26 January 2016

So, after spending such a long time trying to find what I think is the closest thing available to a brand new BMW R1150GS Adventure, the first job I wanted to do with it was protect the perfect paintwork on it. Unfortunately, I actually had to get the bike dirty while riding it the 1,792km home from Cologne, but that couldn't be helped. :P

The first thing I did to protect the paintwork was to fit an Extenda Fenda to the front mudguard to prevent the front wheel from spraying crap onto the front of the engine. I have one fitted to the Deauville and it works very well. The only complaint I'd have about it is that I bought one of the stick-on ones and the slight gap created by the double-sided stickers means that muddy water can run down between the mud guard and the Extenda Fenda, so you see the dirty, muddy water running down the outside of the Extenda Fenda. To prevent this from happening on the GS, I sealed between the mudguard and Extenda Fenda with black Tec7:



After playing with my new toy for a few weeks, and with the winter drawing in, I decided to take the bike off the road and start the protection detail. Having performed a protection detail on my new Ford Ranger last Christmas, I knew what was involved and I knew it would be a time-consuming job. The protection detail on my Ranger took me seven days, working 12-14 hours per day. Unlike the Ranger, which is made of large, flat panels, the GS has an exposed engine with pseudo cooling fins and loads of other nooks and crannies to collect dirt, so I knew this job was going to be significantly longer. I therefore decided to log the number of hours spent working on it.

The first step of the detail was to wash the bike properly. I started by power-hosing it thoroughly with rain water that I harvest for detailing. Then I snow-foamed it to loosen the remaining dirt and rinsed it with the powerhose after letting the foam dwell for five to ten minutes. I washed it thoroughly by hand using a microfibre sponge and the two-bucket method, including the insides of the mudguards, the shocks, and anywhere else that dirt tends to gather.

On my last ride before starting the detail, I somehow managed to get the front of the engine speckled with tar spots. I don't know how tar managed to spatter the bike when it was close to freezing point all day. Anyway, I spent about another two hours detarring the front of the engine before washing it again to remove any traces of the tar remover. After that I dried the bike with my vehicle dryer (think industrial-powered hair-dryer :D )

I don't have a garage (yet - that's my project for summer 2016) and I didn't want to be working on the bike in a cold, wooden shed for the winter. On top of that, the paint sealant I chose for the bike needs to cure for 24 hours at 20°C minimum, so there was only one place for me to put the bike: :D

As some of you may know, I worked on my Deauville in my spare bedroom about two years ago. The boxer engine on the GS, however, won't fit through a standard doorway, so the only way to get the bike into the house was to remove both panels of my patio door:

Here's the bike inside, ready for the real work to begin:

Total hours of work: 4.5

31 January 2016

Time for the next episode: :)

With the bike inside, I was ready to start the detailed work. The paint sealant (and other surface sealants) that I'm planning to apply to the bike are quartz coatings, which basically form a layer of silica (glass) that bonds to the surface it's protecting. Besides the fact that it would be stupid to seal dirt in under the sealant, the coating won't bond properly to the surface if it's not pretty much sterile. Therefore, the biggest part of this job is going to be getting every single part of the exposed surfaces immaculately clean.

To get access to the places I wanted to clean, I had to start taking stuff off the bike. I started by removing the seat and petrol tank:

Then the sump guard:

I took off the crash bars, cylinder head protectors, spark plug covers and took out the battery:

With those bits out of the way, I started the detailed cleaning. Due to the cooling fins, and all the gaps and crevices in the engine, detailing it was hugely time consuming. I started with a microfibre towel and a bucket of warm water. I had various shapes and sizes of sticks, including a small paint brush handle and cocktail sticks, to work the microfibre towel into the gaps. For sticky/oily residues I squirted denatured ethanol onto it to dissolve/soften it and a separate microfibre towel to rub it off. I found keeping the water quite hot, by adding boiling water regularly, helped to remove some of the more stubborn dirt. For any dirt that couldn't be removed chemically, I used auto clay. I prefer to use Bilt Hamber clay because you can use water as a lubricant, whereas most other clays require a special lubricant.

