bulbs and to see what fitted it took me longer. Of course I won’t add that to the overall time as I have done the working out for you. The only non standard part is the trimming of the dust caps to allow the LEDs to locate in the holding plate. That only took a couple of minutes to do it neatly with a sharp knife. Alignment of the bulb within the lens is the only bit to remember before final screwing up.

Full time took around forty minutes all in for each side.

Results:

I pushed the car out of the garage a bit and shut the door to keep out much of the light as I could. I changed the driver’s side first in order to give the comparison. Left pic the original halogen, the right pic the LED bulb. I tried to keep the exposure the same to show the difference.

The results on the wall test looked very noticeable as well. The left side of the pic is the LED shows very white. The right side shows the warm light of the halogen and not much light pattern definition.

With both LED bulbs fitted.

I am well pleased as this is a great upgrade and will certainly help with the nigh time running and visibility to other road users, or in poor weather. A very modern upgrade that doesn’t look out of place. Less strain on the alternator regarding power draw is a major advantage as well.

With the engine of and the headlights on there is a very faint hum of a motor which comes from the back of the LED bulbs. With the engine on you will never hear it. In the open you can hardly hear it, but if you listen for it you can hear it – just. The motors are ball bearing based and designed for long. I would say that it’s kinda cool that I have cooling fans for my LED headlights on an old classic car if anybody asks!

I have to thank Adam and Mustang Maniac for his time into researching the possibilities and getting them sent out to me so I can have a play over the bank holiday. Will Mustang Maniac stock these along with his other LED kits I can’t say. But, to get LED headlight’s on a budget these are a great conversion you should really consider. The visual results speak for themselves. In fact anybody who uses the standard 7″ round headlights may be able to use this combination.

I will be posting some more car detailing reviews very soon so watch this space under the “Car Detailing Reviews”. I have found a new source of products from a great company and they are honestly amazing. No I’m not on commission and i buy all the stuff myself before you ask!

Stay safe and keep well.

Posted in Car Detailing, Projects | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Most Revealing….

For a number of years since I started my blog I have keept my identity off the web. A little background as to why. My blog was intended to be a diary of the build progress of my Mustang and nothing much more. Somewhere to store my thoughts and photos if you like, my build diary. The posts back then had a little write up so I could read it through a number of years later. That little diary has evolved into something much more now, almost a website with lots to look at, obviously something I’m very pleased about. I now do reviews of car detailing, books, tools, memorabilia, collectables and articles. After a few early posts on the blog I started to get emails from people to say they enjoyed what I was doing. Thinking about what was happening I stepped up my game pretty quickly and started to create more how to guides, processes and instructions on what I had done or I was doing at the time. This of course was a view from a man on the street who had never done anything like restoring a classic car before. I made mistakes and they were corrected with the help of Mustang Maniac and all was well again. All of that hard work comes to a giddy height when I go to a car show. Late November 2019 I was invited to attend the “Lancaster insurance Pride of Ownership” at the Birmingham NEC. There was ten of us (finalists) there and I did a comprehensive write up of the show over the three days which it ran. The only downside was that it was marred by cheating of the winner which I proved and fully documented. All that aside there was some massive plus points about that show too; I meet some wonderful people, shared many laughs, got foot ache, back ache, lost my voice, I got a severe case of larringitus thrown in too, all in the name of a great time at a car show. And where is all this going you may ask?

Well, during the time at that show I was asked so many questions by many people. A few people recorded a conversation via mobiles etc. One notable instance was a nice guy who wanted to take a photo of me with the car and recorded what I was saying. I wasn’t sure what I was thinking at the time, but I agreed and so the photos were taken and his questions were answered. I thought no more of it. That was until a couple of weeks ago, when out of the blue I was contact by a weekly journal called “Classic Car Weekly” here in the UK. A link to their website is here. There was a couple of phone calls and emails to confirm a couple of points. I was asked if I had any photos of the original state, just a few maybe around 4,500 or so at last count. I had to pick a few out to send them of the car during that long build process over the four and a half years it took to complete.

The result is that I featured in this week’s edition of the paper released on the 8th April 2020. If you are quick you might even be able to get a copy. I even made the front cover;

The article is a full page interview and pictures.

The main heading refers to a reveal; where there it is, a picture of me.

