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Old 22-12-2017, 03:28 PM   #1
Mike Phillips
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Review: RUPES BigFoot LHR 19E Rotary Polisher by Mike Phillips at Autogeek

Review: RUPES BigFoot LHR 19E Rotary Polisher by Mike Phillips at Autogeek

LHR 19E Rotary Polisher

First impressions fresh out of the box...

The new RUPES LHR 19E Rotary Polisher is lightweight and compact in size. It weighs in at just under 5 pounds. Traditional full size rotary buffers range from 7 pounds to 9 pounds. While 2 pounds may not seem like a lot of weight it is noticeable when buffing out entire cars panel by panel. Also it's one thing to buff out a horizontal panel where the weight of the tool is supported by the panel you're buffing, in this situation all you have to do is apply any additional downward pressure depending upon what you're trying to do. However - when buffing out vertical panels, you have to support the weight of the tool PLUS press the tool against the panel, this is when the weight of the tool will really start to matter.

Compact size
The compact size means no bulky head surrounding the back of the spindle, backing plate and pad which enables you to more easily see the panel you're buffing. For anyone that's used a rotary buffer to buff out anything important and/or intricate is shape or design - you know this feature is invaluable.

Progressive trigger switch
I love this feature and you're going to love it too. What the progressive trigger switch means is that you have full control over the speed of the pad. You control the RPM from just-off the off position to full RPM up to the max RPM you've selected with the speed control dial. This is easier to show in person than it is to explain with a keyboard but simply put - pull-in the trigger just a little and you get very slow pad rotation. Pull it more and get more pad rotation speed. Pull it all the way against the body of the tool and you get the max speed selected via the speed setting dial. For comfort over extended time you can then set the speed lock button and take your fingers off the progressive trigger switch.

Super low minimum RPM range
The lowest RPM speed with the trigger lock in the locked position or with the progressive trigger pulled to max speed the RUPES LHR 19E will run at 450 RPM. That's 150 RPM lower than the lowest RPM available on comparable automotive rotary polishers on the market which is 600 RPM.

Question: What's so great about low RPM?

Answer: Easier control, safer buffing and easier learning curve for people new to the rotary polisher.

The ability to run the RUPES LHR 19E at 450 RPM in the locked position at the lowest speed setting makes using a rotary buffer incredibly easy. This means it's easy for anyone who's never used a rotary buffer to learn how to use this type of tool. The included backing plate from the factory is 5" in diameter, the RUPES recommended buffing pad is 6" in diameter - this is half the size of early buffing pads which ranged all the way up to 12" in diameter! If you've never used a traditional full size rotary polisher with a traditional and historic full size wool buffing pad, then count yourself luck as this combination was punishing to say the least.

Huge pads on heavy tools where the lowest RPM range is 1500 RPM and higher was the norm in the old days. Lots of people still have old school rotary buffers in their garage, the lowest RPM for some of these tools is 1500 RPM and that's the new fast. There are some old school rotary buffers that are called 2-speed sander/polishers. Instead of a variable speed dial they have a 2-position rocker switch that toggles between 2200 RPM and 3000 RPM!

Trying to learn how to control a rotary buffer that's heavy and bulky, with a huge buffing pad and where the lowest RPM speed setting is higher than the highest speed setting on the RUPES LHR 19E is not only extremely difficult it is physically draining. And chances are any old school, full size rotary buffer is also going to be very noisy and that simply takes all the fun out of detailing cars plus poses a health issue to your long term and even short term hearing ability.

Max RPM of 1700
Like mentioned above, most old school rotary buffers will buzz all the way up to 3000 RPM! At that speed - you're no longer buffing you're grinding. You are also putting the paint at risk for burning due to how fast you can heat up the paint. If you heat up the paint and twist it or physically burn or abrade through it - it's game over. The only way to repair damage like this is to repaint the area (called a blend), or repaint the entire panel, the preferred method repair but also more costly)

Here's the deal - you don't need high speed to do amazing correction and polishing work. In fact - heating the paint up is called destructive polishing, it's bad for the integrity of the paint plus it increases the potential you'll burn through or twist the paint. I personally rarely use rotary polishers over 900 RPM unless I'm removing sanding marks or serious oxidation out of severely neglected a gel-coat boat. But that's because gel-coat is a completely different type of material than automotive paints and it's also a LOT thicker so there's a lot less risk of causing damage.