Here are some before and after shots of various parts of the engine:

Underside of the engine before:



Detailing around the exhaust ports was a nightmare because there were deep crevices at either side and any dirt that had gone in there had baked into it from the heat:

The downpipes were in the way and prevented me from getting at the dirt around the exhaust ports, so I removed the whole exhaust system:

I used every chemical in my arsenal to try to remove the baked in dirt. It softened and dissolved a lot of it, but in the end I had to resort to mechanical abrasion (scrubbing). This was extremely difficult because of the depth of the gaps. I started with the microfibre towel wrapped around a stick. That cleaned the larger bits out. I then progressed onto cotton swabs with long wooden handles (longer version of the ones for cleaning your ears), but the long, thin handles broke regularly and softened and bent due to the warm water, so I went through a few packets of those. To finish with the very fine specks that were left, I taped cocktail sticks to the end of the paintbrush handle and "picked" the dirt off. The gaps at either side of the exhaust ports took 23 hours of labour alone to clean, but I think the result was worth the effort in the end:

Total hours: 59.5

14 February 2016

Time for the next instalment:

After cleaning around the exhaust ports, I decided that I wanted to remove the oil filter so that I could apply paint sealant to the paint in the recess where the oil filter is housed. To remove the oil filter, I obviously had to drain the oil. I was planning to service the bike after the detail anyway, but to drain the oil properly, including what's in the oil cooler, I had to run the engine to get it up to operating temperature. This meant I had to put the bike back to an operational state; refitting the exhaust, battery and petrol tank. I had to turn the bike around and stick the back end out the door, so I wouldn't gas myself with the exhaust fumes. I started the bike and let it run for about ten minutes until the temperature gauge just reached five bars on the RID (five bars = 105°C). I figured this was hot enough to get the thermostat to open, but without letting the engine overheat. While the oil was draining, I removed the exhaust, petrol tank and battery again once it had cooled enough to work on.

I knew it would be a few weeks before I'd be putting oil back into the engine, so just in case I forgot myself and tried to start it later, I put a label on the ignition:

After leaving the oil to drain for a while, I went to remove the oil filter. I had bought a genuine BMW filter and the oil filter cup wrench to fit it, but when I went to remove the oil filter, I found that the filter in it wasn't a genuine BMW one, so the tool I had wouldn't fit. :fp:
I measured the filter with a calipers and it was 72mm diameter, with 15 flutes (sides). The genuine BMW filter is 74mm, 14 flutes. I rang around a few mechanics I know and nobody had the size I wanted. The only place I could find one online was in the USA, which was to fit a Buick oil filter. I ordered it, but delivery time was going to be at least three weeks. The next day, I got an idea:

I wasn't sure if it would have enough grip to remove the filter, but luckily the filter wasn't overtightened, so it came off easily.
It turns out the filter was a Champion oil filter. The tools to remove them are readily available and cheap, but they're not listed anywhere with their dimension and number of flutes.
I didn't include removing the oil and filter in the log of hours detailing, because it was really part of the servicing job that I'll be doing later.

With the oil drained and the oil filter out, I continued the detailing. I cleaned and degreased the recess where the oil filter is housed and the area around the sump plug:

I then went on to detail the gearbox, swing arm and final drive. I removed the plastic cover over the starter motor to give me access to the paintwork behind it on the gearbox:

When I started working on the torque arm (paralever), I realised that it's made up of two separate bars and I couldn't get my fingers in between them to work on the insides of them, so I removed it. To get at the bolt holding the front of the torque arm in place, I had to remove the right foot peg hanger. The rear brake master cylinder is bolted to the right peg hanger too, but I could leave it in situ because it's attached to the servo by rigid pipes which are strong enough to hold it in place.

