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Thread: Buell plastic scratch removal

  1. #1
    Senior Member Cooter's Avatar
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    Buell plastic scratch removal

    So, you want those panty droppin' plastics on a PBR budget? Here's my opinion on how to save them. I have a couple tricks and hopefully theres enough pics to keep you interested.

    It's not expensive to re-hab faded or scratched plastics, but will need a little time and definitely some attention to detail. You'll need:

    Some quality wet/dry sandpaper. 220, 400, 1000 grit. That stuff you get at the Dollar store will clog and fall apart, spend the $ on some 3M paper. You won't need a lot of it.

    A small bucket, 1/2 full with clean water. Put in couple drops of detergent to break the surface tension. Car wash, dish soap, whatever.

    Rubbing Compound

    Buffing Polish

    Clean chamois, terrycloth, or those soft disposable blue shop rags.

    It makes your life much easier to have a variable speed buffing machine with a cotton pad and a foam pad. You can do all this by hand, but even a cheap buffer will save a ton of time. Make sure it's variable speed, and NOT a grinder!

    If your new at this, start with a small project. A seat cowl is perfect because they are easy to hold and cheap to buy if you mess it up As your confidence grows you can attack bigger stuff. You won't need a sanding block because all of the body parts on a Buell have nice smooth curves.

    Fold 2 sheets of each grit of sandpaper into thirds and soak them over night in your bucket.

    If your plastics are dull but aren't scratched, you can start at the compounding or polishing step below. Otherwise start here.

    1st... Clean the part you're going to re-hab, dirt and grease will only make this harder.

    Next, How deep are the scratches? Light belt buckle and boot scratches, normal wear and tear can usually be saved with 400 grit, deeper scratches need 220. Crash rash can need 150, but now you'll need to be careful of re-shaping the piece, and even going through the plastic!

    Some of the boot scratches I had were pretty deep, So I hit the whole piece with 220.

    IMG_1691.jpg

    The trick here is not to work one spot all at once. You can leave divots and flat spots with this heavy a grit. 400 isn't that big a deal, but using 220 be sure to sand the whole piece in a smooth flowing motion until the scratches can't be seen and the whole part has an even dull look with no shiny spots.

    A note about power tools:
    I've found Buell plastics are weird when it comes to using a DA sander and heavier grit paper. If you try to dig in to a big flaw they overheat and blister, causing a bigger problem. Either their durometer or low-temp molding process makes for tricky machine sanding, so careful!
    Last edited by Cooter; 04-30-2016 at 10:17 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Cooter's Avatar
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    Don't press to hard either. Let the sand paper do the work. Take a piece of wet sandpaper out of the bucket and make a nice cross-hatch pattern on the part. First go in a up-down motion, then side-side, then up-down, then side-side. Mr. Miyagi would be so proud!

    You will spend the most time on this first sanding part. The final product will be evenly dull, but free of scratches and smoooooth to the touch.

    The paper should glide easily across the part (this is very Zen-like) but soon it will stick and slip off your rubber glove (you are using the flat of your palm, you are not gripping the sandpaper with your fingers!). When it sticks it means the part is dry, and the sandpaper is full of plastic. Stop sanding! Dunk it back in the bucket of water and go back to sanding. Don't forget you have another side to use.

    Do the whole part that way, dunking, sanding a cross hatch, dunking, etc. When you think it's evenly sanded, don't worry, you're totally wrong. Use a dry, clean, soft, rag, or terrycloth to wipe it dry. Once the water evaporates, you will see the scratches and glossy parts you missed. Go back to those areas, and the part as a whole, don't get carried away with one spot.

    You'll know if the sandpaper gets dull, because it won't work anymore. Buell plastic is pretty soft, so the paper should last a long time. I've done an entire bike with 2 sheets of each grit.

    Now, you think you're done with the first step. But you're not.
    IMG_1692.jpg
    Last edited by Cooter; 04-30-2016 at 10:02 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Cooter's Avatar
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    Take a spare can of spray paint (any contrasting color works) and give it a really light coat. I sprayed a bit heavy on the pic above so it would show. You only need a coating of some overspray.

    Now go back to work you filthy dog! Painters and metal workers use this trick to find low spots in metal panels. You will find low spots near the edges and molding ridges, the contrasting color will show you any light scratches that are left. Sand all the paint off, and if you have a dull, smooth, part with no paint on it you are ready for the next step!

    Do it again! Yay!!
    IMG_1693.jpg
    Last edited by Cooter; 04-30-2016 at 10:03 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Cooter's Avatar
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    It's important that you don't take short cuts in the first step. It can be slow progress (even boring) but you can only do it right, or start over.

    When you are done with the 220 it's time to do it all over again with 400!! There are a few small differences though. Now that you know the part is sanded evenly, this will go much faster. Keep the 400 wet, turn off the Danzig that's cranked up and listen to what the part is telling you. Really.

    When you first start using the 400 it will have a loud 'sanding' sound. Duh. Quit laughing. Really, stop it! Anyway... the sanding sound will noticeable get quieter as you continue to sand the part, with the palm of your hand, still using the cross hatch pattern. What you are doing is now sanding out the tiny scratches that you put in it with the 220 grit, and it should go fairly quickly. Keep the part and the paper wet at all times.

