Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hardtop Finished

I have absolutely zero patience so today, rather than wait the recommended 48 hours, I went ahead and wet sanded and buffed the hardtop. I used a rubber sanding block with a spray bottle to keep the surface wet. Starting with 1000 grit, at first the sandpaper grabs the surface and it takes a little push to keep it going, even with lots of water. After a few passes, the surface really smooths out and the sandpaper starts to glide effortlessly over the surface. I put very little downward pressure on the sanding block. After the 2000 grit, the surface was smooth as a baby's bottom, but not glossy. When it is uniformly hazed, it's ready to polish.
For polishing I used my Griot's Garage random orbital polisher with Griot's Machine Polish #2 followed by Machine Polish #3. This brings the 2000-grit sanded surface to a high gloss in just a couple passes. This photo shows nicely the difference between the sanded and polished surfaces.
This photo shows half the top polished and the other half after wet sanding. I went over it once with #2 polish and once or twice with #3. I was nervous about breaking through the clear and getting into the base color, because I just don't have a good feel for how much clear you should spray and how much you can sand and polish off before you go too far.

There was a bit of very fine orange peel that got a lot better but didn't completely sand out. I really didn't think I'd be able to polish it out and I was right. It's visible. I can certainly go back and sand it some more and maybe at some point I'll do that. It came up nice and glossy, though, so I'm pretty happy with it. It looks better than the red paint on the rest of the car.

Here's the car with the top on it. It would be better in red but I am sure that if I'd painted the top red it would not come close to matching the old red paint on the car and I don't have the expertise to tweak it.

I took the car for a drive on the highway and on some local backroads and the difference is amazing. I've had a hardtop before but it's been a few years. The car is definitely quieter. I swear that I can also feel the weight of the hardtop. It's an additional 45 pounds at the highest point in the car so it will, in theory, make the car sway a bit more in turns and be a little more sluggish in transitions. I've been driving this car for 14 years now so I can feel even subtle changes in how it handles and I do feel this. My plan is to remove the soft top completely so that should offset some of the weight gained with the hard top.

1 comment:

  1. Nice Job. I am about to try this on my 95 Hard top. Black is the hardest from what I hear. Mine is just a respray of an older white top to match my car. I hope mine looks as good as yours. Thanks for the info.