Old Aluminum---New Again?


20 replies to this topic
  • jaredc28

Posted November 09, 2007 - 07:12 PM

#1

Hello All,

I need help with the aluminum parts on my bike i.e swingarm, engine and head cover, carb, handle bars, etc... They are very oxidized (after 13 yrs) and I would like to get them back to their original shine.

Thoughts...:busted:

1. Fine Sanding
2. Wire brush wheel on a die grinder
3. Steel Wool

I would really like some advice from someone who has experience and positive results from a certain process, and not just "try this, or maybe do this"...and please don't say just spray it with a good degreaser or cleaner. I've tried it and it still looks sad.:ride: :thumbsup:

  • Krannie McKranface

Posted November 09, 2007 - 07:43 PM

#2

Hello All,

I need help with the aluminum parts on my bike i.e swingarm, engine and head cover, carb, handle bars, etc... They are very oxidized (after 13 yrs) and I would like to get them back to their original shine.

Thoughts...:busted:

1. Fine Sanding
2. Wire brush wheel on a die grinder
3. Steel Wool

I would really like some advice from someone who has experience and positive results from a certain process, and not just "try this, or maybe do this"...and please don't say just spray it with a good degreaser or cleaner. I've tried it and it still looks sad.:ride: :thumbsup:


I am assuming you are talking about some form of Honda or similar bike. There are issues you should know:
- Aluminum is usally coated in something, to prevent oxidization: Clear coat, Anodizing, or Paint.
- If your bike is still oxidized, you are in for some work.
- The best way would be to disassemble the bike, and take the bad parts to a bead blaster, and take the oxides off that way.
- If you do it on the bike, do it one part at a time. It is time consuming. Flitz, Semichrome, Buffing rouge, etc will work well. You can use a buffing wheel. Really bad spots you can use Scotchbite Red or Green pads by hand.
- Don't use a wire wheel, as it will make look messed up.

  • jaredc28

Posted November 09, 2007 - 07:53 PM

#3

It is a 93' 650L
I have the bike completely disassembled now...powder coating the frame, doing some maintenance/mods.
Is it a fact that the parts I listed are clear coated, anodized, painted...etc?
The bead blasting is a definetely an option, but I don't want to damage anything.

Anyone else have .02 for me?

  • sbabs

Posted November 09, 2007 - 07:56 PM

#4

It is a 93' 650L
I have the bike completely disassembled now...powder coating the frame, doing some maintenance/mods.
Is it a fact that the parts I listed are clear coated, anodized, painted...etc?
The bead blasting is a definetely an option, but I don't want to damage anything.

Anyone else have .02 for me?


I've had great luck with Mother's aluminum polish, if things are nasty, I wet sand with really fine sandpaper.

  • The Italian Stallion

Posted November 10, 2007 - 01:37 PM

#5

I don't know if you guys have this in the U.S it is called Neverdull.it is in a blue can.It kind of looks like cotton you just pluck off pieces of it as needed this stuff is great. A dremmel tool and polish works good to.

  • Big Pond

Posted November 13, 2007 - 04:44 AM

#6

I discovered 2000 grit wet & dry paper the other month.

I purchase a new bumper for my quad, I then used some 2000 grit paper and after 5 minuts. I then used some brasso to buff it to a mirror finish, it look real classy.

The next time I was down at the club the owner of the shop said where did you pick up that bumper from? I replied from your shop.

So get:- 2000 grit wet & dry paper, sand to a dull finish.
Buff with Brass Polish (Brasso).

  • BBA

Posted November 13, 2007 - 05:29 AM

#7

NeverDull should help alot. If you need to sand it with Micro-fine sand paper (2000/2500) a little tip to make things easier when it comes to polishing is to sand in a straight line and never in circles. That just makes getting the sand scratches out easier. If that process does not work go to Eastwoodcompany.com or Grainger.com and they sell alot of stuff to help clean & polish aluminum. Hope this helps!

  • HeadTrauma

Posted November 13, 2007 - 10:09 AM

#8

Some of you guys are talking about polishing the parts and I don't think jaredc28 wants to do that.

The head is not clearcoated and neither is the cylinder, but the side covers are probably painted silver. Glass bead usually leaves a matte silver finish on nonporous aluminum parts. If you opt for bead blasting, make sure absolutely EVERY possible entry point into the engine is thoroughly masked off and/or plugged.

  • Billahjack

Posted November 13, 2007 - 10:16 AM

#9

A couple things -

Surface Finishing:
Deburring wheels remove material without digging into the metal. Use Aluminum Oxide wheels for aluminum and Silicon Carbide wheels for Stainless and regular steel. The higher the density, the faster it removes material with longer wheel life. Lower density wheels leave remove material slower and the wheels wear out faster. The link is below. I use them on a bench grinder. The resulting finish is smoother than a brushed finish. Then take a scotch brite pad or 400 grit sand paper across the surface to establish smooth brush-like lines. When I worked in a machine shop, this was the ticket for removing machining marks and leaving a high quality surface finish with minimal effort.

http://www1.mscdirec...SIT4NO=32767790

Bead blasting -
Try to use the finest glass beads you can. Heavier materials like coarse garnet work harden the surface of the aluminum and can actually bend thinner parts. The work hardening of aluminum can lead to cracks if the wall thickness is thin.

Paint -
I have found some high quality bar-b-que paints that work great on high temp stuff. I can't remember what it was, but it was about $15 for a rattle can. I used a clear one a quite while back on some chrome exhaust can tips I tig welded. I think the tips got around 300 or so degrees operating temp and the paint never deteriorated. Watch out for some of the cheap flat paints because they can turn into dust at the surface and rub off. You may also find some high temp ones for brake calipers at some of the auto parts stores.

