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 Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity

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bagtoracer68
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PostSubject: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Mon Feb 26, 2018 5:18 pm

As I noted in a different posting; I've found it necessary to try and recondition my natty and pitted luggage rack, as apparently, (as with many of the aftermarket items I've searched, NO ONE makes an aftermarket replacement or upgrade for my lost and forgotten model! So I set out to do some research on what remedies I could try; i.e. stripping, plating, powder coating, etc... The powder coating units. (even the cheapest), was more than most new racks cost, and produced iffy results. Chemical chrome stripping was expensive with professionals, (and where's the fun in that?), and doing it produce hexavalent chrome (what Erin Brockavich got famous for!), so I wasn't down for experimenting at home with that shit! So I'd read that bleach will strip light "decorative" chrome, and tried soaking the unit in bleach for a week, which did strip the backside where the chrome wasn't as good and pitting from factory anyway, but didn't do anything for the still solid areas. Being a machinist and not knowing any other means; I turned to brute force and abrasive stripping, with various power tools and methods. It was many hours with everything from a new belt sander to my dremel tool, but I got it to a condition somewhere I think I can live with. This is what it looked like when I removed it:






These are what it looked like after grinding, sanding and a quick polish with a wire wheel:






And this is what it looks like after a little polishing with Cameo aluminum and stainless steel cleaner, that was suggested to remove crud and contamination before I re-plate it, but also served to smooth the surface just a bit more:







My end intention is to electroplate it with nickel, using an old laptop charger and some pure nickel welding wire I acquired from work as electrodes, in a solution of vinegar and salt, (also Jr high school science project and something I read up on on the Internet!). I ran out of time this past weekend to set it up and have time to do the plating, as I spent way more time than intended getting it in a condition worth plating. I will try to take some more photos of the process and the results, as this is possible with all manner of small parts when reconditioning metal surfaces.

Side note: Not sure why everything I type after an inserted picture shows up as a link???

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bigmal
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:14 pm

What a cool project! Good luck with the plating :)
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peardrop3
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:54 am

Good project Barry so keep us informed, oh & we don't have 'harbour freight' here in the UK sorry to say.
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ardie
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Tue Feb 27, 2018 7:23 pm

That's a result already in my eyes handy guy Barry pity you don't live near me
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simbo
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Tue Feb 27, 2018 7:52 pm

Nice job you're doing there Barry 
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johnboss
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:34 pm

Looking like another good job in the making Barry.
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bagtoracer68
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Wed Feb 28, 2018 6:26 pm

Well, the results were not as grand as I hoped, and the article I read said that aluminum wasn't the best metal to plate, (honestly not positive this piece IS aluminum, but being light weight, I don't imagine they sprung for magnesium by any stretch, and the article also stated that aluminum HAD to be plated with nickel, before it could be copper plated in cases where that is desired coating, so I went ahead with it), but I will post what I've done so far, and see how things proceed from here. Going to try a bit more polishing, and go from there.

This is the bath made of distilled vinegar and a bit of table salt, with just the nickel electrodes in to "dissolve" the nickel into the solution. The hydrogen bubbles forming on the left electrode indicates it is the negative lead:


The article was written plating small coins in a Mason jar, and they indicated that the bath was left to only "simmer" for a couple hours to achieve the green tint that indicates nickel build up in the solution, so I left mine setup over night, to get the color seen here, since I had to use an entire gallon of vinegar to submerse the piece in:



This is the bath started with the piece in it, with nickel cathode on the right, (cannot contact the piece), and the negative anode (also a nickel welding wire to prevent contamination of other metals in the solution), connected through one of the bolt holes on the piece itself, to make it a conductor. They recommended for larger projects, to have something agitating the water for flow; thus the old aquarium pump I had in the garage you can see at the top:



I left the part in for about 12 hours, (they plated coins in a matter of minutes), then flipped it over, as to try and ensure things were even, (not sure it even matters), and this is what the whole brew looked like after the entire 24 hour cycle, (not sure why the reddish color; maybe impurities in the metal itself?):



And now the not-so-triumphant results. Kind of hard to tell, since I was plating a silver coloured metal with another silver coloured metal, but I'm fairly certain that since I saw the hydrogen bubbles forming on the part itself, that the process was working correctly. Could also be related to the surface prep of the part prior to plating, as it was not exactly even or polished.