To mark the occasion I bought a copy or four, one to read, one to keep prestine and the others just in case.

Now that you know what I look like, please come and say hello if you see me at a car show. That’s of course providing that Corona virus doesn’t keep us locked down and we can actually get to a show this year. I need to drive my car, it’s been five months now – FIVE MONTHS, just sayin’!

Until that next car show, keep safe and stay at home.

UPDATE: 13/4/2020

I have been asked by Richard if I can make a readable version of the article.

As requested here is a high res scan of the article converted to a PDF to download.

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Lockdown

So here I am under government instructions to stay at home to stem the spread of the Covid19, as is the rest of the country. Some are taking this enforced lockdown more seriously than others I might add. All the car shows I had lined up to go to and have been looking forward to have been cancelled, I can accept that if it’s short term, as long as I can at least get a few in before the end of the year. But what can you do in the mean time? To while away the time I have just finished my mini project which I was going to make last when I have a little time over the weekends. Now I have more time than I actually planned for. So not only have I completed my project, I have written about it too. You will be pleased to know that it’s Mustang related of course, but in the form of Lego. So if you were wondering is it worth it and what’s involved let me explain;

The Sales Pitch from : Lego

Discover the magic of an iconic 1960s American muscle car with the LEGO® Creator Ford Mustang, featuring dark-blue bodywork with white racing stripes, bonnet scoop, printed mustang grille badge, GT emblems and 5-spoke rims with road-gripping tires. Developed with input from Ford, this authentic replica comes with optional add-ons for customization, including a selection of license plates, supercharger, rear ducktail spoiler, beefy exhaust pipes, front chin spoiler and a nitrous oxide tank. You can even adjust the lift of the rear axle for an extra-mean look! Remove the roof panel or open the doors and you have access to the detailed interior with handsome seats, radio, working steering and a mid-console gearshift. Store items in the trunk or lift the hood to reveal a detailed big block 390 V8 engine with battery, hoses and air filter detailing. This advanced building set has been designed to provide a challenging and rewarding building experience full of nostalgia and makes a great centerpiece for the home or office.

– Authentic replica of a 1960s Ford Mustang featuring dark-blue bodywork with white racing stripes, air scoop, 5-spoke rims with road-gripping tires, and a selection customization add-ons.

– Open the doors or remove the roof panel to access the detailed interior with handsome seats, radio, mid-console gearshift and working steering.

– Open the trunk to store items and lift the hood to reveal a detailed Ford Mustang V8 engine with battery, hoses and air filter.

– Includes a printed mustang grille badge and 2 GT emblems.

– Customize the Ford Mustang with the included supercharger, rear ducktail spoiler, beefy exhaust pipes, front chin spoiler and a nitrous oxide tank.

– Choose from a selection of license plates.

– Lift the hood to check out the realistic engine detailing.

– Adjust the lift of the rear axle for a real mean look!

– New-for-March-2019 special elements include 5-spoke rims, 2×8 brick with bow, 1×3 mustang logo tile, 2×4 bow with ‘GT’ Emblem.

Measures over 3” (10cm) high, 13” (34cm) long and 5” (14cm) wide.

Source:  https://www.lego.com/en-gb/product/ford-mustang-10265

What You Get:

You get a big box and a lot of smaller plastic bags inside, an instruction manual and a sticker sheet.

What’s In The Box?

You get eleven plastic bags of parts although they are labelled as one to six with all but bag five having a smaller bag with the same number. A total of 1471 parts for you to try and sort out.

TIP:

Don’t open all the bags at once, only open what you need!

Instructions:

The instruction book starts with a brief background to Ford and the Mustang with time lines. A nice little addition it must be said.

The start of the instructions tells you which packets to use for which section build.

The instructions are all diagram based with the parts you need counted out and shown to you before assembly. Where the similar looking parts and colours are used the instructions has a 1:1 check to make sure you get the correct part. Some of the differences are very subtle.

Building the Model

This is the first time I have touched Lego in about forty five years or so. Oh how it’s moved on. The tolerances are still perfect, things fit together and don’t fall apart. A huge leap forward to building cars and houses when I first played with it and stood on the bricks!

The hours just rush by when building this. I challenge anybody to spend only what they think is an hour doing a build without anything to tell you the time. When you think it’s been an hour it’s a lot more than that. I found it addictive to do a page, then think ‘I will quickly do that bit as well’, it draws you in.