With the foot peg hanger out of the way, I was able to remove the torque arm:

I then removed the beak protector, which revealed a load of dirt trapped under it:

Which I removed, obviously:

To give me access to the paintwork underneath, I removed the top box rack and the screen:

Now that everything was clean, I could start working towards applying the paint sealant. The decals on the tank and rear luggage frame are vinyl, so rather than covering them with paint sealant, I decided that it would be better to mask them off and apply trim sealant to them later. The masking process was painstaking. I had to cut a piece of masking tape and stick it over the decal:

Trace around it with a pencil:

Pull the tape off and stick it to something I could cut on:

Then use an art knife to cut along the lines I traced:

Then peel the piece of tape off and carefully line it up and stick it onto the decal:

Tank all masked off:

Rear luggage frame masked:

The masking alone took me 12 hours! With that done, I could finally break out the paint sealant.

Here's the suite of sealants I bought to apply to the bike:

MOHS for paint, TRIM for plastic and vinyl, RIM for wheels, exhaust and bare metal, VIEW for glass (mirrors), TIRE for rubber, BOOSTER as a top layer on all of the above, and Auto Finesse Dressle for the seat (TRIM would be too hard to buff off the seat and may leave it slippery in wet conditions).

As I mentioned before, the quartz coatings listed above have to be applied in a warm, dry environment. The manufacturer recommends a minimum temperature of 15°C, but 20°C is better. I set up electric heaters around the bike. I put a calibrated temperature meter on the bike (it doesn't have to be that accurate but as I had it, I used it). I then tweaked the thermosthats on the heaters to keep the air temperature around the bike at a steady 20°C:

Before applying the quartz coatings, I wiped down all the surfaces with Gyeon Prep to make sure there was no dust or greasy residue on them.

The quarts coatings are basically liquid glass. When they dry, they are as hard as glass, so it's important to buff them properly before they dry. After wiping it onto the surface (working on small areas because it starts to dry after five minutes), it should be thoroughly buffed off. After buffing, the surface needs to be checked with a bright light for any smudges or streaks because if they are allowed to dry, they will be permanent. I made a short video of applying the MOHS to the painted part of the right pannier rack. It's a quick and easy part to work on because it's small and flat. Obviously, the more intricate the surface is, the more time it will take to work on.

Yesterday, I applied two coats of MOHS to every painted surface, except the engine, with an hour between each coat. I know the cooling fins etc on the engine are going to make it very difficult to work on, so I wanted to give that a whole day on its own. This afternoon, I'm planning to work on the engine casing and leave the cylinder heads for another day. 20°C is a nice comfortable temperature for sitting down, reading a book, but for physical work like buffing paint sealant, it's uncomfortably warm. On top of that, I'm wearing a mask while I work to protect myself from the solvents in the sealant. That makes the heat even harder to deal with, especially when breathing hard from the physical activity. There are times when I'm tired and I sit down and ask myself why I drew this on myself, but now that I'm applying the sealant, I feel like I'm coming towards the end of the job, so it's easier to push on.

Total hours: 99.5

06 March 2016

Although I've put a lot of time into the bike over the last few weeks, I haven't bothered writing it up because there was no visible difference.

Applying MOHS to the engine was excruciatingly tedious. I knew it would be time consuming, but it was worse than I expected. I started with the main engine casing. I thought that would be relatively easy because it's mostly flat surfaces, but the throttle bodies and other ancillaries made access to the surface very difficult. Wiping the MOHS on was easy, but buffing it off to a smooth finish is much harder when you don't have much space. Working on the cylinders was a bit easier than I expected because, although the cooling fins were tedious to work on, the cylinders are at a height that allowed me to pull up a chair and sit while I worked. To get the MOHS in between the cooling fins I wrapped the suede applicator around a wooden paint brush handle and used that to work it into the gaps:

After applying it to one or two, I then used the same technique to buff it off with a microfibre towel:

With the engine completed, the next parts to be treated with MOHS were the panniers and top box. Rather than masking all the plastic bits on the panniers, I removed what I could. The locking mechanisms are riveted, so I left them in situ and I decided not to remove the hinges so I wouldn't have to deal with aligning them again afterwards. The plastic feet have a square profile, and easily masked, so I left them in place too.

