It’s Snowing All Year Round

I have been asked a few times about snow foam when I have been to car shows. I do use it now, depending on the product and how you use it can make a nice difference or leave you bitterly disappointed. When i started out with snow foam I just didn’t get it, what was I doing wrong? Combinations of equipment and product trials I eventually managed to get results worth talking about. I decided to create a little article of my own which I hope will help and guide you through the pitfalls and hype between products, or why we even consider using it. I mean it wasn’t around fifteen years or so ago so do we need it and why?

Snow foam looks amazing from a distance and often gets a few looks when you use it. Before this step was introduced, you used to get as much car shampoo bubbles on the paint to wash it right? This cleaning process has now been separated out into two steps. The snow foam and the shampoo. We will only be dealing with the shampoo step here.

Put very simply snow foam step is there to reduce the likelihood of damage to the paint during the cleaning process, a “Pre Wash” non touch step. This snow foam process is not necessarily restricted to car detailers or professionals, but also the weekend washer.

When you wash a dirty car with a sponge or a single bucket wash, the chances are that you could introduce paint damage by microscopic particles damaging the surface of your paint as they cling to your sponge or microfibre wash mitt. The deeper the damage, the worse the paint will look. I have explained these principles in depth on another article here and how to fix them. The basics are highlighted in the picture below to show the varying degrees of damage.

Common Terminology:

  • Pre-wash: A treatment that helps to make contact washing your car easier and more effective. 
  • Non Touch: Cleaning without any physical contact with the paint.
  • Contact Wash: Any part of the washing process that touches your paint.
  • Contact time: How long your cleaning solution is in contact with the dirt on your car.
  • Dwell Time: How long the product needs to be left in order to work its magic.
  • Foam Consistency: Thick snow foam clings to cars, so it has a high contact time. Watery snow foam will dribble off your car, less contact time and won’t be as effective. 
  • Cling: The ability of the product to stick to the panels without falling off.
  • Dilution: Reduction of concentrate to make the correct mixture operate effectively without waste.
  • Canister: The container where the mixture is held.
  • Snow Foam lance: A special nozzle for your pressure washer that turns the snow foam liquid into a thick foam. Also referred to as Snow Cannon, Snow Gun etc.
  • Nozzle: The end of the lance/cannon/gun which controls the amount of product and how it applies the foam to the car.
  • pH neutral: A substance which is neither acidic nor alkaline but chemically neutral.
  • Water Spots: The marks left behind from the hard water drying out on the paint work.

We know that (contact) washing a dirty car will make it look better, but done wrong that short term cleanliness will be taken over by swirls, marring scratches etc. So before you even think about putting a wash mitt or similar cleaning item, the less debris that there is on the car, the better.

This is where ‘Snow Foam’ comes in. The snow foam is designed to cling to the paintwork, which will in turn moisten and loosen up any of the surface dirt. When you rinse and wash off the snow foam it should take the dirt and grime with it. This in theory will leave you with a much cleaner surface to clean with significantly reduced chances of damage to your car’s paint job.

The ideal scenario is a foam that will dwell on the paint for a while, then roll off the paint prior to rinsing taking the dirt with it.

How does a Snow Cannon work?

In a nut shell; the water pressure from the jet washer creates a syphon that lifts the snow foam mixture from the canister via a pipe into the pressurised water stream. The wire mesh inside the the cannon body agitates the mixture up into foam. More water the less dense the foam and will lasts longer. The nozzle is the key as to how the foam is sprayed onto the car, anything from a jet spray to a wide angle fan. These cannons can vary from £15 to £100 depending on style, fitting(s) and quality of build.

Misconceptions:

+ The thicker the foam the better.

To a degree this true, but what is the point of a great foam if it sticks to the car, but doesn’t clean it? If the snow foam is more like a bubbly water and bounces straight of the paint then again it has done no good. There is a happy medium based on the car’s requirements and is explained a little further down.

+ PH Neutral is a must.