You start at the back of the car building the suspension, lots of little cogs seem to be placed for no apparent reason, then a few pages later it suddenly comes together. The sense of achievement is well thought out and makes you want to come back for more.

I found it easier to get all the parts I would be using for that little build located into an area to save looking for the parts as I went along, which I found could delay my build of that little section. Find it, collate it, then build it and repeat. No matter how you do it, the whole process is enjoyable. It actually started to upset my OCD in the end and I had to line the bits up I was about to use and separate into little bub piles of parts.

Next you move to the middle of the car for the transmission tunnel, adding the gear shift, radio and dials to the bricks. Parts seem to be built modular style then applied to the overall model itself.

Steering and engine next, considering the level of detail in this model I found my first grump. The engine only has four spark plug leads. They could of made it eight and just gave it that little bit extra detail.

Nice detail touches on the engine due to the name and the oil cap etc.

Building the body work is interesting how it comes together.

The door hinges caught me out as I had a little bit round the wrong way. The supplied brick separating tool is great and saves digging your fingernails between the bricks.

The design of the model has taken a lot into account for the assembly. They get you to place some round white bricks under the front corners of the car. When you press the bricks onto the model, these corner blocks means that it doesn’t flex or come apart when you add the little sub sections of build. When the car is finished the round white bricks are then removed, fitted together to make the NOS bottle for the trunk, providing you want that of course. How cool is that to reuse bricks in order to make your build journey enjoyable?

Just like restoring a real car, seeing the seats go in and the rear ‘glass’ starts to show the model is nearing completion. The hood offers the option for the stock scoop look or the opening for the super charger. It doesn’t matter if you change your mind later, it only takes around five seconds to swap it over.

The roof is designed to be a single section so it’s easy to remove and see the detail inside the model.

The other options for the model are the side pipes, front spoiler, rear spoiler and NOS bottle.

The completed model looks just as mean as the real thing.

I mentioned earlier about the two engine options; the standard or the hot rod version. The super charger will poke out the opening in the hood, or use the stock pan and the scoop. I built both just because I could and can swap them as I want.

The Super charger option works well and looks in proportion to the rest of the car.

The underside of the model shows the level of detail you can’t see, it also allows access to the thumb adjustable wheel to raise up the back of the car’s stance.

The completed model looks quality and withstands being handled without falling apart.

There is a third party option to add LED lights to the model. It does involve some disassembly, but the instructions and video show you how to do that and only take fifteen minutes or so to upgrade. If you want your car to be on show with the lights then it could be worth fitting that kit at the same time to save a bit of hassle later.

Results:

An amazing model and sits nicely with my other model. I need to get a little case for this one as well I think

It was a joy to make, and is a pleasure to look at. The parts are real top quality as you expect from genuine Lego kits, everything just works together. I had no missing parts and everything was there.

Rating:  9 out 10

An excellent model as I said, but there was just the number of spark plug wires that let the detail aspect down a bit as a model for me.

The instructions are very good indeed and well paced, the printing was fine and clear. The colour definition between the lighter coloured parts could be confusing and I would liked to have seen a bit more colour definition. Those are the only two reasons I marked it down.

Ease of use – 8 out 10

Finish – 10 out 10

Conclusion:

A lot of money for a Lego kit, but I was impressed. On the other hand you do get a lot of good quality model for that money. The price may put this kit out of reach for many to buy and build. As with all things Lego the price seems to stay put and not vary much.

The age range to start this is suggested at 16+ which I personally think is a little harsh, perhaps a petrol headed 14 year old into cars would like it, 15 years old on should be fine. Sometimes the small fingers do help, rather than my big hands getting in the way. This build will keep you quiet for a good few hours either as a young adult or a middle aged man like me.

The instructions take you on a journey that you’re not aware of, and completing each little bit leads gives you a sense of achievement enough to make you want to complete the next section. The Lego look with the little bumps and strange lines works well on the model and certainly doesn’t detract from the over all look. You can see it’s Lego and will appreciate that somebody has gone to good lengths to complete it and enjoyed it at the same time.

When it was finished I was a bit gutted that I didn’t have any more to build to be honest.

