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Author Topic: Repairing Damaged Plastic Fairings.  (Read 4081 times)
Diversion
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« on: August 31, 2010, 07:01:53 PM »

1. If you own a faired motorcycle, chances are you've had the near-heart attack experience of pricing replacement bodywork. Whether you've simply dropped Your Precious off its side stand or performed a full-on face skid, the dollar signs can quickly soar into the quadruple digits. But don't fret; there's hope yet. Put away the JB Weld, duct tape and plastic repair kit-there's an easier and more sane way.

2. Begin by cleaning up the damaged area. Wipe it down with contact cleaner or acetone, first making sure that it will not damage the bodywork. Next, use 280-grit sandpaper to completely roughen the surface around the damage, both on the interior and exterior. If you have a grinder-bit attachment for a drill, this works extremely well. Failure to create a scored surface will keep the fiberglass material from bonding correctly.

3. Next comes the messy part, which can be potentially brain-damaging and/or hallucinogenic if you're not wearing a respirator. First, clean the area again. Then, cut out pieces of fiberglass mat or cloth (mat is slightly stronger but cloth is easier to work with) in the shape desired. Then mix the fiberglass resin with the catalyst as per the instructions on the box. One or two ounces is all that is needed for most repairs. Fiberglass repair kits are available at most auto parts stores, and make sure you pick up some latex surgical gloves at the same time-this stuff is sticky.

Once the resin and catalyst have joined forces, you'll only have 20-25 minutes to work with the mixture before it begins to solidify. Use a paint brush and apply a thin layer of resin all around the interior damaged area.

4. Now take the pieces of fiberglass cloth and carefully place them in the desired area. Situate the cloth so it best resembles the original shape of the fairing; the better it looks now, the easier it will be to complete the project later. Work the resin up through the cloth with the brush in order to keep the fiberglass in place. Continue to dab on resin until the region is completely wet-but not saturated-and there are no visible wrinkles or bubbles. Remember that it's crucial to fiberglass the outside of any cracks to ensure there's no breakage later.

5. After the first layer has dried sufficiently, repeat the process, layering on more fiberglass while making sure not to exceed the original thickness of the fairing.

When the last application of cloth has dried entirely, use the grinder or 80-grit sandpaper to carefully knock down the excess fiberglass and resin-just make sure you don't grind all the way into the cloth, as that would weaken the structural integrity of the hardened fiberglass. Finally, scuff the entire area once again with 280-grit and clean it with acetone.

6. The final step of the repair process involves making everything look right using polyester body filler (Bondo). Patience is the key when working with body filler. Do it right and nobody will know; do it wrong and your bike won't even pass the 50/50 beauty contest: 50 feet, 50 mph. If the area you're repairing is more than a few square inches, drill several very small holes in the fiberglass so the filler can squeeze through and secure itself to the fairing, similar to the function of finger holes in a bowling ball.

7. Mix the filler and hardener according to the instructions on the can. Using a thin, rubber-spreading card, begin applying thin "skim" coats over the fiberglass, making sure that some filler squeezes through the holes on the first coat. Feather the mixture onto the surrounding painted surface; the idea is to blend the filler onto the existing fairing without creating a rough edge, and to make the filler best resemble the original shape of the fairing. Oh, and by the way, you best hurry up-polyester filler is unspreadable after two minutes.

8. Once the mixture has reached the consistency of your average block of Monterey Jack, start whittling it down with 80-grit sandpaper. Allow each application of filler to dry completely between coats, repeating the process until it is layered and sculpted to resemble the original fairing. For the final application, disperse a smooth layer of filler over the entire vicinity and let it dry. Sand it with 280-grit and then wet-sand it with 400-grit wet/dry sandpaper until you can no longer feel any scratches or imperfections in the plastic or filler.

