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Please note, this article was an April Fools Day hoax. Please ignore all information contained within - it's all nonsense!

Car Care for Modern Paintwork - Water Based Paint
By Dan Argent April 1st 2006

Several weeks ago I came across a car with the new ”water based” paint... and I have to admit, I wasn’t very impressed. So I decided to spend a few days researching what it’s all about and what it means to car owners, and the car care industry.

If you haven’t already heard, the European Product Directive will ban the current solvent based paints from 01 January 2007. The ruling applies to car manufacturers and to body shops.

Although legislation has banned several kinds of paint and lacquer, they have not specified what it should be replaced with and many companies are experimenting with different kinds, but a water based acrylic is currently the front runner for most motor manufacturers and some have already started to switch. Paint suppliers are already offering the new paints to body shops, and offering free training on how to use it.

The implications for body shops are huge – without solvents to speed up drying, drying times are roughly double that of solvent based paints, even with special infrared and ultraviolet drying lamps, ovens and air blowers. This will mean that body shops will have to buy large amounts of expensive equipment, take twice as long to do any job, and while the paint is wet, it risks attracting dust, sags and runs.
This article is not really concerned with the effect on the painting industry, but it’s worth noting that many small companies that cannot provide a “clean” environment and afford the machinery will be driven out of business – and with the work times doubled, the consumer can expect prices to rise very sharply.

But what effect if any will the new paints have on car owners?
These paints have been around since the 1970s… the reason they haven’t been in widespread use before now is that they aren’t much good! Just as solvent based acrylics are softer and less resilient than the old cellulose based paints, acrylic paints are softer still -- this will rule out using automated car washes for good! Far greater care will be need to be taken when washing your car to avoid scratches.

The other problem is that they have virtually no resistance to solvents, and that over a relatively short period of time, they can dry out, become brittle and lose their water repellent properties.

You may have seen cars with paintwork that looks dry and powdery, this is because the paint becomes oxidized. This is far more common on older cars – the paint contains natural oils which keep the paintwork supple and give it flexibility as the car’s metal bodywork expands and contracts with heat. If the paintwork isn’t waxed on a fairly regular basis, the sun will dry out the paintwork. The wax adds oils and seals them in, as well as adding a protective coating that protects against UV and oxidizing agents.

Waxes are actually a hard resin, and that’s why they work. In order for you to get them on your car the resin is dissolved in solvents. But as the new water based paint has little resistance to solvents, we will no longer be able to use traditional waxes on our cars, doing so will literally dissolve the paint off the car in a period of 12-18 months.

But without a protective coating the water based paint will dry out as the oils in it evaporate. So the problem is to replenish the oils and add a protective coating to seal them in without using solvents. The car care companies have been working on this problem and come up with several novel solutions.

As oils are themselves solvent, they have needed to use the same kinds of animal fats used in hand cream products (so this is bad news for vegetarians), in fact hand cream has been found to be very good at replenishing the water based paints without any modification, but without synthetic or natural wax resins to seal them in, the results will last only a few days in warmer weather.

Professor H.Oaks of ICT Institute of coatings technology told me that in order to solve this problem they had turned to one of the oldest paint ingredients know to man.
In an email he told me,

“Archaeologists have analysed paint from ancient Egyptian artifacts and found that the base is made from albumen (egg whites). As these paints are still good after 4000 years, we know that albumen can certainly last a long time when mixed with the right ingredients to preserve it.”

Prof Oaks informed me that in the paint and car care industry this approach has become known as the ‘mayonnaise solution’ – I didn’t understand this at first until he explained that oil and egg whites are the main ingredients in mayonnaise. In fact, it is to the food (and cosmetics) industry that many major manufacturers have turned to help develop the latest generation of car care products.

AutoGlyn’s technical director, Ivor Wacsiende said -

“We teamed up with the people from Hellmann’s, both for supply and with help in developing our new wax. They had been working on a low fat mayonnaise, so it was quite something for them to get involved in an extra fat mayo!
You could actually use a normal table mayo on your car and it would certainly work in the short term, but it’s not to be recommended. It contains salt which will speed up oxidization of the paintwork. There is also a problem with bacteria feeding on the egg and animal fats. Hellmann’s suggested that we could irradiate the new product. This has been a solution available to the food industry for decades but irradiated food has never been popular with consumers, after all, who wants to eat radioactive food even if the radiation is at very safe levels. It’s not a problem we would have as nobody is likely to want to eat car wax – even if it is similar to mayonnaise. To make sure we will be adding an ingredient which makes it taste very bitter.”

The section on the right has been treated with mayonnaise.

AutoGlyn have promised to send us a sample of the new product (yet to be named) for testing and we will let you know how we get on. In the mean time we tested Hellmann’s mayonnaise on our new Mercedes A Class courtesy car which has the new water based paintwork. We put it on and buffed it straight off again as you would with a paste wax and it was surprisingly easy to apply. As you can see it certainly gave it a shine and plenty of depth. We were advised that we should remove it so we washed it with a ph neutral soap and found that it remained… even using a TFR the section with the mayo was noticeably shinier.

Dave Jape of AutoSmart told me, “There has been a lot of old wive’s tales floating about concerning water based paint, that it wasn’t as good as the old paint, but our tests have shown that it is as good as, if not better that acrylic if treated in the right way. We have a complete range of products due for release at the beginning of May and we think that the transition should be fairly painless. In fact, the change is something of a boon to European car care companies as the American manufacturers have been slow on the uptake.” (The legislation doesn’t apply to US car manufacturers).

This last comment made me wonder about the availability of products, especially in the run-up to 2007 as some car manufacturers (most notably Mercedes and Reliant) have already begun releasing some models with the water based paint.

I contacted Swizzol and spoke to co-founder and inventor Dr Finkelstein, who was very proud to tell me that they we producing two new products, the first would be Capon Wax, made from only the finest Brazilian Grade-A white duck eggs, and would be priced at £69 per pot.
The second is an exclusive product containing pistachio nut oil and Turkish quail’s eggs. Unfortunately, for the time being, the export of eggs from Turkey has been halted due to an outbreak of bird flu, and sanctions against Iran have severely affected the availability of pistachio nuts. But I’m informed that it will be available from September, although the £3000 price tag may well double.

Not all American companies are lagging behind, Zamo Bros have already released #134, #135 and #136. Discussion has already begun as to whether egg based coatings can be built into layers … I contacted youngest brother Harpo, but he refused to comment.

We asked Merkin Weaver of Autopia if he could layer egg? He replied, "I'm already on it... It's a painful process, but anything is possible with genetic engineering!"

Please note, this article was an April Fools Day hoax. Please ignore all information contained within - it's all nonsense!


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