How to restore your rare motorcycle plastics
Making the old new and beautiful again
I have found it very hard to get nice mud guards of the right shape and color for the XR500R. May be I am picky but that is an occupational hazard for many DIY restorers.
Once I bought a Maier rear mud guard but found it is not quite the right shape and certainly not the right color. Some may find this OK, I don't, but that's me.
Some folks have bought these XRR parts from DC Plastics. I heard that the color is a very very close match to the period orangey color but the finish not all that satisfactory. Also, they need to be fitted with screws, not quite the same as original, but may satisfy some (not me). I have never actually seen them though.
Some years ago, I had in my hands a rather sad looking XRR fuel tank and I thought, "what the heck, I cant make it any worse". After checking there were no petrol fumes left (one decade of emptiness did the trick), I (gently) put a butane torch to it and saw the color come back, some of the scratches disappear. With nothing much more to loose, I also tried sanding some of it, with little success but then tank was back to reasonable, shameless, usable condition, yay!
And then I discovered that not only it is possible to restore your original plastics, but it is actually easy. I just had to change my frame of mind, and just believe it was possible :)
You now know pretty much everything there is to know.
Here is my first shot at this. On a 1982 XR500R headlight shroud.
And after, many, many, many hours of sanding and polishing....
My additional "shortcuts":
I used a blade from a utility knife to remove the most oxidized parts and flatten out the deepest scratches.
Some spots were deeply discolored, I applied a heat gun and that brought back the color. Worked perfect.
I did not buff it till is went super glossy, I was happy with a simple satin-shiny shine.
Now working on the OEM mudguards and those OEM side panels that I kept religiously and thought were damaged for ever.
Happy sanding! Many, many hours of it...
And an original 1981 XR500R front muguard with gouges, sun fading, two layers of paint (brushed!).