9. So next time you find yourself staring at a cracked and splintered fairing, break out the fiberglass and body filler and give it a try. With a little patience, you'll have a good-looking fairing and a thicker wallet.
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« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2010, 07:10:48 PM »

Another Method

By doing your own motorcycle plastic repair, you can save tons of money. Case is point, a Goldwing rear half of a front fender can cost over $200.00 to purchase a color matched replacement. Do It Yourself motorcycle plastic repair? Under $10.00 and one evening of time.

Cracked Front Fender For those Goldwingers who run a rear fender extension or anyone for that matter that mounts extra parts onto plastic. The added stress can crack the plastic around the mounting holes.

Clean the plastic motorcycle parts needing repair. First thing's first in any motorcycle plastic repair, clean the parts! Without clean parts the repair will be weak and soon fail again. Wash the parts with mild soap and water being careful not to damage the parts further. Yes, you might be able to do this in the kitchen sink. You may want to consult your spouse prior to starting this project.

Preparing the crack for repair. Once you have the general area cleaned of grease and dirt you'll need to prep the crack itself. For repairing the crack, you can use "All Purpose Cement" manufactured by Oatley. You can find this in your local Home Center or plumbing supply store. It is used for cementing PVC pipes and the general purpose glue works on ABS plastics as well. Use a toothpick to open the crack in the plastic and then used the clear Oatley Cleaner on a tooth brush to clean out the crack.

Cracked plastic - after placing a stop drill at the end of the crack. The next step is crucial. With the crack well cleaned, you want to locate the end of the crack. So again with a toothpick spreading open the crack get some reading glasses or a magnifying glass and try to locate where the crack stops. Here is where we take a page from the sheet metal workers. Take a small drill and drill a hole in the plastic at the end of the crack. This will relieve the pressure and help to prevent further cracking.

Glue up the crack with All Purpose Cement used to glue PVC plumbing together. Now you are ready to complete your motorcycle plastic repair with a simple glue up. Using a "Q-Tip" or other small applicator, place glue liberally into the crack. Don't worry too much about making it neat, the idea here is to melt the plastic and fuse it back together. Once the crack is filled with glue you can take a clean "Q-Tip" and wipe the area around the crack.

Clamp the repair. Now, you'll need to clamp things up and let sit for about two hours till cured. Depending on the location and type of crack, you can use anything from large bar clamps to masking tape.  Other areas where cosmetics may be more important, you can use tape to help make a smooth repair.

Motorcycle Plastic Repair just needing a little touchup paint. After two hours, the glue should be cured and the plastic fused back together. Take off your clamp and clean up the area with rubbing compound. This will remove any stains from the cleaners used. If you need to dress up the area cosmetically, a gentle sanding and some touch up paint should do the trick.
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billg
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« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2010, 08:38:14 PM »

Hopefully I won't need this knowledge, but I'm glad you provided a great resource in case I do!
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waterinthefuel
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« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2010, 07:49:40 PM »

While this certainly is good advice, I don't see how this could be done and not be visible without painting the entire piece. Fiberglass cloth is white or black, either one will be noticeable on a bike that's silver or red or even blue.

Not sure if the OP forgot about painting it or what, but without paint, its going to look like a patchwork job, no matter how good you are, especially if you use Bondo, which is pink.
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« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2010, 03:00:42 AM »

I was wondering the same thing Brandon. Good information though, thanks.
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Bikes owned: 2003 Yamaha Zuma, 2007 Suzuki Burgman 400, 2007 Honda Silver Wing ABS, 2008 FZ6, 2009 FZ1, 2009 Kawasaki Concours 14, 2010 Kawasaki KLX, 2010 Kawasaki Concours 14, 2007 Yamaha FZ1, 2008 Yamaha FZ1
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« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2010, 10:27:04 PM »

Thanks for the information...NOW... can you show ME...with photos.. how to rebuilt the missing clips and and slots and alignment doo-hickys on the back of the shiny panels that hold them together and where the screws screw into the little towers molded onto the back of the plastic panels. I am talking about the missing ones as well as the three I have in a drawer in my toolbox next to the bike.
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