by Hib Halverson
Technical Writer for Internet & Print Media
October 23, 2007
My late-April resolution, made at the C5/C6 Birthday Bash on '07, to "do better on car care" coupled with what I learned researching C-Magic Wax (www.cmagicwax.com), had me ordering one of the company's "World Class Corvette Detail Kits". After a week, FedEx Ground shows-up and a few minutes later, open on the work bench is this Kit with one bottle of each C-Magic product along with a couple of applicator pads and a micro-fiber towel.
"Uh-oh" I thought as my heart stuck in my throat, "This looks like work. What this 'shop' needs is a good buffer."
Actually, I'd been thinking about a buffer for a while. I'd polled a few people in my Corvette club who are hardcore waxers (they shall remain nameless) and use a power buffer for at least part of the waxing process and found most of them use a single-disc, random-orbital-buffer such as what Porter Cable (a big name in buffers I come to find), Waxmaster or Griot's Garage sell. It seems that single-disc, random-orbitals in the $75-$125 range dominate. I even tried one of them and while I very-much liked the labor-saving aspects of it, I hated the vibration and disliked the way these buffers, most of which are really industrial-style random-orbital sanders, de-contented to lower the cost to consumers then fitted with buffing heads, felt and handled. I kept on my buffer quest, but looking for more higher-end products that would vibrate less and last longer.
In talking with the C-Magic folks, I learned they recommend a dual-head, orbital buffer called a "Cyclo". Once again, I did some research. It's made by Cyclo Toolmakers in Colorado (www.cyclotoolmakers.com). The patented Cyclo was designed 54-years ago for polishing the bare aluminum and painted surfaces on large aircraft, particularly those owned by airlines. It gained widespread acceptance in the aerospace industry and later in the military and amongst professional car care specialists.
The Cyclo is a timeless piece of equipment which has changed little since it was introduced in 1953. Today, among its many high-profile users is the United States Air Force, specifically the 89th Air Lift Wing. Non-military types will know it better as the folks who fly and maintain Air Force One, the VC-25 (military version of the Boeing 747-200B) used by the President of the United States along with the aircraft used by the Vice President, the Secretary-of-State and the Air Force Chief of Staff. Needless to say, if you've ever seen Air Force One in-person, you've marveled at the aircraft's spotless appearance. How do they do that? Polishing with Cyclos. They have so many of them which are used constantly, that once every five years or so, the Air Force will ship pallets of them back to Cyclo Toolmakers for service. Cyclo "tunes them up" and ships them back to the USAF. There are Cyclos all over the world which have been in service 40 years or more.
The feature which makes a Cyclo unique is the overlapping, rotating motion of the two heads which mimics the two-handed, manual polishing/waxing technique old-school car care aficionados use when they hand-wax their cars. The Cyclo's buffing heads, which are run by a transmission geared to the device's electric motor, are dynamically balanced such that, when the unit is running and the heads are rotating, there is no vibration. The way this works is very similar to how balance shafts in large-displacement four-cylinder and V-6 engines damp vibration at idle and lower engine speeds.
This was a no-brainer.
I ordered a Cyclo.
A week or so later, FedEx Ground was back again with a box from Cyclo Toolmakers. In it was a gleaming, Cyclo Model 5 (PN 80-010), the 110-volt electric unit which features a 1/3-hp motor which turns its heads at about 3000 rpm. There are three other Cyclos, two for use with either U.S. or E.U. 230-volt power and a third which is air powered. All Cyclos share the same transmission and head assemblies. All that differs is how they are powered. My Model 5 was fitted with Cyclo's new, optional DoublePrecision, quick-connect adapters in place of the standard head assemblies. A Cyclo, at six pounds, weighs almost the same as the Porter Cable 6-in., single-head, random-orbital, at 5.75 lbs, but it's ergonomically designed for either one-hand or two-hand operation. I am by no means a muscular guy but I had no problem handling it, either one-handed or with both hands on either horizontal or vertical panels.
In fact, the unit's weight allows it to make your job easier on horizontal surfaces. Its six-pounds provides the right amount of pressure on the surface being polished or waxed. You don't have to push down. I just turn the Cyclo on and use my hands to guide it's course letting it's weight provide the pressure. Lastly, some might balk at the Cyclo's price, about 300 bucks, but consider this...I have three Vettes, for a total investment of about 100 grand. I think I can afford $300 for a tool which helps me keep them nice-looking. While the made-in-USA Cyclo is about twice the price of a good, single-head, random orbital, it does a better job, does it faster and will last a lifetime. Chinese-made, 6-in. orbital grinders fitted with buffing pads will last...what? About three years-maybe?
So far I've polished four vehicles with C-Magic World Class Wax and the Cyclo, two Vettes-a Dark Purple Metallic '95 ZR-1 and a LeMans Blue, '04 Commemorative Z06-a Blue '07 Chevy HHR and a White '01 Camaro. I apply the product with the Cyclo, one panel at a time, which is the best way to evenly spread the polish to all parts of the car. I wait until it hazes. Then, I sparingly spray C-Magic Detail Wax on, again, going panel-by-panel. Lastly, I wipe the haze away with micro-fiber towels. Yeah, this part you do by hand, but you apply no significant pressure nor do you hand buff anything. Just wipe enough to remove the haze. So easy even a five-year-old could do it. C-Magic Detail Wax is a sort of activator for the C-Magic World Class Wax. The polish can be used alone, but the two together ensure the best durability of the finish-figure six months before you have to redo it.
I tell you what, the three dark cars, especially the Purple ZR-1, had a shine that was deep and warm with clarity unlike that of the polish I'd been using before which, was either RainDance or Turtle Wax. I learned a key lesson: as is true with many Corvette related products, with car polish, you get what you pay for. If you buy an $8 tub of wax, you're going to get an $8 shine. If you buy a $20 dollar bottle of World-Class Wax, you're going to get an impressive finish that is equal to that of any other high-end polymer-based products and which exceeds the visual quality of high-end, carnuba-based wax products. In talking with the people tho make C-Magic I learned that on dark cars, multiple applications of C-Magic further improve the look, whereas multiple applications of any natural wax product eventually "yellow" the finish, so, I'm getting ready to do horizontal panels on the Z06 a second time.
The last thing I want to say about C-Magic products is they seem to be the only car polish products in the high-end of the market-amongst the Zanios, Zymols, Klassies Adam's and so forth-which are made by a company owned by Corvette people. When you talk to Kermit Dye, one of the owners of C-Magic, you soon learn that, yeah, he owns a company which makes car care products; but he's first and foremost a Corvette owner and enthusiast. I have to admit, that's part of the reason I gave the products a try. That, plus how my Corvettes look and that getting them to look that way-ok, I had help from the best buffer in the world, the Cyclo-has me firmly in the C-Magic camp.
|The beauty of the Cyclo is no vibration and that, while it looks heavy, it's really not, weighing about the same as many single disc orbitals.|
|The Cyclo is built to last made of beefy alunimum castings, an HD electric motor and shafts riding on ball or roller-bearings.|
|The Review Author is sold on C-Magic Wax. His polished '04 Z06 is in the background.|