RUPES LHR15 Mark II Bigfoot Polisher
30% more power than the original LHR15ES!
The Rupes LHR15 Mark II Bigfoot Polisher has a 125mm backing plate for use with 5-5.5" buffing pads. It has full speed adjustment, and utilizes a soft start mechanism for greater control. These buffers are absolutely the best in the business. Period.
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The rupes mark II is one of a kind. Awsome machine and a must have for professionals and enthusiast.
Well, what a difference a little time with the machine makes.
Cliff Notes: Absolutely amazing machine, continuing improved technique makes (for me anyway) a more effective and pleasing experience.
After the initial session with the machine, I was still pretty much astounded by the smoothness and effectiveness of this machine. As I mentioned above, during the initial hours with this I was running into some pad stalling (no washer mod done) here and there but just a few more hours with the thing, focusing mostly on body positioning and manner in which tool was held, have left me with the confidence that the LHR15 Mk II (in addition to the LHR75E Mini I have coming next week) will be able to quickly, comfortably and effectively deal with anything I may throw at it…within reason. Wanna quickly and efficiently correct/detail a fleet of neglected work vans? Probably look to the Flex 3401 in that case. Aside from that, can see why everybody raves about these once ya kinda get a clue what you’re doing. Takes a bit to find that clue but surely worth the journey.
With the above said, I revisited the untouched (aside from clay) driver’s side panels of our construction/plow truck which has seen its fair share of use/abuse. Fortunately the bedside panels of this GMC Sierra had not only contours on the wheel arches but also a few large, shallow, non-creased dents which provided more distinct concave/convex curves and rounded ridges to help work out the occasional stalling issues I had when first using the Rupes. Just because a front grip exists on this machine doesn’t always mean that’s the best place to always grip/hold it and sometimes ya don’t wanna ‘grip’ it up front as you want to cradle the front end in a semi-open hand, right around the side location of the head/pad area, using very light pressure to keep pad on paint while doing most of the specific directional inputs using the rear handle of the machine. In my case it was kinda like grasping the rear handle and using it as a moving ‘pivot point’ while I used the front to guide the head up and down. Using this method on a vertical panel eliminated most of the ‘teeter totter’ effect I experienced the first time I used it.
I also paid more attention to body positioning than I did the first time. Initially I was using the length of the machine to ‘extend my reach’ to get to the furthest areas of a section instead of getting my lazy azz up and moving a bit. While on something like the GG6 this was marginally functional as the pad wouldn’t stall at the limits of reach but when using the Rupes it would disrupt the parallel plane of the pad vs. panel, resulting in slowdowns/stalling/ineffective rotation. It also helped to not plant myself in the center of the lower vertical section I was doing but rather towards the end of a section so I could comfortably extend the ‘pivoting’ movements in a manner that did not require strange contortions to reach the edges of the section. Yeah, I had to move/scoot more as I moved from the front to the back of the truck side but it also had the added benefit of a more comfortable polishing experience at the end of the day as well; my laziness in re positioning was amplified (and corrected) by the Rupes characteristics. Win-win.
I really didn’t’ wanna use a blue Rupes microfiber disk on a work truck so I yanked out the trusty ‘ol Megs D300 and Megs 5.5” microfiber cutting pad and the Rupes sure works nice with this combo. Pads are thin enough to spin well, have always cut well and have just enough foam padding in there to allow them to deal with slight changes in body contours. Generally running at about speed 4 during this step as this combo prefers the ‘low and slow’ approach. Correction was excellent as it always is for me with this combo and the finish was quite nice in and of itself. But it’s never good enough, is it?
I followed that up with the Rupes Keramik Gloss Fine Gel Polish on their yellow pad which worked very nicely. I think the Rupes pad is going to be one of my all-time favorites going forward; stiff enough to remove minor flaws, pliable enough to deal with some contours w/o special handling and no product sling. Smooth as silk to boot and cleans up very well. I was running these at about 4.5 on the speed dial and could see no noticeable wear or ill effects afterwards and had absolutely no overheating with them. Doing the whole truck likely woulda used up 5 pads, probably the standard 6 pads for a large sedan.
