Discussion:
Modeling clay as a substitute for "clay bars" for auto detailing?
(too old to reply)
Jon Noring
2003-09-22 22:09:09 UTC
Permalink
[also being cross-posted to rec.autos.tech and rec.autos.misc]


Hello,

For a while I've used what is called a "clay bar" product to remove
surface contaminants from automobile paint finishes. It works very
well -- it borders on a miracle product.

How one uses it is to apply a lubricant (such as a soapy solution) to
a small section of the car and one slides the clay bar over the
wetted surface. Very quickly it smooths the finish out by removing
embedded microscopic particles (rail dust, brake dust, tree sap,
water deposits, etc.) which ordinary washing/scrubbing does not
remove. The results are amazing -- the paint feels as smooth as a
baby's behind. :^)

Anyway, the commercial "clay bars" for auto detailing are relatively
expensive (like $15 for a 4 oz. bar), and I can't help but think those
clay bars are simply some kind of modeling clay with a huge profit
margin attached. From some cursory online research, most of the
automotive detailing clay bars are made out of natural clay (a couple
clay bar products instead use synthetic polymers of some sort.)

One person mentioned trying out inexpensive modeling clay and
getting good results:

http://list.miata.net/pipermail/miata/2002-January/009655.html

In the article the author talks about paying a few dollars for a whole
pound of clay, which means the clay need not be reused as much. Clay
bars get dirty from all the stuff they pick up, so the more it is used
the more likely it will scratch. So it's better not to overuse a clay
bar, and this only adds to the cost of using them. With the cost of
modeling clay so little, one can do one car (or even half a car) and
throw the clay away for a fresh piece.

Anyway, using modeling clay intrigues me. However, before rushing out
to buy some modeling clay and trying it out myself, I'd like to get
feedback from the modeling clay artist community regarding this. Do
you believe the commercial automotive "clay bars" simply use some type
of commercially-available modeling clay? Or are these truly special,
made to "spec" by the clay companies, with nothing comparable sold to
the modeling clay community? Of course, the biggest fear is that the
particles in many modeling clays are not fine enough and will visibly
haze the paint. Is modeling clay also rated by the size/fineness of
the clay particles? I do know some auto detailing product companies
offer fine and medium "clay bars" -- the medium ones are for tough
jobs with the comment that polishing is required afterwards (thus, the
medium clay bar must leave a "haze".)

A last point is who are the major manufacturers of modeling clays? I
am thinking of contacting them and trying to get feedback -- some
might volunteer useful information on this topic.

Your insights will be much appreciated.

Thanks!

Jon Noring


(p.s., another person posted an interesting "recipe" for a clay bar
lubricant, thus closing the loop on a "do-it-yourself" clay bar
system -- most automotive clay bar products also include a lubricant
of some sort:

http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=3bbace38_4%40skycache-news.fidnet.com&oe=UTF-8&output=gplain

)
Dawn Stubitsch
2003-09-22 23:04:36 UTC
Permalink
I would think that polymer clay would leave a film that might be difficult
to remove. Other modeling clays have an oil base that again would leave a
film unless the water on the car would prevent this. The polymer clay might
slide over the soapy finish without leaving a film but it's not cheap either
though not as costly as your 4oz bar.. Maybe you ought to try small
quantites of different clays and do some tests. A tack cloth won't work?
--
Dawn Stubitsch
http://www.thumbprintkids.com
http://www.thumbprintkids.com/pages/caketoppers.html
Post by Jon Noring
[also being cross-posted to rec.autos.tech and rec.autos.misc]
Hello,
For a while I've used what is called a "clay bar" product to remove
surface contaminants from automobile paint finishes. It works very
well -- it borders on a miracle product.
How one uses it is to apply a lubricant (such as a soapy solution) to
a small section of the car and one slides the clay bar over the
wetted surface. Very quickly it smooths the finish out by removing
embedded microscopic particles (rail dust, brake dust, tree sap,
water deposits, etc.) which ordinary washing/scrubbing does not
remove. The results are amazing -- the paint feels as smooth as a
baby's behind. :^)
Anyway, the commercial "clay bars" for auto detailing are relatively
expensive (like $15 for a 4 oz. bar), and I can't help but think those
clay bars are simply some kind of modeling clay with a huge profit
margin attached. From some cursory online research, most of the
automotive detailing clay bars are made out of natural clay (a couple
clay bar products instead use synthetic polymers of some sort.)
One person mentioned trying out inexpensive modeling clay and
http://list.miata.net/pipermail/miata/2002-January/009655.html
In the article the author talks about paying a few dollars for a whole
pound of clay, which means the clay need not be reused as much. Clay
bars get dirty from all the stuff they pick up, so the more it is used
the more likely it will scratch. So it's better not to overuse a clay
bar, and this only adds to the cost of using them. With the cost of
modeling clay so little, one can do one car (or even half a car) and
throw the clay away for a fresh piece.
Anyway, using modeling clay intrigues me. However, before rushing out
to buy some modeling clay and trying it out myself, I'd like to get
feedback from the modeling clay artist community regarding this. Do
you believe the commercial automotive "clay bars" simply use some type
of commercially-available modeling clay? Or are these truly special,
made to "spec" by the clay companies, with nothing comparable sold to
the modeling clay community? Of course, the biggest fear is that the
particles in many modeling clays are not fine enough and will visibly
haze the paint. Is modeling clay also rated by the size/fineness of
the clay particles? I do know some auto detailing product companies
offer fine and medium "clay bars" -- the medium ones are for tough
jobs with the comment that polishing is required afterwards (thus, the
medium clay bar must leave a "haze".)
A last point is who are the major manufacturers of modeling clays? I
am thinking of contacting them and trying to get feedback -- some
might volunteer useful information on this topic.
Your insights will be much appreciated.
Thanks!
Jon Noring
(p.s., another person posted an interesting "recipe" for a clay bar
lubricant, thus closing the loop on a "do-it-yourself" clay bar
system -- most automotive clay bar products also include a lubricant
http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=3bbace38_4%40skycache-news.fidnet.com&oe=UTF-8&output=gplain
Post by Jon Noring
)
Jon Noring
2003-09-22 23:21:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dawn Stubitsch
I would think that polymer clay would leave a film that might be
difficult to remove. Other modeling clays have an oil base that
again would leave a film unless the water on the car would prevent
this. The polymer clay might slide over the soapy finish without
leaving a film but it's not cheap either though not as costly as
your 4oz bar.. Maybe you ought to try small quantites of different
clays and do some tests. A tack cloth won't work?
I appreciate the quick feedback.

