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Showing content with the highest reputation since 02/28/2013 in Tutorials

  1. 3 points
    I made the DIY because I couldn't find one specifically for the RX330. Lexus also apparently think no RX330 owner would ever change their own oil because they don't tell you how to locate the oil dilter and drain plug in the owner's manual. I hope others find this useful. Please comment. I have a 2004 RX330 and after 23,000 miles, I've decided I'm going to do minor maintenance myself. You'll need: - 5qts of 5w-30 oil - oil filter (see info below) - drain plug gasket (see info below) - 10mm socket wrench - 14mm socket wrench - oil catch container - oil filter wrench (I used the nylon strap which seems pretty versitile) - either jack stands or ramps - funnel - rags to soak up dripping oil Part numbers: Lexus parts: 90430-12031 - Gasket Oil Drain Plug 90915-YZZD1-01 - Oil Filter - 6 Cylinder Toyota equivalent: 904-3012028 or 3012031 drain plug gasket $1.04 089-2202011 oil filter $4.99 1) Jack up the front of your car on stands or use ramps. The RX330 weighs 3850 lbs so make sure your ramps/stands can handle it. You might be able to get away without raising it if you slide on the floor, but it's tight. 2) Pop your hood and unscrew off the oil cap. I stuck a yellow funnel in mine. Notice the yellow dip stick on the left. 3) Lexus put some cosmetic plastic panels to make the "less car savy" believe the car is a magic transportation pod with no ugly mechanical internals. You'll need to remove two of them to access the filter and drain plug. The orange highlight is the panel that hides the filter, and the purple arrow shows where the panel that hides the drain plug is. 4) Get under the car to look for the drain plug panel (purple arrow in above picture). The panel will look like this. Remove all the 10mm bolts. 5) With the panel removed, the drain plug is revealed. Get a 14mm socket wrench and loosen the bolt. Position your oil catch container and remove the bolt. Lexus engineers did good.. they designed the bolt angle so the oil shoots down instead of to the side. Very nice. Remove the drain plug bolt AND its gasket. If the gasket is not on the bolt, it's probably still stuck to the oil pan. Remove the gasket and discard. 6) As the oil is draining, work on removing the panel to the oil filter (orange). Remove all the 10mm bolts (red arrows). 7) There are two plastic clips (green arrows) also holding this panel on. Using a flathead screwdriver, carefully pry up the center part of the clip just a little. This will loosen the clip and the whole clip can be pulled out. 8) Pull off the panel. The other panels will be overlapped over it, but they flex enough to allow you to remove it. This is what it looks like without the panel. 9) After the oil is done draining, put the new gasket on the bolt and replace the bolt. Tighten the bolt for a good seal but don't over tighten. I don't know the official torque yet. Wipe up the oily bolt. UPDATE: I got the Lexus service info... Torque the drain plug to 33ft-lbs (45Nm, 459 kgf-cm) 10) With the panel off, you can now see the oil filter (orange) and a nice gift from the Lexus engineers: an oil catch (green). Loosen the filter, and residual oil will drip out. The oil catch will guide the dripping oil out the oilpan/drainplug panel so position your oil catch below the catch. 11) On the new filter, dab a layer of fresh oil on the O-ring (the rubber ring around the outer lip of the open end of the filter). Align the threads of the new filter and spin it by hand onto the engine where the old filter was. When it makes contact, tighten by hand another 3/4 turn. Don't over tighten. 12) Wipe up oil drips. For me, even though the catch was there, some oil still dripped all over the exhaust pipe and panels. Wipe this up. 13) Fill the engine with 5w-30 oil, 5 qts. A funnel is helpful here. 14) Replace oil cap. 15) Replace both plastic panels. 16) Shut hood and drive around the block. Park the car on level ground and wait 15 minutes. Check for leaks and oil level. I hope this is helpful to someone. ...