Doesn't appear much different, so I tried giving it a bit of a polish with some metal polish I had in the garage, as the article suggested post-plating, and it did have some effect:



Didn't have a lot of time before work today, so I intend to do a little more elbow work later, in hopes of approving the results further. If it doesn't pan out, or starts to corrode, I read another article on anodizing with diluted battery acid and clothing dye using a battery charger, (could even make it red to match the bike, and it also produces a protective coating!), but that's even more caustic chemicals that I was hoping to avoid. I'm sure the process probably works better on other metals as noted, and since I have created the nickel solution, I may try to do some other small part or something, just to compare results. Will post the final final result when I get there. I can dig up the links to the articles if anyone is interested, or if you just search nickel plating DIY, I'm sure you will find them easily enough...
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bigmal
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:14 pm

Great effort for trying! Sometimes with these things even if it doesn’t work, it’s fun tinkering time having a go.

Not sure I fancy a soak in your green jacuzzi after seeing it in the pics Wink
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bagtoracer68
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Fri Mar 02, 2018 6:44 am

Yeah Mal, the smell of it doesn't make it any more enticing either! Although I'm really starting to fancy the red anodizing idea for aesthetics, (saw an article on how to do it with just lye and the swimming the pool additive sodium bisulfate, which makes it a bit safer), but I think I discovered part of the problem with my nickel attempt. For one, they said "a pinch of salt or so" but don't go crazy, and I'm sure in a mason jar scale, a small amount would suffice give or take. But I initially only added about a teaspoon, which in a gallon of vinegar was probably not nearly enough. I added a good bit more, and immediately saw more bubbling/conduction action. Also, for a power source, I was only using what they termed a "wall-wart"; an old charger from a mustache trimmer, that only boasted 100ma max power at 4.5V. So I tried the old battery trickle charger I had in the garage, (12V and 2 full amps), and MAN what a difference! I plated this penny in just a few minutes holding it in the clip:





Not incredible coverage, but in 2 minutes, you can distinctly see the nickel buildup; especially around the edges where it was exposed. What I'm thinking, is to start with a fresh bath and use the 12V supply, which should also help to "dissolve" more nickel into the solution initially, but it will have to wait until this weekend to attempt whilst I'll be home, as I wouldn't feel as safe leaving it percolate while I'm at work as I did with the weak power source. So; more to come... And you're undoubtedly correct; it's fun to experiment and go back to Jr high science class; I get excited like being a kid again, and surely I'm learning as I go still!
 oyili
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bagtoracer68
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:13 pm

Brief update: Although the higher voltage/current of the battery charger obviously seems to produce better, faster results on the penny, and after doing some more reading/research last night, what the original article didn't mention about plating aluminum with anything, is that the piece has to be "zincated" first, to prevent oxidation of the aluminum immediately upon exposure to air, as plating cannot take to the surface through said oxidation. The process apparently replaces the oxidation with a tiny coating of zinc, which is then dissolved by the nickel plating bath once submerged, allowing the metal to accept the plating metal over the surface. The problem with that is, the "zincate" solution costs about $60 US for the quart I would need to drown the part, (with just the hope that it works!), so it looks like I'll be moving directly on to the anodizing process, which I kinda' wanted to do anyway. I'll need to polish the surface a little more uniformly before I attempt this, but I will post that process once I get it figured out; It'll be a while though unfortunately...
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johnboss
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:24 pm

Hats of to you for your patience, innovation and persistence.  If I can't get the results I want with a little bit of polishing and a rattle can  - I either leave it as is, or send it of to the professionals - thats why I've no money!
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simbo
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Fri Mar 02, 2018 8:28 pm

