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Michael Stoops
Sep 30th, 2015, 10:19 AM
September 22 - 28 was an incredible week - NXT Institute moved out of Southern California for the first time ever, and we had a blast! Logistically it was a bit of a chore, moving everything to Monkton, MD and then setting it all up and ultimately tearing it all down again and packing things up for shipment back to SoCal, but in between we hosted some really elite detailers who were hungry to advance their skills in wet sanding and paint polishing.

The team was lead by four primary instructors:

Kevin Brown - buffdaddy.com
Rod Kraft - Meguiar's
Mike Stoops - Meguiar's
Jason Rose - Rupes

The primary instructors were assisted by a group of graduates of previous NXT events:

C. Charles Hahn (without who's help this thread wouldn't appear because the SD card in my phone died on Sunday night, taking with it almost all of my pictures!)
Greg Gellas
Greg Nichols
Christopher Brown
Dan Miele

It must be said the above five guys didn't just help out with the hands on portion for the students, they also reset the work area each time we headed back to the classroom. That meant cleaning up the mess created by 14 or 15 students wet sanding and setting up for machine polishing. It also meant setting up each morning and cleaning up each evening, doing laundry, etc. Without these guys, NXT would have been a very different experience - it's impossible to thank them enough!

So, just what is this NXT Institute anyway? Well, it's a program that highlights advance wetsanding techniques using both hand sanding and DA sanding processes with a variety of tools and materials. We deal with both texture leveling and texture matching processes when sanding. It's about high level rotary and DA paint polishing, again using a variety of tools and processes. It's also about a fundamental change in how you think about polishing paint. Too often we get hung up on a scale of least to most aggressive, and that's about it. "What's the most aggressive compound and pad I can use to remove these defects?" "What's the softest pad I can use to finish out this finicky paint?" "What's the fastest, most aggressive way to fix these RIDS?" "Why won't this paint finish out clear when I'm using the softest stuff I can find?" It's also about residue control; keeping your pad clean, or using a process that assists in doing so. Nobody who took this class will ever again neglect to clean their pad frequently. Very frequently.

Here's just a small example of how we alter that thinking. Below is the result of washing a Chevy Suburban (in non-metallic black, no less!) with a broom. No, seriously, with a broom. Yes, it was intentional. To make matters worse, this paint is very prone to DA hazing, making it pretty tricky to finish out. With typical processes you can imagine using a compound on a foam or microfiber pad to cut, then a finishing polish on a soft pad at low speed to finish with. But that wasn't working. Oh, sure, we could remove the defects easy enough, but the finishing part was the source of frustration for many. Residue control becomes key here.

http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/forums/photopost/data/2401/NXT_E_2015_028.JPG

The same area, polished with a single liquid and a single pad.
http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/forums/photopost/data/2401/NXT_E_2015_029.JPG

A 50/50 view of the panel.
http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/forums/photopost/data/2401/NXT_E_2015_031.JPG

Another "before" shot showing the scratches, water spots, and deeper RIDS
http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/forums/photopost/data/2401/NXT_E_2015_033.JPG

After, using a single liquid and a single pad. That RID was later addressed with a bit more concentrated effort on the offending mark.
http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/forums/photopost/data/2401/NXT_E_2015_044.JPG