  2. 3 points
    This was requested by a member in another thread. Another member responded that this would be difficult to do because everyone uses different products and he is right. But in all honesty there really is a set sequence of steps that are done when you detail properly. There is some variance in product usage, but not in the technique. First of all I'm going to mention several different possibilities of products used for each step. You'll notice that most of these products are professional grade and probably will have to be ordered online. That is because in my experience the consumer products are just that, designed for consumers who don't know or care about having the best finish possible. Professional grade products give the experienced hobbyist and professional detailer greater control over what is being done with the paint. Here are the ESSENTIALS you will NEED these to get started. -Several Microfiber towels, I say 6, 3 small 3 big. I reccomend them from our site www.lexuscarcare.com or www.pakshak.com. MF will be mush less prone to scratch than cotton. -Several 100% cotton bath towels, 3 or so. These will be used folded up to work in swirl removers and polish because they have more "bite" than MF. MF will be used for removal. -Several foam and MF applicators, you can get these where you get the towels. -Eagle one Tire Swipes for spplying dressing to tires -A semi stiff brush for tires and wheel wells -2 nice 5 gallon buckets -Some sort of paint cleaner like Meguiars #9, #82 Swirl Free Polish, 1Z Paint Polishes (which work very well by hand) -Some sort of polish like Meguiars #7, P21S Gloss Enhancing Paintwork Cleanser, #81 Hand Polish from Meguiars. -Some sort of wax. We're following a carnuaba/hybrid system here as thats whats best to use if you're only working by hand. So something like Meguiars #26 Tech Wax paste, P21S, or Meguiars NXT, Poorboys EX or EX-P, Blackfire woul\d work well -Glass cleaner- I reccomend Eagle One's 20/20. -An all purpose cleaner like 1Z Cockpit Premium for the interior plastic and carpeting with a nice soft brush. -Woolite and water dilluted 5:1 for leather -A good tire dressing for the tires and the wheel wells after they are washed. Things that would be NICE: -A Porter Cable dual action polisher with 2 cutting pads, 2 polishing pads, and 1 finishing pad. Its tempting to buy a cheaper buffer from Sears or Pepboys or something but trust me when I tell you, if you want the best and safest results the PC is worth the investment. Cheap buffers (Waxxpro, Craftsman) have weak motors that bog down and cumbersome bonnet type systems that either remove too much or not enough paint. If you're gonna spend the bucks anyways, spend twice as much and get the right tool for the job. -A higher cut compound for real swirl removal with the PC like Meguiars #83 Dual Action Cleaner Polish, Poorboys SSR2, Menzerna Intensive Polish -A Bissel Little Green Clean Machine for cleaning carpeting -Plexus plastic polish for all clear plastic -Clay (ClayMagic or Mothers) First clean the interior. Spray the all purpose cleaner on all plastic parts, agitate with the soft brush and wipe clean, use the woolite on the seats and wipe off with a damp towel. Vacuum the carpets well and spray the cleaner and agitate of needed. Pay attention to the nooks and crannys! Always do the interior first so you dont get dust on clean paint. Now, nextthing to do is wash with a good carwash using a good Microfiber, Chenile or Lanswool mitt. Use two buckets, one with soapy water and one with clean for rinsing the mitt after each pass. Wash in straight lines only, never touch the paint in circles. Wash from the top down then do the wheels last as that is where the most grime is, you don't want to drag that up onto the paint. If its hot rinse each panel after washing it. Dont forget to scrub the wheel wells! Next if you have the clay, clay now. Resoap each panel, clay, rinse until the whole car and the windows are done. Now dry the car using your MF towels, use two towels again in straight lines until the car is dry. Now, dress the wheel wells by spraying the protectant up inside them, then spray the protectant on the tire swipe and do the tires. I always do this before the next steps so it doesn't leave overspray on the car. Now its time to start detailing! If you have moderate to heavy swirls and you have the PC start with it, the DACP and a cutting pad, only work 2'x2' sections at a time. Don't use too much DACP, 3-4 dime sized drops a panel is plenty. Make each section look its best before moving on. Use the PC at high speed (5 or 6) and use random overlapping strokes with moderate pressure until the product almost dissapears. The swirls will come out it just may take time. This stage could take hours so be ready for that but the results are worth it. Work your way around the car, when it stops working as well swap out the pad for a clean cutting pad thats why you have two. If the swirls aren't bad use DACP with a polishing pad instead in the same way. If working by hand fold up one of the terry towels into 8ths, apply the #9 or #82 and work into the paint using moderate pressure. Again work 2x2 sections until almost clean and make each section look its best before moving on. This will not remove all swirls but thats left to later steps to hide. If you used the DACP and a cutting pad then you need to go around with DACP and #9 or #82 and a polishing pad afterwards as DACP and a cutting pad will leave micromarring behind. Next, polishing! If you have the buffer use a clean polishing pad and your polish of choice, use it like the DACP but you don't have to work it as long. If by hand same deal, fold up a terry towel and go to town. Now, stand back and admire the work. The paint should be perfect now, no swirls, smooth as glass, good proper color. This is where you look for areas of problems and do them again until it looks right. Now comes the waxing! You can wax by hand or by PC with the finishing pad. Use straight lines and put down a thin coat. Wait depending on the instructions on the wax then buff off IN STRAIGHT lines with an MF towel. Layer and add coats as you see fit. Don't forget to wax the wheels. Next is windows. Get your 20/20 and some paper towels, and newspaper. Spray the 20/20 on the paper towel until its soaked, then scrub it into the window. Next, wipe clean with the newspaper, inside and out all the way around. You can now wax the windows if you'd like but its not neccisary. Now thats it, you're done, sit back and admire your work. Watch for missed patches of wax and wax stuck in creases and crevices. Congratulations!
