- My weapons of choice.

Many of the friends and colleagues whom I regularly offer a lift in the Focus ST, compare the experience to 'being in a rally car'. This has been particularly true of late because my car looked strikingly like it WAS a rally car. Or had at least been in a rally. Picture black wheels, but not from nice satin black paint, but about 6 months worth of accumulated brake dust. Imagine triangular mud splashes which stretch from the front wheel arch to the rear roof spoiler.

So why did you leave it so long?

Well, if I'm honest I STILL didn't feel like doing it particularly. However, it was getting to the point where I was concerned I couldn't actually see very well out of the mud-smeared side windows. I've had a fairly harrowing last few weeks and months. My mum was diagnosed with Cancer some years ago. She refused surgery, but did her best to follow the rest of her treatment plan. Sadly, her best wasn't good enough. For about three months she was in and out of hospital with more emphasis on the 'in' than the 'out'. I was visiting almost daily, and besides the emotional drain of watching somebody go through that, from a purely practical point of view, it took up a lot of time. I'm not complaining, but working full time, having young kids and trying to maintain a semblance of normality for their sake meant some things had to give. One of which was regular car washing.

But it's not actually bad - washing your car?

To be honest, no - it isn't. It's actually quite cathartic. It's just time-consuming, at least if you want to make a good job of it. It was a nice day though, sunny, but cold. I genuinely found the isolation and purpose satisfying.

Nice to actually see it shiny again.

Nice to actually see it shiny again.

I used my pressure washer on this occasion. Now personally, I don't think it's a great idea to use a pressure washer on your car often. It's maybe not great for the paint and perhaps risks forcing water to where it shouldn't be.

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Pressure washing technique in action.

However, it's also good for forcing crap OUT of where it isn't supposed to be and removing moss and algae from window seals and such like. What's your take on the pressure washing thing? Good idea?

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After blasting most of the crap off and wetting the car up, I resorted to the good old fashioned bucket and sponge and a brush for the wheels.

The main weapon of choice for this wash.

The main weapon of choice for this wash.

Once I've thoroughly sponged the car all over and soaped it up good n' proper, I was back on the pressure washer. I went over the wheels twice. I think getting the calipers painted red is an expensive option on the ST so it seems a shame to leave them 'brake dust black'. Hence I gave the wheels two really good goings over with the brush sponge and pressure washer.

Red Calipers.

Red Calipers.

For the benefit of my good friend and colleague Mr. James May - the red Calipers are STANDARD. Not an aftermarket thing. It looked pretty decent once I was done. I was genuinely pleased with the result:-

The finished article. Well car, I still need to finish THIS article at the point where I'm writing this caption.

The finished article. Well car, I still need to finish THIS article at the point where I'm writing this caption.

So I normally like to wash my car once a fortnight. Maybe slightly more in the winter and slightly less in the summer. How often do YOU wash your motor?

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I did offer to wash the present Mr.Stanley's Toyota off too, but it'd already taken me an hour and she wanted me to come in and help her with the soul-destroying drudgery of housework instead. She didn't word it like that. She actually voiced a concern that I'd get cold if I stayed out any longer. I don't buy that, but I think she knows I don't, at least it's nice to have someone PRETEND to be concerned about you.

In the summer I sometimes dry the car off with a chamois to avoid streaking, but I rarely if ever wax. I'm certainly not one of those people who spends six hours with a clay bar applying seven coats of wax and sealant. Cars are for driving, not polishing, but they do make you smile when they look nice.

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Sadly, all this effort was somewhat wasted when the next day I parked on the works car park near some pine trees and we had a mini storm. Ten minutes of blustering wind and my car was coated in a 2 inch thick layer of pine needles.

The temptation is to call into an automated car wash or drop by the local eastern european carwash place. This leads us to two important questions:-

1: Do you trust an automated carwash with your pride and joy?

2: Do you trust Sergi and his illegal immigrant mates with it?

It also leaves you with a moral question. The hand carwash industry in the UK has a reputation for people trafficking and slave labour. If you use their services are you perpetuating this sphere of criminal activity? But then if you DON'T use them, are you ensuring Sergi won't be able to afford food and will therefore be forced into a life of petty crime? Will it be YOUR fault that some Ukrainian illegal immigrant held up a petrol station?

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Apologies for the lack of articles over the last few months. I've had a lot on my plate. I still do, so normal service sadly, WON'T resume immediately. I might have some fun posts dripping in sporadically though. The new car itch is growing, and I have an expanding list of possibles to consider, and write about.

Martyn Stanley

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