So, what was the process? Well, the technology behind SMAT abrasives allows us to use just a single compound to both cut and finish on this paint. And the technology behind microfiber pads enhances and maximizes the characteristics of the SMAT abrasives, getting the most punch out of them while taking advantage of their incredibly small size and uniformity to finish out like this, even on finicky paint. We accomplished this with M100, M105 and D300 on different parts of the hood, always using a microfiber cutting pad and a DA. It didn't seem to matter is we used the MT300 with it's shorter stroke, or one of the tall stroke DA tools present. While the taller stroke tools might have cut a bit faster, the MT300 was observed to perhaps finish a bit better. Yes, there is always a trade off!! But what's interesting is the technique used; lower speeds on the tools (always less than 5800 opm) and very firm pressure. Not enough pressure to get the paint hot, mind you, as we never felt the paint become anything beyond "comfortably warm". But after the initial pass to knock down the bulk of the defects, the pad was blown out with compressed air - totally and completely blown out. If you've ever blown out a pad with compressed air you know how material shoots out in the air stream, right? Well, do it again. And again. If you think you've done too much, it's probably just about right. Now, don't add any more product to the pad and polish the paint surface again. Keep the speed moderate, the pressure quite firm (don't stand on the thing or lean your entire body into it, though!) and move slowly from side to side over the area and stop. Don't keep massaging the paint. Don't "jewel" the paint. Don't just keep going at it for pass after pass, and do not ease up on the pressure for you final pass.

We got the best finish using this process; far better than backing down on pressure with a soft foam pad and a finishing polish. Crazy, right? Well, maybe, but there's a reason why this happens, and it's not a process that you'll do all the time. But on those frustrating paints that just won't finish out because they haze like crazy, this total shift in thinking can save you a lot of time and frustration. And this is the kind of thing we dealt with throughout the four days of NXT Institute training.

Below are some overview pix of the facility we were fortunate enough to use for the program. Just a note on the facility: it's a private car collection (the owner asked to remain anonymous) outside Monkton, MD. The owner has very eclectic taste in cars, and kudos to him - he drives them all. From classic European sports cars to American Muscle Cars and modern super exotics, he's got something for everyone. We'll post some shots of the cars later, but for now, here's a group of shots showing what the whole NXT program looked like.
http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/forums/photopost/data/2401/NXT_E_2015_564.JPG

http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/forums/photopost/data/2401/NXT_E_2015_569.JPG


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http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/forums/photopost/data/2401/NXT_E_2015_624.JPG

How's this for a classroom setting?
http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/forums/photopost/data/2401/NXT_E_2015_627.JPG


http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/forums/photopost/data/2401/NXT_E_2015_628.JPG


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http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/forums/photopost/data/2401/NXT_E_2015_706.JPG


http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/forums/photopost/data/2401/NXT_E_2015_718.JPG


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http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/forums/photopost/data/2401/NXT_E_2015_792.JPG

Yes, we even did a Podcast with Larry Kosilla!
http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/forums/photopost/data/2401/NXT_E_2015_784.JPG

Read that slide..... think about it.
http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/forums/photopost/data/2401/NXT_E_2015_728.JPG

http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/forums/photopost/data/2401/NXT_E_2015_807.JPG

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the owner of this facility and, as much as we'd like to publicly thank him we respect his desire for anonymity. We can and must thank Mike Lambert of the Shine Shop for putting us together with this collection and facility for holding NXT East 2015. Mike was great fun to hang out with and, lucky guy, he's the one who gets to maintain this collection. Thanks Mike, and we hope to see you again in the future!!

davey g-force
Sep 30th, 2015, 02:36 PM
Looks like a blast Mike!

Thanks for sharing - I now have some insight into a new technique for dealing with finicky paint that won't finish down. :xyxthumbs

greg0303
Sep 30th, 2015, 03:27 PM
I was very glad that Meguiar's brought NxT Institute classes to the East Coast, as for the last two years I couldn't make it to the West Coast. The classes took two days, with the second day being dedicated mostly to hands on experience.
The classes were awesome !!! It's the super accelerated program into advanced paint defect removal approach. The levels of knowledge and skills are extremely increased after learning from The Best of The Best.
Being surrounded by the beautiful cars at the event was an extra boost. I really had a great time.

http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/forums/photopost/data/500/DSC02820.JPG

http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/forums/photopost/data/500/DSC028211.JPG

Sanding, compounding and polishing on some cars. The entire Meguiar's and Rupes arsenals were available to support the projects.

http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/forums/photopost/data/500/DSC028251.JPG

http://archive.meguiarsonline.com/forums/photopost/data/500/DSC028261.JPG

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mohebmhanna
Sep 30th, 2015, 03:27 PM
Thanks Mike for sharing.

did you guys add water to the surface after you cleaned the MF cutting pads for the second time around. You also said you just used the pad for second time without added any compound? Interesting!!.

greg0303
Sep 30th, 2015, 03:45 PM
did you guys add water to the surface after you cleaned the MF cutting pads for the second time around. You also said you just used the pad for second time without added any compound? Interesting!!.

