The photo above is a great selection of polishers. These tools play a major role in helping me achieve professional results when I am detailing. Purchasing several Rupes polishers however is not a realistic option for most people starting out into the realm of polishing cars. With that said, that does not mean you cannot achieve great results with a more cost-effective option!
Many of my first details were done with a Porter Cable 7424XP, using a 5inch and 3inch backing plate. One of the reasons I mentioned this is if you budgeted for the polisher but not for the pads you are going to have a bad time detailing your car. Not only are more powerful polishers more expensive but the pads that work with them are as well. Many times I see people starting off and picking up a more expensive polisher, but only using 1-2 pads on the entire car when they would be much better off with a more budget-friendly polisher and many, many more pads. I personally like to keep at least 4-6 pads per polishing step on hand.
In essence, you getting two polishers in one when you are picking up the Porter Cable with the 5″ and 3″ backing plates. Along with keeping a large enough budget to pick up lots of pads which will increase your end polishing results greatly. There is also a 6inch option with the Porter Cable, but it is not an option that I believe will give you good optimal control (stalling) of the machine. It also takes away from its corrective power, negating the added size.
Below are some photos from when I performed a two-stage paint correction on a Prius using a Porter Cable. I started with Menzerna FG400 with an Orange Lake Country CCS pad for compounding. This was followed by Menzerna 3500 and a White Lake Country CCS pad for refinement. When using a standard dual action polisher, it is even more important to keep your working area small especially when compounding. Map out an 11 x 14 space and do not stray from that area. When refining you can extend your polishing area out somewhat further.
Also, the Gtechniq AP2 Ultra Soft Foam Filled Microfiber Applicator is great for polishing small hard to reach areas. I have found these applicators to do a quite admirable job correcting paint in hard to reach areas. You can use it for very tight/small areas, or if you want to avoid picking up a second smaller unit or a smaller backing plate/pad combo.
Here is a good first time machine polishing shopping list:
- Porter Cable 7424XP
- 5inch and 3inch Backing Plates
- Lake Country SDO Black Pads 5.5″
- Lake Country SDO Black Pads 3.5″
- Lake Country SDO Blue Pads 5.5″
- Lake Country SDO Blue Pads 3.5″
- Gtechniq AP3 Dual Layered Soft Foam Applicator
- Gtechniq AP2 Ultra Soft Foam Filled Microfiber Applicator
- Gyeon Polish
- Gyeon Compound
- Gyeon Prep
- Gyeon PolishWipe Microfiber (5+ towels)