Steve Smart - BMW Enthusiast

Spring 2016 Detailing Clinic

Spring has arrived in St. Louis. It’s time for us to get our cars cleaned up and ready for the driving and car show season. Mark Parafiniuk of Clear Auto Bra and Saul Davidson of A&G Auto Spa hosted a detailing clinic for the St. Louis BMW Club and the Porsche Club. Clear Auto Bra has a great facility and the perfect venue for an event like this. Mark has installed the clear bra on several of my cars. I’ve been impressed with the quality of his work.

Lucky Winner

A Porsche owner was the lucky winner of the drawing for a free detail. His beautiful 911 was pulled into the work area for inspection. Saul talked with the owner about some areas that could use a little work. To me it looked like the car was in great shape. But Saul has an eagle eye and works at a much higher level of perfection than I’ll ever achieve.

The A&G crew then washed the car outside while Saul talked about some of the fundamentals of detailing and related products. They then used detailing clay to fully prepare the 911 for closer inspection.

A Closer Look

Early in Saul’s presentation he showed us an easy way to detect contaminants on a car’s surface. It’s done by using cellophane from a cigarette pack to “feel” the paint. The rough spots that would be undetectable by bare fingers are evidence that the paint needs more than just normal washing. The clay bar treatment made a big difference.

He also showed us a set of lights he uses to reveal scratches that would otherwise go undetected. It was amazing to see the marks and scratches we would not have otherwise known were there.

A Tool for Every Purpose

Saul had four different buffing machines and a whole host of pads. He explained that different companies who make buffing pads all use a different color coding. One company might use a particular color for their firm, aggressive pad. Another company will use that same color for their softest, least aggressive product.

The choices also seem endless for microfiber towels and the various chemical products used in buffing.

That’ll Buff Out… or Will It?

Back to the 911. Saul identified two areas that needed special attention. The rear fender got worked on  without much fanfare. Find a scratch and buff it out. No big deal, just choose the right pad, product and machine.

The rear deck, however, needed special treatment. Saul started out with a mild approach, but that didn’t remove all the scratches. He worked his way up to more aggressive treatment. Finally, he broke out the wet sanding kit.

Wet sanding is a process I’d only heard of but never seen in person. Saul showed us the proper technique. I have to admit that it certainly appears to be a painstaking effort.

 More Than I Can Absorb

Saul gave us more information than I could absorb in one session. That speaks to the great expertise he has, and the reason why I’ll look forward to the next time we have one of these.

Saul and Mark are both great guys and respected members of the enthusiast community here in St. Louis. They’re often seen at car shows and other automotive events. If you’re a car enthusiast or simply care a lot about caring for your car, you should meet them both. Here’s how to reach them.

Clear Auto Bra | 2328 Centerline Industrial Dr St Louis, MO 63146: Specializing in automotive paint protection film for preventing rock chips.

A&G Auto Spa | 2352 Centerline Industrial Dr, St. Louis, MO 63146: Specializing in auto detailing, including mobile detailing services.

Karting at Pole Position with the St. Louis BMW Club


Anything with four wheels and a motor sounds good to me. Add racing and you’ve got my attention. Add a few friends and I’m all in.

Our April karting gig was a blast at Pole Position, the indoor karting establishment here in St. Louis. We pulled together about a dozen people for some friendly competition and pizza. Not sure which I like better. OK, I lied. I like the karting better. But pizza was in there… somewhere, I think.

The gang started trickling in shortly before noon while I got busy setting up my video cameras. One thing that’s nice about a car club is the instant camaraderie easily felt among fellow enthusiasts. It felt good to see some old friends, a few people I’m getting to know better, and several new acquaintances.

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Turner Motorsport on Periscope at Sebring


The IMSA racing season has already begun with the first race having been run at Daytona in January. This weekend is round 2 with 64th running of the 12 hours of Sebring. It’s the best reminder that spring is right around the corner.

Speaking of spring, I’m getting pretty eager to hit some twisty back roads, as my M3 is in the shop for some important repairs. More on that in another post.

Sebring is always a blast to watch. Frankly, I’m not a guy who pays attention to statistics. I just love watching and going to races. Shame on me, but I barely remember who won the last one. The fact remains, however, that I LOVE endurance sports car racing. A race weekend is always something I look forward to.