Supplemental wetting agents (SWA) and proper pad cleaning technique were hot topics.
It's amazing how using SWA with super micro abrasives extends buffing cycle and its effectiveness.

Selectchoice
Sep 30th, 2015, 07:06 PM
Great post Mike!

It looks like it was a great environment to learn and have fun at the same time!

Christopher.Brown
Oct 1st, 2015, 03:00 AM
Thank You Michael Stoops for the outstanding synopsis of a weeks worth of paint correction obsession. (Thanks Charlie Hahn for the great pictures!)

#NXTEast2015 truly was a memorable event. Surrounded by gorgeous classic cars; participants, instructors, and assistants concentrated on the finely tuned skills of correcting paint. The sessions were long but everyone learned so much and had childlike grins on their faces, that the time flew by!

EVERYONE involved learned something to improve their skills, knowledge, workflow, or efficiency.

Thank you to all instructors for the time you took (almost a full week) to make NXT the best paint correction training in the industry. What makes this course so special is that all instructors care greatly, even obsessing about the quality of learning and environment for all participants. They are all heavily involved in setup and preparation leading up to the event. And, after each day has wrapped, then have conversations to review the quality of the learning environment and to help improve and curtail the next day's curriculum to each specific group.

A big thanks is due to Meguiar's and Rupes for donating some of your top professionals to help instruct those willing to take skills and talents to places they hand't dared previously.

Thank you fellow assistants for donating your time and effort to support the program, with your tireless effort, concentration, and enthusiasm this event ran flawlessly.

Most importantly, thank you www.buffdaddy.com (http://www.buffdaddy.com) Kevin Brown (https://www.facebook.com/kevinbrown.buffdaddy) for your endless effort for continually supporting the entire detailing industry and putting this whole program together. Kevin does so much behind the scenes to ensure that EACH and EVERY attendee is fully maximizing their NXT experience, that it would take a few hundred words just to summarize the efforts. So again, :thankyou1 Kevin!

This truly is a unique program that CANNOT happen without all of the talented people involved and the passion and determination of the attendees.

Remember, at its core, NXT is about using your mind and skills to make your hands work easier. So, never stop improving and refining your skills, it always pays off!

Michael Stoops
Oct 1st, 2015, 06:57 AM
Thanks Mike for sharing.

did you guys add water to the surface after you cleaned the MF cutting pads for the second time around. You also said you just used the pad for second time without added any compound? Interesting!!.
In the process I described previously, no, we did not use a supplemental wetting agent; we just blew out the pad to a very high level and went back at it with a short cycle. In some cases, though, we did indeed use a SWA. It should be noted that SWA can be used in two very distinct ways:

1) when using a SMAT abrasive the material will continue to cut even though you have visual cues on the paint surface that you should stop buffing. For example, the compound seems to almost disappear or flash off and you're working "dry". That visual cue, which is a bit different with an oily diminishing abrasive product, is what we call the "buffing cycle". But the fact that the SMAT abrasives are still viable is what we call the "abrasive cycle". But what do you do when the buffing cycle is shorter than the abrasive cycle (ie, you stop buffing while the abrasives are still viable)? That's when a light misting of plain water comes into play, releasing the abrasives from your pad and kind of re-invigorating the compound. You continue to cut, and sometimes at an enhanced level. With a diminishing abrasive the buffing cycle is usually longer than the abrasive cycle; the abrasives break down but the surface is still wet with product so you keep buffing. Problem is, you really aren't doing much of anything once the abrasives have broken down, and a light mist of water can't rejuvenate something that essentially is no longer there.