If you start researching snow foams, at some point the chemical composition will show up. So all you really need to know is the difference between pH neutral and non-pH neutral (or alkaline) snow foams.

The pH obsession has arisen due to information propagated by self-professed experts on the internet. In actual fact, most damage to car finishes is caused by tiny particles stuck onto a road film or dirt that cause abrasive damage when being removed by washing with mitt or sponge. Thus inducing the swirls, hologram, scratching and paint wear depending on the severity of damage to the paint.

Even some manufacturers of ‘ceramics’, last stage products and waxes insist on a pH7 (neutral) shampoo or cleaners.

This intrigued me, so after a quick bit of Google research it showed me that the normal range for rain water is pH 5-6. (Look it up if you don’t believe me! ‘pH balance of rain water’.) This is one of the main reasons that your car wax/sealants tend to loose their effectiveness over time and need reapplication.

+ pH Differences

A pH neutral snow foam is generally gentler on your car’s paintwork, so it’s worth getting if your car is valuable or needs to look its best for a special occasion. This comes at a cost as heavy debris is still there.

A normal or regular alkaline snow foam isn’t quite as good for your paintwork, but it is more effective at removing dirt. However, you can easily mitigate some of the effects on your paintwork by giving your car a proper wash and wax, though, which will put a new layer of protective wax onto your car. If you have the protection on the car, the alkaline snow foam won’t remove the wax protection or touch the paint anyway. It’s certainly not a caustic mixture for your car.

The damage from a heavy alkaline product is; caustic soda (sodium hydroxide). This can dull and leave paint finishes matt and lifeless when used on a long-term basis.

Perhaps you may need two types of snow foam, regular maintenance wash for light soil using pH neutral product, and a stronger alkaline for the heavier soiling when needed.

+ You need a jet wash or pressure washer

Nope. The jet wash is not the be all and end all of the snow application to the car. Some snow foams are quite happy to be applied by a hand held pressure pumped bottle. As long as the foam product is the correct dilution, is applied to the paint and allowed to dwell before its removal – then its job is done.

+ All Snow Foam lances are the same

Nope. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some brass body, some made of cheaper metals or plastic. You get what you pay for.

Honestly, I had a Karcher cannon that could barely muster a lather no matter the product. The Autbrite snow cannon with the same mixture was an incredible difference. My only advise here is to make your choice wisely.

+ You must use Snow Foam

Well sort of. You could use some good quality shampoos at a push. But their pre-wash cleaning ability is not as good as the snow foams. Most car shampoos tend to have additives to allow slick washing and glide the cleaning applicator (mitt of sponge) over the paint and a level of protection. It’s best to get a product designed as a snow foam.

Types of Snow Foam:

Apart from the pH values as we have discussed above most snow foams are pH neutral. The main differences are the cost per litre when mixing for the dilution ratio. The cling properties which varies a great deal, their proclaimed cleaning properties, colour and the scent. Some of these scents are sublime; water melon, lemon, citrus fruits, strawberries, cherry, beer etc. Or nothing if just want a no gimmick product that does the job. I have used a few in my time:

Some have been worse than useless, some have been better than others and one is my now go to product.

Application:

Mix your snow foam as per the manufacturers recommendations. This is usually a ratio of around 1:10 or 1:20 etc. some are even 1:100.

Next attach the snow lance to the jet wash, adjust the mixtures and apply (if needed). This will take a little tweaking for the ideal balance between dilution ratio, the water pressure, size of the nozzle and the product you are using.

Different products on the same foam cannon will be very different and need further adjusting to suit.

Most of the products advise not to allow the product to dry out. The product can be affected by the Sun, warm paint, wind rain etc. Most manufacturers go on to say apply ‘in the shade’ and ‘apply to cool paint’ etc in order to mitigate the drying out process of the product.

Always start from the bottom and work up. The huge majority of debris and soiling is on the bottom half of the car. As you get to the top less show foam is needed.

Types of application.

A snow foam application will solidify into nothing eventually and slide off the car. If the snow is to thick it will fall of the car (no clinging properties) in clumps before it has had a chance to work. So, thicker is not always better. But it does look good below.

