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.
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.
We are changing our opening times From the first of October we will be open Saturday from
9 am to 5 pm
We are trialing this until December, If it proves popular then it may be here to stay. To balance this out we maybe closed on a floating day during the week. You will need to phone anyway so It should not detracted from our excellent service. We look forward to seeing you.
We receive lots of enquires every week. Some turn into jobs while others are looking for information. We treat all contacts with customers the same. We listen to what they have to say and direct them accordingly. Even those calls that sound like a wind up!
Earlier in the year we had a phone call from a man that wanted a toilet seat repaired – Yes that’s right – toilet seat, and yes I thought it was a wind up. Even so, I listened to what he had to say. I got the impression that as he was relating what had happened, he suddenly realised that what he was asking was a strangely funny request. His voice changed, it now had some amusement in it. The conversation between us then turned in to a bit of a joke. Even so it was a genuine enquiry for a repair.
I had to admit that it was not a repair we did on a regular basis and if he was serious about it, then he would need to bring it along for us to look at. He was as good as his word. A couple of weeks later he turned up.
We talked and joked about the phone call while we looked at and tested to see if it was a thermoplastic. It proved to be otherwise, in fact we do not believe it was a plastic at all but some kind of stone composite.
He pressed us to repair it. It was not a job that we really wanted to get involved with. But agreed in the end to have a go with a two pack urethane. I assured him that we would not put it on the shelf and forget about it, but he would need to allow a couple of weeks so we could plan how we would repair it and once planned carry it out.
I had the impression when he left us that he didn’t believe that we would be in-touch in a couple of weeks. To his surprise we called two weeks later and to our surprise he was very pleased with the result.
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.