July 21, 2024

About the Private Detailing Studio

A Note from @TurboLlew

I seem to have collected a lot of kit and product over time. I have always tried to look after my cars from the very first one. I use this site to document the goings on at my private detailing studio in Kyalami, outfitted with the latest kit for the benefit of myself and a select few.

I am NOT in the business of mass detailing and this is not my day job. This is an extension of my passion for all cars and all things mechanical in nature that I’ve nurtured for over 20 years.

I was convinced to keep this content in a more organised form by someone on www.bmwfanatics.co.za where this content first appeared and where content continues to be posted first.

Some history

I remember going to Midas and using my pocket money to buy colour-matched polish for cars and then when I got my own car using very difficult to use paste waxes and Holts products with my Mom’s household cloths. This was before I remember Microfibre even being a thing. Nope – wash with sunlight, single bucket and a hosepipe.

As I went along I would try different things that budget would allow for. When I started up my first business, a fair bit went into off the shelf products for my mildly hail damaged but otherwise good looking 325i. Even calamaties were an opportunity (eg: wheels were stolen and so on went some repaired M3 wheels, someone bumped into me? better see how I can fix this myself because I had limited resources) 

My S2000 being black and with really sensitive paint really made me try more interesting things. Meguiars soft wash gel and cleaner wax were staples at the time. This changed to their Gold Class wash and extremely time consuming but satisfying 3-step Deep Crystal system. I also picked up a very basic Shield polisher that I still have. It is interesting thinking back on this now how cheap things were even adjusted for inflation. It was a time of a lot of firsts – using the right products, specialised products for the interior (Eg Rally UV protectant), experimenting with wheel coatings (though nothing came close to Rally No Hands at the time).

This was also around the time I discovered Crazy Detailer and as a result Adams products, that magic waffle weave drying towel, ultra plush microfibres for different tasks and of course Pete’s 53 Signature Black Pearl boutique wax which was magic on the black S2000. When it became impossible to source Ragg Top I converted to Aerospace 303 protectant for the top which kept it in good shape despite it also being a weak point on the car.

I had a lot going on in my life during these times and I found this to be a great way to unwind/relax my mind whilst doing something physical… something I still do today.

I went through phases of liking various products that were applied by hand from Collinite etc and it was a lot of trialling. I added a Subaru with Metallic paint to the garage and then my wife’s Elantra so experimented with longer lasting stuff like sealants. These were chores more than the ‘occasion’ of detailing the S2000. By this time I had many people coming to me for help with minor things or help before cars were sold. I helped others whilst experimenting.

At this point, Shield released their DA polisher (Something I had read about for years) and with the Crazy Detailer bundle price, it was a no brainer for me to try. This opened up a whole new world of detailing and I explored the new ranges of Megs professional, Menzerna, ‘cheats’ such as Black Hole, various pads (Lake County, Menzerna etc), various approaches to corrections etc. I found (as many no doubt have) that the most expensive things (particularly these fancy sounding things that sound like they are pitched as beauty products) are not always the best.

At this point I got the M5 and it really was in poor shape – as many comments as it garners now it really looked like it had been neglected – full of swirls, scratches, full of fallout, requiring a lot of decontamination etc. There were things nobody ever saw that I worked on correcting. I thought about a pro detail on it, but I am glad I learned what to do. It was also at this point that out of necessity I learned how to care for the delicate Nappa leather in these cars, bringing it to the ‘natural matte’ and protecting it even now. I did a bolster redye and fixed a tear that I bought the car with. Haven’t needed much work since.

So that is how I got from sunlight dishwashing liquid and mom’s old cloths to chamois, sponges and off the shelf products before migrating to systems.

These products only get you so far even though I was using relatively impressive hand-applied sealants such as Fusso and Soft99s Tire product at this point (this was lightyears away from anything else I had used in terms of longevity. It was time to try Ceramic coating – something people had been raving about to the point that it seemed too good to be true, yet also impossible to ignore. 

I first paid a visit to Bigfoot Detailing (at that point Pristine Detailing) in an industrial unit at an incubation hub. I only found them because I was interested in Gyeon and they were listed as suppliers. Crazy detailer had brought in Gyeon before but was switching to something else and was in a period where nothing was available for a couple of months. It was at this point that I decided I was going to do a total overhaul of what I was using as well as approach. Off I went to them and was really impressed with what I saw (even then before they started working on delivery details for Koenigseggs) – Porsches and a Countach undergoing incredibly meticulous work. I decided to try Gyeon One and bought all the stuff to go with it including various types of cloths etc. My garage is down-lit but I also got some LED lights and a headlamp. I spent a solid 10 hours if not more prepping the M5 before finally applying the coating. There has been no going back since and you will see in the pic that there are a variety of Gyeon products I use. 

This industry exaggerates a LOT when it comes to product with many paid shills in many places and detailers happy to talk about mediocre product in glowing terms in exchange for freebies, but for the most part I have been happy with Gyeon and Carpro’s performance vs. claims. You will never achieve them on daily cars, but they also aren’t gone in a month like some other brands. The ancillary products beyond the coating and prep stages are also good but there comes a point (eg with tyre products) where nothing is REALLY going to be much better in terms of longevity due to specific use cases and you might be happier using a shorter duration, cheaper product that is easy to apply vs. eg: Gyeon tyre where you really need a heat gun and very clean surface to get maybe 2 months (in a dry season) better duration than Soft99’s tyre product that is just wipe-on… or Rally which is R50 and is ‘fire and forget’ but lasts a week. Garage queens are a different story….


In terms of the kit that I am using

I use a pro-grade Karcher HD 5/15 pressure washer with various grades of chemicals and associated kit.

I traded up from my Shield unit for a Rupes Mille forced rotation unit. This isn’t one for a novice detailer. Although I don’t consider myself to be a pro, I do feel comfortable with the switch. I do wish I had kept my Shield DA for some jobs though.

I recently added a Karcher Professional Puzzi 8/1C extraction unit for upholstery and carpets. This is an expensive piece of kit but Karcher quality and support in my experience has been exceptional. When I get a bit more time, I am going to do the write up and detailed pics on this unit.

I think over time I’ve dealt with most of the car care supply side companies and I don’t think there is a bad one I’ve come across unlike car tuners!! The exception to the community are those who buy a basic machine, do their mates car or a car with extremely minor defects and then think they are suddenly a pro detailer… like that cousin that buys a DSLR and suddenly watermarks all their pics then wants to charge you to cover your kids party. I never wanted to be that guy and hence have never charged for help I have given people whilst experimenting.

I’ve tried and found favourites across things like boutique waxes, sealants, various polishes, compounds, systems, machines… finally being converted to ceramic. Cars currently have a mix of Carpro and Gyeon of various types. It seems graphene may be next.

I’ve had requests and offers of money many times, but in the past sent them off to people who had proper detailing studios, tools, lighting and time beyond anything I could do in my garage… and also because people are people… expecting alot from a little. I have, over the years, amassed enough kit and skill to rival many places in terms of quality and capability. With the gift of space that still eludes me, perhaps this will scale up to greater things one day.

Anyway thanks for reading if you’ve made it this far and the posts on this site should hopefully be interesting to you!