After a few minutes of dwell time it will look less impressive.

Some of the poorer week applications look half dead before they are applied and very watery. These products tend to run off and dry out very quickly.

If the product starts to dry out, there is no harm in reapplying more.

Some of the better quality products have ‘wetting’ agents in them to aid in keeping the product wet on the paint to avoid it drying out. This product application is a little thin now, but was taken after a few minutes. Although below looks less, it has in fact been doing it’s job well and was staying like this without additional applications.

Once the dwell time has elapsed, rinse of with a medium force jet wash. You can then wash the car as normal to avoid any water spots.

Results:

The results vary considerably by product. I have some before and after pics to show what it was before the application and what was there after rinsing.

Here is a very well known market leader product that has a very good cling and thick foam. But, it left a film of dirt and didn’t wash off the dirt.

Another very well known brand but is a cheaper product. Thin application, not very good cling and failed to wash of dirt. the dirt was still on their without being moistened.

A Premium brand, clings well, but failed to wash the dirt off completely. The dirt was moistened and was easier wipe off with a finger. So it did help.

This is well know brand to those in the detailing world. The foaming qualities not great and are to be desired. But when this runs of the paint it takes the dirt with it.

This is the result you want. The dirt and film is gone ready for a proper contact wash. It even cleaned some brake dust off!

Summary:

Don’t believe all the hype. The snow foam step is not a magical ‘foam the the car and it’s clean’ process. This foam step is to pre wash the car and should be treated as such. You need to manage your own snow foam expectations depending on the product. I have done a number of snow foam reviews on this website now.

I have been sceptical of the snow foam step even critical to a point. I saw it as the latest fad with no benefit to be honest. I have learned the hard way by working up the ladder. I tried the weaker brands which put a bit of foam on the car and emptied my wallet for no reason. I tried the big name brands which gave a great clinging foam but not much else. I tried premium brands which gave a good enough foam and decent moistening to the dirt. I tried the in the know ‘detailers’ brands. These later ‘detailer’ brands were by far the best performing of all the brands I have used so far.

Some brands are so much better than others to the point I haven’t even reviewed some of them, I used them up as a patio cleaner. After application of some brands, the dirt was not loosened and was still difficult to remove with a finger even after rinsing, like you shouldn’t do by the way. If the dirt is difficult to remove after the snow foam step then you are potentially going to washing a little harder to get the debris off the paint, in turn potentially introducing damage that you are trying to avoid in the first place.

If you are careful and use top quality shampoos with a two bucket method, then you can do away with this step as we have done for decades way before all this snow foam malarkey.

This snow foam step is trial and error which works for you. I have tried at least six products before I found something came close to something i could review or even partially liked. You may need to do the same, or look out for fellow detailer’s product reviews.

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A Little Village Day Out

A ‘Bank Holiday’ in the UK usually means one thing, rain. Not all the time but most of the time as a rule of thumb. But this weekend is different as it has been a gloriously sunny weekend for all three days. Yesterday was a local village about 20 miles away, Bardwell where their little village green pays host to a small friendly car show with around two hundred pre booked cars to exhibit.

On arrival the cars were allocated their own parking spaces with a numbered peg in the ground. There was an option to be ‘judged’ in different categories, but you had to pay extra for that. I wasn’t worried about that side of things and just wanted to have a day in the sun and enjoy a bit of people watching. I was parked up next to a newer S197 Mustang and on the other side of me was 280CE Mercedes. The owner of the Merc and his wife were sitting in their deckchairs with me and we had some good ol’ chats throughout the day.

With all the cars parked in place the gates opened at ten sharp to where the public was allowed in. There was a constant stream all day and the atmosphere was fantastic. I decided to go for a little walk after I had wiped the dust and dead bugs from the front of the car cleaned the glass on my car. I think the bugs had Lemmings DNA in them. I do believe that I managed to hit every bug on the way there, it certainly seemed like it though 🙂

I tried to get a few scenic shots in of the show, the best of it was that there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky – all day.