2) when finishing with foam and a SMAT product like M205, which will continue to cut for quite a long time, and working on very touch sensitive paint (ie haze prone) then a spritz of water (or a few heavier spritzes) will act to evacuate debris from the surface. Remember, you have a very controlled abrasive in the structure of the pad, and you have another very controlled abrasive in the compound or polish you're using. But the paint residue you're collecting is very random and not controlled at all. Mixing this into the polish presents a situation that very touch sensitive paints don't like - inconsistent abrasives. In that case, the SWA is used in much the same way you use water when wet sanding; it acts as additional lubrication and a channel to evacuate the paint residue from the buffing surface. This is usually done as a final polish, usually with a fairly short buffing cycle so as not to overwhelm the SWA and negatively impact the paint. We generally used light pressure when doing this with a foam finishing pad and often times could rival or exceed the finish obtained with the microfiber and compound as per the description in the original post.


When using a SWA it's critical to use the correct material. Stay away from quick detailers and spray waxes as most contain silicones and/or polymers that will negatively impact your ability to cut. The level of slip provided by these products will cause your pad to just skim over the surface. A good durable polymer, like D156 or Ultimate Quik Wax, is so slick and tenacious that you'll struggle to wet sand on a surface that has been treated with it. Attempting to do so will ultimately load your pad or sanding media with that polymer and it's done. Stick with plain water for your SWA if you're going to go that route, and don't over use it!

Remember, too, that the paint is the largest single variable you'll face with any detailing project and it will ultimately dictate which option you should go with. Hard paints are easy to finish out, soft paints can be very frustrating. The methods described above, with some tweaking for adjustment to the specific paint, can get you to your goal much faster and with far less frustration.

One last thing: on all of the black vehicles we worked on with very haze prone paint, there was another option that gave excellent results in very little time: rotary finishing. M205 on black foam at 600 rpm with a flat pad and a fairly short buffing cycle did the trick every time. But not everyone has a rotary buffer, not everyone has rotary skills, and how many of you really want to invest in a rotary buffer to have in reserve for just those crazy soft paints?

mohebmhanna
Oct 1st, 2015, 07:21 AM
WOW Mike - very detailed response. For sure it's worth to try on black paints to see the result. From what I see - the result is independent on DA stroke; but the shorter stoke (MT300, etc.) can produce slightly better finish which I think it will be noticeable on a sensitive paint.
Also, very interesting your comment on how M205/rotary can yield to impressive finish.

Thank you again for the above information.

Michael Stoops
Oct 1st, 2015, 02:04 PM
Also, very interesting your comment on how M205/rotary can yield to impressive finish.


We did the rotary/M205 thing on a black Mercedes Benz that was being really finicky with the DA. One quick hit with the rotary at very slow speeds, light pressure and just a bit of M205 and it was gorgeous.

While every paint is going to have it's little idiosyncrasies and they won't all react exactly the same way to a given input, it's worth it to test a couple of options when dealing with these super touchy paints and decide which works best on that particular paint. How comfortable the user is with any of the various processes comes into play as well. There is no one right answer here, so keep an open mind and try a few things. The best news, though, is that these paints are not the norm and most paints are usually pretty cooperative. But boy oh boy, when you do come across a paint system that just doesn't want to play nice, it's great to have a few tricks up your sleeve!

davey g-force
Oct 1st, 2015, 06:26 PM
:nicethread Thanks Mike, your posts have been very informative.

Even though the cars I work on don't have particularly haze prone paint, I'm looking forward to trying the M205 / foam / SWA technique you described, to see if I can take the finish to that elusive 'next level'. :coolgleam

BillE
Oct 2nd, 2015, 03:53 AM
Lotza good information here!

Thanx for pictures and write-up Mike.

Bill