  3. 1 point
    http://youtu.be/vqVMf8uauhs Video by Simplyaddtions
  4. 1 point
    For those of you who are planning on tinkering with the ECU, or any of the other troublesome critters behind the glove-box and kick-panel, etc.: First read everything completely - you will have a good idea of what to expect. These instructions are for a '92LS 400 (gen 1), and may or may not apply to other year models! 1. Open the glove-box (GB), and look carefully for five plastic "plugs"; I say carefully because these are felt covered and are cunningly camouflaged to blend in with the luxurious felt lining in the glove-box! There are three on the bottom and two on the roof of the GB, evenly spaced apart; 2. On my car ('92LS400), I used a small electronics type flat-blade screwdriver (2-3mm blade width) to carefully pry up (down if you are working the roof) the plugs. Set them aside where you can find them again (important); 3. Look at the left and right sides where the GB open door is supported by flat arms - if you look carefully, there are odd-shaped plastic caps on the ends preventing the flat arms from wandering off and allowing the GB door to flop around uselessly. Identified them? 4. Using the same small screwdriver, put the blade between one of the arms on the outside but on the inside of the plastic cap, and very gently pry it off - they should be pried off sideways - toward the driver's door for the support on the left and toward the passenger door for the one on the right. By way of explanation, the GB door has two small plastic pivots/dowels facing outward and the supporting arms slip onto these two dowels/pivots, and the caps simply slide onto the pivots to keep the arms in place. Sorry I cannot provide a better description, but if you work carefully and gently nothing should break. Got these two things off? 5. Move the two supporting arms off the pivots and get a wide thin, but hard plastic sheet to use as a wedge/prying tool ( I used two or three small flat bladed drywall applicator tools and risked damaging the dash - happily no damage resulted!) Explanation - you are going to pop out the GB liner which should now be free, except for the two supporting arms; Insert the thin plastic wedge into the space above the felt liner and the GB opening and gently pry the liner box out - it is one unit and you will have to work it, perhaps from right to left or left to right, but it is relatively easy to do; it may help to carefully use another small screwdriver at the top left and right corners because the dash material may have swollen and covered the edges. Once you have worked the liner loose, you will need to maneuver it around a bit because the right (passenger side) support has a spring retractor mechanism built into the liner and you cannot simply pull the thing straight out; you will also need to disconnect the lamp, so while maneouvering the liner, do this as well; 6. A cautionary note is in order here - the left GB supporting arm appears to be free-floating once the pivot stay is removed; I would suggest taking it out and putting it somewhere safe until you are actually replacing the liner. I simply left it in place expecting to hook it back up when I was done, and the ill-begotten offspring of unmarried parents disappeared, possibly into the bowels of the beast. I can assure you the air around turned several shades of blue, but that's another story! Just learn from my mistakes. Also, set the liner someplace it can't get sat on after you get distracted by your freely expressed opinions about Lexus engineers, technicians and their ilk for making it such a pain to get to things! 7. When the GB liner is out look for two 10mm bolts at the bottom right and bottom left - these were hidden by the lower part of the GB liner and must be removed. 8. Next remove the lower kick-panel; this was a RPITA (the "R" is for royal), but thanks to Freegard, I finally got if off! Look for three plastic fasteners going directly upwards - these are very close to the firewall and not easily dealt with; I thought they were metal and "screwed" around for awhile not getting anywhere (air turned blue again with vituperation toward certain engineers, and their ancestors who are probably very, very upset) - they are best dealt with using a "clip remover tool" some kind of gadget that slides under and allows levering/prying them out. Got the clips out? 9. Find some space at the top of the lower kick-panel on the right and left, where the panel abuts the one above it; once you have a good grip, pull it straight out toward you - this means parallel to the ground; there are/should be four spring loaded clips that hold the lower kick-panel in place once the plastic clips are removed. It may be a bit hard, since the clips don't readily pop out, but you will not break anything if you pull it straight back and have removed the plastic clips; you will still have to disconnect the courtesy lamp at the bottom of the kick-panel before it will come free so don't horse it yet! Got that out? 10. Look at the bottom of the middle panel - there should be four 10mm bolts (going upwards) securing this to the chassis/dash frame. Note also that there are two spring clips that also hold this panel in place. I think the two middle panel spring clips are really for positioning it correctly - i.e., to line up things. Remove the four bolts, and pull downward gently; wiggling may help, but it will come out. Again, you certainly don't want to horse things here because the ECU is mounted onto this panel and the ECU has a *@#!load of thin wires coming out of it and you don't want to dislocate any of these! 11. Put things back following the above process in reverse order and you are done! Whew, time for a well deserved beer break and figure how to get a replacement GB support arm!!!
