Tandem Trips

Plastic

Posted in My Bike by Me on December 3, 2008

Right fairing damageSo, all that plastic that I pulled off Betty? It’s in Arizona getting glued, filled, painted, and buffed. Getting hit by a moron trying to parallel park causes an unreasonable amount of damage that can remove an unreasonable amount of time from your riding season, so guard that stuff like it’s gold!

My dad is currently in the process of mending all of this messiness. Apparently ABS plastic isn’t the nightmare to work with that you might expect. Superglue with some accelerator, some filling and sanding, and you might end up with a better finish than you had from the factory (except for the fiber glued to the inside of the fairing to provide extra support).

If you remember, this damage was caused by the turn signal when the bike was knocked on its right side while parked on the side of the street. In the previous and next picture you can see how gnarly that puncture was. Keep in mind that this is a stationary fall, not some raging crash while in motion. I can’t believe that bike manufacturers are still attaching turn signals this way.

Right fairing damage #2 In order to fix this you first need to gather up all of your pieces. Then you need to clean up the edges a little bit in order to force that parts back together. REMEMBER: you don’t want to sand or cut these edges very much, just enough to get it back together. The nooks and crannies that are made when the plastic is ripped apart will help hold the pieces together when they are glued. It works sort of like velcro. If you sand it smooth first you won’t have any “teeth” to interlock and aid the joining process.

Right fairing part alignmentOnce you get the parts back together you need to tack them in place with a small amount of glue. This holds everything together so you can handle the unit and move it around without it falling apart, but is temporary enough that you can separate them if you made a mistake or if you need to make any more adjustments. You can see here that the parts line up reasonable well and there are few gaps. This is good. It will help speed up the repair process.

Right fairing insideRemember to check both sides of the repair. You might have a nice outside surface but be left with a weak joint because of gaping holes and such on the inside of the fairing. You can see here that in this case the brake was clean on both sides. We will reinforce this repair by adding a sheet of carbon or fiber glass covered by a thin layer of epoxy. This thing is going to be 1,000 times stronger than it was when it was made.

Right fairing sticker removalNow we remove the sticker. I had been thinking about removing the stickers anyway, but was torn between wanting to keep the bike stock and wanting to modify the hell out of it and make it custom. Now that it has been down and we are repairing the plastic I am leaning more toward customizing it (minimally and tastefully, mind you). This bike is getting closer and closer to becoming my track bike. All I need is a garage, a truck, lots more money, and a second bike. Easy peezy lemon squeezy!

The factory sticker is a real feat of manufacturing. We thought that it was black ink on a clear film, but it turns out that the film is backed by silver ink that is a perfect match to the factory paint. Suzuki’s finish is much better than I thought, even if they are a little stingy with the thickness of the paint that is laid down under the clear coat.

Right fairing no stickerTo get the sticker off you need to heat it up. We used a heat gun normally used for shrinking monocoat, which is used for the skin of remote controlled model aircraft. You can also use a hair dryer. Be careful not to warp the fairing. Heat guns get VERY hot and can quickly melt a hole in even very tough plastic. After the sticker is off you can use bug & tar remover or some form of glue solvent. Normally we would worry about the chemical reaction between the solvent and the paint, but in this case it wasn’t important because we are refinishing the part. If you are removing stickers on your perfectly good paint remember to read the label first to avoid screwing it up and giving yourself a trip to Maaco.

Right fairing glueNext comes sealing the joint. We used a thin medium speed super glue that can seep into the cracks a fill in any holes or grooves. Remember those “teeth” I mentioned earlier? You want the glue to get in between them and form a vacuum seal. This way everything gets nice and tight and locks together. Also, when you get to the sanding stage you won’t have any air bubbles to surprise you. You will have to go back and fill those in before you can prime the part for painting.

right_fairing_sandOnce you have the part glued together you can check everything out and prep for sanding. You can see that Everything worked out pretty nicely, but we are going to have to do some filling and another pass or two with the sand paper before we can start on setting up the surface for priming. We also had some rashing damage caused by the rough surface of the road outside of the break. Those areas sanded and will be filled along with the crack around the break.

Right fairing sand #2This is after some filling and a second pass with the sand paper. VERY NICE! You can hardly tell that there was any damage unless you look at the inside or get your face right up to the bare plastic. After priming I think it will be invisible. Now we just need to do the reinforcement and prep the surface for primer. That will require a conversation with the guy that is going to help paint everything.

Here is a wider view of the part:

Right fairing sand #3

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