Since this vehicle was certainly not worthy of a coating, kinda ‘half-stepped’ it again by using HD Speed on a regular ‘ol white LC Flat pad (about 7/8” thick). Nice thing about the thicker, softer pad is that it flows over contours pretty well but the longer throw of Rupes kinda takes its toll on those pads. I hear the LC flat ThinPros work nicely on the Rupes , will try those at some point. Anyway, the HD Speed can kinda ‘pill’ or clump at times and the machine definitely wasn’t as smooth with these pads but it did refine the finish just a bit more (likely indistinguishable to a ‘normal’ person) but I could tell. I could also feel the added roughness this pad lent to the machine as well and at some points it even sounded like it was taxing the pad. Did launch one across the room but after later washing the second LC white pad seemed OK but I did notice that they heated up pretty quickly during use, even with minimal pressure applied, and the one that launched had begun to collapse in the middle due to heat. The backing plate of the Rupes stayed cool (likely just dissipated the heat quicker when pad removed) but the pad backing and pad itself looked a bit worse for the wear. Going forward, I don’t see using the standard LC Flat pads with the Rupes although perhaps the stiffer orange/gray/yellow would fare better. Having an abundance of these pads from the GG6, I will certainly try and see some time.
Curious as to how the Rupes UHS system performed and wanting to try the Rupes 15 on horizontal panels, I picked out a 2006 Ford E250 Econoline van w/ 151k hard miles on it and taped off a section of the hood and prepped it with a Cobra Clay mitt using WG Uber rinseless as lubricant. Wow, those UHS pads are tough little items, stiff as can be and really don’t get much more pliable once used. I kinda used the pad ‘seasoning’ method that had been suggested on various forums, that is to place 4 or so drops of the UHS liquid on the pad and then run over a very small (almost not moving it) section for about 30-40 seconds to distribute the polish on the pad. I still did get a bit of product sling but likely to be expected when the pad is so very, very firm. The surface of the hood was totally wacked with bird dropping, chemical and water spot stains, in addition to 151k miles worth of stone chips, various deep scratches, oxidation and swirls a-plenty. I look forward to trying the UHS on a vehicle that isn’t so toasted as it did produce a nice glow/gloss and removed the oxidation but the more serious defects that ‘could’ have been removed by strictly compounding remained. Oh well, so it can’t bring a vehicle back from the dead…I woulda been completely surprised if’n it coulda performed that trick.
Anyway, the LHR15 is an absolute treat to use on horizontal panels, smooth, incredibly effective and very, very easy on these old bones. Quick, too. I was always kinda skeptical of how big a difference 8mm vs. 15mm throw would make as far as efficiency and effectiveness but, damn, it sure does make a difference. Basically went for the D300, Rupes Keramik Gloss Fine Gel Polish, HD Speed routine again, then topped both the truck and the van with Collinite 915. As far as the final results on the van hood goes, a little disappointed but it does prove the axiom “Ya can’t polish a turd” which you actually can, it just won’t turn into a diamond without some rotary and/or sanding or other more serious attention.
Probably take a shot at it with some M101 on a purple foamed wool or yellow LC flat pad later (on GG6) just to see what happens. Last time I messed with foamed wool/M101 on our 2003 black Mazda3 ‘training’ car, I took some of the clear off by the 3rd pass. Ooops…glad we traded that car in a few months ago; always nice to have a ‘disposable’ car in poor condition to try the crazy stuff on….you know, kinda like some of our older work vans here.
In the end, totally and completely pleased with the Rupes 15 Mk II; paired with the incoming LHR75E Mini I’m pretty sure that when I start doing ‘vehicles that matter’ when the nicer weather rolls around, I’ll be able to get better results, in less time with reduced physical effort. I have a set of LC HD Orbital Foam Pads as well as a set of B & S Uro-Tec foam pads coming (at 6.99 per 6” pad I hope those work well) so I’ll be able to comment on those as I get a chance to use them. I still think that the yellow Rupes pad is gonna prove to be a very, very versatile pad going forward…it’s just seems to be a perfect combo of smoothness and firmness and paired with different liquids it will probably excel in a variety of areas.
