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Polishing side covers

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by txgary, Apr 12, 2013.

  1. txgary

    txgary XS650 Enthusiast

    has anyone polished their side covers while still in place.I was going to try and remove the coating then wet sand with fine grit paper and then use purple metal polish,any other ideas out there without removing the covers,thanks,txgary
  2. I used steel wool and lots of elbow grease. Steel wool brings up a pretty good shine by itself. Mothers mag polish works very well to bring out the mirror finish. Getting the yellowed clear coat off is most of the battle, at least it was for me.
  3. Tron

    Tron Bearded Sheep Whisperer

    Its a lot easier with them off. Just wait until your next oil change and pop em off..

    A bench grinder with a polishing wheel works wonders!
  4. gggGary

    gggGary Stop that! XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Left side comes off easy and you got to do the maintenance in there anyways.
    Right side I usually do in place, remove foot peg, kick start, and brake lever.
    Srip the clear coat with aircraft stripper.
    File, heavy sand the gouge from the brake lever,
    Then use this

    Chuck it in a cheap electric drill.

    These wheels let you get in around the kick starter and in next to the cases, beats hand sanding, and saves hours of work, the wheels last for fricking ever, my blue wheel is finally wearing out after 3 three years and 8 or 10 bikes worth of polishing.
    Buy dico not the chinese knock offs, the Dico nylon is more flexible and gets in the hard to reach spots better. 4" works great for most work.

    If the cover has gray corrosion start with orange if it's pretty decent start with blue then coarse compound on a sisal wheel finish with fine compound on a cotton wheel wipe the cover with paper towel and mineral spirits between steps so the coarse abrasives are removed. I like blue magic as a final buff and it has some wax to keep it looking good for a while. This cover was done on the bike.


    Polishing on the bike won't get you show points but plenty sharp for a rider.

    "Quicky version blue dico then blue magic looks a lot like the factory finish but a bit more shine.
    MaxPete and OripotoRaider like this.
  5. When i polished mine I used some spray on paint remover to take off the factory clear coat. I then wet sanded and then polished with a bench buffer.
  6. txgary

    txgary XS650 Enthusiast

    what grit sand paper??? thanks
  7. racerdave

    racerdave ^ Gone not forgotten ^

    Gary using your technique on the above bike, is that case more of a satin finish than a polished finish, or is the angle make it deceiving?
  8. gggGary

    gggGary Stop that! XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    It depends on how long you work the the blue magic on a buff wheel. I'll shoot a close up.
    An occasional shot of water on the cover helps the cutting action to speed things up with both the dico wheels and the blue magic. I have been experimenting with using some ammonia in the water. I am pretty sure the blue magic has ammonia in it. I am bad and leave the tub sitting around without the cover and the ammonia/water evaporates out, making it too stiff.
  9. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    Gary, I have the blue (fine) and orange (coarse) wheels but have never seen the grey. Is that a medium wheel, or ultra fine maybe?
    MaxPete likes this.
  10. gggGary

    gggGary Stop that! XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Grey - course (80) grit

    Orange- medium (120)

    Blue - fine (240) grit

    I don't think I would use the grey on aluminum too easy to go too deep.

    I'm thinking sand paper on a block would give better control if you need to work that much metal off, say to remove a gouge.
  11. racerdave

    racerdave ^ Gone not forgotten ^

    A electrician buddy of mine asked me if I wanted to go to Berlands last week. I just happened to see they had these strand disc. Don't know if they were Dico, but they had the 3 color's/coarseness to pick from. I'm sure they were not cheapos like HF sells.
  12. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    What I use even more than the dico wheels are 1" and 2" Roloc discs in my die grinders. The very fine and fine work well for cleaning and the medium for scratch and gouge removal. The coarse are too much for aluminum but do a nice job smoothing steel.


    For buffing, I use the bench buffer for any areas possible and then switch to 3" wheels in the die grinders for the nooks and crannies. This is what I use for the "gutters" and spoke areas on the flanged alloy rims. HF has a nice little kit .....


    Although they market this for use in a drill, it really doesn't spin fast enough. The die grinder is the ticket. For compounds, the best deal I've found is from McMaster-Carr. You get giant 2 to 2.5 lb. bars for what everyone else charges for the little ones.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2020
  13. gggGary

    gggGary Stop that! XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    I suppose you're right 5T I'll have to go get a roloc set up.