450 RPM all the way
When buffed out the paint on the 1970 Chevelle in the pictures below, I did all the compounding work on the lowest speed setting. This means if I had the speed trigger in the locked position I was never buffing past 450 RPM and for some areas I was feathering the trigger which means I was buffing at below 450 RPM.

Myths and misssinformation
While on the topic of using rotary buffers at high speed, let me put to rest some common misinformation that has been shared and passed around ever since I can remember. There are 2 myths or misinformation that I hope to finally put the death nail into.

Myth #1 - You need heat to break the abrasives down

This is so wrong. It's one of those examples of once the Genie is out of the bottle it's impossible to put it back in.

As already mentioned above, heating up car paint and specifically modern clearcoats paint systems, is bad for the integrity of the paint, it's called destructive polishing. Besides the risk of twisting the paint or burning through the paint you also risk making the paint cloudy or brittle. When heated up, you also make it easier for the abrasive in any compound, polish or cleaner/wax you're buffing with to cut deeper into the paint and this not only remove paint needlessly it also leaves behind microscopic cracks or fissure called interstices. When you make the paint more open you create an increase in the possibility for oxidation and corrosion.

Here's the real deal or the accurate explanation of what's taking place...

First - some compounds, polishes and cleaner/waxes do in fact use diminishing abrasives and correctly used, you buff these until the abrasives have broken down and the reason for this is so that you leave behind a low-swirl or low scratch results in the paint after the buffing cycle. If you don't buff long enough the abrasives will not have broken down to a smaller size and thus the abrasive particles in their still large state are still cutting deeper into the paint.

Second - Where guys get it wrong is they think that it's the heat that is breaking down the abrasives and this means they need to buff until the paint gets hot to correctly buff the product. Fact is, diminishing abrasive break down with pressure over time. The unwanted by-product of pressure over time is heat. You don't need heat and you don't want heat, it's an un-wanted by-product from the process. In a perfect world when buffing paint you would keep temperatures low or normal, which in a perfect world is a range between 60 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Myth #1 - You can re-flow paint by heating it up

It's easy for someone to say this and appear to be the God of Rotary Buffer however - as it relates to modern cars, modern cars are painted using basecoat/clearcoat paint systems and the clear layer of paint is chemically cured or catalyzed not air cured via time and solvent evaporation like old school lacquer paint system. If you heat up a modern clearcoat paint system you can melt it but that's different than reflowing it. And as discussed above, it's harmful to modern clearcoat paints to heat them up past temperatures of 180 degrees.

The BIG PICTURE is this - with quality abrasive technology and the right pad you can do paint correction using low speed or low RPM rotary polishers like the RUPES LHR 19E and dramatically reduce the risk of damaging the paint due to heat. Plus - it's easier to control a rotary polisher at low speeds with small pads.

Well engineered
Another aspect about the RUPES LHR 10E Rotary Polisher is that RUPES designs, engineers and then manufactures their own tools including the motors. By manufacturing their own tools they are able to maintain quality control over their tools from start to finish or in other words from the point where the tool is just an idea in someone's imagination to boxed and shipped.

The above info is my take on this new tool based upon my background in this industry and my knowledge of and experience with using rotary buffers for over 30 yeas. Now let's see what RUPES has to say about their tools...

The technical stuff...

RUPES BigFoot LHR 19E Rotary Polisher features:

• High torque motor – will remove swirls and scratches from paint quicker with a more efficient motor.

• Dual transmission – will allow you to press the machine without slowing for additional corrective power.

• Electronic speed control – clearly marks which speed is being used and is located on top of the machine.