  5. 1 point
    Anyway, for those who may need to change out the driver side coil on a '92 LS400, the following may be helpful. Also posted parts info on the bottom of this post, for those who need it. Sorry, but I don't have any pictures. One important note: I checked my original coil and the new coil with a digital Ohm meter, but saw no difference in the readings, but maybe the meter was not calibrated low enough. So, for all of you out there with similar symptoms and you have ruled out other issues, do not depend upon the meter readings for the coils!!! 1. Disconnect the battery and remove it completely out of the engine bay. You may need to remove the plastic cover thingys first. 2. Disconnect 3 connections at the coil - the coil is on the drivers side between the left bank of cylinders and the fuse box, about 8 inches down. You can see the high tension wire plugged into it; To disconnect these three connections, you need to carefully press the locking tabs on the sides and gingerly wiggle them off. This is the third hardest part; if you have passed this point, you are almost there; 4. Get a 10mm socket and a 2 inch extension with a ratchet - 1/4 inch drive works well because of the tight space; the coil is mounted on a bracket which is bolted to the engine block in two places - one (10mm bolt) is in front right behind the serpentine belt; reach in put the socket onto the bolt and loosen it counterclockwise. Don't make the mistake of loosening the white plug bolted onto the bracket - it is also a 10mm bolt, but you don't need to take that one off. The correct bolt is a little further back in, and actually bolts onto the block. Not sure what will happen if you drop the bolt, so don't do it! 5. Get a 14mm wrench - a long handled on will be better, since a socket and ratchet won't help you with this one. Because the whole setup is just above the A/C compressor, there is not much room to work here. It it not hard to get out, but you will need to fit the wrench and loosen, repeatedly until it is loose. Again, not sure what will happen if you drop the bolt, so don't. This bolt is suprisingly larger. Now that you have both bolts out, you can take a beer break. I did, this was the second hardest part of the job. Anyway, I digress. 6. Now that you have the coil assembly out, you will see that the bracket is held on with four phillips head bolts. Undo them, clean with your choice of cleaner and bolt the new coil onto the bracket. 7. Install the bracket assembly with the 10mm bolt first - this will make it easier to get the 14mm bolt in, which is a PITA. But I digress. Finger tighten the 10mm bolt to where most of the slack is taken up and the bracket does not flop around. Now comes the hardest part - getting the blankety blank 14mm bolt back in. It may feel like it's impossible to get that bolt back in, but take a good look at the engine boss - for those of you who don't know, its a bit of the block that juts out and serves many purposes in enginese. Anyway, note the angle of the boss, and this will give you an idea of how to hold the bolt while trying to get it started. This is where keeping the bracket somewhat loosey goosey helps out. You may have to work the bracket at bit with your left hand, while trying to get the bolt threaded with your right, but it should only take about 5-7 minutes if you're lucky. Tip - use one finger on the head of the bolt, and the other to try to turn it 8. Got the 14mm started? Good, you're over the hill! Tighten the 14mm securely (check the manual for torque specs - I did'nt. Just made sure the darn thing was tight enough so it wouldn't pop out from engine vibrations). 9. Tighten the 10mm bolt behind the serpentine belt. 10. Connect the wires to the white plug on the bracket. 11. Connect the power connection plug onto the coil. 12. Connect the high tension wire. 13. Check to make sure all tools are out of the Battery tray, and install the battery with clamp, cover, whatever. 14. Connect the battery + wire first, then negative. 15. Done. Parts used New coil from NAPA P/N#IC160; (Original Toyota P/N:19090-50010; this ignition coil is referenced as LH coil in the service manual, so LH is equivalent to the driver's side. This is important if you have to get it from Sewell, since they know coils as #1 or #2 but cannot tell you which is which!); Brake cleaner fluid. Total time to remove and reinstall: about 1 hour (including getting part from NAPA store).
