Restoring Corroded Aluminum Parts

Aluminum parts like fork legs, grab rails, engine covers and footpeg brackets that were once shiny and new looking can turn dark, or white and crusty looking from oxidation that has occurred under the protective lacquer coating.

The method of restoring these involves removing the part whenever possible and treating the surface with a paint remover, steel wool and some elbow grease to remove the lacquer finish. The surface is then sanded with 400 or 600 grit waterproof paper to remove any oxidation damage, and then the final step of polishing is done to remove the light scratches and bring back the shiny chromelike finish.

Large parts are best polished by someone with a high speed buffing wheel and a block of the right grade of jeweler’s rouge. (Look under metal polishing suppliers in the Yellow Pages to find this product). Small pieces can be done by hand with metal polish if you have the patience.

If you choose to recoat the parts with clear lacquer after polishing you should first clean the surface well with alcohol or brake cleaner to remove any traces of grease or metal polish. Use an automotive grade of lacquer that is heat resistant if spraying engine covers. The shine may be dulled slightly by the lacquer coating.

If you don’t want to recoat the finished piece with clear lacquer then be prepared to repolish the finish occasionally by hand to keep the mirror shine. A coating of wax or light oil wiped on will help to protect unlacquered parts from oxidizing again.

All these tips, and many more, can be found in The Motorcycle Handbook along with explanations on many aspects of motorcycles and motorcycling. 63 chapters of practical, down-to-earth information you won’t find anywhere else! Just click on The Motorcycle Handbook link for more info and some excellent reviews.

John Hanney