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.
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.
We are often asked to repair plastic petrol tanks and motorcycle windscreens. In the case of the former we say no even though we have in the past repaired one. We only did it as an experiment to see if it could be done and the customer had spare tank material we could use to plug the holes. Did it work? As far as we know; we tested it with water in the workshop with no leak but petrol is another matter. We are happy to try another as a test to see if it works or not. BUT the material has to be identical to the tank you want repaired.
As for motorcycle windscreens we can repair them as long as they are made from Polycarbonate and the crack or piece broken off can not be seen when repaired. There is nowhere to hide with clear materials as you can see from the picture. Once repaired and prepared the plastic go’s a milky colour. Imagine how that would look running down the middle of your screen.
On a more serious note, in some cases broken screens are less expensive to replace than have repaired.
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.
We were asked to customize some Suzuki GSXR upper side panels. This a story from warmer times.
It was early spring when we had a call from a gent about doing some custom work on a Suzuki GSXR. He wanted to give his side panels that Yoshimura look. The out line was would we be able to make a series of air vents and weld them into the side panels. I was more than interested as one of my first custom jobs was a GSXR of roughly the same year. So I have a bit of a soft spot for these bikes.
Over the weeks that followed it became clear that there was not the budget needed to allow us to fabricate the vents from plastic and weld them in, as the customer wanted. Which was a shame! When it comes to making parts from scratch it is labour intensive. But all was not lost the customer had discovered a set of fibre glass vents that matched what he wanted to achieve and asked us if we would be able to make them fit.
After some weeks the vents turned up at the workshop and with a bit of trepidation I opened the package. I have nothing against fibre panels but I have seen some really bad ones. These surprised me, they had a quality finish and looked the same size. On very careful inspection one was slightly smaller than the other and they curved more than the panels they were being fitted into; which in the end lead to an over complicated fitting arrangement.
Once the holes were cut to shape in the side panels, some plastic material was cut to fill the gap left by the original vent. Then a lip was cut into the plastic where the new fibre vents would sit. If they had not been made with an exaggerated curve this part of the job would not have been necessary. It took two of us to bond each vent into place. When this was set the vents were then fibre glassed in with a water proof matt to stop weather degradation. When the fibre glass was dry we used a special flexible filler to fill between the two materials to reduce the chance of cracking.
It is always nice to hear that the customer is happy with the results especially when it is done long distance.
5. Ground off plastic from bikes that have slide down the road.
We rebuild these with plastic not filler.
6. Panel support mounts.
7. Making mount post from scratch.
8. Broken panels.
9. Missing part taken from a donor panel.
10. Small parts made from scratch.
When we had the idea to do this everyone thought it was great. The reality is that we could not agree in what order they should be placed or if we had the images required to make the top ten. It would be fair to say that these are the most common repairs we see and to a certain degree can be complicated to complete.
What a single sided repair could look like before new method
Wherever possible we try to fulfill the wishes of our customers. The work we are asked to do can be complicated and delicate at the same time, which can lead to some compromise.
For a long time one area of repair that our customers keep asking about is single sided repair. It is one of the most difficult repairs to achieve. Why? Because the customer adds a complication by not wanting to spend out on an expensive repaint. Which is very understandable when it comes to those annoying small accidents that happen in garages and sheds across the country.
Inner side showing welding with new method.
The reason this type of repair is difficult to complete is the heat from the gun penetrates through the broken area and puckers the paint and in some circumstances causes heat shrink. This leaves an unsightly look to the outer finish.
We have over the years completed this type of repair without this happening but it can be unpredictable in its outcome. Because of this we have been looking for a way to stop and or reduce the damage to the outer paint, leading to a more acceptable finish. Very recently we have come up with a method that may give us more control when it comes to single sided repairs. We are still in the early days of it’s use but are encouraged so far with the materials we have used it on. I must point out that this type of repair is only any good for small none structural repairs because this repair does not address the
This repair was completed using the new method.
issue of strength and is more likely to fail in the future. How far in the future only time will tell. We will always maintain that the double sided repair is the best and strongest as it gets rid of the crack completely.
We have noted that there is a fly in the ointment, namely super glue – people will insist that they have a go; we do not have a problem with this attitude but we ask that you use something else because the message is: super glue does not work!! Not only that it makes repairing it properly much more difficult and dangerous where plastic welding is involved and increases the cost.