  6. 1 point
    My wife has been bugging me for months to replace the subwoofer in her 2001 LS430 Ultra Luxury Edition. So this weekend started the research to find out how and the cost via Google. This site and other hits had me attonished at how much it costs to replace this 8" subwoofer. Not to mention the labor. The ULE has power rear seats which made it more difficult for this neophite to attempt. Ok now looked at repairing the subwoofer to see if it is possible. Read about hot glue gun and silicon as repair options. Then popped off the cover as recommended using two large flathead screw drivers cuz my hammers and other wedge type tools were too big due to rear window. The cover popped right out. I inspected the subwoofer and as in many writeups noticed the rubber gasket that holds the paper part of the speaker to the circular plastic rim had seperated from this rim. Not only that abour 1/3 of the 1st fold inward was also ripped. No wonder the speaker made such a horrible flapping sound and had to be turned off by the stereo control panel. Being a fisherman who maintains his own boat I thought I'd try to repair the speaker with 3M Fast Cure 5200 Marine Sealant my favorite sealant/glue. Note: It is a permanent fix and almost impossible to remove once cured. Therefore, I carefully applied and smoothed out with my finger the 5200 to attach the rubber gasket to the plastic rim and also repair the 1st inward fold of the gasket (see pic). Even though it says fast cure it's not so fast. It cures in a day instead of days. 5200 is elastic and should move up and down but not as much as the rubber gasket or whatever it is called. The next day tried the 5200 repaired subwoofer out and it sounded great to me but what was more important my wife was happy. She did not notice I accidently got some of that snow white 5200 on the back of the black leather headrest. However, once i noticed it while taking the pic below, I stained over the permanent white 5200 smear spots with black shoe polish. Whew, that was close. You can get the Fast Cure 5200 at HomeDepot for about $9 and $13 at Westmarine. However WM carries 5200 in black so if I did it again I'd probably use black so you would not notice it on black leather. 5200 is like the jumping cholla cactus and will majically attach itself to something important you have thru telepathy so be careful with it. Dennis LS430 http://s185.beta.pho...thowie/library/
  7. 1 point
    2004 RX330 Power Liftgate support/Cylinder purchase and Replacement steps: ============================================================== Issues: ===== - Rear Power Lift Gate was not staying up - Gas on cylinder/support are gone/not holding up. - With Power switch on deskboard/remote - Liftgate raise up all the way and then with warning signals comes back up.. - Also tried turning off power switch next to Glove Compartment and tried manual and it was not able to hold open... Solution: Replaced both Liftgate support cylinders Location for purchase: http://www.autopartsbylou.com/ - purchased ($78) from here - it is exact fit. Steps to replace liftgate Cylinders: =========================== ** Warning: Follow instructions carefully - or go to dealer or shop to have it replace by professional. ** - Power Off - Liftgate on/off switch next to Glove Compartment (Open Glove Compartment and you see switch on left side).. Test with power button from remote and from deskboard to makesure Liftgate moter is powered off... - You need one/two people for holding rear-liftgate while you remove and install new cylinder.. - Also find wooden (2x4) support to hold liftgate so other two people do not get tired of holding liftgate. - Do not remove both liftgate supoort/cylinder at the same time... do one at a time... - You need basic sockets tools kit (Craftsman kit would work) to open four bolts from left and four from right... Assuming all above instructions followed then do following: 1. Remove first TOP two bolts of Leftside Liftgate Support Cylinder. Keep these bolts for TOP 2. Remove bottom two bolts of of Leftside Liftgate Support Cylinder. Keep these bolts for Bottom 3. Install new Cylinder on left side by installing bottom bolts (same bolts for bottom holes) and then top bolts.. make sure tight them well... Follow same above steps for Right side of Liftgate Support Cylinder...make sure tight them well.. Testing: ====== - Once done both side you can gently close/open liftgate manually and see if it close and open... - Then Power ON - Liftgate on/off switch next to Glove Compartment (Open Glove Compartment and you see switch on left side).. - Test with power button from remote and from deskboard to makesure Liftgate motor open Liftgate.. FYI - I have installed on mine, working fine last 2 weeks.
