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.
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.
The best looking coffeehouse and coffee in Lincoln
We have opened a twitter account under the name of @pw_mitch it is a little thin on content and followers for now but we are working on it when we can. If you so feel inclined please join us and we will follow you back. A bold statement I know. I am always surprised at the number of friends we make and not in a cynical way.
It is a marketing tool but we will not be flooding it with special offers and adds. It will be an extension of the blog with some of the posts you see here being promoted there. We will be commenting, posting and sharing things that interest us and hopefully you.
Come joint the party we look forward to seeing what you get up to as well.
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.
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.
Hi Everyone, this is an update on some things we planned for this year and not like previous posts for others.
The first of these is a small thank you to our customers and the readers of Classic Motorcycle Mechanics. With the publication of the August edition comes a voucher for 10% discount on all our repair services which will be valid until November 2013.
And the other is a plug for our new plastic repair patches.
For all those who want to keep their repairs authentic we now supply plastic patches. They come in two flavors ABS and polypropylene, for added convenience they are packaged with one professional length of welding rod. From our experience we have found that using the same material to replace a bit that is missing makes for a stronger longer lasting repair once welded into place. It is far better to use a new piece of plastic than an old piece that needs to be cleaned up before use and may not weld in properly. It also gets rid of the messy use of filler and/or fibreglass.
The patches are 200 mm x 130 mm approx by three millimeter thick and a professional length of welding rod is one meter and 3 mm in diameter.
The welding rod, patch combination is £7 including postage and packing. Can be collected by appointment. UK mainland only.
The year has hardly started and we have had our first odd ball repair. These are repairs that we just do not expect to see. It also happens to be the second smallest item we have had to deal with. The smallest was a hair/beard trimmer. Anyway whats this mystery part? Do you think I’ve built up the suspense enough? It is the filter housing from a small clark air compressor some how the threaded end had broken away from the main body. It was a quick job to do, made from a good gauge of material.
It has been a long time since our last post. A lot has happened to keep us busy through the year not all of it good. Some of it has kept our fingers at play with the plastic and not the key board, hopefully we will be able to change this in the year ahead.
We would like to wish you all the best for the New Year.