Originally Posted by swansong
Great posts so far, I'm guess I'd say I'm a budding detail buff myself. I can't recommend the claying part enough. In addition to the Porter Cable Polisher, you could also pick up a Griot's Garage polisher. I bought this starter kit
in an Amazon lightning deal for $100 last Christmas. No idea if they'll have a deal like that again. The buffer is good quality and easy to use, and the machine polish they give you is basically error-proof. To be honest I'll need something a bit stronger (more abrasive) to fix some of my paint blemishes.
Couple washing/drying tips:
After rinsing the car, take the nozzle off of your garden hose (assuming that's what you're using) and let the free-flowing water "sheet" over the car, from top to bottom. This greatly reduces the amount of water left to dry up. I like to use a water blade
after that, which leaves me with a basically dry car. I just dry up the door jams and edges after that.
Oh and for windows I like Stoner's Invisible Glass. Windex works in a pinch, but it's not the best and can negatively effect some window tints.
I've been using Griot's orbital machines for a few years now... the 6 and the 3 inch. They're great for starting out... their pads and polish aren't too aggressive and in some sense are "fool proof". I'm about to move on up to the Flex 3403 that I just used with my detailing friends and it's an AMAZING machine. So nimble and light, and it has removable backing plates. I can't wait to have my own! It's really going to help get those last few swirls and scratches that the Griot's machine doesn't have the power to get.
If you're drying a vehicle, I don't suggest using shammies... anything you rub across a car has the potential to scratch. Get a large waffle micro fiber drying towel and pat the car dry, don't rub.
Stoners is good, but make sure you get it in the arisol can. Gunk also makes one in an arisol can that is just as good, if not better... OR, you can go OLD SCHOOL... mix some water and vinegar (5:1) and wipe it off with newspaper.