On my last post I took a picture of the back end of my car next to another 65 coupe, this show I managed to repeat it with the S197 convertible.

I saw this car come in and I made sure that it would be my first port of call. The car was a Lamborghini Countach. I had posters of this car on my wall as a kid at school, next to the Mustangs and many Debbie Harry ones. By todays super car performances this isn’t that devastating now, however it’s still no slouch by any stretch of the imagination and will hold its own against most cars. In its day this car destroyed pretty much destroyed everything around that dared to try. Not to everybody’s taste I get that, but what a car it is to see in the flesh and still looks good. Is it automotive art or pure automotive porn?

So I walked around clockwise and no particular order, there where a couple of super cars parked next to a super small car;

At one end of the end green opposite to the main gate was the village pond, I think these cars had the best spot of the day, beautiful backdrop and also the coolest place in the shade on the green.

There was an outside perimeter of cars and a couple of rows in the middle.

There was a healthy helping of luxury cars past and present;

I past this little lady on the way to the show that was just minding it’s own business and chugging along at 20mph or so.

There was a few UK fords in the show and I grouped them together here, most of them being Capri(s);

The USA contingent were scattered around, with only two Mustangs being there. Similar story to the Corvettes old and new side by side.

The rest of the cars that I took a fancy to on my rounds, a few of which I have seen a few times before at local shows.

Just outside the main green there was motorbike collection. I have never seen such amazing bikes with levels of luxury to rival a car. Some of the custom artwork had to be seen to be believed. How on earth do these things stay upright?

Celebrity Spot:

Roy Mcfruin.

This gentleman may not be an A-lister in the general definition of a celeb, but to me – he is. I could of spoken to him for hours and wished I could of done so. I had so many questions, but not enough time to answer them all. 😦

Roy found me by my car and started talking to me about my car. He told me how he picked up Henry Ford II from the airport as he was given a 66′ Mustang Coupe as a company car. I was so intrigued I asked more; it turns out that Roy was working the SVT in the early ’60s when they were relocated to the Slough works just outside Heathrow Airport in the UK. He told me how he was there developing the GT40’s ready for the infamous 1966 annihilation of Ferrari at Le Mans. He had flown to Dearborn a number of times to the Ford head offices. He was there at the iconic Le Mans 1,2,3 win in the garages. He met Carroll Shelby and of course the race drivers. What amazing stories, I actually met a man who helped shaped the History of the Ford Motor Racing legend that lives on today. Such a nice guy, I hope to catch up with him again.

Thank you for your time with me Roy.

Entertainment from ‘The Nightingales’.

At mid day and two in the afternoon the ‘The Nightingales’ took to the stage to sing a flurry of tunes. They were very good and I stood there for ages watching them. They sang everything from queen to The Twist and of course Mustang Sally. There was a group who looked like they came in the Chevy Bel-Air who were doing some really good Jive and Rock & Roll dancing. Petticoats and flared dresses were cool to look at, but I bet they weren’t so cool to wear and dance around in the hot sun. A great atmosphere with the dancing.

And to finish up the Canine Corner, some very hot looking dogs out for the day.

It was a great day out, I spoke to a couple old friends, made new friends and even allowed a couple of people to sit my car. The drive home was strategically timed, as the awards were being given out at one end of the field furthest away from me, I made an exit to avoid the rush. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and drive home was so relaxed.

It was great to be out and about again. 🙂

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A Big Milestone….

Eight and a half years ago, way back on October 28th 2012 I wrote my first post on my little ol’ blog. I had nothing planned other than to share with a few friends what I was getting up to and how I was getting along with my Mustang restoration. Ultimately I could look back in a few years time and take a trip down memory lane with the photos I had taken a certain points of the restoration.

Delivery of my project car 17th September 2011, before it went to Mustang Maniac where I had professional help & guidance on my restoration over the years. Those guys have become some of my best mates of mine as a result.

