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Thread: Restore Oxidized Plastics

  1. #1
    Senior Member imlost's Avatar
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    Restore Oxidized Plastics

    If you're tired of the way your plastics look, I discovered a way to restore them to like-new condition, without painting. I recently purchased a full set of plastics from another forum member for an '87 TW200 that I'm restoring. Those plastics were in pretty sad shape, and I knew I was probably going to eventually paint them to make them look better. By accident, I found out how to restore them, and the story goes like this:
    The bike came without a tank, so I installed a new-to-me Clarke tank and gas line to the existing carburetor. I thought, "what the hell", and decided to try to start the engine, knowing full-well that it was very unlikely the carb would function. Sure enough, the float was stuck, and gas started overflowing all over the bottom case. I quickly grabbed an old towel and mopped up the gas. I then discovered the petcock wouldn't shut off all the way, so before long, I had another old towel full of gas. I tossed around some expletives and stood there staring at the bike for a while (this is not uncommon for me ). So the picture is me, some heavy nitrile gloves, and two gas-soaked towels... and an oxidized fender. "What the hell" surfaced again, and I decided to see if gas would take it off. Long-story-short:

    You'll need one rag to apply gas, and one sort-of rough towel to scrub with. The function is, get it wet, and then dry it off with the rough towel. Repeat about 20 times. I discovered that the gas loosens the oxidization, but rubbing the dry towel on it, is what actually does the work. Pretty soon, it looks like the picture below. I only did one side of the fender, so you can see the before and after.

    20180704_142432.jpg

    20180704_142517.jpg

    20180704_142452.jpg

    If you think this is going to be easy, go get yourself some spray paint and go that route. I estimate it's going to take 3 or 4 hours to do all of the plastics on the bike. For me, it's worth it. This is as close to "new" as it's ever going to get.
    TWy to make a TWip to the TWails to make some TWacks.

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    Senior Member SportsterDoc's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing. Perhaps your "elbow grease" was as important as the gasoline!

    Other options:

    Meguiar's Ultimate Black (~$10). Worked well on my 10 year old Jeep Wrangler hard top and is preventing/reducing oxidation on the gray plastic trim around the bed and rear bumper of my Nissan Frontier. The contents are tan and work on colors other than black. http://www.meguiars.com/en/automotiv...ltimate-black/

    Krylon Fusion paint: Adheres well to plastic Fusion for Plastic® - | Krylon
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    Senior Member imlost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SportsterDoc View Post
    Thanks for sharing. Perhaps your "elbow grease" was as important as the gasoline!
    The gas only softens it, but it takes a lot of scrubbing to get it off. The secret is a very rough towel.

    My personal experience with products that claim to restore to black: They work for a short period of time, and then you have to do it all over again or it looks like crap.
    ...And the problem with spray paint: It gets scuffed off.
    Last edited by imlost; 07-04-2018 at 04:55 PM.
    TWy to make a TWip to the TWails to make some TWacks.

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    Senior Member SportsterDoc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by imlost View Post
    The gas only softens it, but it takes a lot of scrubbing to get it off. The secret is a very rough towel.

    My personal experience with products that claim to restore to black: They work for a short period of time, and then you have to do it all over again or it looks like crap.
    ...And the problem with spray paint: It gets scuffed off.
    Valid concerns, however Ultimate Black lasts much longer than expected.
    If your hard work starts to fade, give it a try.

    As for paint scuffing, yes that is always an issue, versus color mixed with the plastic, before molding.
    2014 Honda CB1100
    2018 Yamaha XT250
    2016 Moto Guzzi V7 II
    2017 Yamaha TW200
    2012 Triumph Bonneville
    2002 H-D Sportster 1200 Sport
    2003 H-D Sportster 883
    1976 Honda CB750F
    1975 Honda CB360
    1970 Yamaha CT1
    1972 Yamaha CT2
    1972 Yamaha AT2/CT2
    1970 Honda SL350
    1970 Honda CL350
    1967 Honda CL160
    1967 Honda CB160
    1962 Honda CA110

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    Senior Member imlost's Avatar
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    1st picture: Half done
    2nd picture: Final

    20180704_151346.jpg 20180704_162729.jpg
    Last edited by imlost; 07-04-2018 at 05:36 PM.
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    TWy to make a TWip to the TWails to make some TWacks.

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    Senior Member imlost's Avatar
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    This side was pretty bad before I started.
    20180704_151411.jpg
    TWy to make a TWip to the TWails to make some TWacks.

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    Senior Member TopPredator's Avatar
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    I hear a heat gun will melt back the luster.
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    Senior Member imlost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TopPredator View Post
    I hear a heat gun will melt back the luster.
    I used a heat gun on the plastics that are on a Honda Foreman quad that I have. It's really tricky to get it to the point that it melts, without distorting the plastic. It works well, but the consequences if you blow it are huge.

    The gas technique is laborious, but the final product is really nice, and it shines up really well with the dry rag.

    Toward the end of working on the back fender, I opted for some 0000 steel wool. It took off the oxidization way quicker, and I was still able to get it to hold a shine by wiping it again with the gas rag, followed by the dry rag. I think I'll try this technique for the rest of it, and I'll report back. It just takes a crazy amount of time using a towel only.
    TWy to make a TWip to the TWails to make some TWacks.

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    Ken
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    That's a great discovery. If you apply the gas, rub with a rough towel and use a buffer will it have flames?
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  11. #10
    Senior Member imlost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    That's a great discovery. If you apply the gas, rub with a rough towel and use a buffer will it have flames?
    Yes, but you probably won't recognize the plastics when you're done. The final look is smokin hot, though.
    TWy to make a TWip to the TWails to make some TWacks.

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