Would I recommend it? Yes. But, it’s expensive.

So there you have it, a good many hours spent working on a Mustang, all be it a much smaller, modular version of the real thing. I will be writing some more car detailing reviews soon, so keep an eye out for those. If I can’t drive my my car at least I can still clean it, even though it’s already clean. It also keeps me out of the way being indoors with the wife. The more I get under her feet the more she will find me “jobs” to do. She is trying to teach me to cook as well, me and kitchens don’t go well it has to be said. Yet when I try and get her to clean, polish, wax and detail her own car, the same levels of (non) enthusiasm I showed to cooking is reciprocated and more.

I do know that my time is already being allocated to redecorating the house, even though it did some of it just over a year ago. I have spotted the delivery of a few large tins of paint. So I need to keep busy, keep scarce in order to put off the the job that I seriously detest – decorating.

I think I need to get another model though to keep me quiet in these unprecedented times of forced isolation. Or I may end up cleaning walls and applying paint rather than applying extra layers of top quality wax to my pride and joy. Who am trying to kid? It’s not if if decorate, it’s a case of when!

Posted in Car Detailing, car shows, Collectables, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Differences Between Polishing & Waxing

I wasn’t sure if I was to split this post into two or not. I eventually decided to keep it all in one place. It might be a bit of a long post but I think it’s worth it. As a follow up to my mega wax comparison test the write up for my comparison of Dual Action polishing pads is now completed. This post has taken me many, many hours to collate and put together, not only for my own sanity of product comparison all in one place, it will hopefully be a help for you as well. That’s regardless of being a Professional Detailer or a Weekend Washing Warrior like me.

There is a huge minefield out there when it comes to buffing pads by various manufacturers for similar products. Although they may look the same they can perform very different tasks. They can do the same things but are different colours, it’s all very confusing. It drove me mad, so what I have tried to do here is create a chart of the most well known manufacturers and their Dual Action pad products. I chose the ‘Dual Action’ variables for a couple of reasons;

1) I have a Meguiar’s MT320 Dual Action tool.

2) Rotary tools and pads are for the experienced user or professionals. Incorrect use can damage your paint job. You have been warned!

I am a weekend washer as I mentioned, I’m not quite up to the professional detailing standards yet, but I keep trying. If I take my car to show or just taken out for a drive, I clean it via quick detailer product when I get to where I’m going. When I get home the car gets a full waterless wash before it goes in the garage and covered up again.

I found many charts and explanations from many sources, but none that done a full comprehensive comparison side by side. My Pad Guide which I collated below is for reference and you really should get the right pad for the right job. The chart here is also downloadable in High Quality PDF as well. 🙂

I have tried to provide links to each manufacturer and the descriptions of their own pad products below. If you find any others that may be of use, just let me know and I will try and add them.

Clicking on the individual links below will take you to that company’s website for more details. Some are great pages with lots of info, some are rather shabby to say the least. I honestly recommend having a look at the links as they will explain in greater depth why you should use their products and for what tasks.

  • Lake Country Products and Charts click here.
  • Meguiar’s Products and Charts click here.
  • DoDo Juice Products and Charts click here.
  • Chemical Guys Products and Charts click here.
  • Mitchell & King Products and Charts click here.
  • Auto Finesse Products and Charts click here.
  • 3M Products and Charts click here.
  • Shine Mate Products and Charts click here.
  • Gyeon Products and Charts click here.
  • Menzerna Products and Charts click here.
  • Scholl Concepts Products and Charts click here.
  • Sonus Products and Charts click here.
  • Vertool Products and Charts click here.

I found a couple of images from the net (below) that are pretty good to explain some of the terminology of this coveted detailing skill. There are many, many books out there and plenty of ‘how to..’ videos on YouTube as well, so I won’t duplicate them here who are much better qualified to explain it than me.

Marks on the paint can be from poor washing routines, bird lime, tree sap, third party damage such as keys or car park dings, damage from hedges when driving to close or stone chips etc. These sorts of damage can spoil the look of your car may require the polishing step. The easiest way to remove these marks are with the DA pads.

First the misconception of ‘Polishing’ and ‘Waxing’ are the same thing! They’re not.