Powder Coating-
Powder coating aluminum exposes it to temperatures that anneal the aluminum. This makes it less stiff when the heat treat is annealed. There are temperature charts somewhere on the internet that explain how long at what temperatures it takes to anneal aluminum. The bottom line is that it starts to anneal somwhere between 250 and 300 degrees F.

  • jaredc28

Posted November 13, 2007 - 12:15 PM

#10

Well, I really appreciate all the help and feedback on this issue. I tried several of the methods described with some success, but I ultimately decided to wing it and try my own methods:excuseme:.

Headtrauma was right! The only parts of the engine that are clear coated are the side covers and chain guards, the rest of it is bare aluminum. Therefore, I took a small test spot (the bottom) and tried a stainless steel wire brush wheel on a variable speed drill. It used it for about 30 seconds and the test spot was very "Blingy". So I continued on the rest...Here are some pics of the before and after! HAPPY DAY!!!
"BEFORE"
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"AFTER"
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Thanks All:applause:

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  • HeadTrauma

Posted November 13, 2007 - 07:45 PM

#11

I thought your engine would look worse based on the description, but wow, the end result looks really good! :thumbsup:

  • Big Pond

Posted November 14, 2007 - 05:21 AM

#12

nice Job. now for the rest of the bike to look that good.

  • Motosprtman

Posted November 14, 2007 - 06:24 AM

#13

ALbeit using a steel wire brush on aluminums introduces dissimiliar metal corrossion form the wire wheel particulates getting embedded in the aluminum, I do it anyway! same method as yours on my vintage Honds's.

  • bork

Posted November 17, 2007 - 05:59 AM

#14

jaredc28, Whats your address. I'm shipping my bike to you!!!!! What color are you powdercoating frame? I wish mine were the silver the XR400 uses. Make sure you post pics of finished bike! & I wonder if you should clear coat Some of the tranny area to keep for oxidizng so fast.( but not the top end due to the heat.)

  • scalejockey

Posted November 17, 2007 - 06:58 AM

#15

wow that's nice..I was going to say try soda blasting.It worked excellent for an old hodaka motor I did last year. But that looks fine!

  • scalejockey

Posted November 17, 2007 - 07:06 AM

#16

I noticed on the before pics there is a lot of the "red death" coming from the counter shaft,ya might want to pull the sprocket off and check the condition of the shaft and sprocket. If it's ok, not too worn, just spray chain lube at it when ya lube your chain. It will keep it from wearing out the shaft.

Iv'e seen it happen a couple of times..

  • Bonus

Posted November 17, 2007 - 07:37 AM

#17

What about using those cloth type buffing drill attachments like Chip Foose uses on the chrome parts? If I remember right, he used it on the chrome on the engine and not on aluminum, so I don't know if it will work the same. The results of the steel wheel sure do show how well it works though.

  • AtomicGeo

Posted November 17, 2007 - 07:57 AM

#18

Just a little chemistry lesson:

Pure aluminum at atmosphere immediately reacts to form the oxide Al2O3. There are many forms of aluminum alloys, the strong one being Al-6061. However, the buildup of the oxide layer is not the aluminum as it is a self limiting surface reaction once the layer is formed. Rather it is more like what Krannie is referring to: oxidation of the coating or anodizing chemical.



I am assuming you are talking about some form of Honda or similar bike. There are issues you should know:
- Aluminum is usally coated in something, to prevent oxidization: Clear coat, Anodizing, or Paint.
- If your bike is still oxidized, you are in for some work.
- The best way would be to disassemble the bike, and take the bad parts to a bead blaster, and take the oxides off that way.
- If you do it on the bike, do it one part at a time. It is time consuming. Flitz, Semichrome, Buffing rouge, etc will work well. You can use a buffing wheel. Really bad spots you can use Scotchbite Red or Green pads by hand.
- Don't use a wire wheel, as it will make look messed up.



  • jaredc28

Posted November 19, 2007 - 09:01 AM

#19

jaredc28, Whats your address. I'm shipping my bike to you!!!!! What color are you powdercoating frame? I wish mine were the silver the XR400 uses. Make sure you post pics of finished bike! & I wonder if you should clear coat Some of the tranny area to keep for oxidizng so fast.( but not the top end due to the heat.)


Send it over I will give it a good blast with the wire wheel!!!:ride: Anyway, I am powder coating the frame a "silver sun" color from our local poweder coat shop. It is a little bit lighter color and shinier than the stainless steel color that is on the newer L frames...and sparklyyyyyyyy! I almost got real crazy and went with fire engine red. I saw this bike a few months ago on a post I read...I thought the red frame was sick!!! But I decided against it because I wasn't sure all my other red stuff would match?:thumbsup: I will send pics of mine soon!!!
Posted Image

  • jaredc28

Posted November 19, 2007 - 09:08 AM

#20

I noticed on the before pics there is a lot of the "red death" coming from the counter shaft,ya might want to pull the sprocket off and check the condition of the shaft and sprocket. If it's ok, not too worn, just spray chain lube at it when ya lube your chain. It will keep it from wearing out the shaft.

Iv'e seen it happen a couple of times..


What is the "red death"? I did pull the sproket, cleaned it and the shaft well. I thought the red stuff was just powdered rust:excuseme: Both the parts looked good, there was a little bit of play between the shaft and the sproket...is this normal?:thumbsup:





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