Polishing Plastic - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
2008+ KLR650 Wrenching & Mod Questions For repair, maintaining or modifying discussions related to the newly updated 2008 and beyond, Generation 2 KLR650 Motorcycle.

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post #1 of 15 Old 03-23-2016, 12:24 PM Thread Starter
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Polishing Plastic

Got a dandy. I'm prepping my bike to sell and the Laminar Lip is "OK," but scuffed some in spots. Local body shop told me to use Meguiars Ultimate Compound followed by wax.

Took a bit of work, but I'm impressed by the great job it did - the Laminar Lip looks almost new. (BTW, I rode the bike with the stock windshield - without the Lip installed - and was amazed at the wind in my face. The thing really works)

Going by that, I have a black Acerbis front fender that is also "OK," but scuffed some, so tried the compound on a portion of the rear of the fender as a test. OK, it smoothed it out completely and easily, but left it with a dull finish. Not a problem.

Then waxed it, same as the Laminar Lip that worked so well. Nope. The fender didn't shine up. Went thru the whole process again and the test portion of fender is still dull.

What did I do wrong - or what didn't I do right ??

Thanks...........Lars.
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post #2 of 15 Old 03-23-2016, 12:48 PM
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The laminar lip is a hard plastic, perhaps Lexan or an acrylic. That stuff polishes up pretty nice.

The fender is polypropylene. It's tough, flexible, and is what is known as a low-surface-energy polymer. It doesn't polish for crap. The structure of the stuff is such that buffing it results in a dull shine. Think of it as the mechanical polishing action tears the polymer structure of the material. It gets smooth, but no sheen.

PP is a thermoplastic. It is injection molded as a fluid and cools to a high sheen. The heat lets the polymers relax and form a smooth surface*.

If you want to polish it you'll need to use heat. A good heat gun or hair dryer on 'High' can do the trick. If you are exceptionally brave it can be done with a propane torch with a flame spreader.

Tom

*This is all stated as concisely as possible and may not be completely technically correct, but y'alls get the idea.
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post #3 of 15 Old 03-23-2016, 02:36 PM
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Agree 100%.....it's a very fine line between getting the perfect finish and wearing the fender on your boot!

Willys
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post #4 of 15 Old 03-24-2016, 12:55 AM Thread Starter
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This is angry-vating. Twice I've answered this thing and twice it's deleted my answer after requiring me to log in. Last try........

Thanks. As soon as you said, "polypropylene" I made the connection. You right - it won't polish and I'll be very spooky about taking a torch to my precious fender. Might try the hairdryer, but doubt it's warm enuf.

My ATV is oxidized as well and I'm slicking it up ready to sell, too. Oxidized won't hurt anything, but glitter sells.

Surfing thru YouTubes the other day, a guy demonstrated polishing an ATV that was badly oxidized. He took a mixture of 60% paint thinner and 40% boiled linseed oil (he was very specific about boiled - said it'd make an awful mess if not the boiled stuff) and rubbed it in with a rag.

It gave instant results, the ATV looked great and he did the whole thing in just a few minutes. He says it'll last a long time. I'll do a small portion in an out of the way spot this weekend and see if it eats the poly. If not, we've all learned something.

Lars.
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post #5 of 15 Old 03-24-2016, 05:29 AM
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Originally Posted by biglar View Post
This is angry-vating. Twice I've answered this thing and twice it's deleted my answer after requiring me to log in. Last try........

Thanks. As soon as you said, "polypropylene" I made the connection. You right - it won't polish and I'll be very spooky about taking a torch to my precious fender. Might try the hairdryer, but doubt it's warm enuf.

My ATV is oxidized as well and I'm slicking it up ready to sell, too. Oxidized won't hurt anything, but glitter sells.

Surfing thru YouTubes the other day, a guy demonstrated polishing an ATV that was badly oxidized. He took a mixture of 60% paint thinner and 40% boiled linseed oil (he was very specific about boiled - said it'd make an awful mess if not the boiled stuff) and rubbed it in with a rag.

It gave instant results, the ATV looked great and he did the whole thing in just a few minutes. He says it'll last a long time. I'll do a small portion in an out of the way spot this weekend and see if it eats the poly. If not, we've all learned something.

Lars.
I've actually heard of this before but never tried it, please post up some before and after pics if it works well for you.
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post #6 of 15 Old 03-24-2016, 09:59 AM
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A bit off topic here but you know when your plastic headlight lenses get yellowed......I tried everything to get some light to pass through, OK a bit exagerated but you get it. I buffed, bought expensive paste kits etc, tried tooth paste which funny enough was identical to the expensive paste kit, nothing worked for long......then an old bodyman suggested using a very very clean cotton cloth(if I remember correctly the type of cloth sorry) and soak it in acetone. Get the dirt off the lense with glass cleaner, then stretch the cloth which is very wet with acetone tightly like a tight string and drag it carefully and steadily across the lense in a one stroke fashion. He said he does this all the time on all his vehicles and does it for anyone who pays him to. He said it comes out like near new. So thinking I could do anything tried it. It works! BUT only ONCE! I was getting too picky and though well if this was the result the first time, the second time would be even better...WRONG!!! It turned the plastic into a melted mess! Ruined the lenses and force me to spend literally hours on each lense just to be able to drive at night until the new lights showed up!
I personally use a heat gun on the plastics work on GEN II KLRs and that type of plastic for better terminology and you can see what is happening if you look sideways at the surface. As soon as it starts to liquify you back off, you will see a shene come to the surface like liquid, wet paint etc, that is where you stop and move on all the time looking for this liquid state on the surface.
Just saying this so you are very aware of the possible issues using chemicals when polishing different type of plastics.

Willys
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post #7 of 15 Old 03-26-2016, 10:15 AM Thread Starter
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Haha........I wonder how much attention you guys pay to commercials on TV. Normally I channel hop when they come on, but just now I was otherwise occupied and saw a commercial come on for Rustoleum "ReColor." Looks to me like exactly what we've been talking about. Wonder what's in it and if it really works as they say ??

My boiled linseed came in yesterday and I'm hot to get at it......after breakfast is well settled and the coffee is fully appreciated.

Also noticed that my big (90 gallon ??) city trash bucket is PP, so will try a quick test on that with the paint thinner/boiled linseed before committing to things that matter. Will keep ya all posted.

Lars.
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post #8 of 15 Old 03-26-2016, 11:13 AM
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I'm thinking that since boiled linseed oil is (or used to be at least) a fairly major ingredient in paints and stains that cutting it with lots of paint thinner is in essence creating a very thin clear coat that would basically fill in the scratches and bring the color back as long as it's not excessively faded.

Again, I've heard of it being done but never tried it. Can't really see why it wouldn't shine up dull plastic though! If it's really minor scratching and scuffing, hitting it with lemon pledge furniture polish and then buffing the heck out of it will shine it up too. Picked that up from the Honda shop that I bought my Shadow at, that's why all their bikes on the showroom floor smell lemony fresh! Lol
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post #9 of 15 Old 03-26-2016, 01:18 PM
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Pledge is the windshield filler of choice at Harley tech talk.com

This is my son, with whom I am well pleased." ----God
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post #10 of 15 Old 03-26-2016, 02:53 PM
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Pledge changed their formula a couple years ago. I use to use it on my sportster is was awesome. Bout a year and half ago I tried it on my dyna. It was terrible. Went to the forums and sure enough it changed.
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