A distressed looking man is walking towards the doors of the workshop, in his hands are two plastic shopping bags. We unpacked the bags and laid out the contents piece by piece on to the work bench. I started placing the jigsaw of a faring together, the shape it formed was that of a Honda CBR 600F side panel. On closer inspection it became more complicated, there were a number of pieces missing, some of these major.
I looked at him, he said “I was told it could not be done” I replied ” The only limiting factor is price” A smile crossed his face the first bit of good news in his quest to put his pride and joy back on the road. ” This is why we say bring it in let us see it in the flesh.” It was not a lost cause. After fixing the price, he left with a happier look, to return in a couple of weeks.
We had our work cut out, first thing to do was to fix all the bits together so the main part of the faring was in one piece, then we could start fabricating the missing parts, these would be cut from sheet plastic of the same material, if it is not the same type it will not weld together.
We are not like other repairers in that, we do not use two pack fillers to replace parts that are missing in thermoplastic products which a lot of faring’s are made from. Other repairers will do this were they can get away with it or say it cannot be done. If you have a vintage farings on your bike would you not want the best repair possible for this rare item? I know I would!
When you use the same material to repair a breakage it should act in the same way that it did before it was broken. If you introduce another part whether it’s filler or fiberglass it will change the way the panel acts and can cause the repair to fail in the future.
When the man returned he did not believe that it was the same panel until I showed him the back with it’s fine lines of weld. He was very pleased with the result.
Mister street fighter Alan (good friend) decides to put a Ducati 916 seat unit on his GSXR. I said “what’s that got to do with me?” “Well, I want you to turn the square back lights into round inset lights! Can you do it?” he said. “Of course, but you find the lights you want to fit!” “Deal.”
A few days later he turns up with the light housings. Now the work begins.
Turning the square holes into round ones was straight forward. Making the housing to mount the new lights on was not. It means weldingplastic mounts into the seat unit that would take a plate with the lights on and come out with ease once on the bike, not fouling on the frame.
It all went surprisingly well; Alan was over the moon when it was finished. The only reservations I had was the red paint work on a blue and white paint scheme. Turns out Alan had a problem too with the paint work because the next time I saw the bike it was black with polished metal work. Now it looked really sexy!
It is not that well-known among the wider biker community that we were the first to put a set of foxeyes ( head lights from a Honda fireblade) into a Suzuki GSXR 11oo nose cone. We were also the first to do it using sheet thermo plastic, molding it to fit an existing faring and welding these parts into place giving it durability and strength and above all that distinctive sexy look.
GSXR nose cone custom
Nose cone custom to except Honda fireblad headlights
I only discovered recently that the nose cone was still about, in good condition and in one piece. But sadly not on the bike it was made for. It turns out that it is sitting on a shelf in someones garage looking for a new GSXR home.
I am pleased to say it has stood the test of time. Just go’s to show plastic welding is number one for repairs and custom work.
When considering whether or not a panel is worth repairing you need to take a number of things into account: Paint, decals, age and in some cases the foam backing.
Some manufacturers stick foam to the back of their side panels to stop the engine/frame
work rubbing against the back of the faring. It also stops any knocking noises and vibration while the bike is being ridden. When a panel sustains damage resulting in a crack or breakage or both, it does not always transfer to the foam behind. Even if it has not, the foam needs to be removed to do a repair. Where plastic welding is used the heat from the machine will melt the foam giving of a noxious gas. In most cases we can separate the foam in one piece from the plastic panel. So it can be reattached after the repair is compete, there by saving the cost of new foam for the customer.
There are some situations where it can not be removed in one piece. Foam, like plastic, deteriorates with age but at a faster rate. There are two types of foam backing – open cell and sealed. The former gets impregnated with road dirt, oil etc, this helps to degrade the backing more quickly turning it to dust, making it impossible to remove in some cases. Because the later is sealed it repels most of the detritus thrown up from the road and stops oil soaking into it. This increases the life of the foam, therefore making it a better candidate for removal when a repair is needed. The sealing helps to keep it in one piece making it easier to remove.
The pictures show.
Thunder cat side panel. One with the foam mat partly removed.
This weather has implications for automotive plastic ( farings, bumpers, etc,etc ). Plastic looses its elastic properties when the temperature drops making it hard and brittle but this does depend on the plastic material used.
There are two main categories of plastic hard and soft. Hard plastics like ABS used in motor bike farings, can become very brittle and break easily. Soft materials like Polyprop , being more flexible , will not crack so easily but will show signs of stress in the cold.
With the weather as cold as it is, it means that any damage your plastic receives will be twice as bad. So take a bit more care around that bike stored in the garage.
Check out the web sitesitems for sale page. We are having a big clear out of old farings. It it a mix of manufactures, Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki. We need he space so they are priced to sell.
It is no good leaving them on the shelf gathering dust. It is time to put them back on there respective bikes and back on the road.
Some have been posted already with some more to come, when we have the time. They are not all completely repaired but in good condition. There is a description on what is left to finish the panel off, so there are no surprises.
The season for biking is closing. Bikers are disappearing from the roads as they put their bikes to bed until next year. It is now the time to put right all the bits of damage you picked up on your plastic through the summer. If you leave it, you will forget untill it is time to take the bike out for the new season. loosing days that could be better spent riding your favorite roads.
IT seems that you are not. We had a gent in the Monday before the start of TT week. He had his Ducatti re-sprayed ready for the trip. Some cracks had appeared in the plastic that the sprayer said had been plastic welded.
The spray job was great but there was a problem with the so called plastic welding. It was a bit of filler and fiber glass smeared across the back for support hence it had re-cracked, no surprise there!
Just recently another customer was almost suckered by a spray shop saying they could plastic weld. When they started talking about reinforcing the back to stop it cracking further, he decided not to go back because he lost trust in them. He felt they did not know what they were doing.
Plastic welding has been around for a long time. It is recognised by insurance companies as a proper repair meeting their very high standards. It is also part of the NVQ, SNVQ, National diploma, Higher National diploma and Foundation degree for motor vehicle engineering and yet some repair shops still bodge repairs; there is no call for it; this is part of the reason we do not spray, you can see we have given you the ‘real deal’!
We have seen over the years repairs using super glue, rivets with metal support, soldering iron and super glue, filler and fiberglass and wire ties. All valid temporary repairs by the DIYer but have no place in the professional workshop.
If you are paying large amount of money for a repair you should expect the best, it’s not always a good idea to go to a one stop shop; once the paint is on you do not know what you have paid for. It may be a great finish but will it be let down by the foundation crumbling.
While out on my travels chasing down parts etc, I have noticed an up surge in electric Push bikes. They are starting to look like mopeds and motorbikes! It took me aback to see this pink one speeding down a bike lane with an older woman on it! Way to go!! It looked like a vesper in the way it was styled, the give away being the pedals sticking out the side.