When I attend car shows or via my blog and emails etc. I often get asked how I clean and detail my cars;

Some of the Car Shows and photo opportunities;

I get asked how I fitted things, how I upgraded this or that, I even get asked for advice on their own restoration projects.

That got me to thinking about adding extra sections like the tools (a selection of them here), that I used on project and since use, considering that I’m just a weekend warrior with a spanner.

Products that I used to keep our daily cars clean and the Mustang fully detailed.

My merchandise I bought over the years or have been given since I started my journey with the Mustang.

I even get requests to review items, all of which I buy if I think I could use them myself. As a result of all these things, my blog has evolved into an entity of it’s own.

Fast forward a number of years to 2021 where I my little ol’ blog has reached a massive milestone. This is not intended as some bragging rights by the way, but more like myself being proud of the result. Somebody within the USA this morning 15th May 2021 made my day:

My blog has just passed 1,000,000 hits!

I am absolutely amazed to think this could ever happen, I remember getting excited about getting ten hits in one day!

I value every single one of you that has followed me or just pops in for a quick read, like or even the odd comment. I would like to say a massive “Thank You” from the very bottom of my heart.

I don’t actually get anything from my blog/website on WordPress, other than some add money that goes straight to the hosting and my domain fees. It’s sort of self sufficient in a way. If anything I’m out of pocket, but reading the comments and seeing the views more than make up for it. Hopefully I can help somebody, somewhere with something.

My first follower was Debbie Nuessle (click here for her latest venture), from across the pond. We both started blogs within a few days of each other, both revolving around our love of American Muscle cars, especially Ford Mustangs of course. We keep in touch outside of the Blog circle and have become good friends.

I have a number of followers who ‘like’ the posts I put up after even after all these years, thank you all, it means a lot to me. I have such a range of followers; a very talented and well-known Soprano opera singer; Charlotte Hoather (click here for her blog), mechanics, engineers, oil rig mover, artists, photographers, builders, wildlife photographers, fellow classic car owners, writers, product manufacturers, shops, brands, a few younger bloggers, students, world travellers, petrol heads, gear heads, car clubs, writers, novelists, journalists, teachers, photojournalists, professional bloggers, social influencers, religious followers, the list just goes on. (There is even ‘ahem’ some adult orientated content following me!) The full list makes for some amazing reading.

Just in case anybody is interested in some of the more selective stats;

I have a total of 2,700 followers, of which 871 are on WordPress, 2,300 on social media, just over 2000 on Facebook, which is not my favourite of all the platforms I must admit.

I have been visited by 199 countries and the top ten countries in order are; USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, China, France, Netherlands, Finland and New Zealand.

There are stunning islands that have visited me, Mauritius, Seychelles & Maldives. Some of those Islands are so small they wouldn’t be able to fit a Mustang on them! My bucket list is to spend a few days on these islands to chill and take in some sun.

The more obscure countries with a single visit are: Burkina Faso, Falkland Islands, Kosovo, Tonga, Northern Mariana Islands.

To date I have posted 340 blogs including this one over the eight and half years I have been posting on this blog.

These figures are quite low compared to some of you mega stars out, there with you super popular blogs I know that. But for me, like I said earlier, I’m honestly humbled and grateful to every single one of you who wants to look at a blog all about one man and his Mustang!

A huge “Thank You” to you all.

Here’s to the next one million!

Posted in Articles, Blog, Car Club, Car Detailing, car shows, Collectables, Driving my car, memorabilia, Photo's, Projects, Repairs, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Run Of The Mill (Part 2)

Continuing from a couple of days ago this is the second part of the Kersey Mill car show 25th April 2021 . The rest of the cars from the show that I liked in no particular order.

A few cars were by the stream that fed the water mill

The rest of the cars from different zones, all mixed up made for a great day’s viewing.

This car got lots of attention, not sure if it was because of the condition or the owners overwhelming enthusiasm to enjoy his car, he said it was almost finished for a tribute project.

I sat back at my car and totally enjoyed my afternoon of people watching and took this, my 66 next to a real nice ’65.

