Concours 2011 A Helping Hand – The DIY Workshop

On Sunday June 5, NNJR held its annual DIY Workshop at the Ray Catena Service Center in Edison, NJ. Once again the weather gods of Concours were looking after the NNJR faithful and provided yet another outstanding day for our event, even though we had a rainy-day backup plan. Whoever among us who has been offering sacrifices to these deities, we thank you for your help and support; keep it up!
Sixty-five enthusiastic NNJR members showed up for this workshop ready to learn the tips, techniques, and secrets of Porsche car care from our celebrated team of concours experts. It was again reassuring to see a large number of new members at this event. But, before applying polish to paint, or wax to whale-tails; our hosts from Ray Catena Porsche, Joe Germino, the general sales manager, and his team, served an outstanding lunch of assorted gourmet deli sandwiches, pasta salad, and soft drinks to provide the human fuel for the afternoon’s calorie-consuming activities.

After a brief introduction and a big thank you to our hosts by yours truly, and a review of the upcoming Concours activities by Craig – more about this later, we paired the members requesting assistance with specific aesthetic problems on their Porsches with NNJR concours experts for resolution during the afternoon.
Jerry Manna worked on Don Nix’s beautiful Guards Red 1987 911 Targa, demonstrating the proper method of leather touch-up using the products from Color-Plus. Jerry, using a colorful combination of entertaining stories and clear directions, instructed Don, and the large crowd gathered around his car, on the proper application of Surflex leather dye. Jerry repaired some scratches on the two-tone, red and black, leather covered steering wheel. Needless to say, when the healer-of-hides was done, you could not tell where the repair was applied.
Surflex not only works well to touch up leather, it also does a great job re-coloring plastic and urethane. To demonstrate this fact, Jerry offered John Ignozza some black Surflex to re-color the bumperettes on the rear of his 2000 Red Boxster S. With Tom Murray’s steady hand, John and Tom turned tired looking bumperettes into good-as-new in short order.
Those interested in replicating Jerry’s techniques on their own leather items can obtain Surflex leather dye from Joanne Price of Color-Plus on the web. Joanne, a long time NNJR Concours supporter, also makes a great leather cleaner that works well on tough stains.
Paul Armstrong brought his striking metallic blue 2007 Cayman S to the workshop seeking advice on how to properly exorcise paint scratches – one in particular would turn out to be quite a challenge. Concours veteran Anthony Cristello worked with Paul to provide instruction on the proper methods of polishing and waxing Porsche paint. Using a variety of products, Anthony and Paul worked on the surface of the Cayman until the majority of the minor scratches and swirl marks were completely gone – all but one, that is.
Paul’s Cayman had a rather deep scratch on the right rear fender that could be felt with a fingernail. Anthony and Paul worked very carefully on this scratch so as not to inadvertently wear through the clear-coat, but the scratch would not yield. Following the old adage, “Do no harm,” they decided to stop polishing rather than continue. The scratch definitely looked less obvious, but it just proves that some scratches can only be completely repaired with a spray gun.
With a similar concern for paint care, KJ Varma, a recent member, brought his new black 997 Carrera to the workshop to learn the proper methods of cleaning and caring for the delicate black paint, as well as how to properly clean light colored floor mats. Fred Simonson worked with KJ to describe the proper way to wash, polish and cater to the needs of a dark colored Porsche so as to avoid creating swirl marks in the paint. KJ took copious notes as Fred offered advice on products and techniques, and what started as a general discussion on paint care quickly turned into a thorough exchange on how to clean and care for almost every aspect of KJ beautiful coupe.
Fred also discussed his preferred product for carpet cleaning, Woolite with Oxy, as a miracle in a bottle for cleaning soiled Porsche floor mats. I wandered by, and with a little Griot’s Interior Cleaner and a soft brush, demonstrated how easy it was to keep Porsche floor mats looking as good as new. KJ was very appreciative for all the advice and guidance that Fred provided. KJ, now that you know all the tricks to keeping your 997 in concours condition, how about jumping in with both feet and competing in a competitive concours event?
Joe Smith brought his 2005, blue, 997 coupe to the workshop for the equivalent of a dermatological peel to remove surface scratches and swirl marks. Craig Ploetner, Concours Co-chair, used this as a perfect opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of employing a random orbital buffer to reduce the “heavy lifting” of the polishing process. Using a soft foam polishing pad at a moderate speed, and a variety of polishes, Craig showed how quickly the machine is able to reduce the scratches and swirl marks on the surface of the paint relative to hand polishing.
Unlike a rotary buffer that should only be used by an experienced professional, the random orbital buffer is relatively safe to use since it will not easily damage your paint. This does not mean that a random orbital buffer should be used with reckless abandon. If you are inclined to give it a try, watch all the demonstrations on the web, and follow the instructions to the letter. Porsche paint is very expensive to repair or replace if you make a mistake! Also, be especially careful around sunroof seals and rubber molding.
Whether it was the whirr of the machine or Craig’s magnetic personality, a crowd started to gather around Joe’s car as Craig worked to exfoliate the scratches and swirl marks. Egged on by the growing crowd, Craig was persuaded to do practically a complete detail job on Joe’s 997. We suspect that Joe had something to do with encouraging the crowd.
Regardless, Craig went on to demonstrate how to clean and restore the rubber moldings using his favorite protectants, Aerospace 303, and Mother’s Back to Black. Further encouraged by the number of photos the crowd was taking of his work, he next moved to interior cleaning and leather maintenance. Craig prefers Leather Master’s products for cleaning and preserving his personal leather; he says that it leaves things very supple. Ok, Craig, we will not ask for clarification on this one.