Some suggested the Duetto would be redundant (sometimes I need to be saved from myself) and I kept that in my mind while I was doing the vertical panels and working out how to make the the LHR15 work with them with minimal effort and perhaps you were quite correct…the Mini was a much better companion. Figure I’m still only at about 30% competent with the Rupes so things should be getting even better as more experience gained.
All this was done in about a 55 degree (F) warehouse; pads, liquids kept in office until use. Perhaps in warmer conditions thing will be even more pliable/smooth.
Funny thing is, I now want to get/try a Flex 3401 just to see what that’s like…and yet STILL the Duetto calls to me from whatever reason.
*** I have since added a Kamikaze Beast backing plate to the LHR15 Mark 2 (review submitted); Highly recommended item, incredible smoothness and effectiveness. If the Rupes Bigfoot is gonna get you to the ‘Big Dance’ the Kamikaze Beast backing plate is gonna make ya feel like you’re wearing the crystal slippers while you’re dancing the defects away, light on your feet and the envy of everyone in the room. OK…maybe that’s a pretty lame analogy but certainly not an inaccurate one!
Just kinda a garage hobbyist, been going at it since last April w/ a Griot’s Garage (GG) 6” DA. Mostly using 5.5” LC Flat, LC HydroTech foam pads and Megs 5” microfiber cutting discs. Started out w/ the Wolfgang (WG) Uber Compound, Total Swirl Remover 3.0 & Finishing Glaze 3.0, moved to Menzerna FG 400 (FG400), 2400 (PO83), 3500 (PO106-FA) & 3800 (PO85RD) and have dabbled with HD Adapt, HD Speed, Megs M101 and my favorite combo, Megs D300 w/ their cutting discs; that combo seems to work no matter how hard I try to screw it up. Looking forward to trying the Sonax Perfect Finish after seeing the Esoteric video on it recently and reading some other reviews.
Previous to discovering the financial rabbit hole that ‘somewhat real’ detailing involves, I was pretty much one of those Zaino zealots, each Spring pick up the ‘Showcar Kit’ for $100 or so, clay the car, layer a bunch of Z-5 on it over the Spring/Summer and call it a day. My credit card longs for those days when $100 a season was the usual ‘car-related’ appearance expenditure. Doh!
Anyway after getting our cars polished with the WG ‘Twins’ followed by Uber Ceramic in Spring of 2016 (which will be removed this spring and replaced with the Kamikaze Miyabi x 2 + ISM x 1 ‘cuz that combo is just flat out, no-holds-barred amazing…even on a daily driver in the NE Ohio winters), I kinda got addicted to the whole detailing ‘thing’ and started doing friends/acquaintances cars since I had so much product left after trying numerous things to find what I preferred. Did about 20 or so cars last summer, the problem being that doing a car (most of which were 2 steps of compound/polish during that phase, if not 3 using 3800 to try to eek out more gloss and clarity than a silver Chevy Cruze could give…or deserved), would suck up an entire Saturday (12-14 hours) and leave my hands/arms kinda beat from using the GG6 for that long. Ok…I’m easily distracted so likely a portion of that time was not exactly ‘machine on paint’ time but still…
Why I began looking at something more ‘refined’ than the GG6:
Well, mostly because I wanted to; this is all kinda a hobby for me, never charge anybody to do their cars, and wanted to try moving to something more efficient, smoother and could possibly cut down on the time I spent compounding/polishing. Also, I just plain wanted a new toy, a ‘better’ toy even though it’s pretty much overkill for what I do. The more I read about the Rupes (and long throws in general) the more I heard about needing improved technique to master the tools, something that interested me as well. After watching the Esoteric vids in which they are using the Rupes machines on extremely curvaceous panels, gliding the machine over them in a truly ‘artistic’ fashion I decided that, Yep…that looks like something I’d like to emulate as best I can (although I’m pretty sure I don’t have enough years left in my life to get to that level)
Rupes vs. Griots Garage (GG) Boss
I read and read and read about the advantages/disadvantages to each to each, it seemed that for my particular situation the GG Boss line would better suit my needs, largely based upon the economy of getting a new polisher and associated pads/liquids to go with it. And yet despite the somewhat subjective ‘paper’ advantages of the G15, the Rupes just kept calling to me as a more ‘artistic’ kinda tool so of course I tossed the practical analysis out the window and went with the Rupes.