Top box with mounting hardware removed and other bits masked:

As with everything, I applied two coats of MOHS to the panniers and top box, with an hour between each coat. I also applied it to the parts of the frame that are visible.

With all the painted surfaces treated with MOHS, yesterday I moved onto the plastic and trim. I decided to start with the biggest piece of plastic - the screen. The previous owner kept the bike meticulously clean. The screen looks to be in perfect condition in this photo:

However, under strong sunlight at the right/wrong angle, there are "swirl marks" visible on the screen:

Swirl marks are very shallow scratches, caused by washing. The likes of a screen are more susceptible to swirl marks because there is likely to be dried in "bug splatter", causing the washer to scrub the surface harder. Luckily, the paint on the GS is very hard and there are no swirl marks anywhere else on the bike. To remove the swirl marks, I brought out my Kestrel DAS-6 dual-action polisher. When using a machine polisher, you should always start with the lightest "cut" combination of pad and polish, so I started with a finishing pad and Menzerna Final Finish polish. I "primed" the pad first, by lightly spraying some quick detailer on it. This lubricates the pad, to prevent the dry pad from inflicting new swirl marks before the polish starts to spread. I applied three or four pea-sized drops of polish to the pad, then blobbed the polish around the area I was going to work on (about one third of the screen at a time). With the polisher at the lowest setting (1,000rpm), I placed the pad on the surface of the screen and turned the polisher on. I spread the polish around with the pad before turning the polisher up to about 2,500rpm to start the "cutting". After working the polisher back and forth in an overlapping pattern for a minute or two, the abrasives in the polish start to break down and the polish starts to look like a clear, greasy residue. I turned the polisher back down to minimum, before turning it off while the pad was still pressed against the surface. I then used a microfibre cloth to remove the residue of the polish. This is normally done by wiping the microfibre across the surface to remove the majority of the polish, then flipping the microfibre over to a cleaner part to buff off the remains. That's regarded as one pass of a polisher.

Here's a short video of the first pass I did on the screen:

I worked on a section about a third of the area of the screen at a time. The difficult thing about polishing acrylic (perspex) is that it's hard to tell which side the scratches are on. After performing one pass on both sides of the screen, it was already starting to look much better, although there were still quite a few swirl marks on it:

After two more passes on each side, I nearly decided to stop. It was almost perfect and my hands were starting to get tired from holding the screen with one hand and working the polisher with the other (I'd normally work the polisher with two hands while polishing a panel). There were still a few deeper swirls here and there about the screen, so I moved up to a medium cut pad with the Menzerna Final Finish (you should always increase the cut of pad before using a stronger polish - you can't put back on what you've polished off by mistake). The fourth pass, using the medium cut pad, did the trick and the last of the swirl marks came out. The sun had moved in the three hours since I took the "before" photo, so I had to take my doormat outside for the "after" photo:

Comparison of before and after:

Posted Image

Total hours: 128.5

15 April 2016

I've been so busy working on the bike over the last few weeks, that I haven't had time to update this.

After polishing the screen to bring it up like new, I moved on to the other plastics on the bike. They were generally clean and only needed a wipe-down in preparation for sealing. I also bolted all the plastic bits back onto the panniers and top box. I removed the front wheel and the front mudguard to make working on the mudguard easier. I also removed the silver panel just above the headlights to give me better access to the plastic housing around the lights:

After giving everything the usual wipe-down with Gyeon Q2M PREP, I applied Qyeon Q2 TRIM to the screen, dash, beak protector, alternator belt cover, and all the other plastic bits on the bike. I applied a tiny bit of TRIM on top of the MOHS in an inconspicuous spot on the tank, to make sure that it wouldn't affect the finish of the MOHS. After giving it an hour to cure, I checked it under a bright light and couldn't see any traces, so I knew it was safe to apply TRIM to the decals without masking the surrounding paint.