• Progressive trigger switch – allows you to fully control your speed with a slow start.

• Lightweight and ergonomic design – far less bulk than other rotary machines, the RUPES BigFoot LHR 19E Rotary Polisher’s design allows for increased maneuverability and control.

• Rubber tool rests – allows you to place the tool face up without damage to tool.

• 125 mm (5 inches) backing plate– smaller pads allow for higher precision during use without fear of overheating.

• Backing plate - 125 mm (5 inches)

• Power – 1200 Watts

• RPM – 450 – 1700

• Weight – 4.85 lbs

• Cord Length – 29 ft.


Here's the RUPES LHR 19E Rotary Polisher

The RPM range matched to speed setting on the speed setting dial graph is conveniently located at the top of the tool just ahead of the speed dial.

The progressive trigger switch is located underneath the handle and has a serrated rubber face for slip-free control.

The speed lock button is located just above the progressive trigger switch to make locking-in the tool speed fast and easy.

The drive gear lock button is located at the top of the head of the polisher. This is used to lock-up the gears in order to break the backing plate free when changing backing plates. The button is recessed to help prevent accidental depression during tool operation.

Handle options
The RUPES LHR 19E comes with two handle options, the traditional stick handle, (not shown), and the more modern D-handle. You can also use the tools without any handle if that's your preference. The paddle shaped head is covered in soft rubber to make gripping it easy for maximum control while reducing grip-fatigue.

Both sides of the head unit offer threaded holes for the stick handle or the bolts that attach the d-handle.

My review

I only had access to this new rotary polisher for one day before having to box it up and ship it out to a RUPES employee. When I do reviews for products I like to use cool projects that match whatever the tool, pad or product is intended to be used for. In this case, I had a 1970 Chevelle with a modern basecoat/clearcoat paint job that was filled with swirls and scratches. This gave me a real-world opportunity to put this tool to the test. Buffing out a small section is okay but you don't really get to know a tool unless you spend hours behind it. For this project, it took me approximately 5 hours to methodically buffer out each panel using the RUPES LHR 19E Rotary Polisher and the matching RUPES coarse rotary polisher compound.

Disclaimer: A RUPES factory wool buffing pad was not available at the time so I substituted a Lake Country 6" Lambswool Cutting Pad

For this car I chose to do a three step process including,
  1. Compounding with the RUPES LHR 19E
  2. Polishing with the RUPES Mille
  3. Sealing with the RUPES P808 Protective Sealant
I really enjoyed using the new RUPES rotary polisher. It's lightweight, compact in size and quieter than most conventional rotary buffers. The tools was easy to hold and control, (that's two things and very different from one another), and this made buffing out thin panels, intricate areas and around emblems and objects both safe and easy. The RUPES compound easily removed the deepest swirls and scratches. It has a long buffing cycle with no visible dusting and easy wipe-off. The swirls left in the finish were shallow and easily removed by the next step - using the RUPES Mille gear-driven 5mm orbital polisher.

Small pads = the way to go
In the old days, the only options were huge pads and huge rotary buffers. The trend now day is for smaller tools, lower RPMs and smaller pads. It's real simple, smaller pads are easier to control and that makes you more efficient when doing correction and polishing work. If you've never used a rotary polisher before but are interested in making the move - then I'd recommend taking a look at the RUPES LHR 19E. It's designed to use smaller pads and this will make it faster and easier for you to learn how to use and master.

System approach
I'm a "System Guy". By this I mean, if a company has invested the time, money and research into developing a component system, chances are it works. RUPES has formulated compounds and polishes that are unique to the direct rotating action of the rotary polisher. I know some of you reading this are poo-pooing the idea that a compound and/or polish can be "tuned" to the action of a tool but I'm here to tell you it's not only true it's a fact. I've used plenty of compounds that worked great with orbital polishers but worked horrible with rotary buffers. In most cases the problems would be short working time, difficult wipe-off, excessive dusting, etc. So have an open mind and entertain the idea that RUPES has in fact developed both products and pads that work together in harmony to make the buffing experience enjoyable while accomplishing the task at had efficiently.