Ended up with:
Rupes LHR 15 Mark II HD w/ 25ft cord
(6) 6" Buff & Shine Maroon Uro-Tec Foam Pads (Heard some did not like the Rupes Green Pads so this was a substitution)
(6) 6" Rupes Blue pads
(6) 6" Rupes Yellow pads
(6) 6" Rupes White pads
(6) 6" Rupes UHS pads
(6) 6" Rupes Blue microfiber Cutting Pads
Rupes Keramik Gloss Fine Gel Polish 1 Liter
Rupes Diamond Ultra Fine Gel Polish 1 Liter
Rupes Zephir Gloss Coarse Gel Polish 1 Litre
Rupes UHS Polishing Compound 1 Litre
Machine itself: Definitely a nice tool, can tell just by taking out of the box and holding it that it is a solid, well designed implement. HD 25’ cord is nice and heavy, will take a while to get the ‘memory’ out of the cord after having been tightly wrapped and zip-tied in box. No big deal. FWIW, I snatched up a Rupes bag a bit later and that thing is a pretty good complement to the machine, with enough room to hold the LHR15 and the LHR75 Mini with room to spare for other supplies.
Pads: Wow, Rupes pads are pretty dense/stiff. The UHS pads are *really* stiff.
Firing that thing up and getting to work (Technique):
As it’s winter here in NE Ohio, best I could do to try and work this thing is to use it on some work vehicles, mostly Ford Econoline vans and a GMC Sierra pickup truck. Since I had already started working the Sierra w/ the GG6, figured may as well finish it up with the Rupes stuff. Slapped on a blue Rupes pad, dropped a few (3 to 4) drops of Zephir Gloss Coarse Gel Polish on it (middle 1/3 of pad circumference), put pad to paint and hit the trigger on speed 2 to kinda prime/spread polish around. Seemed to be going OK as I got a nice thin layer over a 18” x 18” working area on the side of the truck bed so I ran the speed up to 5…and watched as polish slung itself all over the place. Doh! Had read the various methods/theories on priming Rupes pads so figured I’d run into this. Kept at it despite the sling which I eventually managed to minimize/eliminate as I went along doing more 18 x 18 sections; kinda holding the machine in a very small ‘section’ for the 1st 15 seconds or so helps distribute the ligquid over the pad face as well, pretty much eliminating the slinging product issues. This truck was pretty beat up but the burgundy metallic paint beneath all the oxidation and swirls really wasn’t that bad. Started doing the section passes and immediately discovered that what appeared to be relatively flat sides of the truck bed were anything but as the pad began stalling on first few passes. As I went along I was able to eliminate much of this stalling by (wait for it….) actually paying attention to the pads contact with the surface of the area being polished. Very close attention.
As for the stalling…obviously my technique needs significant improvement. Running the speed up to 5 to 6 certainly helps but it’s gonna be a matter of getting used to not only the machine, but the Rupes pads as well. Just for giggles I put on a Megs microfiber cutting disk w/ D300 and stalling went down 80-90%, likely due to even the smallest amount of cushion with the Megs microfiber discs. It ran like a complete champ with the Megs discs and compound. Those Rupes pads are stiff, although they got a little more pliable as they were used, but they pretty much have no give (blue pad) to accommodate any contours. I have not dropped a properly sized/ground down washer on this thing yet and really don’t plan to do so until I can become competent and minimize the stalling with the thing in its out of box configuration. Since then I’ve had a chance to use the yellow & white pads with both DAT and SMAT liquids in addition to the Rupes liquids and I can see the yellow pad becoming a very, very versatile all around performer for one-step or final polishing.