    Two recent in place side covers,

    cb650 001.jpg

    Spent a little more time on the 77 just picked the sheet off it out in the shed to shoot the pic, cover was done last summer some time.

    cb650 007.jpg

    The 82 was a quicky job blue Dico and a bit of blue magic on a sewed cotton wheel in the cheapo 1/4" electric drill.
    MaxPete likes this.
  14. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru Top Contributor

    I bought my first Roloc stuff from the auto parts store. It's the original 3M brand and was a bit expensive. I now get it all from eBay. The discs can be had for half the cost and the holders for even less .....


    For the 1" disc holder, I did spring for the original 3M one simply because I couldn't find a knock-off in that size. I really like the 1" for the little stuff we do and the discs are much cheaper than the 2" ones.

    MaxPete likes this.
  15. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    Following gggGary's recommendations, I'm trying the Dico cone wheels on my right sidecover. What was left of any clearcoat was first removed with paint stripper. This 45 year old cover is full of oxidation stains and mini-nicks. The Dico #240 blue was too fine to start, so started with #120 orange. It's finally cutting thru the crud, and exposing workable aluminum. I love how the bristles follow the contours and get into the nooks and crannies.

    The pic shows a before (right side) and after (left side) Using #120:
    weekendrider likes this.
  16. halfmile

    halfmile XS Builder XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    The things we go through just to achieve the "Shiny" factor. If you`v e already got the cases off now is the time to polish them. Methods are as individual as it gets. It`s been my experience the further you stay away from HF the better off you`ll be. 3M & Dico make very good products. A bit more expensive but they last much longer and if your doing a whole bike you`ll save in the long run. For large areas I use the 3M hook-it pads on a foam backing (180-320) grit to rough in the surface then (5-600) grit before the buffing wheel. Sometimes our local chrome shop will sell the throw away compound bars (Grease Sticks) that are still bigger than the over the counter compounds and don`t stick to the surface as bad. Getting into the narrow areas will require a variety of different pads and discs. I`m just getting back out in the garage after having a stroke 3 weeks ago that affected my right side so now I get to do all this left handed. Sorry to say the current scrambler project has had a major set back. Polishing results are always reflected in how hard you work at it but always worth it in the end.

    Attached Files:

    MaxPete likes this.
  17. Paul Sutton

    Paul Sutton Sprained Ankle Top Contributor

    I polished my first XS by hand using wet and dry 120, 400 then 600 Grit followed by Autosol on a cloth. An initial go with 80 made too many deep scratches. Use soapy water to keep the paper cutting and not clogging. The finer the final paper the higher the quality after using a metal polish. I have always used Autosol paste in a tube because it was all the shop had at the time I needed some.

    I am satisfied with something that looks good but it does not have to look perfect. A couple of months ago I polished another XS but this time I did the final polishing with a cloth polishing wheel meant for a hand drill. I mounted it on a bench top drill because it is so easy to slip with a hand held drill and make deep scratches. I kept the wheel damp and regularly applied Autosol. The finish I achieved was very satisfying. However the final polish will not hide a poorly prepared surface. You need to get the preparation done well. The most difficult stuff to polish is where the aluminium has gone grey/black. This corrosion seems to go deep into the surface.


    As explained above it is best to remove the covers to work on as there are some very fiddly bits on the right hand cover around the kick-start and around and below the tacho cable (See TooManyXS1Bs' nice photo). Removal of the right hand cover will cost you a new gasket where as the left hand gasket can be reused. Time the polishing to coincide with your next oil change and then you can clean the side filter as well.

    I have never used steel wool so tested a bit today and it seems very good. One advantage I see with the steel wool suggestion given above is it does not leave behind bits of grit which requires careful washing to remove prior to reassembly. If you want the shine to last then you need to regularly hand polish the surface - this is not a major job, approximately five minutes each side once a month. Something I must get in the habit of doing.
    Not perfect, needs to be touched up in a couple of places. This side was difficult due to a high level of grey corrosion, clearly the side exposed to the weather during years of storage. The plate with Yamaha was clearly a different alloy.

    Attached Files:

    Fullcircle and MaxPete like this.
  18. weekendrider

    weekendrider Iron Horse cowboy Top Contributor

    S.W. MO
    This one was done a year ago last spring, on the bike. Course steel wool and carb cleaner to cut the varnish then followed by 4 ought steel wool to polish.
    About as cheap a method as you can get I expect. They(some articles I read) say you shouldn't use steel wool. But here it is.
    MaxPete likes this.
  19. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    Egads, lookit all them pneumatic tools!

    I sure miss Wichita's "The Yard Store" and "Boeing Surplus Sales"...
    MaxPete likes this.
  20. zeroxs650

    zeroxs650 XS650 Addict

    I did wet sanding on my side covers, took a lot longer but turned out great.

    MaxPete likes this.

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