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Discussion Starter #1
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 :angry5: and stood there staring at the bike for a while (this is not uncommon for me :blink: ). 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

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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.
 

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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/automotive/products/g15812-ultimate-black/

Krylon Fusion paint: Adheres well to plastic Fusion for Plastic® - | Krylon
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
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.
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
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.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Sounds great. Rub a bit, then take a cigarette break. What could go wrong?:p
Just teasing, know you are a responsible restorer of T-Dubbery.
You know, the funny part of this? For a minute while I was scrubbing, I thought, "Why not do this with some sort of power tool?", and then the stupid spell passed, and I envisioned the picture you posted.
 

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Sounds great. Rub a bit, then take a cigarette break. What could go wrong?:p
Just teasing, know you are a responsible restorer of T-Dubbery.

View attachment 181182
Now, Fred, you know flaming is not allowed on this forum! :rolleyes:
 

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Heat gun does work and is an old trick by those of us that have owned old Jeeps. The wheel flares oxidize over time to an ugly grey. Remove then from the vehicle and have patience. Can make your plastics look brand new again. The lustre doesn't go away for years. Try it on an obscure patch first. And it really does take time and a steady hand to get it to factory new.
 

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Heat gun does work and is an old trick by those of us that have owned old Jeeps. The wheel flares oxidize over time to an ugly grey. Remove then from the vehicle and have patience. Can make your plastics look brand new again. The lustre doesn't go away for years. Try it on an obscure patch first. And it really does take time and a steady hand to get it to factory new.
I am not disrespecting the gasoline and elbow grease, nor flame treatment or even plasma treatment, as one automation project I was involved in required that to adhere a plastic hub onto a grinding disc using PUR as an adhesive. But I bought a 2003 Jeep in 2013...even though it was clean under the hood, the top was very faded, as were the fender flares and Ultimate Black did a great job. Compare the stock flares with the wider ones I added (snow photo).

It only needed to be reapplied occasionally. Think I went through only one bottle in ~2 years.

2003 Jeep Wrangler under the hood-20 Jun 2013.JPG
2003 Jeep Wrangler, ranch-4 Jul 2013.jpg
2003 Jeep Wrangler, Lee Canyon-30 Nov 2013.JPG
 

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I was restoring a camper a few weeks back and discovered carb cleaner in a spray can on a rag will do wonders for the plastics. Basically apply some spray to a cotton rag. Old towel or T-Shirt works fine. Wipe ONCE. More than two wipes and the plastic melts enough to get too soft and the rag leaves impressions on the plastic. One wipe. I admired how nice the plastic looked wet, then touched it and realized it was dry! No rubbing.
I'm guessing the carb cleaner works like a heat gun, only chemically, not thermo-dynamically.

An old trick I used to do on my dirt race bikes was to wipe the plastics down with Mop-n-Glow floor wax. It coats the plastic with a thin layer of stuff that makes your floors look shiny. After a few times, wash with ammonia water and it will strip all back off.
 

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Should have added that with the Heat Gun method there is no other application of any type of miracle liquids, petroleum product, wax or compound etc, ever. Maybe 20 years down the road. You really have made it factory new out of the mold. That has been my experience with Jeeps.

I just brought a new-to-me bike home last night and a couple of the body parts are rough around the edges. I'll try the heat gun method over the weekend and report back. Jeep flares are not smooth, these bike parts are.

Problem I see with most of these home-brew methods is that "shiny" (maybe shinier than new) is not actually restoring anything and in fact may be enhancing the deterioration process. I won't let the Car Wash guys ever wipe-down the inside of my car with Armor-All and/or let them put that goop on my tires. That stuff is all crap and yet Armor-All is one of the best selling product in USA.

But yeah... we Americans love "shiny". Hoping that anyone using that gasoline method is wearing gloves when they are cleaning? Bad stuff for you body to absorb and skin is porous.
 

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Should have added that with the Heat Gun method there is no other application of any type of miracle liquids, petroleum product, wax or compound etc, ever. Maybe 20 years down the road. You really have made it factory new out of the mold. That has been my experience with Jeeps.

I just brought a new-to-me bike home last night and a couple of the body parts are rough around the edges. I'll try the heat gun method over the weekend and report back. Jeep flares are not smooth, these bike parts are.

Problem I see with most of these home-brew methods is that "shiny" (maybe shinier than new) is not actually restoring anything and in fact may be enhancing the deterioration process. I won't let the Car Wash guys ever wipe-down the inside of my car with Armor-All and/or let them put that goop on my tires. That stuff is all crap and yet Armor-All is one of the best selling product in USA.

But yeah... we Americans love "shiny". Hoping that anyone using that gasoline method is wearing gloves when they are cleaning? Bad stuff for you body to absorb and skin is porous.
303 Protectant for dashes. I discovered it when trying to keep my boat from sun rotting away. Stuff is amazing.
 
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