Another item I noticed is the section pass pattern/area of what with the GG6 was mostly clearly delineated by a squarish/box ‘section’ the Rupes will be more of defining a section by what the contours of the panel are willing to give you. An example would be the area directly over the wheel arch/opening which I used to be able to keep as a ‘box’ with the foam pads taking up some of the play/contour as you got to ridge line that is usually over a wheel arch before it transitions to a narrow flat arch right above the wheel opening. Cutting this section into a curved section of the arch itself and then another from the top of the arch upwards and letting the machine follow the contour as opposed to strict up-down, left-right pattern resulted in excellent results. In short, the contour/shape of the panel being worked on will dictate the appropriately shaped/sized section as opposed to breaking things into little squares. Like I said, this is probably pretty much common knowledge for those who better know this kinda stuff but hey, I’m getting there. The Rupes will spend less time moving in strict straight lines during some section passes than was possible with the GG6, given the specifics of a given panel. Straight lines are surely preferred when possible but have to be more open to abstract section sizes and shapes as well.
Firing that thing up and getting to work (Performance):
Wow, this thing is smooooooooth. On the first try I did get a little pad ‘hopping’ but once the pad got a bit more covered in polish/compound and the speed went up, it smoothed out completely. With the GG6 the ‘natural’ grip on the machine kinda puts one hand directly over the head of the machine which I think unknowingly helps to keep the pad flat. The Rupes, with its overhanging grip on the front, long body with kinda extended rear grip amplifies any uneven positioning with regards to ‘pad to surface’ orientation. I was kinda teeter-tottering at first, which also led to stalling. Again, actually paying attention alleviates this although I do have somewhat of a habit to push down on back of polisher/handle, raising the front up and leading to stalling. Will just have to unlearn GG6-bred machine handling habits. Like some say regarding moving to long-throws, “Forget everything you`ve learned and know from your experience using other polishers.”
Even though it took a bit to become barely marginally functional with the Rupes, the results were quite impressive. Less taxing on the body, quicker results and an overall more comfortable experience and much better results were apparent, even after thinking I was making no progress. Just for giggles I grabbed the ‘ol GG6 and did a vertical section of the truck bed, low and all the way down by the bottom and then did an adjacent section with the Rupes; no comparison. The GG6 had my arms aching by the 6th to 8th section pass (pressure + position + ergonomics) while the Rupes had finished up nicely after the 5th pass and without the need to apply much pressure, the larger area covered by each stroke, the lack of vibration and the ergonomics of the machine, a much more pleasurable and *effective* experience.
Yeah, the Rupes certainly is a more expensive proposition and even in my case it’s overkill for just being a garage hack but in addition to the results, comfort and efficiency, it’s just a more entertaining tool to use. Now, I know I’m likely at about 5-10% competent using this thing after only 5-6hrs but damn, it’s sure a nice piece of kit. I look forward to learning how to use it effectively, more of an ‘artistic’ approach to the process.
Going forward I’ll probably snatch up a Kamikaze backing plate when they are back in stock at Esoteric to go with the LHR15 and also snatched the Rupes LHR 75E Mini to help deal with tight spots. Although it’s kinda duplicative/redundant I’m also eyeing up the Rupes Duetto because, well…just because. I have also grabbed a Flex 3401 recently just to see what all the hubbub is about regarding those who prefer that style of machine. After using both machines on different sides of the same vehicle I do prefer the Rupes in most instances when doing ‘vehicles that matter’. The Flex is more of a ‘blunt force’ approach to the job whereas the Rupes kinda makes the job a calmer, more satisfying experience. I think the Rupes can exceed the Flex in final finishing as well but not an expert by any means (yet) with each so only time will tell. End of day, the Rupes LHR15 Mark II, while perhaps a bit pricey is definitely something you should try if given the chance; there’s just something intangible about using such a nicely built, smooth running machine that turns the work aspect of a job into a much less taxing and more satisfying experience. Can’t wait to get really good with this thing cuz’ I think it’s gonna be a real favorite.