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First B5 set with the new clearcoat all polished up…

and once again I’m very happy with the results.

When you see the images of this set right after it was clearcoated, you may notice specs of dust or imperfections in the clear.  All of these need to be wetsanded and polished out of the finish.

After wetsanding with high grit sandpaper (1500+) the set looks dull and matte.

A dime sized bit of compound is spread over the piece.

After polishing, the piece still has a thin coat of compounding residue that needs to be wiped away with a clean microfiber towel.

On the right, the compound has been removed.  It still needs to be wiped away on the left.

With all of the compound wiped clean, the piece is complete.

Few more pieces being polished up.

And in no time at all, the rest of the set is completed.

I’m loving this new clearcoat.  It was a breeze to wetsand and polish this set.

First set with the new clearcoat is all polished up…

and it looks fantastic.

It might be hard to tell from these photos, as they look very similar to photos of most every other set I’ve posted, but I can see there has been a definitive upgrade in quality of the overall finish of the parts.  They are much smoother and the gloss appears to have a “deeper” shine.  I suspect the depth is because the new clearcoat is much easier to spray and goes down with minimal orange peel (orange peel is a bumpy paint surface similar to the peel of an orange.  You can see it quite regularly on sub-par paint jobs on cheap cars.  Even high end cars sometimes have orange peel from the factory and need to have paint correction done to them by an experienced detailer to have it removed).  Because the clearcoat goes onto the part with less orange peel, it takes less wetsanding to get the part smooth, which leaves quite a bit more clearcoat on the part.  This is the only explanation I can come up with for the increased “depth” of the pieces.  I am very happy with the end result and am very pleased I took the time and effort to look into upgrading clearcoats.  It’s amazing how a small tweak can lead to such drastic improvements.

The pieces are reflecting a ton of light.

I love this shot.

This set is on its way, hopefully I’ll be able to post some pictures of it installed very soon.

Couple of custom B5 sets…

Few shots of some custom B5 beltline sets that I’ve been working on recently.  First up is a plain weave set.  It’s very similar to a standard 11oz 2×2 twill set, the weave is just slightly different.  This plain is 9oz 1×1 weave.  It’s got more of a checkerboard look the diagonal the twill sets sport.

At first glance, it may not be blatantly obvious how much different the plain weave is from the twill.  The next few shots are of a twill weave piece (on top) and a plain weave piece side by side so the differences become more apparent.

Up next is a “silver carbon fiber” set, which really isn’t carbon fiber at all.  Texalium is really a fiberglass that has been powder coated with small flakes of aluminum to give it that shine.  It looks fantastic, but unfortunately the aluminum coating makes it very rigid and difficult to work with.  The fiber tends to break in half when it is forced to conform around complex corners.  I had to wrap this set 4 times before I got all of the fabric down without it breaking.

Because it is so difficult to work with, I rarely make texalium sets.  Unless you’re super patient (I’ve been working on this set for several months) and have some deep pockets, I will probably pass on any future requests to make additional texalium sets at this time.

Real Carbon Fiber vs. “carbon fiber wrap”

Lately I’ve seen an uptick in tuning companies selling a fabric that they call “carbon fiber wrap.”   It is meant to be a low cost imitation carbon fiber for the masses.  I think this is great.  It’s an excellent alternative for people who otherwise couldn’t afford a real carbon fiber upgrade and want to spruce up their interiors.  Furthermore, it only increases the exclusivity of real carbon fiber parts.

However, I’ve also noticed that some people that sell this “carbon fiber wrap” are purposefully vague about what it really is.  They aren’t forthcoming about it essentially being a vinyl sticker with a carbon fiber pattern stamped on it.  Some even go as far as to say it looks just like the real thing at a fraction of the price and this just isn’t the case at all.

I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking, they speak for themselves:

We’ve upgraded our clearcoat again…

In our efforts to continually improve quality we’ve upgraded our clearcoat yet again.  The old clearcoat was very good, but it was hard to apply and was a bit soft for the massive amount of polishing the end product received.   After spraying the first round of the new clearcoat, I’m very happy with my selection.

I spent quite a bit of time researching online and came up with a list of some of the best clearcoats I could find.   I took the list to my local automotive body shop supply and after an hour or so of discussing the pros and cons of each, we whittled down the list.  I ended up going with a premium PPG™ polyurethane.  Everyone I talked to spoke very highly of PPG™ and this is their top of the line offering.  It’s more expensive than what I’m used to spending on clearcoat, but the end result seems to justify the price.  It is very similar to the old clearcoat in that it is a 3 part clearcoat consisting of 4 parts paint, 1 part hardener, and 1 part reducer (different types of reducer are used based on the ambient temperature of the room being sprayed in).

Few random pieces before being cleared.

And after.

B5 shifter piece

As you can see from these last few pics, the clearcoat goes on like glass and looks fantastic.  It seems to be much easier to spray than the old stuff and I was able to do these pieces fairly quickly.  This clearcoat does require more time to cure than what I’m used to (about 16 hours until it can be handled compared to only a few hours with the old stuff – 2 to 3 days until it can be wetsanded and polished) however I have some infrared lamps on order that will speed up these cure times dramatically.

And with my new clearcoat I made sure to pick up some new clearcoating footwear.   My sandals were getting caked with overspray.

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