  8. 1 point
    Disclaimer: As always, this is a guide only and I accept no responsibility for any damage or injury that maybe sustained through following these guidelines. One thing that was really annoying me was when driving at low speeds, the slightest bump would give a rattling noise from the front of the car. The culprit being the worn/rusted slide pins allowing the caliper to move slightly and the metal on metal ,slide pin and caliper mount, clanking together. Tools required (excluding wheel removal): 1. Large screwdriver or lever 2. 17mm open ended spanner 3. 14mm ring spanner 4. Copper grease 5. Hammer 6. 21mm socket 7. flat blade screwdriver or chisel. OK, now down to the nitty gritty. Jack up vehicle and support on axle stands, please see this topic for wheel removal etc --> clicky 1. At this point it is easier for access if you turn the wheel, although this is not neccesary it made photographing easier too. You now need to undo and remove the bolts on the slide pins at the top and botton of the caliper. you will need a 14mm spanner on the bolt on the rear, and a 17mm open ended spanner to hold the slide pin to stop it turning. You may not need the 17mm spanner, it depends on how free the bolt unscrews. You don't want the rubber boots twisting too much so have the 17mm available just in case. top. bottom 2. You now need to push the pistons back slightly so that the calipers come off easier. I use a large screwdriver through the piston and into one of the disc vents. Lever towards yourself to push the pistons back slightly. 3. Now remove the caliper 4. Support the caliper (I use an axle stand). for the rest of the overhaul, I have removed the caliper mount to make it easier to photograph 5. The caliper mount showing the dust boot. The slide pins just pull out. If the grease has hardened, they can be hard to budge. A bit of penetrating oil helps free them up a bit and aid removal. 6. We need to remove and renew the boot if it is damaged or split. I used an old chisel and a hammer to remove. 7. Now we need to put the new dust boot on. For this you need to thread the rubber boot into a 21mm socket. Make sure the whole of the rubber part is inside the socket and the socket is resting on the metal washer. 8. Now offer up the socket and boot to the caliper mount and using a hammer gently tap it in. Be careful that you don't catch the rubber boot between the socket and washer/caliper mount. 9. Now the new slide pins. One is referred to as the Main slide, the other as the sub. Not sure why but there you go, the "main" is the one with the indent around the tip. This will hold the bush, which is just a rubber ring in reality and is slipped over the "main" slide pin, 10. Now just apply lithium grease to the pin and slide it in. Re-assembly is just the reverse of the removal. Slide pin bolt torque is 34 Nm (25 ft lbs). Any questions, please shout. Part numbers for fronts: 2 x 47715-22070 Pin, Cylinder Slide 2 x 47715-30060 Pin, Cylinder Slide 2 x 47769-50010 Bush, Cylinder Slide 2 x 47775-30070 Bush Dust Part numbers for rears: 2 x 47715-22070 Pin, Cylinder Slide 2 x 47715-22080 Pin, Cylinder Slide 2 x 47769-50010 Bush, Cylinder Slide 2 x 47775-30070 Bush Dust
  9. 1 point
    The dealer told you to use the wrong type of screwdriver...and you do have to pry. 1. Take out the mechanical key from your fob. 2. Put a flat head screwdriver into the inset space...just inside of the mechanical key slot....and turn it. This will pry open the fob. 3. Remove the old battery and replace with a new CR1632 battery..positive side facing up. 4. Replace the cover of the fob by first pressing on the bottom then the top (The top is the side where the mechanical key is inserted) --Duckman
  10. 1 point
    I posted this on another forum devoted to my car. Since I don't do that much auto work these days (mostly furniture), I thought I would distribute this to a couple of forums for everyones benefit. The Definitive Guide to Cleaning, Repairing and Refinishing your leather! I know I said that I was going to do this almost two years ago. I got involved with various things like South Beach Nap and this got put on the backburner. Sorry, but my problems with insomnia took precedence so I worked on a solution. Background: I have been involved with leather and the leather repair industry for ten years. I started out purchasing a well known franchise for the first five years. During this time, I received a basic knowledge of leather and vinyl. Despite this, I was not satisfied with the quality I was seeing and felt there was some more to learn. I decided to seek out other people and companies in the industry to see what else there was to learn. From my experiences, I was able to get a complete overview of the industry and find out what was good. I even went to work for one of the better chemical suppliers. I know a lot of people have had issues with the mobile tech industry or received a less than satisfactory job. Unfortunately, this is do to both the quality of the supplies being used and a lack of knowledge about leather and repair. Of course, a lack of desire to perform good work is sometimes apart of it as well. Having been around the country, I think I have seen it all. I hope this article gives you both a basic knowledge of repair along with the products that I use. Even if you don't want to perform the work yourself, you can use this information to your advantage when dealing with a mobile tech company or an upholstery shop. In this article, you will read about the products that I use. I have tried just about every product on the market and I think these are the best. You may find others that work well, but I know that these will last. For leather coatings(dyes), I use Refinish Coatings. There are only a handful of major leather chemical suppliers in the world. Refinish Coatings is the distributor to the one that I consider the best out there today. The only other distributor of a major chemical supplier was(is) LRT. I am not sure what is going on with them lately or if they are still in business. LRT's coatings are(were) very good. Also, LRT had the added advantage of carrying around one hundred prematched colors. I know that a lot of people have tried other brands (as I have), but I don't think they are as good as these two. There is a strong possibility that the leather in your auto