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Roadfly Magazine
Issue Eight
Table of Contents

Past Issues Index
Roadfly Magazine
Issue Eight
August 9, 2003
Cruising with Jay Leno
Hot Rod Power Tour
Paint Protection Film
Brake Pad Tech
Porsche Cayenne
Porter Cable Buffer
Coming Next Issue
Fernandez Racing
CPO Nightmares
Hot Lap: Strong Strut
Lotus Elise Preview

Review: Porter Cable 7428 Rotary Buffer
By Steve Litscher

(Friday, August 1, 2003 4:40 PM EST)

Important Links

In the last issue of Roadfly, we reviewed the Porter Cable 7424 Random Orbital Buffer, and apparently the article was well received. It was so well received that many of you wrote to request that we review the Porter Cable 7428 Rotary Buffer. Always happy to oblige our readers, we present to you the Porter Cable 7428 Rotary Buffer.

Let us first begin by addressing a few myths, misconceptions and other general notions about rotary (or direct drive) buffers in general. It is the opinion of this article's author (someone who has been detailing cars since the mid 1980's) that rotary buffers are "not for everyone." That being said, they are not the dangerous animals that others make them out to be, but rather, a powerful tool that deserves tremendous respect - let's find out why.

Typically speaking, rotary buffers are a "direct drive" type of a buffer - in other words, the buffing spindle (the drive system that spins the buffing pad) spins in a true circle, much like a drill or circular saw does. This circular pattern quickly develops heat in the paint's surface, and when combined with an abrasive pad (wool, foam or synthetic) and an abrasive compound, paint damage can occur quickly and with very little warning.

Furthermore, rotary buffers are usually very powerful - most have motors that pull between 7 and 11 amps, and can generate nearly 1/2 horsepower at speeds that vary from 1,000 to 3,500 rpm. They also tend to be heavier than their random orbital cousins, and generate more "working heat" on the surface they're being used on. Combine heat, weight, power and abrasives together and you've got a recipe for potential paint damage. It is important to note that the clear coat on new cars is very thin - so thin that it's measured in "mils" or microns, and can be easily damaged by improper rotary buffer use.

If you've ever been to one of the "seedier" used car dealerships in your town, you've probably witnessed some of the ill-effects of a poorly trained rotary buffer operator - swirls, burns, cloudy or hazy paint are all common signs of incorrect buffer use. Many of these problems can be easily corrected with a rotary, but they can also be "enhanced" with improper use of a rotary buffer.

Again, it is not my intention to scare anyone away from using a rotary buffer, I simply believe it is critically important that you be aware of the potential hazards that a rotary buffer presents to the novice or new user. In the proper hands, the rotary can be a tremendous asset and can make short work of difficult problems. But reaching that point of detailing nirvana requires a lot of practice, a lot of patience and good training from a competent rotary buffer user.

This article will not focus on the intricacies of using a rotary buffer, because that would be nearly impossible to convey through words and pictures. If you're in the market for a rotary buffer, I'd strongly suggest you purchase some instructional videos and/or try to find someone local to you who is familiar with (and good with) the rotary buffer and can show you the proper technique for using one.

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