+1 to what johnboss said (although I do have a few small coins left)  I'm sure your perseverance will pay off in the end Barry  Keep up the good work!  
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peardrop3
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:06 am

keep up the good work Barry.
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johnboss
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Sat Mar 03, 2018 1:12 pm

simbo wrote:
 (although I do have a few small coins left)  
Brekkies on you then next time out!
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bagtoracer68
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Mon Mar 05, 2018 3:32 am

Well, I'll spare you all the miserable results, (pretty much nothing), achieved with the pool chemical anodizing experiment results, and just tell you that I finally learned how to anodize aluminum wire like a champ!
guttss 



Actually, I did get something worth speaking of, when I finally told myself to stop being such a pussy, and just go buy the battery acid already! Still and all, not quite as impressive as I was hoping, but as one whom never likes to fail at anything, I was just relieved to see ANYTHING come of my grueling endeavors and toil! So I re-smoothed the surface, and went at it again. This is the part re-cleaned, and then in the lye bath that initially "etches" the surface for porosity of the anodizing, (I know it's aluminum, as it foamed like the dickens in it; like an Alka-Seltzer if anyone is familiar with those!), and the etched aftermath prior to the acid/electricity bathing:

 





After this you have to rinse in distilled water, then into the acid bath. Luckily I happened to have so aluminum roof flashing sheet that I'd previously purchased for a different home project, which served as the negative electrode on the left (along with the $3 aluminum wire I bought at Home Depot for the positive connection to the part; the stuff that got anodized as well, as only aluminum can go into the bath with the part):



My first go-round with the pool chemicals instead of sulfuric acid, ended up frying my old 1 amp trickle charger after about 45 minutes, so I decided to go and get another cheap battery charger with more amperage if I was going all the way with the acid and all, but the problem with it, (and partially why I didn't impress myself; the other reason to come shortly), was that it wouldn't "kick on" until it recognized a "load" from a battery, and the electrodes across the bath weren't apparently enough to do that. Luckily, I still had the old bike battery that I just replaced with a gel-cell, so I ended up having to connect the battery to the electrodes, and then the charger to the battery, in order to draw enough current to kick on the charger, and activate the process. Had I possessed a straight DC power supply that I could just turn on and adjust the settings, I believe my outcome would have been more intense. The other thing that didn't impress me, (and if any of you are considering this type of project; take note), was that I didn't ensure a solid mechanical connection of the electrode to the anodizing part, which led me to standing there for the entire hour it took, holding and pressing down on the aluminum wire to ensure connection to the part and keep the process bubbling appropriately! This was a pain obviously, and also likely contributing to a lesser result than I'd hoped for, along with the fact that I used RIT clothing dye to dye the part afterward, instead of dedicated anodizing dye that they sell, (didn't have the time or patients to wait to find any and get it, plus all that I'd seen online said the RIT would work). I thought I could have tapped one of the rack mounting holes slightly larger than it is, but then I'd have had to try and find an aluminum bolt to secure the wire, so I ended up just pressing the wires through two holes, thinking it would HAVE to be making enough contact, which it did, as long as I kept pressure on it; lesson learned. Anywho... After the aforementioned electric acid bath, you need to rinse again with distilled water, and then soak the part in the dye of choice, (in my case; cherry read, as I'd seen it in one of the demonstrations I'd watched, and thought it matched the bike quite well), and let it soak until you've reached the desired saturation. THEN, you have to boil the part in water, to "seal" the pores created in the part, which keeps your colour, and also creates the anti-corrosion barrier to protect the surface. Without further ado; I give you my new PINK luggage rack!





It's not even quite as dark as it appears in the pictures, but not actually pink either, and even it it is, I'm going to say it's breast cancer pink for my Kandy, and to hell with anyone who doesn't like it! I'll slap it back on the bike here when I get a minute, and update with pics to show how it looks on the bike. Since I have all the chemicals now, maybe I'll give it another crack with some better power and preparation, (you can actually strip the anodizing with the lye bath and redo!), or maybe I'll just keep it the way it is as long as it doesn't tarnish or anything once I get it out in the weather; Time will tell... Now that I'm over that obsession Johnboss, I've got less than a few small coins left, and I'll likely be looking for more aluminum parts I need to colour! Probably should have looked for a place that coulda' done a professional job of it; but where's the fun in that?
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bagtoracer68
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Mon Mar 05, 2018 6:02 pm

Yep; it's for sure pink, but gotta' say oyili ! As the wires were likely a higher grade aluminum, and hooked directly to the power source, it looks like they may have taken the process a little more thoroughly, but I can guarantee my luggage rack is unique though, and I'm certain no one else has one quite like it!

