Would You Play Around With This? - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
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  • 2 Post By PerazziMx14
  • 3 Post By NVDucati
  • 6 Post By Bentwee
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post #1 of 6 Old 09-09-2019, 02:05 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Posts: 72
Would You Play Around With This?


Looking for advice from the people who know better, and who have gone through some motorcycling rebuilds or repairs. I am kind of looking for a small project for the winter to keep me from thinking about my usual work.

I am now looking at a used bike that has been parked in a damp climate for a few years. It is a cheap 1993 Virago 500 ($300 CAN, about $200-$225 USD?). It would undoubtedly need the usual (carbs cleaning, tank cleaning or coating, etc.).

What I am specifically asking about is what can be done with the chrome and the engine case if they are showing pitting or surface rust?

Where I live (BC, Canada), bikes that are 25 years or older can qualify for 'collectables' and are very, very cheap to insure. This would be a way for me to ride all year around but only on occasion during the winter--the other bikes I own are a lot of money to insure so I insure them only for 3 to 5 months every year.

BUT those collectables must be mint cosmetically speaking, so that is why I am asking about the chrome and the rest of the metal showing on the bike.

I have enjoyed playing around with motorcycles in the dead of winter and learning about them for the last 15 years or so (I find that relaxing), but only to do some light mechanical work. I do NOT have the skills to rebuild engines (would love to learn one day tho when I have more time), I cannot repaint a bike with lots of plastic on it (I can maybe fix a crack and spray paint it but that it all and it will not look great!), and I do not have THAT much time to spend on it. But I enjoy light wrenching.

I currently own a 2008 Wee and a 2003 VFR that need nothing. That is disappointing, in a way. They are very reliable bikes, but they do not allow me to do much mechanical work. I have purchased a KZ550 LTD a few years back and put it back on the road after it was parked in a barn for 15 years at least. I liked it.

I am kind of looking for the same idea here, but, again, I do not want to get in over my head.

So, what can be done with light rust on engine cases and chrome pitting??!!?

Thanks for your advice

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post #2 of 6 Old 09-09-2019, 06:56 AM
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Just about every time I've revived a vintage motorcycle I've ended up being upside down on cost (not even taking into account my labor) and I was not hung up on cosmetics just wanted good reliable runners out of them.

An 80's Virago in mint condition will not command a lot of money but as long as you are doing the revival for your sanity and not profit and most likely financial loss it'll be fine.

Weird rules about ascetics on a vintage motorcycles having to be mint.
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post #3 of 6 Old 09-09-2019, 07:46 AM
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Location: Northern Calif
Posts: 960
Very interesting project and having a multiple benefits is compelling.
To begin the answer to your question, as asked, the chrome can come a long way back with a product called "Never Dull". It is used a lot in marine applications like hand rails and cleats, etc. As for the aluminum engine covers, I usually start with liquid/gel toilet cleaner before using any of the many metal polishes. The objective is to avoid adding scratches to areas that were just dirty. Otherwise, you will end up spending more time removing the scratches and swirl marks that you caused.

I looked up the regulation [ https://motorcyclelawyer.ca/vintage-collector-plates/ ]. It seems that the inspections are done by photos. So learning proper lighting and photoshop may be a part of your new hobby.

I'd say if the bike is mechanically sound and the $300 won't damage your life _ go for it. It sounds very therapeutic. Find a warm well lighted spot, get some rubber gloves and books on tape.
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post #4 of 6 Old 09-10-2019, 02:15 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Posts: 72
Thanks guys. This helps out. I will start thinking about it more seriously. It is more for meditation purposes than anything else I would think, just a way to relax as long as the work is not too involved.

It might, however, become more interesting and even more relaxing if I need to get more involved.


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post #5 of 6 Old 09-10-2019, 11:57 AM
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Bellingham, WA
Posts: 309
About 5 years ago I picked up from Craigslist an 83 Yamaha Maxim 750 with a "blown engine" for $300. 3 hours and $0 later it ran like a champ. So I decided to give it some real attention the following winter. I won't go into the whole thing. But to your questions:

Chrome: I'm inclined to call this a miracle solution; cheap, easy, fast and effective. Give the chrome a simple wash to clean off dirt, grease and grime. Then wad up some aluminum foil, get it wet with water (no cleaners or anything to alter the chemistry, just water and AL on chrome) and rub. It is incredible how well this works. However, there are limits. If there is rust UNDER the chrome, or it's peeling, then this will be insufficient.

Aluminum: on my 83, and on many others I suspect, what you're really up against first is not aluminum, but rather a clearcoat that is failing. AND oxidized aluminum under that. Mine was pretty ugly. Any piece I wanted restored had to be pulled and freed of any rubber or plastic. Then stripped with Aircraft Stripper (nasty stuff) and polished ever smoother with a liberal application of late nights, loud rock and roll, and cheap beer.

These were my experiences anyway. BTW, I'm just across the border in Bellingham.
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post #6 of 6 Old 09-10-2019, 12:31 PM
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Location: NW Ohio
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wow, amazing transformation!
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