Polishing Pads or Cutting Pads or Compounding Pads,: Choosing your correct pad and polish combo is critical, using a waxing or ‘finishing’ soft or super soft pad won’t do much at all, and you will be there a while wasting your time. The courser polishing pads or ‘cutting’ pads are designed to work the product to the paint and not just apply it.

Waxing Pads or Finishing Pads: Most of the waxing or ‘finishing’ pads are soft or super soft, they are designed primarily to apply the product to the surface and not ‘work’ the product into the paint as such.

A little common sense; before you decide to polish, you must wash the car thoroughly. I won’t go into the full details of how to wash your car, but I will touch on the main points before the polish and the eventual choice of pads. You can use waterless washing if you want of course, but applying waterless washing tends to add an element of protection to the paint.

An ideal prep for a polish is to use a pre washing “Snow Foam” first if you can. This tends to remove the worst of the debris on the car as a touchless process. If you don’t have access to a snow foam, then at least rinse the car first and then wash the car using the two bucket method with a wash mitt, not a sponge. Remember that a good quality shampoo should nourish the paint and prepare it for a wax layering process, it shouldn’t remove the wax that is already on the paint surface. The least amount of contact with the dirty paint is desirable.

Remove any wax that is on the surface of the car’s paint. This is a separate step after washing using a specific product just for that wax removing job. However, some of the cheap and nasty car washing products will also remove the wax at the same time as washing, saving you that extra wax stripping step. Use a proper de-wax wash product like Chemical Guys ‘Clean Slate’ to leave the paint bare to the elements. Don’t be tempted to use cheap washing up detergents to wash the car, as they themselves can also be abrasive and often contain salt.

Once the car is washed clean, there is a step that is often overlooked before polishing; the ‘Clay bar’. This is as it sounds, a piece of soft clay which is flattened out into a thin pad and rubbed over the surface of the paint using fingertips. This clay lifts the stubborn contaminates and they in turn stick to the clay. Use the clay with a recommended lubrication and turn frequently to a fresh piece of the clay when it becomes dirty. If you drop the clay bar, Never Ever pick it up and re-use it on the car, get a fresh piece and continue. If you dive straight into the polishing stage you could end up dragging these foreign particles over your paint making things worse. It’s always best to try and get the paint as smooth as possible first before you tackle that polish stage. I have review links to a great clay bar from Bilt Hamber here and pretty poor clay bar from Auto Finesse here. Choose wisely, not all clay bars are the same, some work and some really don’t. A Clay Bar will also remove wax as well. Rinse the car and dry thoroughly.

Tip: Polishing is an acquired skill and shouldn’t be taken on with a slap dash approach. Go to a scrap yard, get an old fender or hood and practice on that first. Practice on an old car, or a favour to mates old car. With a heavy cutting compound, or an overly abrasive pad along with undue pressure being applied during the polishing process, there is every chance that such an abrasive combination could take the paint of your car. Rule of thumb is that a polish cleans the paint with mild to very abrasive product.

Some polishes are known to have fillers to hide imperfections and to give a richer look to the surface paint of the car. Auto Finesse ‘Tripple’ is such an example or Meguiar’s ‘3 in 1’.

Another step than can be used instead of a polish is a ‘Glaze’. This can be applied by hand or a DA machine. This product is a filler for fine scratches or swirl marks. This will only mask the problem of damaged paint. It certainly won’t cure or fix the problem like a proper paint correction or polish would.

What is Polish and Polishing?

Depending on the paint condition this will determine the pad and polish product you will need to use.

Polish, or sometimes referred to as a ‘compound’ is usually in the form of a liquid which contains a varying degree of abrasive content. The polish abrasiveness is also referred to as it’s ‘Cutting’ strength. During a polish you are in effect removing microns of your paint, the harsher the abrasive or cutting, the more of the paint or clear coat will be removed. Polishing can also restore the shine of the paint on your car from a faded or neglected surface. If you see some slight discoloration, damaged paint from bird lime or similar, or when you think there is a lot of dirt that has got stuck on the surface that won’t be removed after a wash with a good shampoo, it may be better to go for the polish. Small scratches can be reduced or removed after a polish. This can also be known as a ‘paint correction’.

The majority of the time a Polish will require multiple applications of finer or less course cutting polishes and softer pads to obtain that smooth mirror like surface. Rule of thumb, start soft. If nothing is happening go heavier and work back to the light combo again. If the paint is getting to hot – STOP. Many experienced detailers and car body work painters just know what they need to use.