At the time of this review, the new RUPES LHR 19E Rotary Polishers are not yet available in the United States. RUPES projects and anticipates these new tools, matching pads and products will be available and shipping in January of 2018, (just a few weeks from now). Like all new tool introductions from RUPES the norm is for the tools to sell-out quickly. So if you think you want one... order one now and beat the crowd. Otherwise you'll get to do what most of us hate doing and that's... wait.

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Old 22-12-2017, 03:30 PM   #2
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My write-up showing the RUPES LHR 19E and the Mille LK 900E to buff out the 1970 Chevelle can be found by clicking the link below. There are a lot of pictures showing, before, during and after shots.

Test drive - NEW RUPES Mille and Rotary Buffer by Mike Phillips

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Old 22-12-2017, 03:30 PM   #3
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One more thing....


No name?
When I asked Jason Rose if RUPES had give their new rotary polisher a name like they gave the new gear-driven polisher a name, (Mille), he said "no". I wondered why not? The part number for the new rotary polisher simply doesn't roll off the lips..

RUPES BigFoot LHR 19E Rotary Polisher

I'm a fan of names for tools, it makes it easier to talk about them, reference them and especially important to me, to TYPE about them. I type a lot. In fact, I probably have more car detailing articles online than any other detailer or write for that matter. Writing, like detailing comes natural to me. I love to share my passion for detailing cars and the three predominate ways to do this are,
  1. Videos
  2. TV
  3. Classes
  4. Writing

I've done all of the above and the one option out of the list above that has probably done more to help my career is writing. The others are all great and I'm just as passionate about them too but having an written article or a how-to book is different and as such provides different benefits and all of them are positive.

So I was a little let down that someone at RUPES had not come up with a name for their new rotary polisher, especially since their fresh look at this very old school style tool is in my opinion going to introduce and re-introduce a LOT of people to what I call,

The way of the rotary polisher

I say the way of the rotary buffer because it's a very unique tool in car detailing history but also a very unique tool in how it works and what it can do as it relates to taking a diamond in the rough and turning it into a glistening gemstone. And... out of all the different types of tools and their specific tool actions, the rotary polisher requires the most skill to use correctly and safely and the skill needed to use the tool correctly also brings with it the longest, steepest learning curve. In fact, I think most people that already know how to use a rotary buffer or have experience with a rotary polisher and other types of tools will agree that the rotary polisher takes more time, practice and focused attention to learn how to use and master than any other type of paint polishing tool.

The first time I used the new RUPES rotary polisher the very first thing I noticed about it was how nimble it was. Nimble? Yes nimble. Being a word guy the word nimble is the first word that came to mind as I was buffing out the paint around the cowl induction emblem on the hood of a 1970 Chevelle I noticed how easy it was to control the pad for this type of very controlled, precision work.

The goal of course was to buff as close to the emblem to remove the swirls and scratches without at the same time running the edge of the buffing pad into the emblem potentially damaging the emblem or having the pad snag the emblem and yank the rotary polisher out of my hand and then potentially hitting the hood and damaging the paint.

The small sized buffing pad and the low 450 RPM PLUS the lightweight, compact size of this new polisher made it incredibly easy to control as I moved the pad around the emblem. I found the polisher to be nimble.

Because RUPES is an Italian company, as I placed my arms into my arm holder uppers and next placed my fingers to my keyboard to type out this review, I wondered....

What is the Italian word for nimble?

I typed the word nimble in Italian into Google and after hitting the [Search] key the results were,


If you want to see for yourself, here' s the link.

nimble in Italian

To say the word agile in American English is mundane and lackluster. So I clicked on the button to hear what the word agile sounds like in Italian and in my opinion... it sounds good! Try it yourself... click on the link above or on the picture below and then click on the speaker button.