has one of these two companies coatings on it. Unfortunately, most mobile techs and upholstery shops use the cheapest stuff around or just go to Home Depot and make something up. For other stuff that you can't find at the local store, I use Mobile Tech Products. A lot of this stuff can be found at other vendors like Superior and VinylPro as well. Leather: I will give a brief overview of the types of leather. Stainsafe/Leathermaster used to have a good description of the leather making process, but I can't find it online. The television series "Modern Marvels" had a one hour special on leather. This episode will probably give you more info on leather than you want to know. When discussing the types of leather with clients, I use the analogy of painting and staining wood. Aniline, semi-aniline and suede/nubuck are considered unfinished leathers. In the analogy, unfinished leathers would be like stained wood. The leather is stained or dyed with no or little protective top coat. With this type of leather, you are touching the actual surface of the leather. Unfinished leathers are found mostly in expensive furniture or in rare cases automobiles. This is because of the lack of protection. The leather is easy to damage and in the harsh environment of autos it probably wouldn't last as long. It is also more difficult to clean. You can usually tell if the leather is unfinished by putting a drop of water on it. If it absorbs immediately, then it is unfinished. This test isn't fool proof though. Finished or top-coated leathers are the other type. In the analogy, they are like painted woods. This type of leather has a coating applied to the top of the leather, so you are not actually touching the leather. The thickness of the coating can vary usually thinner for furniture and thicker for automobiles. The coating gives the leather more durability and protection. It is also much easier to clean. Finished leathers make up almost all auto leathers. Just because a leather has a top coat doesn't mean it is any less desirable. Most people prefer the protection and clean ability of finished leathers. Cleaning and Conditioning: This is the single most important step in keeping your leather looking the best it can be. Cleaning the leather will remove all of the dirt, body oils and grime that get onto and into the leather. This is what breaks down and destroys the leather. The products to be used are a cleaner, cleaning pad, and towels or rags. For the cleaning solution, I use a formula that is used by one of the major tanneries to clean their leather. In a five gallon container, I mix 3% surfactant, 10% alcohol, and the rest water together. For the surfactant, you can use dishwashing liquid like Joy (I use something else, but I will keep that secret:)). For the alcohol, I use standard isopropyl alcohol that I get from the drugstore. For the water, I use distilled water. I was told that regular water is fine, but I would would rather not add anything else to the leather. Besides distilled water is inexpensive. For the cleaning pad, I use 3M Delicate Duty scuff pad. It is the white one. It can be found at any drugstore or grocery store. The white, delicate duty pad is preferable to the more abrasive and common green pad. The reason is that the green pad can tear into the leather and scratch the surface. For towels or rags, I use regular detailing towels. You can use just about any clean towel. To clean your leather, you can either spray the cleaner directly on the leather or on to the pad. Lightly scrub the leather with the pad and wipe up the residue with a towel. You don't have to use much pressure as the pad will get down into the grain of the leather and pull out the dirt and grime. You can follow the cleaning by wiping the leather down with a clean wet towel. This will remove any cleaner residue that is left on the leather. If you see some color on the towel, then that means you are removing some of the top coat. Stop cleaning and change to water and the cleaning pad. The reason you may be removing some of the top coat can vary, so always check early. A full car should take less than thirty minutes to clean. The pics are resized 2288x1712. Before: After: Being in a high humid environment like Florida, I don't use conditioner. The humidity keeps the leather from drying out. For those in a drier climate, you may want to use a conditioner. I have used Refinish Coating's conditioner, Lexol, and other brands. Most conditioners have lanolin as there main ingredient, so I would buy on price. The exception is Refinish Coatings and Lexol. Neither one use it in their formulation. A good cleaning is still more important than conditioning. For those that have the real stiff leather, I have found that it is usually the coating that is the cause. If you want to try the rejuvinators, then that should be fine. If they don't work, then you may need to remove the coating. Someone told me what is in some of the rejuvinators, but I better not reveal what they said. It did get me to thinking that flax seed oil might be a cheaper alternative to the name brand products. I don't have any stiff leather to try it out on though. Repair: The type of damage will determine the method to use to repair the leather. If you have cracks or abrasions like on a bolster, then sanding and filling is my preferred method. The products used are palm sander, sandpaper, Refinish Coatings filler, and a pallet knife or razor blade. I will admit that I buy the RC filler more as convenience, as I am not sure it is better than others on the market. After cleaning, I will determine which grit sandpaper to use from 120, 220, or 400. I only use 120 if I find the coating difficult to remove and get down to the cracks. For deep or medium cracks, I will use 220 to start. On these type of cracks, I want to get through the top coat and lightly sand the crack smooth. I rarely sand the crack all the way down, so I don't remove to much leather. At this point, I will apply some leather filler with the knife or razor blade. I will wait between five and ten minutes before lightly sanding. The longer you allow the filler to cure the better. I have waited as long as a day on my own stuff. Repeat as necessary till the crack is filled. Once you have the cracks filled, I will finish with 400 sandpaper. This pic is showing a finished crack repair along