Q: After seeing all the reviews and results people are getting from their BigFoot polishers I’ve decided I want to get one. I’m not doing this for a living, but I have 3 cars at home to polish myself and sometimes I’ll detail my friends cars for some extra cash. I’ve been polishing with a porter cabel and the griot 6” polisher for awhile and I get good results but I think it could be faster if I had better tools. Because this is a hobby and not a job I don’t want to buy the wrong tools.
I’m just lost because there are so many options from RUPES and I’m not even sure I know what everything is for. What polisher or polishers would you recommend for me? Do I need a mini? How about the Nano? Is the Mille better than the Mark II?
Thanks for your help.
Chris from Birmingham, AL
First of all congratulations on your decision to upgrade your polishing system. RUPES BigFoot Polishing Systems are considered among the best in the world and are certainty the most innovative. Many years ago, I walked a similar path as you. I purchased a polisher to polish my own vehicles, and a few friends. Two years after that purchase, I was traveling the world detailing cars. It is the passion you have that fuels many of the best detailers today.
Since its inception, BigFoot has grown to include three polishing movements and four systems:
LHR21 Mark II Random Orbital Polisher
LK900E Mille Gear Driven Polisher
LH19E Rotary Polisher
LTA125 Triple-Action Random Orbital Polisher
Dual-Action Random Orbital: This range of tools includes the “15” and “21” Mark II’s, the Duetto, the Mini, and comprises two of the three Nano movements. All BigFoot Random Orbital Polishers feature a large diameter orbit, which means they move the pad a great distance per revolution. This style of polisher features a driven orbital action, but the rotation of the pad is free spinning.
Random orbital polishers don’t create swirl marks, are the least likely movement to damage paint, and with the correct orbit size and pad/compound system, can deliver awesome results in as little as one step.
Traditionally, random orbital polishers feature an orbital diameter of 5/16th of an inch, or 8 mm. The BigFoot Mini, BigFoot Duetto, and Nano feature an orbital diameter of 12 mm. This provides a boost of up to 50% in polishing speed. The “15” features a 15 mm orbit diameter; or nearly double of a traditional orbital polisher. . The “21” receives its name from the massive 21 mm orbit, which almost three times the power of a traditional orbital. Orbtial Move
This increase in movement requires specifically designed polishing pads that can deliver the tool’s action to the paint as well as balance the vibration inherent to any orbital tool’s design. RUPES also designed specific polishing compounds tuned to the random orbital movement and designed to ride the surface of the pad.
There is another system called the Triple Action which utilizes the random orbital movement, but uses an epicyclical gear assemble to double the torque of the tool. This is an innovation for air-powered tools but is not pertinent to our discussion.
Rotary: The rotary polisher is likely the oldest polisher style and the simplest. You squeeze a trigger (or move a dial or both) and the pad rotates at a different rate. Although you didn’t ask about a rotary polisher specifically Chris, I did want to touch on it because it is part of the BigFoot offering. The RUPES BigFoot is lightweight, extremely powerful, and can run at very low RPM’s without overheating. It features a specific set of pads designed to maximize the power of a rotary and cutting-edge polishing compounds. The learning curve or rotary is rather steep and typically best suited for professional operators. Plus, you stated you are already comfortable with orbital tools, so we don’t want to deviate too far from that familiarity.
Gear Driven: Gear-driven orbital polishers strike a balance between the free-spinning movement of a random orbital polisher and powerful rotation of a rotary polisher. This unique polisher category features both an orbital action and rotary action that is locked together inside the tool. They are not quite as safe as a random orbital and can sometimes create a swirl-like polishing mark. They are not quite as powerful as the fast-moving rotary, but they are much safer.
Traditionally, gear-driven orbital polishers have been hard to control, vibrating and running hot as they drag you across the paint. The forced rotational movement made them a great choice for concave surfaces and edgework. The BigFoot Mille is RUPES’ engineering marvel in this category. The size of the orbit, the number of orbits per rotation, and the RPM range have all been tuned to reduce (or eliminate) the drawbacks normal to this movement. RUPES then developed polishing compounds and pads which are tuned to give the user the smoothest experience possible.
Now that we have a brief overview of the different polishing movements, let’s pick the best one for you. Since you are primarily polishing your own vehicles, and some friends and family on the side, we can probably forego the power of the rotary, for now. This leaves us with two choices… The BigFoot Random Orbital or the BigFoot Gear-Driven Mille.The problem with answering this dilemma is that both tool systems are excellent, each with slight differences. Both roads lead to Rome (or in RUPES’ case Milan), but each road is different.
Random Orbital Pros: No swirl marks, safest tool design, can reduce time by reducing steps, reduction in compound usage, and the most similar to what you’re already accustomed to using.
Random Orbital Cons: May require different tool sizes with different orbit/pad diameters to cover every vehicle perfectly, especially on edges and in tight spaces.
Gear-Driven Pros: Mille comes with two backing plates, safe, hard to create polishing marks and can be used to edge due to the gear-driven rotation.
Gear-Driven Cons: Not quite as efficient as a Random Orbital at finishing and may require additional steps to get to your desired results, especially if the paint is soft or haze-prone.
My personal preference would be to team up the LHR15 Mark II BigFoot Random Orbital Polisher with a LHR75E BigFoot “Mini” Random Orbital… This will give you two easy-to-use systems that will work well with just about any vehicle size and shape. If budget is a concern you could opt for the LHR15ES (first generation) polisher which saves you some upfront cost and would still be a HUGE upgrade over the tools you have been using.
If you’re not quite ready to invest in multiple tools for your personal use then I’d suggest the LK900E Mille as your best option as it eliminates some of the need for the smaller tool on edgework. This does really illustrate why RUPES develops so many options, no one tool is ideal for every single situation. Having multiple options to choose from lets you piece together a collection that provides you the most effective and efficient solution for your particular needs.
The last question you asked is if you need a Nano –
No, detailers have detailed for years without the amazing versatility of the Nano, so it is certainly not necessary, but the ability to switch movements (3mm random orbital, 12mm random orbital, and rotary), pad sizes (1.2 and 2 inches), and two power options (battery and corded) certainly gives professionals and enthusiasts the ability to polish paint like never before. Your decision to purchase a Nano as an enthusiast is probably more about budget and your desire to polish every surface, no matter how intricate or difficult to reach. If you were a professional working in a high-end shop that was delivering perfection for a premium price I would say it adds a lot of value and could be a great addition to your collection.
I hope this was all useful Chris. I appreciate you taking the time to send me your question and your RUPES gift will be on its way to you soon, hopefully around the same time you end up purchasing your first RUPES polisher.
Yours in better polishing,
Todd Helme | Senior Technical Advisor, RUPES USA
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