On a roll, Craig instructed the gathering on wheel cleaning and protection. He prefers Poorboy’s World Wheel Sealant to protect his wheels from clinging brake dust. This product is a bit of an enigma since it is not clear from their website whether it is a wax or a sealant. Regardless, Craig swears by it and his wheels are the proof.
Craig led the throng to the rear of Joe’s Porsche and proceeded to discuss the details of engine cleaning. It was at this point that the crowd must have been running out of battery in their cell phone cameras for they started to dissipate — no doubt to recharge their phones.
For those interested, Craig has posted a complete list of all the products that he used on Joe’s Car on the NNJR web site in the Concours Forum.
 At the conclusion of the demonstrations portion of the workshop, we reconvened in the reception area of the service center for the door-prize drawings. Ray Catena Porsche generously provided an extensive collection of Porsche models and apparel as door-prizes. It seemed that we were drawing winning tickets for quite some time before all of the prizes were given out. Needless to say a large number of attendees went home with a great deal of recently acquired car care knowledge and a new model Porsche or a Porsche Design shirt.
Before we wrapped up the event, Murray Kane introduced and welcomed two new members: Phillip McPeek, Jr. and John Ignozza.
Craig and I again want to thank our hosts at Ray Catena Porsche for sponsoring another great workshop and for their continuing support of NNJR. We also want to extend our personal appreciation to all of the concours veterans who came to the workshop to assist and instruct. We realize that without your continued support and enthusiasm for these types of events we would not be able to offer our members such a diverse and educational concours program.
The remainder of this article falls into the category of teaching an old dog a new trick. Let me explain. For years I was convinced that the only proper way to polish and wax a car was to do it by hand, the old fashion way — none of those modern machine conveniences for me! This was the way to become one with the finish on the vehicle; it was a Zen thing. Besides, all the famous concours enthusiasts and winners did it this way, right?
Notwithstanding my belief, I was not completely oblivious to the advances that were continually taking place around me in the areas of synthetic polishes and waxes, and mechanical polishing tools — specifically the random orbital buffer. For years I was a holdout, firmly sticking to my dogma that polishing and waxing by hand using only pure Carnauba was the way it was supposed to be done. But, I have to admit I was intrigued by the claims being made for these modern conveniences.
When Craig mentioned one day that he had a random orbital buffer, temptation finally won out over will power, and I asked to borrow it to give it a try. He was kind enough to loan it to me with a fresh new polishing pad. I now had the machine, the polishing pad, a bottle of appropriate polish, and had watched all of the demo videos on the web. Regardless, there was no way I was going to use this new-fangled device on the pristine paint of my prized Porsche! So, it sat on the workbench in the garage for weeks until I could build up the courage to use it.
 My daily-driver had just gone through the winter and had not been cleaned, polished, and waxed since last spring; it was the perfect guinea pig for this experiment. Besides, I did not want to return the machine to Craig with a pristine polishing pad, indicative of the fact that I had “chickened out.”
I thoroughly washed and clayed the daily-driver, and pulled it into the garage in preparation for its machine massage. I added a short extension cord to the buffer to ensure that I could reach all around the car, and spread a small amount of polish on the hood. Using the pad on the buffer, I spread the polish over a two foot by two foot area of the hood before turning the machine on.  So far so good.
I set the buffer for a moderate speed according to all the demos that I had watched, placed the pad on the hood, and slid the switch to the on position. I had just crossed the threshold, and was at the point of no return. The machine started to whirr, and I held on for dear life expecting some kind of violent reaction. In reality it was quite docile and easy to control — not at all what I had expected.
After I had polished the entire two-by-two section of hood in two directions, I stopped the machine and quickly wiped the polish off the surface to check for any paint damage. The paint looked absolutely great, no swirl marks, no tiny scratches! I quickly completed the remainder of the hood, and went on to polish the entire car. The whole job was relatively easy, but it did require some dexterity to maneuver the machine across the roof and around the mirrors. I was using a six-inch pad that made it a little difficult to get into some small areas behind the mirrors and on the A-pillars; I chose to do these areas by hand rather than risk bumping the paint with the machine or inadvertently polishing the rubber molding around the windows. When I completed the polishing, I applied and removed the wax by hand.
So, would I consider using a random orbital buffer again? Perhaps. The next day my back was a little stiff; most likely from maneuvering the five-pound machine at arm’s length across the hood and roof, but my arms did not ache at all which is often the case from the repetitive polishing motions – all in all a reasonable tradeoff when you consider the time savings and the improved results.
I would definitely use the machine on any car that needed to have swirl marks and scratches addressed before being waxed. However, as I said previously, I will continue to use the good, old fashion method of hand polishing and waxing on my Porsche. This method allows for a more intimate relationship with the paint.
As I indicated earlier, the Concours schedule is still only getting started. We are now entering the competitive stage of the season with a series of exciting and interesting challenges ahead for the concours veteran and novice. On August 14, NNJR will again participate in the New Hope Automobile Show and Concours in New Hope, PA. See Porscheforus for details. This is also an outstanding show for spectators so if you are looking for an entertaining Sunday activity, come out and see some of the finest antique and foreign cars in the area compete for beauty prizes.
Do not forget to mark your calendars for the upcoming Picnic and Concours on August 21. This is always a entertaining occasion for the entire family and we offer a “Wash and Show” category in the concours for the less competitive among us.
All of these competitive events are a build up to the Concours finale of the season at the Red Mill Museum on September 10. You absolutely do not want to miss this event! In addition to being a great historic as well as scenic venue, this is our most challenging concours where the best and cleanest show up to compete and the prizes are worth the effort.
All of these events are detailed in Porscheforus; and as always, if you have suggestions or questions, please send an email to