    Dry the part and see if there's anything you missed, you can even do the spray paint trick if you need a higher contrast.
    The right half is 1000 the left half is 400
    IMG_1712.jpg

    Guess what? You are going to do it all again...
    Last edited by Cooter; 04-30-2016 at 10:06 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Cooter's Avatar
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    With the 1000 grit.

    Now it's really important to listen. You are now removing the 400 grit scratches with the 1000 grit paper. You will hear when you are sanding a spot that is smooth or rough. If you did the first stages well, this part goes quickly.

    Same rules... Don't press hard, let the paper do the work, sand with your palm, cross hatch pattern, keep the part and the paper wet.

    When you are done wash and dry the part, it's time for some rubbing! you dirty girl!
    IMG_1709.jpg
    I've used lots of different stuff, and I always come back to 3M Rubbing compound.
    IMG_1708.jpg
    A cheap variable speed buffer, a clean cotton pad, and super duty rubbing compound.

    Put a little on your finger. Feels gritty right? It's liquid sandpaper... about 1500-2000 grit.
    Last edited by Cooter; 04-30-2016 at 10:07 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Cooter's Avatar
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    You can do this by hand, but it will take a long time on these soft plastics.

    Put a just a little swirl of rubbing compound on the pad of the buffer, then put the pad on the part and schmear it around a little like any good New York Bagel. This will help it from spraying off everywhere when you start the buffer. Start the buffer on LOW speed. You don't want any heat build up (like metal polishing), you are literally still just sanding but with liquid this time.

    If you have polished floors with a buffer or used a right angle grinder, you know how important it is to keep the rotation of the pad going AWAY from the part. The pad will grab it and send it at approximately 4 million Mach across the garage, into something you like, knocking that onto something you cherish, pushing over something hot, and making your house burn down, pissing off the wife, getting a divorce, being lonely and sad, start a meth habit, losing your job, friends, and family, then dying in a box under a bridge. Don't do that. I like bridges.

    You do need to worry about the part getting too hot. Buell plastics will blister fairly easily, so use even motions that cover the entire part, and don't let the buffer pad sit in one spot for any length of time. For a part that is on a bench, the weight of the buffer is plenty hard enough to do the job. You do not want to be pressing down on the part at all, and keep a low speed.

    Because the buffer goes clockwise you should be working the part with the top of the pad going left to right, or the bottom of the pad right to left. What you are doing is pushing the leading edge the liquid compound across the part, keeping the pad and part nice and wet (your wife called and said that makes everyone happy).

    When the buffer pad starts to get dry, you will notice it not being as effective, and even getting grabby. Now is a good time to wet the part a little and wipe it off well. Go out into the sun and take a look:
    You aren't looking at the part, you are looking at the reflection.

    Dull:
    IMG_1710.jpg
    Last edited by Cooter; 04-30-2016 at 10:22 PM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Cooter's Avatar
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    IMG_1711.jpg
    Shiny!

    Look at the reflection of the sun (or light bulb you vampire) and move the part around. You're looking for dull spots. Note those spots and go back to buffing with the compound until the whole part is evenly glossy. Keep wiping it clean and re-checking in daylight.

    During this whole process, you can't get lazy. You are going to finer and finer grits so it will be a short job to gloss up the 1000 grit scratches with rubbing compound, but it will take forever if you move to polish to quickly.

    You should be pretty happy right now because you can finally start to see progress, and let's face it. Everyone loves shiny stuff
    IMG_1715.jpg

    This is pretty evenly glossy-ish, but just wait! It gets better!

    Finesse-it is a great polish, this is the marine version because I'm an Idiot and bought a boat... a project boat... a red project boat... on purpose. Ya, I know, but it's the same stuff.

    Put some Polishing compound on your finger. See how it's not so gritty? Now taste it, pretty good like bacon right?

    No? Spit it out you sucker it's polishing compound, haha.IMG_1716.jpg
    IMG_1721.jpg
    Last edited by Cooter; 04-30-2016 at 10:13 PM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Cooter's Avatar
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    You'll be using a foam pad on the buffer now. It's much smoother and the cotton pad is now full of aggressive compound. Put a swirl of polish on the foam pad, schmear, low speed, don't push on the buffer, go in the direction of the pad.

    Polishing is a bit easier because it's less aggressive. You can use a slightly higher speed, and lets face it you're a pro now! Get the whole part evenly and keep cleaning it and checking it in the sun. once the part has a really good even shine, you're on to the last step.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Cooter's Avatar
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    Wax. There is no better wax than pure Carnauba OG-been-around-since-my-grandpappy-had-a-Model T-God-lovin-Carnuba Wax.

    But I'm using this:
    IMG_1720.jpg
    What you don't want is any 'cleaner wax' it has abrasives in it, and your part is never going to get any cleaner than it is right now.IMG_1723.jpg
    IMG_1724.jpg
    IMG_1722.jpg

    You can do this step by hand, you want a good coating of wax. Put it on with a clean chamois in circular motions, then let it dry and wipe off with a different clean chamois in straight lines.

    Now go get that beer! You deserve it lil' slugger

  10. #10
    Senior Member mrlogix's Avatar
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    nice write up cooter.

    first go in a up-down motion, then side-side, then up-down, then side-side. Mr. Miyagi would be so proud!
    sounds like you are a pro with the hand motion, Bloody Wanker.



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