with an unrepaired tear: For light or small cracks, I use the same method as above but I will not sand all of the way through the top coat before applying the filler. In this instance, I may lightly sand with 400 or use some acetone on a towel to partially remove the top coat. The acetone will flash off quickly and won't harm the leather. Just don't soak the leather with the acetone. For abrasions like on bolsters, I usually start with 400. This will depend on how badly the leather is abraided. Most bolsters have sections where the leather is more worn than others. If it is heavily worn, the leather can be very thin. You can tell by pinching the leather to see if it is paper thin. To much sanding will result in burning through the leather. If filler is needed, then use the method above. For tears all the way through the leather or holes in the leather, I use a slightly different method. The products used are palm sander, sandpaper, B-2 heat activated compound, Harbor Freight heat gun, pallet knife, VLP glue, sub-patch and chill bar. I have found the VLP glue at Home Depot and NAPA. I use the Harbor Freight heat gun, but there are plenty out there that are better like Steinel. First, you should prep the leather in the same manner as with light or small cracks. Next, cut out a piece of sub-patch slightly larger than the repair area. Then put the sub-patch beneath the repair area. I put a small bead of VLP glue on the edges of sub-patch and press the leather onto it. This gives a nice base to apply the B-2. Now, I will use the pallet knife to spread out a thin layer of B-2 into the repair. I will wipe off any excess around the repair. Grab the heat gun. I will turn it on high and carefully heat the compound. The compound will turn dull and then glossy. When it is glossy, the compound is cured. Immediately place the chill bar on the repair to cool the area. Repeat the procedure till the repair is smooth and even with the rest of the leather. I will usually expand the last layer beyond the repair to help blend the repair. On leather with grain, you can place a piece of graining paper under the chill bar. Most of the time I am dealing with heavily damaged leather, so I have usually sanded it smooth. A pic after sub-patching and glueing: The final repair: That is all there is to it. One final note is if the tear is near the seam or it is seam separation then the repair may not be able to be performed. You can give it a try. If it is unable to be repaired, then I tell the customer to replace the panel. Refinishing(Redying): First, I know most people use the term dyeing or redyeing. I will use the term refinishing instead, as this is the term that is used in the leather industry. Mobile techs will still call it dyeing though. The products I use in refinishing leather are a color computer, Astro HVLP 1.0 tip gun, air compressor, Harbor Freight turbine sprayer, hair dryer, masking tape, Gershon paint strainers, drop cloth, sander, sand paper and Refinish Coatings. Now, onto the process. I start with taking a color reading with my computer. This gives me a formula to mix up to give me a close match in color and gloss. The ingredients in the formula are Top coat low gloss, Top Coat high gloss, crosslinker, and pigments. After mixing, I will strain the mixture twice to remove as much of the dry pigment flakes and crud. I like Gershon, because they have a fine mesh. You should be fine with the strainers from Home Depot. To get the match even closer, I will then do a correction. I realize most don't have access to a computer. I believe Refinish Coatings will do a custom color match. You can call and ask. Depending on how much repair work was done or how much of the leather needs to be refinished will determine the amount of prep work. If the spot is small or there was very little repair work needed, then I may just use acetone to remove some of the top coat. Put some acetone on a towel and wipe the area a couple of times. You should see some of the color come off on the towel. This is what you want and will mean the leather is ready to be recoated. If the leather is more heavily damaged or is old, then you may want to go down to the base leather. As in the repair process, I will sand the coating and use acetone to try to get the old coating removed. Bare leather will be tan or light gray. These seats took forever to get the coating off. Once the leather is prepped, I am ready to recoat. A prepped seat: The first coat is with Refinish Coating's Base Coat. For a big job like the whole seat, I will use the turbine sprayer. If it is a small job, then I will use my Astro gun. Spray with light overlapping coats. The gun should be six to twelve inches away from the surface of the leather. After coating, use the hair dryer to cure the coating. Don't worry about over heating the leather, as the air won't be hot enough to do any damage. I will apply between two and four coats. The base coat will also partially fill in small cracks and imperfections. I finish this step by lightly sanding the base coat with 400 grit. This will smooth out any imperfections in the spraying. Wet coated before drying: Base Coated: The final coat is the Top Coat. Same application technique as with the Base Coat. It usually takes around four coats to get enough color on the leather. I will sand the top coat before I apply the last coat. This will insure that the coating is nice and smooth. Lightly sanded before final top coat: Finished Seats: For a quick alternative, you may want to try ColorBond. It comes in a spray can and there are prematched colors. I am not sure how close of a match the colors are, but they are available. I have only tried ColorBond on hard plastic, but it worked really well. Conclusion: Well that is all there is to it. I hope this has been helpful. The big decision will be whether it is better to just replace the covers or repair/refinish. This work is mostly time consuming, so you will have to determine if the time is worth it. If you have most of the big stuff, then consumeable costs should be less than $100. To do a whole car will probably take less than a quart each of base and top coat. The other stuff you can get by with the minimum quantities. In contrast, replacement covers from Katzkin and other vendors can be pretty reasonable.

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