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  1. #1
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    Cleaning a 40 year old bike

    I just got a 40 year old bike that is pretty rough. I don't think it has been detailed since it was new. And it looks like it has had a pretty rough life even tho it only has 20,000 miles on it. I have not cleaned a bike since college in 1970. So I have no idea what to start with. I am mainly concerned with the bright work. The paint will need replaced. Please give your suggestions. And be nice to me, I am old.

  2. #2
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: Cleaning a 40 year old bike

    Sounds like a good project, a picture would sure help...

    How-to work with pictures on discussion forums


    My guess is you're talking about a Motorcycle, and not a Bicycle? You didn't actually say and some people do restore Bicycles. Assuming you're talking about a Motorcycle, polishing the brightwork, aluminum and chrome is a paint because the parts are small and surrounded by other components, it's certainly not like running a rotary buffer over a large flat panel.

    One simple way it to match aluminum polish to aluminum and chrome polish to chrome and take terry cloth towel and cut out little pieces about an inch to two inches square and use these to apply the polish and work it over the surface. As you dirty and wear out the small pieces of cloth you can simply throw them away and get a new pieces.

    We'll have the Flitz Owner here on April 13th for a how-to video and maybe he'll share some cool products and techniques that will help you with your project so dive in and do what you can and watch for that video into the future.

    Also, check out the products and tools featured here,

    Autogeek has hundreds of products to detail your motorcycle: cleaners, waxes, polishes, & more!

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  3. #3
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    Re: Cleaning a 40 year old bike

    This is a Honda CB350. 1970 model. I have never been able to upload pics here that I remember.

  4. #4
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    Re: Cleaning a 40 year old bike

    This is the only shot I have of this bike. Doesn't show much. All red is from a spray can, overspray is everywhere.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Cleaning a 40 year old bike-p1020246-jpg  

  5. #5
    Super Member richy's Avatar
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    Re: Cleaning a 40 year old bike

    Congrats on the Honda. A few caveats that are different for bikes than cars. #1, NEVER put tire dressing on m/c tires (obviously that's 'cause you're leaning them over and using the sidewalls where you don't on a car). #2 Never put a leather or vinyl dressing on the seat b/c you do not want to slide out on a corner and lose control. The paint is the same as on a car but easier as there's a lot less to do. The chrome might be rough being that old. If it is, use 0000 steel wool and some autosol. That should clean it up. P21s soap is good to use after once you get the crud off with the autosol. Bikes are just a pain in the ass b/c you have to squat down so low. Being an older bike, you might get lucky and have a centre stand. Very lucky if you do. Either that or get yourself a m/c jack. You can usually find them on sale for like $100 and help with maintenance and cleaning. Good luck. Take lots of pics. (the easiest is to use photobucket and use the links). Here's a pic of my Intruder I've had since 2000. (It's a 2000 Suzuki Intruder 1400)




  6. #6
    Newbie Member skullhead's Avatar
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    Re: Cleaning a 40 year old bike

    Quote Originally Posted by colonel View Post
    This is the only shot I have of this bike. Doesn't show much. All red is from a spray can, overspray is everywhere.
    Okay let me give you my two cents.

    First let me say I'm jealous, been looking for a project bike for a while, looks like you have a nice one.

    What I'd do is strip off the red and rattle can all the parts satin black, use green scotch pad on all the silver motor parts (gives it a nice even buffed dull look), tooth brush on the emblems before they went back on, detail the frame real good while all the body parts are off, clean up all the chrome, and loose the king queen seat. Maybe do some club bars or clip ons with bar end mirrors.

    Keep us posted as I'd like to see what direction you go. And whatever you do have fun, they are great little bikes.

  7. #7
    Newbie Member skullhead's Avatar
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    Re: Cleaning a 40 year old bike

    Oh and here is some inspiration......
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Cleaning a 40 year old bike-cb550f-cafe-racer-jpg  

  8. #8
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    Re: Cleaning a 40 year old bike

    An update, no pics. Photobucket is acting up again.
    I stripped all the red off, replaced broken headlight bucket and repainted gloss red with several clear coats. All emblems were removed and filled. Airboxes were removed and filters replaced with unipods. New metal side covers were made. Still having trouble cleaning the aluminum brightwork on the engine, a layer of crud covers it. Maybe this winter will finish it.

  9. #9
    Super Member BobbyG's Avatar
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    Re: Cleaning a 40 year old bike

    Quote Originally Posted by colonel View Post
    An update, no pics. Photobucket is acting up again.
    I stripped all the red off, replaced broken headlight bucket and repainted gloss red with several clear coats. All emblems were removed and filled. Airboxes were removed and filters replaced with unipods. New metal side covers were made. Still having trouble cleaning the aluminum brightwork on the engine, a layer of crud covers it. Maybe this winter will finish it.
    I tried logging on to Photobucket earlier and it said it was down for routine maintenance.

    It sounds like you've made allot of progress!

    The aluminum on those bikes corrodes and is a real pain to restore. What I've found works pretty well for me is to wire-brush and fine sand those parts and spray pant them with high heat bright silver or chrome paint. The finish is nothing less than spectacular and you'll be amazed how well it works.

    You'd be surprised how many "mature" guys are members here!

    BobbyG - 2004 Millennium Yellow Z06 Corvette

  10. #10
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    Re: Cleaning a 40 year old bike

    One thing I found that helps a little on cleaning bikes. Go to the sporting goods department or a gun shop and get shotgun cleaning patches. A bag of a hundred patches are a couple bucks. You get soft cotton cloths a few inches square, just right for applying polish to small parts or tight quarters. They work great.

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