I guess the first question to ask is what automotive "clay bars" are
made out of. My online research shows that most are natural clay based
(that's what they say they are), while a couple are synthetic
(polymer?) For the natural clay bars, I have no idea if they are
water-based or oil-based or ???. Details are certainly sparse.

Are there any modeling clays used today which are natural clay, or has
everyone switched to polymer clays?

Experimentation is probably needed with various brands of modeling
clays for use as clay bars. What brands are out there to try?

(What I'd really like to know is who manufactures clay bars for the
various companies which market clay bars to the auto detailing
community, such as Mothers, Meguiars, etc., and from that determine if
some modeling clays are essentially equivalent.)

Anyone here (either in the automotive or modeling clay groups), who
can clarify all of this?

Thanks.

Jon Noring
Boris Mohar
2003-09-22 23:36:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jon Noring
Post by Dawn Stubitsch
I would think that polymer clay would leave a film that might be
difficult to remove. Other modeling clays have an oil base that
again would leave a film unless the water on the car would prevent
this. The polymer clay might slide over the soapy finish without
leaving a film but it's not cheap either though not as costly as
your 4oz bar.. Maybe you ought to try small quantites of different
clays and do some tests. A tack cloth won't work?
I appreciate the quick feedback.
I guess the first question to ask is what automotive "clay bars" are
made out of. My online research shows that most are natural clay based
(that's what they say they are), while a couple are synthetic
(polymer?) For the natural clay bars, I have no idea if they are
water-based or oil-based or ???. Details are certainly sparse.
Are there any modeling clays used today which are natural clay, or has
everyone switched to polymer clays?
Experimentation is probably needed with various brands of modeling
clays for use as clay bars. What brands are out there to try?
(What I'd really like to know is who manufactures clay bars for the
various companies which market clay bars to the auto detailing
community, such as Mothers, Meguiars, etc., and from that determine if
some modeling clays are essentially equivalent.)
Anyone here (either in the automotive or modeling clay groups), who
can clarify all of this?
Thanks.
Jon Noring
Try sci.materials ng.
--
Regards,

Boris Mohar

Got Knock? - see:
Viatrack Printed Circuit Designs http://www3.sympatico.ca/borism/
Aurora, Ontario
Lon Stowell
2003-09-22 23:34:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dawn Stubitsch
I would think that polymer clay would leave a film that might be difficult
to remove. Other modeling clays have an oil base that again would leave a
film unless the water on the car would prevent this. The polymer clay might
slide over the soapy finish without leaving a film but it's not cheap either
though not as costly as your 4oz bar.. Maybe you ought to try small
quantites of different clays and do some tests. A tack cloth won't work?
Would think natural clay, as used in ceramics, etc. would
work nicely as a fine abrasive. Whether or not it is close
to the proper grain size for use as detailers clay have not
one clue. The other problem with this type of clay is that
it dries out both fast and unevenly. Would worry about small
dried hunks scratching the paint surface. This of course
presumes that the bulk clay being referred to is artisans
clay and not plasticene or similar... in other words good
old water softened pottery clay. For a car, I'd probably
use finely ground pottery clay in a heavier lubricant that
is water soluble, something about like glycerin in consistency.

I'd suggest the OP ask some friendly detailers about using
bulk clay, or making his own bulk clay. Then test it on
someone else's car first.
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