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johnboss
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Mon Mar 05, 2018 6:25 pm

bagtoracer68 wrote:
I've got less than a few small coins left, and I'll likely be looking for more aluminum parts I need to colour! Probably should have looked for a place that coulda' done a professional job of it; but where's the fun in that?
Cracking write-up - and a cracking exercise.  You're right though - where's the fun in always paying out for someone else to do the job for you when you can learn and entertain by having a go yourself. thumup
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simbo
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Mon Mar 05, 2018 7:53 pm

Looks like you're having fun there  thumup
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bagtoracer68
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:58 am

Can't say any of it was easy by any stretch, (especially the failures!), but I did quite enjoy the journey, education and finally getting decent results!
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peardrop3
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Tue Mar 06, 2018 5:53 pm

And as you said yourself it's your bit to comemorate your late wife & breast cancer & YOU did it yourself!
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bigmal
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Tue Mar 06, 2018 10:45 pm

Interesting write up Barry, thanks very much. Been kinda quiet on here lately, so it’s great to have stuff like this to read :)
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bagtoracer68
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Sun Mar 11, 2018 4:13 am

No worries Mal. Glad to share any bike related info I come up with on here with you folks; no matter how half-assed it may be! And you all know I wouldn't stop with the luggage rack, (as previously noted that I'd be looking for other things to experiment on?), so as I was looking at my new mirrors, I saw two prime candidates in my clutch and brake levers, figuring it would look appropriate with my new mirrors. Well, with a little more forethought, and grabbing a solid piece of aluminum from work for my negative electrode, and using aluminum screws I got at the hardware store, (even tapped a hole in the electrode bar for a secure/solid connection), to connect solidly to the levers, I was expecting a little more defined results, but again ended with pink levers instead of red like the anodized mirror extenders, which I'm also fine with as previously noted, as again they are certainly unique, and I also have a couple theories as to the cause/effect. Here is the improved setup with everything solid and connected securely:



In the first picture you can see the solid electrode on the left, and the second you can see the small screws and and solid single wire connections to the levers better. Here are the levers and then again mounted back on the bike:





Again; I was hoping for a little more red this time with the improved setup, but will "ride pink" with pride; until I maybe get bored again. Theory #1 is, that although I used the exact same process and chemicals as with the rack, (believing some improvements even?), that I read with alloy materials, only the aluminum portion of any alloy will become anodized with pores to accept the dying process, which limits the uptake and retention of solid colour obviously. I tested the ball end of one lever before even starting the project, to make sure it foamed in the lye bath, indicating that it indeed contained aluminum, but prayed even as I was smoothing them with wet-or-dry sandpaper, that they weren't what we call "pot-metal", also in that I hoped neither of them would just snap off as some pot metal does, while I was riding and operating the bike safely! Likely neither the rack OR the levers are "pure" aluminum, as it would surely be more costly to manufacture at volume. Theory #2, is the difference in what they call "hard-anodizing", which is what is primarily used for machine and automotive aluminum applications to produce a harder, deeper outside surface for wear and durability, vs the "decorative" anodizing for aesthetics, which is more like what the mirror extenders are about. What I read is, that the "hard" anodizing leaves a deeper surface of smaller pores, which also will not hold as much dye, and is done with the acid bath at near freezing, (about what my garage temperature was during this process; don't really fancy having the harsh chemicals in the house where not as well ventilated), whereas the "decorative" anodizing is done with the acid bath around 68°F, which makes more sense, as even the wires I used this time, did not take the dying process to nearly the same extent as before, (even though it was only maybe 10° warmer when I did the rack, that's nearly 1/3rd the difference in temperature as from now to 68°) . So in the end, I will accept the lighter colour with a harder all over surface. I may try something pure aluminum, with the same process at a higher temperature when the weather warms outside in the garage, or maybe try these again, as a little darker for the levers would be preferable; especially when I get the new red mirrors. So gents, enjoy my inane ramblings while you can, as likely when that weather does arrive, I will not be having as much time for rambling about experiments as I do make for riding hopefully! Wink
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bigmal
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Sun Mar 11, 2018 2:42 pm