Next up was to protect the wheels and callipers. Brake dust is very hot when it comes off the pads, so normal paint sealant will quickly get damaged and burnt off. Gyeon Q2 RIM is specifically developed to withstand these temperatures (up to 350ºC), so this is what I used to protect the wheels, callipers and surrounding areas. I don't really understand the chemistry, but for some reason RIM is also better than MOHS for protecting bare metal, such as stainless steel, anodised aluminium and chrome. I cleaned all the nooks and crannies on the front forks and front callipers:

Then I removed the rear wheel and cleaned the rear callipers and parts of the final drive I couldn't access when the wheel was on:

I wasn't planning to clean and treat the inside of the mudguards, but when I was working on the final drive, I looked up and saw the dirt and, being the perfectionist that I am, decided that for the sake of another few hours work I might as well complete the job.

Cleaning inside the rear wheel arch:

After cleaning auto-claying the insides of the mudguards, I applied TRIM to them, and then applied RIM to the final drive, front forks and brake callipers.

Anyone who has ever washed a motorbike is probably familiar with the sand-blasting effect on the front of the engine, caused by the debris thrown up by the front wheel. Even the protection of MOHS won't stand up to that for very long. I fitted an Extenda Fenda to the GS as soon as I got it which makes a huge difference, but I still noticed some debris stuck to the front of the engine after the last ride.

When reading Polished Bliss's Car Care Blog, I came across this entry about them installing XPEL Ultimate Paint Protection Film to the front of a Porsche 911 (997) GT2 RS. I immediately realised that I had found the perfect way to protect the front of my engine. Not only does XPEL Ultimate PPF protect the paint, the PPF is actually self healing! Here's a video from XPEL, showing the Ultimate PPF self-healing after being scratched with a wire brush:

I had to buy the XPEL Ultimate PPF by the foot because they don't make a pre-cut kit for the R1150GS. Here are the XPEL products I ordered:

It turns out I didn't need the alcohol solution because the new XPEL Installation Gel 2.0 replaces both the soap and water solution and the alcohol solution previously used to install the PPF. I started with a square of PPF and had to cut and trim it bit-by-bit until it fit the front of the engine properly:

When I was finished I scanned it, in case I messed it up when installing it and had to make another one:

As it was my first time installing paint protection film, it took me about an hour to install it because there was a lot of fumbling and adjusting. With a bit of practice, I'm sure it could be installed much quicker. I made a video of installing it and cut it down to about six minutes. That's still a bit long to watch, but I wanted to show all the steps of installation for anyone that might want to learn how to install PPF. You can't see it in the video, but you'll hear me squirting the installation gel onto my hands regularly. This stops the adhesive on the PPF from sticking to my hands while I'm working with it. Towards the end, I used a hair dryer to heat and soften the PPF to make it easier to stretch and fit into the corners and awkward spots.

In these photos, it's quite shiny and gives the front of the engine a gloss finish, but after a day or two when the residue of the installation gel had evaporated from underneath, it took on the texture of the paint underneath and is now almost invisible:

I also installed some on the lower end of the forks, as they tend to get stone-chipped:

The day after I installed the PPF, I applied XPEL PPF Sealant to it. This helps prevent dirt sticking to the PPF and stops it from turning yellow with age.

Total hours: 165.5

19 April 2016

The bike was quite stable on the centre stand, with an axle stand under the final drive, but I was still anxious to get the wheels back under it in case I bumped against it and toppled it off the stands.

I started by removing the balancing weights from the front wheel. I wedged a plastic key-card from a hotel between the weights and their adhesive backing, and prised the weights off.