So for me, this new rotary polisher is now,

The Agile - pronounced phonetically,

The aj - ell - a

Or call it the official name

RUPES BigFoot LHR 19E Rotary Polisher

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Old 22-12-2017, 03:31 PM   #4
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I know from writing article for the forum world for 16 years now, that this thread will be indexed by Google and show up in searches and via other normal methods of discovery, will be read thousands of times moving into the future. This is why my normal practice when writing for the forum world is to write for the future... not the present. Time has a way of increasing impact via the written word and pictures. This is also why it's so valuable to know how to work with pictures in the blogosphere. I can show article after article where all the pictures are now missing... but that's not so with my articles. Thus a well written article with pictures that tell a story have impact over time.

The above said, I know a lot of people have never used a rotary buffer or rotary polisher (same thing), but moving forward there will be greater interest in this tool and increased ownership and use of these types of tools. So for everyone reading this into the future that takes action and does invest in a rotary polisher, below are pictures from my other article that show,
Before condition

After results - after using a fiber/lambswool cutting pad
You see, fibers are a form of abrasive and as such, each individual fiber that makes up a fiber cutting pad for use with a rotary polisher has the ability and potential to make it's own CUT in the paint. This is in part but one reason why a rotary polisher has the ability to remove defects, (cut or abrade paint), faster than any other tool action. It's the cutting power of the individual fibers PLUS the direct rotating action of the tool PLUS the abrasive technology chosen, plus downward pressure, pad angle and of course time, (number of passes made).

And the reason I want to highlight this cutting action with some text and pictures is for all of you that make the jump to a rotary polisher will know that the swirls left in the paint after buffing with a rotary polisher and any fiber pads is NORMAL.

The idea is not to cut with a wool or fiber pad and leave a perfect finish, the idea is to cut with a wool or fiber pads to removed defects as fast as humanly (and machinely possible) as well as the most effective way of removing the majority of removable defects thoroughly.

Thus the use of a rotary polisher with a fiber pads is almost always intended to be the first step in a minimum two-step process. The second step being to re-polish the paint using a less aggressive pad, a less aggressive product to remove any swirl holograms left by the fibers that make up a fiber pads. AND for this car I DID use a two-step process as I used the RUPES Mille for the second step to remove the swirl holograms left by the wool cutting pad.

2-Step Process - Cut with rotary and fiber pad and then finish with orbital and foam pad

Knowing I would share the above, this is why I took pictures showing the before condition of the paint and the after results - after buffing with a fiber/lambswool cutting pad.

From this article,

Test drive - NEW RUPES Mille and Rotary Buffer by Mike Phillips

Here's the before pictures showing deeper, random swirls and scratches in a basecoat/clearcoat finish

And here's the after pictures - after buffing with a fiber pad on a rotary polisher

After compounding with the rotary buffer, a wool pad and the compound I took a few pictures to show everyone what this type of process leaves for results.

NOTE: The swirls you see are NORMAL.

The swirls left by this process are shallow and will buff out easy. The idea is to use the aggressive rotary approach to remove 99.9% of the deeper random swirls and scratches leaving behind a controlled and uniform swirl which will easily be removed by the next step.

Without the swirl finder light - just using overhead florescent lights - the paint looks pretty good but note - I have not removed the swirls from the rotary step in this shot.

And here's the important information to understand. This cutting process has removed or leveled the random deeper scratches and left in their place an shallow uniform scratch pattern that is quickly and easily removed using a second, less aggressive polishing step.

For enthusiasts that want to get deeper into the paint polishing world and for anyone that details cars for money, (either part time or full time), if you don't own a rotary polisher and have never used a rotary polisher, then I do recommend giving some thought to investing into a rotary polisher and the complimentary pads and product to use with it BUT do look at the pictures above and internalize that the rotary polisher is a completely different animal, (type of tool), than any orbital polisher(s) that you already own and are familiar with.

The rotary buffer in the right hands can work miracles. It's a skill set that is invaluable if you to be able to tackle any project that comes into your life.

The way of the rotary polisher

Last edited by Mike Phillips; 22-12-2017 at 04:33 PM.
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