Could you coat them with a red tinted lacquer? Kinda defeats the purpose I know, but at least you would know you had a good solid finish underneath it. Maybe they use much higher voltages in commercial applications?
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bagtoracer68
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Sun Mar 11, 2018 4:23 pm

Yeah Mal, some of the articles I've read along the way indicated that they use up to 90V in some industrial applications, but all the DIY projects I've looked through were able to achieve adequate results using under 20V/10A on small parts such as these, which is why I'm assuming there's some other culprit behind my sub-par end products. Some say that the clothing dye I'm using doesn't work too well, but I've also seen decent results achieved with it; usually on small parts that look to be made of a higher grade material than what is likely alloyed products used on these bikes in production, for what I would assume would be cost benefit reasons to Suzuki. Surely the bikes would be more expensive to produce if every part were made with the highest grade aluminum possible. Maybe when I get back to work, I'll grab another small piece of the aluminum bar material that we purchase to make some fixture parts more light-weight, (not exactly sure of the grade), as I know we buy decent material when it has to hold up to the rigors of being used daily in a machine shop. If I use a piece for a test run and get better results, I'll be farther on my way to understanding it all, and I'll post anything significant that I find. Most all the articles I've read described to some extent all the variable involved with voltages, material, and even the PH levels of the dye baths, (never had the litmus strips to even check this), but to try different things and make adjustments until you find the process that works the best for your particular application, so I'm still in the R&D phase obviously. The problem with a lacquer coating, is that I'm guessing it's not quite hard or wear resistant enough to endure the constant contact during operation, (on the levers at least), and would likely wear off or scratch fairly quickly, although I did see that some suggested a clear coat for a shinier surface where applicable, but I would imagine even that would scratch fairly easily if done in a situation where there is wear or contact anticipated. I will post more as the saga continues, or just go out and ride once the weather gets to that point, (should be a couple weeks, as St. Patrick's Day weekend next weekend is looking like mid 50s here!)
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katsd
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Fri Mar 16, 2018 8:59 pm

Has Justin seen that colour Barry - sure he'd have loads of stuff for you to do !!!

Your bikes looking good - hope you're keeping well
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bagtoracer68
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Sat Mar 17, 2018 3:33 am

Thanks Dave. I probably take better care of the bike than I do myself honestly! Had a hip replacement 8 years ago that's been getting a little cranky recently, but other than that, I THINK I'm generally keeping it together? Not sure if Justin's seen my craft work, but I'll gladly share my half-arsed trade secrets and their so-so results with anyone interested! I'm starting to think my issue may lie in the battery charger/bike battery combo I'm using as a power source. I tested using a small piece of raw aluminum from work earlier this past week, and it didn't take ANY colour at all, but I noticed when the battery charger "Charged" LED came on, I believe it stops supplying any further current to push the process. Thinking of looking into a dedicated supply so I can continue experimenting until I get this nailed down.
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hawktheslayer
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:21 am

looks great even in pink, hows it wearing
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bagtoracer68
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PostSubject: Re: Luggage Rack Reconditioning Necessity    Sat Mar 17, 2018 5:47 pm

Haven't even had it on the road yet to test out the wearabilty. Initially they were calling for much warmer weather this weekend, but forecast got colder as it got closer. Still supposed to be near 50F here tomorrow, which is about my cuttoff point as long as most of the salt has been washed from the road surfaces. Hoping I may be able to get out tomorrow, at least for a short jaunt. If the colour wears off from that; I'm in big trouble! Wink
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