Bags of Trouble.


Badly broken nose cone  Plastic welding can rebuild this nose cone where glue cannot

Badly broken Plastic

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.

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Seat surgery?


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.”

custom-rear-lights

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 welding plastic 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!

Foxy GSXR


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.

 

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.

 

Loud and broken.


asoft plastic repair

A soft plastic repair.

It is funny how things come about, a friend of a friend is a disc  jockey and runs a mobile disco. He had been at a gig when a couple of lads who were slightly worse for wear managed to trip over his speaker stand, bringing it down with an almighty crash.

The following day he checked the speaker cabinet over, from the outside it did not look to bad with just a cracked corner, on further inspection he found  half a dozen screw mounting points broken off and the bracket that held the tweeter in place had broken into four. He was not impressed to put it mildly! Being a resourceful man he glued all the bits back into place. Job done! or so he thought. The hard work was undone when he screwed the cabinet together, braking the repairs.

After a long chat he gave us the speaker box to repair, but still was not sure if it would be strong enough.  The big problem for us was making all the joints completely clean of glue. Any contamination would degrade the effectiveness of the welding and could cause failer. Another consideration was the build up of  heat; we would be working deep inside the enclosure and being one of the softer plastics it would not take much to make it melt.

Do you do?


Yes we can! 

From time to time we are asked, can you repair this or that and in many cases we can, as long as it is a thermo plastic.  We are plastic welding specialists first; who just happen to have a good reputation for repairing motor bike farings. We also “make good”  bumpers .

Some of the other types of repair we have completed:

A repair to a canoe that had been nearly split in two. (and it rhymes)

 A close friend  cracked the wing tip of his light aircraft while he was giving it re-spray and overhaul.

 A gentleman with a camper van came to us with a badly melted water tank

Some of the more odd ball repairs we have done, a beard trimmer, the wheel housing on a folding push chair, A bucket! yes that’s right!  not just any old bucket, but one from a jet ski; a Dyson vacuüm cleaner hose clip catch.

We have also fabricated things. A large water tray for a photographer; some mud guards for a mountain bike. Some requests  are turned down because it is not practical or cost affective to do. 

People have asked if we can adapt/customise farings and bumpers. Yes we can and have done so; adapting a Suzuki GSXR nose cone, so a set of  Honda fox-eye headlights could be fitted.!  A  bumper from a late-model V.W Golf to fit an older one.! The list is long but we don’t want to bore you so that’s it for now!

The rise of plastic welding.


Free_hand_weldingGas welding for plastic has been around for decades.  The Swiss company’s introduction of  a hot air gun  that had a very exact temperature control made it possible to use this method  for fabrication and  plastic  repair.

It was not until the release of Ford Escort MK4, Austin’s Maestro, Montego and the Rover 800 series ( These sites have pictures and histories www.maestro.org.uk and for the Rover www.aronline.co.uk ) and other makes along these lines, that a good reliable way of repairing flexible materials  needed to be  found. The traditional method of  the  fiberglass patches behind the damaged area as support  had to change.

It did not take long for the Insurance companies to realize that they could not sustain the replacement costs of all these bumpers. The type of plastic used in the Austin and Rover ranges would not take much of a knock before it shattered. The insurance lab’s at Thatchem ( www.thatchem.co.uk ) had to find a way to cut costs.

Two pack urathane repair material.

Two pack urathane repair material.

It did not take long for two systems to come to the fore; two pack polyurethane and plastic welding. The two pack procedure still required with some repairs, a patch behind it, this limits it to the smaller repair. As to the welding, it can cope with the full gamut of damage from a small crack to broken pieces. It became clear that this was the way to go.

At this point I must point out that flexible materials  fall into two categories:- thermoplastic the injection molded type that  repair by gas welding and the other is thermo-set; this is where two chemicals added together  form a solid like two pack polyurethane and glass reinforced plastic (GRP).

Badly broken nose cone  Plastic welding can rebuild this nose cone where glue cannot

Badly broken nose cone Plastic welding can rebuild this nose cone where glue cannot

Plastic welding has come a long way since the early days. The Institute of  the Motor Industry recognise it as a valid repair for plastic parts and has become part of the body repair apprenticeship. It  only takes a few hours to learn the basics of plastic welding but it is a skill that takes some time to perfect, more so when it comes to broken and missing pieces.

The motor industry is introducing more and more plastic into its products, part of the reason is to cut costs, another to make vehicles lighter meaning they will go further on a tank of fuel and in the current climate of higher energy costs this is a good thing. But where will it stop? In the future the plan is to have the vehicle made of plastic right down to the wheel rims.  I know we already have GRP cars like TVR ( www.tvr-car-club.co.uk ) but I’m talking about thermoplastic cars that go beyond the Renault Espace (www.matrasport.dk ). It is possible that in the future, the engines that propel these cars could be made of plastic but that will depend on fossil fuels still being used.