I had been looking around for a decent DA as an upgrade for my current Bosch GEX 125-1-AE workhorse which is a random orbital polisher with a smaller throw. As compared to a few years back, dual action polishers with 220-240V with a 3-pin UK plug are easier to find here nowadays (or could be purchased overseas and sent here). There are several UK sellers on eBay selling DA polishers meeting that voltage specs here. Many of them are selling models based on Kestrel DAS-6 with 8mm orbit (I will go into that later) from GBP75-200 including delivery to Malaysia.
Meguiar's also has something similar to DAS-6; Meguiar's MT320; with 220V but that costs nearly RM2000! That's way out of my budget. There is also a local company that sells their "own brand" of DA polishers. One model is based on DAS-6 which is also similar to Meguiar's MT320 and Dodo Juice Buff Daddy. Another model is based on the famous Rupes Bigfoot LHR15. Simply put, those machines are copies that are made in China and relabeled to the local brand. Price wise, I was quoted about RM900 for the 8mm throw and RM1000+ for the 15mm throw.
After much comparison I decided to purchase a DAS-6 copy on eBay from a UK seller that is cheaper than anything that I was quoted locally. However, it ran out of stock. I was told to wait for restock. The waiting period prompted me to think, "why not explore China?". I once saw a funny post on Facebook. It goes something like "God made the sky, the land, the sea, and all living beings. China made everything else!".
It was then that I explored AliExpress. Search results for dual action polisher returned mostly with large throw dual action 21mm and 15mm. Some are even bolder claiming straight forward that they are selling copies of Rupes DA. Well, Rupes is a well-known Italian maker of DA's and other tools. They are famed for their large throw DA of 15 and 21mm. After much comparison, I decided to order a 15mm throw DA. It came with both 5" and 6" backing plate (same design as Rupes), some 6" foam pads, a 5" microfiber pad, a side handle, and a set of spare carbon brushes. All for USD155.
Some Basics on Dual Action PolisherI try not to get too technical here. Please bear with me. Unlike a rotary polisher that on spins on a single rotary axis, a dual action polisher (or sometimes called random orbital polisher) will spin and orbit at the same time. To simplify the explanation let us take a 5" (125mm) pad as an example.
In the above diagram, the left most circle shows how a 5" (125mm) pad will spin on a single rotary axis. For a DA, apart from spinning on its axis, the pad will also orbit around an 8mm diameter orbit. In the picture second from left, the center of the pad will orbit around the smaller 8mm circle. Here only 4 instances are shown but it actual case, there will be a continuous motion. Do note that the orbiting motion will be random. There will be instances where the pad will be thrown from one end of the orbit to the opposite end. Try to imagine a perpetual spinning top (gasing) spinning inside a tin can. The tin can diameter will be the throw size and the spinning (gasing) will be the pad. The gasing will bounce randomly inside the tin can while spinning. On a DA, the gasing will spin continuously.
The other 2 pictures on the right show DA's with larger throws - 15mm and 21mm. From here, two obvious benefit can be seen, The orbiting motion will reduce heat build up as the buffing is spread across a larger surface on the paint. This will prevent paint burn-through even if the DA is left in the same spot for a longer time. For rotary, there is always a risk of paint burn-through. The second obvious benefit is a larger throw DA will have more buffing action. A DA with larger throw will cover more area in a single orbit. So a larger throw DA would get the job done faster.
Another safety feature that DA has over rotary is the free-spinning spindle. With the power turned off, the spindle on a DA is free to rotate. This mechanism will act as a fail safe if too much force is applied when buffing with a DA. With the DA running, if too much force is apply, it will stop spinning and only orbits. This will surely prevent paint burn-through. Of course, there is also another kind of DA known as forced DA that will continue to spin even if heavy force is exerted during buffing. I will leave that out from this post as it is not very common. You can search the Internet for more info.
Most common DA's come with orbit diameter ranging from 2-8 mm. My Bosch GEX 125-1-AE has a 2.5mm orbit. This 2-8 mm range used to be the standard for many years until Rupes introduced large throw DA. The two famous models from them are the 15mm and 21mm throw. That two models revolutionized DA and more work can be done with less time. That could be the reason why there are now many copies of large throw DA from China.
So, why did I chose the 15mm over 21mm? Unlike many professionals that have multiple tools, I am just a guy working my own cars under my car porch. That means I can only have one or two tools with a tight budget. I guess 15mm is sort of the middle ground for me. It is better and "newer" than a normal 8mm and way better than my current 2.5mm but still small enough for me to work on smaller areas like head lamps and side mirrors.
Plans to Test Out the DA
I have yet to try this new DA. One of my rides is due for resealing with a 4 months old sealant. I am planning to work it with a pre-wax cleanser (to remove old sealant and very very mild scratches) with this new DA :-p and reseal it. Well, that might not do justice for the new DA but the conditions of my rides are still good that I do not need any paint cutting or compounding yet. There are two reasons that I am blaming in delaying the resealing. First is the the rainy season (yes, yes, blame it on the weather when I am lazy). Second is that the sealant seems to be still holding strong after 4 month. Using spray wax after every wash does extend the durability of existing wax or sealant.
Check out the beading after a heavy downpour. However, if we look closely, there is some very mild watermarks. Since I do not wish to cut the paint, a pre-wax cleanser will do. Something like Autoglym SRP again (with fillers to hide some minor scratches) or Dodo Juice Lime Prime with very mild abrasive.
That's it for this post. I will post an update after using this new DA.