Why Polish?

Simple answer is that if you see scratches or swirls the polishing step could remove them depending how bad they are of course. This would leave a mirror looking paint if done correctly.

How does it work?

The light hits our eyes at strange angles, which shows up as a scratch, blemish, swirl etc. on the paint work. If the paint is smooth with no marks the light is bounced in an even manor. This is explained a lot better with the help of a little diagram towards the end.

What is Wax (ing)

Wax is just a protective coat to protect the paint of your car from the elements, prolong the longevity and lustre. There are two main products, natural and synthetic. Natural tends to offer the best shine with not much longevity. Synthetic offers the best longevity but not quite a good a shine. There are of course mixtures of the two and hybrids. Some of the ‘hybrids’ are now incorporating the ‘ceramic’ technology which is creeping into the consumer market. Natural waxes are often found at high quality car shows or concours events to show the paint to it’s full extent. Synthetics are for generally for daily cars who also want a nice shine. Waxes have moved on with technology, these waxes often come with UV protection to help stop paint fading in sunlight. They last longer, apply easier and offer great value for money, well in most cases anyway.

There is also another step that can be applied, that is ‘Sealer’. this is applied before the wax as it says coats the paint job to protect it better than a wax – so it’s said. Sealers do one job only and not designed for pure shine. More to protect what you already have before the shine is applied.

Waxes come in two main application forms; liquid or paste.

Paste wax or hard wax, is more of the traditional method and often classed as old school. Often requiring application, curing and then buffing to a shine, often repeated to build up the protection or shine. Usually the enthusiasts or connoisseur’s choice. These products are best applied as ‘a little goes a long way’.

Liquid wax or soft wax, is the modern approach. They tend to be quicker, easier and generally don’t require cure time or additional applications, also know as ‘wipe on, wipe off’ products. The down side is that you tend to use more of the product.

Why Wax?

Waxing protects the car from elements and even sunlight. It also makes the car look good and helps to retain the vehicles value.

How does it work?

The wax forms a protective barrier between the paint job and the elements.

There is no right or wrong for the type of waxing you take, what ever suits you. I have it on good authority that there are no differences between the paste wax and the liquid waxes apart from composition. The only real choice you have is what you want the wax to do, last, shine or a bit of an all rounder?

Understanding the paint problems

I found these various diagrams to show what the polishing is designed to do. Make the paint as smooth as possible, then protect it with wax (or sealer).

They say a picture speaks a thousand words and I think these pictures do just that to explain it better way than I ever could.

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Some examples of things that can damage the paint and how badly, and yes that does say ‘fingernails’!

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As I mentioned earlier on how the eye sees the light. If light reflects badly and is distorted instead of a bouncing straight back, that is when you get to see the marks on the paint as shown here:

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Various way to fix this is the buffing with pads to get to the bottom of the damage to leave a smooth even reflective area. As I have already explained, things likes glazes, sealants and waxes can help along with disguising these areas of damage to make the light reflect in a much more uniform manor. Thus making the surface look smooth and shiny again.

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Then we get a little more techy with the thicknesses of paint and how the paints are applied. Of course the different applications of paint (Single coat, 2 pack, water based, cellulose etc.), amount of paint applied, types of paint; solid, metallic, pearlescent, matte, special mix custom. The type of primer, fillers, top coats, clear coats all need their own types of care. For some one product may not work the same on another manufacturers paint etc. Some manufacturer paints are known as hard paints, while others are considerably softer. This diagram shows the generic application of thicknesses, these vary wildly depending who done what. Some respray jobs cost £2,000 and others £20,000 and that’s for a good for a reason.

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The ‘basics’ of the paint application;

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Don’t worry that is as technical as it will get about paint and the theories behind it. After all we are just looking at the comparison of pads to ‘fix’ the paint, according to my very own comparison chart above.

When I mentioned the combination of products and pads above, this is the visual representation of just that.

Not all these DA pads are for polishing or cutting alone. Oh no, Many people use the much softer pads to apply the waxes to the car for a much easier, smoother and even application of wax. I have a link here on 10 wax comparisons in a mega test.

Posted in Articles, Car Detailing, Reviews, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments