GeorgeCo Garage Tests: Bead Maker

Automotive protective coatings have come a long way since your father’s can of Simoniz. (Which for the record is actually a different word than “Simonize” which is a recognized synonym  for the transitive verb “to polish.” Who knew….)

There is an amazing variety of coating and sealants available today with prices ranging from tens to thousands of dollars. A professionally applied ceramic coating is a thing of wonder. But what about the DIYer? I’m going to stay away from the DIY ceramic coating for the moment (too many horror stories about water spots), and take a look at a couple of popular polymer coatings which promise 3-6 months of protection, starting with P&S Bead Maker.

MINI revisits the Dyno

It’s been over seven years since I had John Behe tune the MINI, so I took it back to the Dyno at RPR Performance to see how it’s doing. This car has just bolt-on mods: 15% SC reduction pulley, JCW injectors, cold air intake, and exhaust. We’re currently running MSD wires and coil pack, with Brisk Racing Plugs that are one-step cooler than stock. The intercooler diverter has been modified to try to improve charge cooling. And that’s it.

I’ve had the car dyno’d a few times. When I purchased it in 2011 when it was still stock with 48k miles. After the tune I got when the SC reduction pulley was installed a few months later at about 55k miles, and then in October 2018 just to see how it was holding up now that I’m approaching 100k miles.

The data is interesting for a couple of reasons. There is a drop in HP above 6000 RPM and it starts to run rich until about 6600 RPM then seems to come back to the expected values.  Don’t know if there was something funky with this pull, or if perhaps there’s an air leak on high boost.

I plotted the data against previous runs. I had to extrapolate some values since I only had data on 250 RPM intervals, but it’s generally good.  The comparison is stock; MTH tune (on my prior MINI); the original tune on this car; and then today. Overall it’s holding up pretty well.

I like to use the MTH comparison for people who are thinking about a canned tune.  MTH isn’t around any more, but this was an inexpensive tune you could get over the internet.  You just told the tuner the mods you had and they sent you back a tune.  Pretty good bank for the buck, but you see the real gains in a custom tune when you look at low end torque.

It’s a little hard to read in the chart, but the orange lines are the most recent dyno results (solid line is HP; dashed line is torque). Yellow is the custom tune. Green is stock and blue is MTH.

During the off-season I’ll go over the engine and look for the leak. (I can hear it at high RPM.) It’s not throwing any codes so it’s either ahead of the MAP sensor, or after the Cat (or both). It’s about time to replace vacuum hoses anyway.

Shenandoah Circuit, yes, in the rain….

One more BMWCCA DE, one more soggy weekend. All three events this year were wet at some point this year. The Shenandoah circuit is usually a very fun circuit, but I got caught out on the wrong tires. My worn Falkens were no match for the amount of water on the track and became rock hard once the temperature dropped. Still a bad day at the track is better than most days at work.

Failing Paint and Plasti-Dip

The Gen 1 MINIs had a problem with the clear-coat that was applied at the factory. Some owners were able to talk their way into getting it fixed at the dealer under the extended corrosion warranty. Given that my MINI is long past that option, I decided to pursue a two part strategy: first, I ignored it, but that didn’t work. Second, I decided to cover it up.

Since the two parts that are failing the most were the roof and rear hatch, I thought I’d start with the roof. I always wondered how my car would look (and if it would be any cooler inside) with a white roof. So why not try white plasti-dip? If I don’t like it, peel it off and I’m no worse off. Or so I thought. More later.

Don’t know plasti-dip? Start here at  Their website and associated Youtube channel is very informative. My original plan was to dip the roof white, and then apply some sort of vinyl sticker over it.  (That didn’t work out either.)

So first the prep.  I peeled off the loose flakes of clear-coat, sanded and repainted before applying the dip.  With this step I was hoping that when the plastic-dip was removed, it wouldn’t take more of the clear-coat with it.

I masked off the roof, fixed the small flakes, applied the pre-dip treatment and started to apply the plastic-dip. Here’s where my plan veered off course.  If you’re using a traditional paint gun, you want to thin the paint and apply a thin first coat. If using rattle cans — like I was — you want a thick first coat.  This makes it easier to remove later on. I applied the paint too far from the surface and ended up with an un-even suede like finish.  When I went to remove it, it wasn’t thick enough to peel in large pieces so to took several hours to rub off. And when it did come off, it took huge chunks of clear-coat with it.  Lessons learned, I tried again.

This second time, I sanded and repaired a much larger area of the roof, prepped and started laying down thick, smooth layers.  It helps to heat the rattle-cans in warm water for a smoother finish.  I put down three layers of gray to get some separation from the red, and four layers of white. I was going to use a glossifier finish, but I actually liked the flat white better.


The final surface is not perfectly smooth (hence no sticker on top) but looks pretty good from 5 feet, which is all you need from a track-car. I have since cleaned up the black on the gutters, and dipped the splitter green. All in, I’m happy with the result. I think given the amount of prep work I ended up doing to have a strong enough surface to start with, I could have just painted it white with traditional paint.