The Robservatory

Robservations on everything…

 

Automobile

An easy and effective way to repair small chips in auto paint

I try to keep our vehicles looking as good as possible for as long as possible. My kids know that this means long walks from the out-there-no-way-to-get-dinged parking spot to our destination. It means I spend a lot of my free time hand washing our cars, because I don’t trust the automated variety. It means lots of vacuuming and leather cleaning and Windexing and who knows what else.

But the one thing that has—until recently—stumped me is repairing small chips in the paint. For years, I’d buy a bottle of the factory paint and a bottle of clear sealant, and do my best to dab, smooth, and seal. But the results were never very good—sure, the chip was covered, but you could still see exactly where it was—many of my cars have had repaired areas that looked something like this (though not quite this bad)…

While effective at preventing any further expansion of the chipped area, the results were far from pretty.

Then I read about Dr. ColorChip, and thought I’d give it a try. You can also buy their kits on Amazon, but I recommend using their web site, so you can make sure you get an exact color match. There are many similar systems out there, but this is the only one I’ve used1I didn’t receive anything from them for writing this; I’m just a happy customer..)

Using their kit, here’s a set of before-during-after pictures of a small chip repair on my car:

Left: The rock chip • Middle: Paint dabbed and spread • Right: The finished repair • Zoom to see closeups

Compared to my prior method, the difference is astonishing. The fixed area is basically invisible from any distance, and there’s no excess paint surrounding the fixed area.

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Like a kid in a candy store…

Back in January, I spent a morning at the Portland International Auto Show, walking around looking at a huge assortment of new cars and trucks, and even a couple of campers.

As the title says, for me, short of actually buying a new car, that was peak fun. I love everything about cars, and walking around a car show is about as good as it gets: All the new cars, none of the sales pressure of a dealer visit! Here are some of the better shots from the morning’s virtual shopping trip. [View on Flickr]

Of the vehicles we saw, the Acura NSX and the BMW i8 were both very striking looking—much more so in person than in photographs. And I think the Audi RS7, especially in all-black, is one of the meanest-looking cars to come along in a long time. Now I just need to come up with the $7.5 million or so it’d take to buy all the cars on my wish list!

The above album is hosted on Flickr and displayed here via a plug-in; read on if you’re interested in how I did that…

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It’s hard to see the light in a dark (interior) car world

In 1909, Henry Ford described his philosophy on offering customers different car colors:

Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.

While paint is no longer only available in black, it seems that car interiors are—or at least, they might as well be. And to me, that’s a shame—I really dislike dark interiors. (They get overly hot in the sun, they show every single scuff, and they hide some lovely design details. They can also make interiors feel much smaller than they are.)

You’d never know this is a problem, though, when you start looking at cars on manufacturers’ web sites. Visit most any car maker’s web site, and for most any car you’re interested in, you’ll see a mix of available interior colors—black, grey, tan, brown, red, etc.

Using the ubiquitous configuration tools on such sites, you can mix and match your exterior and interior colors to get what you want. (Not all interior colors will be available with all exteriors.) For me, of course, I build with light interiors.

But if you want to actually buy the car you’ve designed, and you like light interiors, you’ll find you’ll probably have to custom order your vehicle. Why? Because dealers (at least in the USA) don’t stock the light colors.

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New technology at the auto service center

I took our truck in for service at the local Toyota dealer yesterday. When I drove in, I had to drive over one of these big black things:

I figured it was just a speed bump to get drivers to slow down as they entered the service bays. But when I inquired as to their purpose, the answer was more technologically interesting: It’s a tire tread depth scanner. As you drive over, lasers shine on each tire, measuring the remaining depth in each tire’s tread. Quoting the immortal Dr. Evil … “lasers!”

Of course, when I parked, the technician went around to each tire, sticking his finger in the tread to check the depth. I said, “What about the fancy machines?” ‘Oh, they’re not quite ready yet; still have to do it the old fashioned way for another few days.’ Oh well. Next time.

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