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  • Writer's pictureDave LeGear

Clay Bar use and tips!

I freely admit it, I can be a bit of a clean freak (blame it on Mom, who's house was clean enough for open heart surgery) and the Military, but I do appreciate the looks of a well detailed Truck and Boat! And not just clean either, but detailed to a nice level and more than likely it was instilled in my DNA, to take care of my gear which I do take a certain level of pride in even to this day ๐Ÿ˜Ž

And you can find more topics and tips related to such by clicking Here


I also find that cleaning and buffing out one of my rides relaxing this while I have some tunes playing to escape and can do it for hours until I get it just right. I do though like to work on the final finish with my buffer the most. So, anything that I can do save on base prep time, but still get the job done well so I can get to that final step is great! Well to me, using an original style of Clay Bar (though provides a simply superior surface to both polish and then seal) at times, is just a slow royal grind in 90 plus degree heat! ๐Ÿคจ


So, I was very happy to find out this newer system now by Malco, called the Kozak Clay Wash Mitt


This product allows me to basically "Wash and Clay Bar" those Truck Panels and / or sections of the Hull at the same time using my wash bucket filled with the proper cleaning or stripping soap. Thus, saving me an entire step, trip around, and quite a bit of time from what I am working on at that time!


Now, it may not give you the very same results as a quality (made in Japan where the process was invented) professional grade clay (bar) product... But could be a great way to start "super cleaning" the topcoat of both your Truck and yes, can also be used on the Gel Coat of your Fiberglass Boat!


Also, easy enough to come back around (again) and work on / touch up harder sections like the front of the hood or bow that got hit with a lot of the bugs or other road debris day in and out, that the Clay Wash Mitt may have missed or was simply unable to lift off.

Still, even if those extra steps on much smaller sections are needed. It can be a huge time saver working over all the square inches of Metal or Hull one may have, then with a tiny little bar in your hands like this!

Now, for those who are not familiar with what a Clay Bar is and what it does, and just as important what it cannot do, here is a quick guide for it...


Clay Bar use is simply the best way to "super clean" the top surface of your paint or gel coat and pull out (for a lack of better terms) all the crud embedded into it. It is not designed to do any level of paint or color correction.

Swirl marks and scratches cannot be corrected either. Nor will on its own, improve the shine... What it will do is leave a surface behind that is smooth and free of many things that will make it look dull. And you can spend hours polishing the clear coat or gel coat on your favorite toy and it just will not look as good as (usually) less time spent with a Clay Bar on the same surface first. It all has to do with light and how it is reflected straight back at you, this and not deflected by other things that are defusing that light (clear as mud yet?) well simply put, you are trying to get that deep shine that "appears" as if you can fall into it and this is where proper application of a Clay Bar helps do the job!


Here are some videos on the topic by some experts in the Detailing Industry that should help you better grasp the process and which Clay Bar Product Type / Process may work the best for your needs at least starting off or having never spent the time doing it in the past.


And this one from the team over at The Rag Company that carries some nice products and other quality educational videos on various detailing processes.



So, how do you know If you need to take these extra steps and run some Clay type of product over your Truck or Boat? Well, if you have never taken the time to do such in the past (or maybe the past year) that would be a good place to start.

Another good way to test if that step is needed is to wash and dry off a section of your pet Truck or Skiff and then and put your hand into a baggie, say sandwich bag size... And then gently rub the surface of that paint, does it feel rough and make a sandpaper like feel and noise as you go side to side? Then that is what the Clay Bar is designed to pull out of the surface... And once you pull out all that embedded crud, your polish step can then fill in some of those tiny imperfections left behind.


Then a good topcoat product is applied (we have a review on one with more on the way by clicking Here) to then help seal it all up! This step can work wonders in not only how she not only feels to your hand but looks which by the way is a great way to help your topcoat stay even cleaner going forward and looking great. This also has a side benefit of regaining / keeping resale value at the same time!


Back to the Malco product (and others like it mentioned above in the video's) and how it could be done while washing, can be a just great time saver! And if any of our Fans and Friends have ever spent hours with a small clay bar in their hand the 1st time they worked over the fender or hull of their toy knows... That next to maybe having one on a buffing pad (more on that later) this could really cut surface cleanup and reseal time by 1/3 if not more! And as I have said before, just like painting something... Detailing is the same, time spent in surface prep is where you make the finished job come to life!




