Clean Car or Art?
In my travels, I come across all sorts of surprising things right here in the Valley.
We really do have an interesting and eclectic mix of skills and knowledge living right here in our quiet valley. For example, in an obscure little shop, on the outskirts of a small town in the Cowichan Valley, is not exactly the place one would expect to find a “Master”. Richard “Doc” Walton describes himself as ” A master … who is only satisfied with perfection and who has been called “The Michelangelo of detailing”.
On any given day, you might see a Porsche, Mercedes, Lamborghini, Jaguar, or even a Rolls Royce, according to Walton, undergoing a transformation from ordinary to extraordinary.
“My automotive boutique ranks among the finest in the world, when it comes to the art of conservation detailing,” says Walton, attired in a white scrub suit and lab coat, looking slightly more like a forensic investigator than a car detailer.A tour of the shop does indeed show some of the latest in analytical equipment, including an ultrasound paint thickness tester, a digital electronic microscope, an endoscope, and tools more reminiscent of a surgeon’s kit than a car garage.
“To me it doesn’t matter whether the treatment is paint correction and polishing, leather rejuvenation, chrome restoration or any other conservator processes; the quality of workmanship and results have to be without parallel,” said Walton about his work. “This is really art; using the right creams, lotions and experience, and a trained eye, and then combining that with some hard science and technology to get what I consider as world-class results.”
One such step that may be familiar to the slightly advanced detailer is “claying”. Detailing clay glides along the surface of your paint and grabs anything that protrudes from the surface. The particle sticks to the clay and removed. The surface being clayed should always be wet with clay lubricant to prevent loose debris from scratching the vehicle.
Used properly, detailing clay is completely safe and nonabrasive. Its a much better option than polishing to remove these contaminants because clay doesn’t remove any paint. After claying, usually some form of polishing is required to remove imperfections in the clear coat.
Walton says, “I rarely, if ever, use detailing clay these days. A newer technology, called “nanoskin” has replaced clay as the premier decontamination method.”
Looking at some of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos does indeed show, what to the eyes of most Sunday-carwashers, would be miraculous changes in paint, dashboard, and upholstery. Paint and chrome can really look like ‘when it was new’. Leather once again looks supple and luxurious. Even wood and plastic trim seem to come alive again in the photos.
The process begins with cleaning during which every last spec of dirt, dust and grime are removed in a comprehensive, 32-stage wash process before the restoration process begins. Square inch by square inch the paint is scrutinised under 1,000 watts of pure LED lighting, to reveal even the most minute defects. Scratches, swirls, holograms, acid etching from bird droppings, industrial fallout, and a host of other contaminants are methodically removed – leaving a clear and perfect surface.
Then, the precious shine is protected with scratch resistant coatings, to maintain the gloss for years. The same fastidious care is applied to the interior and engine compartment; the same high intensity inspection and inch-by-inch restoration.
What can normal car owners do to make car care easier? Walton says, “In terms of the “number 1 tip”, it would have to be to look after your car cosmetically, like you do mechanically. Regular cleaning can save thousands in the long run, by preserving and protecting the paint and interior surfaces, just as oil changes preserve and protect the engine. A small investment in time pays large dividends in maintaining the value of the vehicle.’
For his professional work, ‘Doc’ says that each job he treats as a ‘Masterpiece of Automotive Art”. Looking at some of the results, he may be right.
[Full disclosure: Walton DID NOT clean my car to say nice things: it still looks like crap] For more information look for RIBA Restoration Services.
Nick Caumanns grew up in the Cowichan Valley and loves living here. He wants to make the Valley the best and most prosperous place for everyone who lives here.