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First GoPro Karting Run

I’d like to claim amazing success with tremendous ease. I can’t.

It’s exciting day when a dream comes true, even if it’s a small one. This day has been a long time coming, I finally got a GoPro. To be specific, a Hero4 Black with a handful of accessories.  Taking it to Pole Position, our local indoor karting track, was one of the first things I did with it.

Funky to use

From my perspective, the GoPro is a little funky to use. I’m glad I got the LCD BacPac because the standard display is nearly microscopic. My second point of contention is the fact that I can’t import the video files directly into Adobe Premiere Pro, like I can with footage from my Canon DSLR or my Vixia G20. It’s kind of irritating that I have to take the extra time and trouble to use GoPro Studio to export the file to a friendly format. I can, of course, edit and finalize within GoPro Studio. But its editing capabilities are very limited.

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Wishing for Simpler Times?


Ever long for simpler times? I know I sometimes do.

I recently received this wonderful model truck as a gift. Based on a 1940 Ford pickup, it’s actually a piggy bank commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the Lennox Furnace Company.

It reminds me of days long ago and simpler times. To me, life often seems more complex with all the modern devices I rely on. But I love the great convenience they offer. Don’t you? We didn’t have a microwave when I was a kid, but I’m sure glad I have one now. And I’d much rather use my iPhone to find the stuff I want instead of the Yellow Pages. Maybe the “good old days” weren’t all we dream them to be.

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WHEELS – St. Louis Metro Cars & Coffee: August, 2015

Wheels. For most people they’re just a piece of the machinery that helps them get to work and the grocery store. Car guys see them in a much different light.

Wheels make a statement. Often the first thing customized on a car, they turn the machine into a form of personal expression. Think jewelry.

Even straight from the factory, they elicit powerful emotion.  The Lamborghini’s wheels inspire awe. Nostalgia oozes from the hubcaps on the ’59 Mercedes. I grin with profound appreciation for what the Lotus is wearing.

But it’s not just the wheels. Related hardware like brake rotors and calipers become the object my gaze. I’m strangely attracted to the center bolt on a Porsche GT3 and admire the tasteful addition capping the lowly valve stem on a Ferrari.

Wheels define the car and its owner. “Impeccable taste!” cries one set of forged beauties. The absence of curb rash is proof positive of the owner’s adoring care.  Detailed calipers broadcast to the world that this enthusiast truly cares. And this I now know… only those who bother with careful inspection will notice.

Today my lens takes notice of things my eyes failed to detect. And I appreciate even more the thoughtful application of the cleaning brush, Q-Tip and drying towel. I whisper, “Thank you, car guy, whoever you are.”

Next time I hang out at Cars & Coffee, you know I’ll pay closer attention to the details.



Bifocal Safety Glasses

Here’s a great tool tip I figured out several years ago while working underneath my car.

It wasn’t hard to figure out the importance of protecting my eyes from dirt and grit. With a car that’s several years old the dirt, grit and rust pose a real danger. Nearly dropping a wrench on m eyeball was my wakeup call.

I didn’t want to risk scratching my normal glasses and I found that my vision was blurry with standard safety glasses.

The solution is a set of bifocal safety glasses. They allow me to see clearly when I’m getting up close and personal when turning wrenches while laying on my back. They’ve saved my eyes more than once.

Bifocal safety glasses have a section of the lens with a magnifier. The glasses come in different styles with magnifiers available in different strengths.

It’s pretty easy to find them on Amazon.com and other online sources. A Google search will reveal a pretty wide variety. Mine have rubber nose pieces and rubber bits in the temples for comfort. They are similar to these made by Uvex.

They’re a great way to keep your eyes safe and actually see what you’re doing.

BADGES – St. Louis Metro Cars & Coffee: April, 2015

The first St. Louis Metro Cars & Coffee of 2015 had a great turnout. I didn’t count, but I suspect the cars easily numbered over 300.

At the last minute I decided to grab my trusty Canon T3i. Attached was a 50mm f/1.8 lens. When I arrived I realized that I should have brought my Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 lens.

I found a way to adapt by getting up close and personal. I focused my attention (pun intended) on a few of the badges and hood ornaments.

Of course, I couldn’t resist taking a shot of an E30 M3 motor.

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