I then used my thumb to "roll-up" the adhesive tape and pull it off the wheel. I used denatured ethanol to remove any residue left by the adhesive. I found that kneeling on the ground, leaning over the wheel was a bit awkward, so I mounted the wheel on my static wheel balancer, so I could sit on a chair and just rotate the wheel as I worked my way around it. I'd already treated the wheels with IRON to remove any inorganic contamination (mainly brake dust), but I found two or three speckles of tar on the rim, so I auto-clayed the rim, rinsed it, then wiped it down with PREP. I applied RIM to the rim, hub and each spoke.

The rear wheel of the R1150GS won't fit on a standard static balancer without an adapter. After a bit of thinking and research, I found that a Trend B41 bearing (a spare part for a Trend woodworking router) was an ideal adapter to fit the rear wheel on the static balancer:

I mounted the rear wheel on the static balancer and gave it the same treatment as the front wheel. After giving the first coat of RIM an hour to cure, I gave each wheel a second coat.

Finally, I moved on to the exhaust. This was the part of the detail that I'd been looking forward to the most. The downpipes were tarnished from heating, so polishing them was going to make the biggest visual difference to the bike. This is what the exhaust looked like before I started:

The muffler wasn't discoloured or tarnished in any way, it was just very tar spotted:

When I asked Rich from Polished Bliss if the tarnishing could be removed or if it was permanent, he told me: "Bluing arises when Chromium (either solid or a coating) becomes really hot and starts to oxidise" and assured me that it could be removed with a strong metal polish, such as Raceglaze Alutech. He also said that if I sealed the chrome with RIM after I'd corrected it that it would prevent them from oxidising again, even if they got very hot. Rich had suggested that polishing the exhaust by hand would be easier, so I started with a hand-polishing pad and Raceglaze Alutech. After about five hours, I had progressed about four inches down the first pipe:

The muscles in my hand and forearm were starting to cramp and I decided that no matter how awkward it was with a dual-action machine polisher, it couldn't be any harder than polishing by hand. After five minutes with a cutting pad on the DA and Raceglaze Alutech, I'd made more progress than I had in the previous five hours by hand. Only then did it occur to me that when Rich said it might be easier by hand, he would have assumed that the exhaust was still on the bike, making it difficult to get access with the DA! Another two hours of polishing had removed most of the discolouration with only a few stubborn, darker patches near the exhaust ports:

It took me another day and a half with the DA polisher to remove all the discolouration from the whole exhaust system, including the catalytic converter, and then remove the fine polishing marks using Meguiar's NXT All Metal Polysh to bring up the mirror finish I was looking for. I destroyed three polishing pads in the process:

This is what the two smaller ones looked like when they were new:

But I think the results were worth the effort:

I gave the whole exhaust system two coats of RIM to protect the finish I'd achieved. I then started the fun job of re-assembling the bike, applying copper grease to every nut and bolt. I fitted new spark plugs and oil filter and filled the engine with oil:

I took a photo after fitting each part to the bike and made a time-lapse video. Unfortunately, the picture quality isn't great because I didn't realise that there was something wrong with the camera:

When I tried to start the bike, it would turn over, but wouldn't start. After a few minutes of trying, I removed the tank to have a look underneath and found that I'd left something unplugged (the motronic, I think).

After getting it started, I loaded it up into an Ifor Williams boxvan:

I took it to Ballyglunin railway station to take some nice photos of it. Ballyglunin railway station was used as "Castletown" railway station during the filming of The Quiet Man, with John Wayne in 1951.

When I added it all up, I spent 220.5 hours over four months working on the bike. It was a huge effort and at times was nearly overwhelming, but I'm glad I did it because I now know the bike has the best possible protection that can be applied to it.

Below are the photos in Ballyglunin railway station of the final result:

Total hours: 227.5

20 April 2016

The results of the detail are reward enough in itself, but as an extra bonus I got an email from Polished Bliss, informing me that I won their Show & Shine competition for March 2016.
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