Dogs of the Day;

I just snapped these as they walked by or I walked past them on my round of the show.

My favourite has to be this nine month old puppy, what a star this little guy will be.

I often see dogs at car shows, some with the owners cars, but most are with the general public. Should I make it a regular feature from a car show to show the dogs I see? I’m not sure, but they sort of look good at the end of post. Being a huge dog lover with two of our own I couldn’t help myself.

Don’t worry, I’m not turning into a cutesie wootsie blog, this blog will always be about cars. But I have to admit, I’m a sucker for a dog who wants a little attention.

Was my wife right to get me to take some dog pics, or should I not bother in the future? I’m happy to go with the flow of the majority. Please let me know with a little poll just for fun:

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Run Of The Mill (Part 1)

The car shows have started and it was great to get out and about. I was excited all week and just hoped that the weather was going to hold out for us. I had a decision to attend a choice of two shows; Stonham Barns which I attend a number of times or a new new venue, Kersey Mill. I get a little hacked of with the old mates scenario of the Stonham barns which are same cars winning in the show and shine all the time. Kersey is smaller show, not by a lot it has to be said. After a mental busy day at work I was hoping for a good night sleep before Sunday morning. The dogs, made sure of that by playing musical beds, wanting to go out for a howl at the moon and just try everything in their books to cause havoc, I didn’t get much sleep. Sunday morning arrived the weather was dry and bright if not a bit chilly. The weather forecast was for a dry day for the first car show of the year – 25th April 2021.

The car pulled out the garage and I loaded up with provisions for the day, drinks, food and sun cream! Optimism I guess.

The drive to Kersey was amazing, the roads were fine and I was on some minor roads for part of the journey so I could just plod along at my own pace and enjoy the drive. I arrived to a single entrance that I would have driven straight past if the marshal hadn’t of directed me to the opening. The car show itself was separated in seven different zones, and a number of car clubs were grouped together and the whole thing looked to be well thought out. The constant influx of cars was always moving and I have to admit it, well organised.

A little bit about the location; Kersey Mill is located just north of the Suffolk & Essex county border. Around 1860 Kersey Mill was a water and engine driven Stone Mill.  The three pairs of engine driven stones must have been amongst the last and most sophisticated stone milling machinery produced by Whitmore & Binyon, Millwrights of Wickham Market. Pic on the left below is borrowed from their website.

The Mill had the lead from the roof stolen which caused significant water ingress damage. The four storey Mill has since been undergoing restoration to rectify the damage. The completed result is a beautiful venue for weddings, photography, fitness, Arts & Crafts, boutiques, coffee shop, design, flower shop, or just a nice day out or go for a walk.

I parked up within in the Bury Retro Car Club stand in area seven, which was in basically in the back garden of some properties within the beautiful beautiful grounds.

By mid morning the club allocation was full. I managed to park next a friend of mine who purchased his 1965 Coupe in the middle of our lockdown last year. Parking space was as as you wanted and was nice change to being shoved in as close as possible.

The Bury Retro Car Club stand;

A group of us stood around and chatted, the first words out of everybody’s mouth was, ‘it was great to be out and about again’.

Chairs were placed at the back of the cars and quick wipe over of the car to get rid of the road dust and we were set for the rest of the day. Everybody was respectful and kept their distance. Those in the club and also the visitors to the stand.

I decided to go for a walk to take some pictures of the scenery and the cars. There was a massive selection of cars and not just classic cars. I decided to add a little section on the next post for ‘Part 2’ for “Dogs of the day”, that I spotted. The wife asked me to send her some pictures while I was there and walking around as she had never been their herself.

There was some run of the mill cars (pun intended – sorry), to celebrity cars. These cars were at the main part of the complex. The bottom pic was the BBQ which done the most wonderful smelling bacon rolls!

Just outside the main mill house itself was some real golden oldies, classics and a fire engine.

These cars in the group below top picture were Vauxhall Cavaliers, these cars were considered just use and dispose as mainly sales rep cars, now they are on classic car stands!