Orbital Kit 101 Part 1: Buffer Choices

A Beginner’s Orbital Kit

Purpose: No more general threads asking what orbital kit to buy or confusion over basic accessories such as the backing plate & pad dilemmas.

This is not a definitive guide on the different backing plates, buffing pads, and polishers. Its a guide to get you started seriously on Machine Buffing. Orbitals are safe, easy to learn,  and achieve more than what your meek arms can handle. Somewhere in your head you think that purchasing this orbital set will allow you to do Professional work on more than one vehicle down the road.

Random Dual Action Orbital Polisher

The idea or motion of an orbital is that it “jiggles” randomly in place going back and forth, side to side. This is a huge distinction from the Forced Rotational movement of the Flex 3401. Detailers like orbitals because the motion allows them to wax fast or polish a vehicle slowly. Once you get proficient and fast enough with an orbital you can literally drink a beer in one hand while waxing a car in the other hand.

Positives: relatively cheap, easy to use, great for waxing and light polishing, moderate sound levels, lightest polisher you can use, will not burn paint

Negatives: inability to do fast correction, usually requires large amounts of pressure into the paint, not as finesse-like as a rotary, large vibrations into hand.

The Porter Cable 7336/7424 (PC) was the go-to orbital for the last 10 years or so. However the disadvantages of the PC’s were the lack of strength, bogging under pressure, slow/dwindle power, and inability to correct paint fast enough. PC’s are still proven workhouses and much of the boutique/prosumer market was shaped by those basic orbitals. Fortunately manufacturers and distributors have realized how big of a market it is for an intro/easy to use yet powerful orbital. Enter the Meguiars 110 v2.0, Griots Garage Polisher v2, and the upgraded PC7424XP.

Break it Down

all 3 polishers out of the box :

– have 5/16″ Orbit Pattern/stroke & 5/16″ -24 thread size for backing plates

– can wax, seal, do light to medium polishing

– comes with a backing plate and usual basic accessories such as wrench to remove the backing plate.

– electric variable speed, with improved power designs from previous generations.

– more serious improvements for durability, performance, speed, and control

Porter Cable 7424XP

2500 – 6800 OPM (800 op increase)

4.5 AMP (0.8 increase)

500 Watt Motor

4.77 weight pounds

– Upgradeable 16 gauge 25 foot electrical cord – lengthened from previous version

– 3 Year Limited Warranty – 1 Year Free Service – 90 Days Money Back

– New features include a improved switch design, improved ergonomics, and stronger motor from the previous 7424/7336.

The PCXP is a great buy since its stronger than the 7424/7336. Much of the hype behind the improved strength haven’t lived up to its expectation compared to the Griots & Meguiars Buffers. For approximately $120 you’re still getting an reliable buffer with a wide service center network.

Griot’s Garage 6″ Random Orbital Polisher (v2)

2500 – 6800 OPM

7.0 AMP

850 Watt Motor

5.5 pounds

Either 10 Foot 18′ AWG or 25′ 16 AWG Power Cord

Griot’s Lifetime Warranty + 6 Month Guarantee

– supposedly quieter with rubber coating to reduce vibrations.

– unique adjustable handle

– low end torque for low speed polishing

– backing plate can take the standard DA plate from Lake Country

On paper the Griots Garage polisher has the most raw amount of power bundled with an unbeatable lifetime warranty and 180-day buyer’s satisfactory period. For $130 you’re getting one of the best warranties and an extremely strong polisher.

Some posts have remarked how the stock backing plate and plastic motor housing is supposedly weak. I believe Griots’ customer service will send out a replacement immediately without any questions asked should anything break (though don’t quote me on this). As for the power of the Griots polisher it has been compared to a Flex 3401 polisher. I would say the 3401 is more professional, more finesse like, and has a better constant polishing pattern due to the Forced Rotational design.  You can read more here on this thread.

Meguiar’s G110 v2.0

1800 – 6800 OPM

4.2 AMP

430 Watt Motor

5.5 pounds

1 Year Limited Warranty

– new internal circuit to increase torque on downward pressure demand

– comes with Meguiars Canvas Bag, M68DA Soft Buff 2.0 Flexible Backing Plate

– easy side port access for quick brushing changing, extended wear brushes

– improved rubber cord.

The Meguiar’s G110v2 brings a solid and powerful polisher that will not bog under pressure. The M68A Backing Plate is a 6 inch designed for 7 inch pads. It has great customer service straight from Meguiars, a free bag, included backing plate, and usually free accessories in the bundle. However I would not a 7 inch pad setup even with a stronger motor setup, the coverage area is huge.

Summing It Up

Whatever you choose, be glad to know that the entry line for orbitals starts at $130 and features stronger orbitals. The dilemma is between which 3 buffers of course. Mike Phillips makes a great point in these posts: AutogeekOnline & Autopia. In summary, being upgrades from previous generations all buffers will get the job done in the same amount of time. The choice comesdown to more of what the user does and wants from their DA Polisher.

For the Professional Detailer: Choose the Griots polisher if you want something with a large raw amount of power and an amazing warranty. You can read one view that shows just how powerful the Griots can be.

For the Serious Detailer: Choose the Meguiars polisher for an overall well design and nice setup of included accessories. Here is an unboxing of the 2.0 & chart of designed accessories.

For the Hobbist: Choose the PCXP if you want something that has been previously proven to work and easy to replace parts wise. A more friendly, casual setup for learning and ample opportunity to improve down the road.

In my opinion, the Meguiars & Griots are both slightly new to the market yet offer great features. Opinions are still developing on which to chose. Despite being only released in 2010 the Griots seems like a stronger correction oriented polisher and it has by far the best customer service you can get. The Meguiars is a great overall machine that comes with a lot of accessories. However despite being stronger, the PCXP doesn’t seem like its serious enough for a professional in terms of features.

Next Up: Foam Pads, Backing Plates, Vendor Choices, & More.


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