Just make sure (no matter which clay bar system you employ) that you reseal the paint / gel coat right afterwards for now it is totally unprotected. And both clean and store your clay bars or pads in plastic containers so you can use them many times!

Now, what about those real hard stains that are hard to remove or embedded into the frontal areas (painted grills, hoods, bow of the Skiff) that the Clay Wash Mitt was not able to remove, and you are finding that an actual original Clay Bar is still having issues with?


Here is a tip and was some real help in getting out some of the harder stains... I had run out of my "normal" Clay Bar lube, I was using with my standard Clay Bar. So, I looked over large detailing chemical selection and broke out some BTS Ultra-Clean that I had picked up from our friends over at Dynovatech thinking "I just need the surface slick and Lube is Lube!" for my Clay Bar to slide upon. Well, I found out and not realizing that the Surfactants in BTS Ultra Clean, really worked well in loosing up that same embedded crud and I could actually see them in the Clay Bar quicker as streaks of black lines and small dots in the Clay.




The BTS Ultra-Clean though worked very well and part of that is from the fact that it is not trying to dry up very quickly. Thus, combined with a mist of water every now and then (as needed) gave me plenty of working time to concentrate on those smaller sections with your standard Old School actual "Clay Bar" after one of the Newer styles was used and found to not have gotten the job done. ๐Ÿ˜‰



And for those who are not Engineering Types / Motor Heads and may not know what a surfactant is? Here is a great definition and uses for them which is added to many products to help boost cleaning ability like laundry detergents for example.









Surfactant:

Surfactants are compounds that lower the surface tension between two liquids, between a gas and a liquid, or between a liquid and a solid. Surfactants may act as detergents, wetting agents, emulsifiers, foaming agents, and dispersants.

So, in this use case, not only is the BTS Ultra-Clean working well as a lube for the Clay Bar as it is being moved across the surface of the paint. The added surfactant package also helps to loosen up the embedded crud and grime in the paint, for the Clay Bar to then lift off and take away.



Last Tip on this process that (some say) does not matter, but from a micro scratch level I cannot believe it does not help with... I always move (slide) the Clay Bar material be it the Mitt or an actual Clay Bar and maybe even more so with the Bar style, in the direction of the airflow over that panel. This and not in circles for it to grab and before it lifts something tiny, in a circle direction to then put little circle mark into the Clear or Gel coat of what you are working on. Oh, and as you have seen, dark colors (black for sure) is the Very Worse for showing this types of surface defects and marring! And we must remember that to then remove or fill in those swirls in the paint, you have to compound and then polish them back out. We also must remember that you can only do that type of cutting work just so many times, before you run out of the top very thin Clear or Gel coasts to even work with! Much better, to save from having to do such in the first place (as much as possible) to just move those products in straight lines as the air would normally flow over them so they do not show up as much! ๐Ÿ˜Š


Hope this helps, and we will have other projects to tackle here soon, so we will add some before and after pictures after using this system. Hopefully you can see the results in the photos, but one thing is for sure... You will most definitely both feel and see the results on yours when it is done!



More guides (all part of our Lifestyle Component here on Flats Nation) will get added soon and, we are in discussions with some awesome companies in the detailing industry thus we will be able to employ their help, knowledge, and training materials along with some Podcasts on these types of subjects that should prove to be very educational and real time savers for our Fans and Friends here on The Nation! ๐Ÿ˜€



In the Meantime,


We invite you to take in a few Flats Nation Podcast Episodes to help "Scratch that Fishing Itch" when working or traveling and you just cannot hitch up the Skiff and go, on these links:


Our main podcast page that works great for your mobile device since they will stream right on your phone / tablet can be found by clicking Here


And our new Flats Nation YouTube Channel can be found by clicking Here and share them with family and friends if you find them Entertaining and Educational! We have some great guests in the works and planning stages on a wide range of topics and product coverage soon.


Also, The "Flats Nation" Merch and Swag collection has some new works now (just click on each Design or Picture to view that collection) and can be found by clicking Here or just click on our Flag below to take you to that section to land some for yourself and family / friends that enjoy their time here on Flats Nation. ๐Ÿ˜Ž


Tight Lines and God Bless!




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