To start any polishing, you will need a few basic items. First and probably the most important will be the orbital sander. I have a run of the mill, Home Base Black and Decker. It will run about $25-$30. Next, depending on what you want to polish (although it is a good idea for a stable work platform) a rear stand for your type bike. I got mine at a local shop for general maintenance for $80. Next you will need the appropriate sandpaper. The powder coating that is on your bikes' frame and other parts is difficult to take off. I used 100 grit (I recommend your local auto parts store for all of these sand papers) to start although had I known how long this sort of thing takes, I would have started with 80 grit. Moving along on the sand paper grit, I went to 220, 600, 1000, 1500, and finally 2000. To fit my sander, I divided the large sheets of sandpaper into quarters. you will most likely not be able to do this with the finer grits of 1000 and above. The larger sheets are less expensive and easier to put on the sander then the longer strips of paper available. I used 3M sandpaper.
We will start with the frame above the weld to the steering neck. I removed my tank, lower fairings, ram air covers, ram air vents, and taped the appropriate areas of the wiring harness out of the way. All you need to remove these parts is an 8mm socket, a 12mm socket (for the rear of the tank and front) 6mm allen wrench or "T" wrench, and a phillips screwdriver.
When you start your sanding, you will quickly notice a buildup of sandpaper dust and powder coating residue. I strongly recommend making a system to cover the engine and related components to ease in cleaning the bike later. Sand WITH the direction of the metal. Just like in wood shop when you were a kid, only on metal. Never cross sand. The sanding is loud and obnoxious, so I also recommend a pair of padded work gloves, a dust mask, and a pair of ear plugs or ear muffs. Progress through the grits of sandpaper as you notice the powder coating slowly fade. You will start to see the shine of the aluminum around the 600 grit range (if you want to see how long it will take you to get to the point you desire, try sanding on a corner until you get what you want out of the aluminum). As you get to the 1000 range, you will definitely see it start to come out. You may also notice that with the high rpms of the sander, a sandpaper residue with the 1000 grit on the aluminum. What I did to get this off is wet sand with the same grit right over it until it disappeared. (for those of us not familiar with wet sanding, it is a process of sanding with wet sandpaper and water to remove certain unwanted things from surfaces, scratches and the like).
It IS time consuming, but once you get to the final stage, you will thank yourself for it. It looks fantastic. Repeat the steps of the 1000 grit until the final grit of 2000. After that, inspect for any scratches that may be too deep for the final sanding. Back track until you find the right grit to take the scratch out.
It is really a feel as you go type process and definitely a learning experience. I know it was for me. The frame took me a 8 hours. Long, but very worth it.
Last but not least polish with a good metal polish in the direction of the metal. (I note a good polish at the end of this article).
I also did my swing arm. Something not all may want to do because of the amount of maintenance required to keep it looking good. Have the bike on the rear stand and remove anything that may get in the way, and it is quite a bit. The rear wheel will have to be removed, a 22, and a 27 mm socket or wrench is needed for this. Note how and in what order the brake, axle and nuts come off. Remove the brake line "holders" if you will, with an 8 mm wrench. Next is the pipe. Easy if you have a stock system or a slip on. Two 12 mm bolts attach the "slip on" to the header pipe. If you have an after market full system, take one step at a time to get this all off. The rear passenger peg holding the muffler is also a 12 mm bolt. The springs that hold the muffler on can be removed with a series of small picks or screwdrivers and a little patience. Be careful, they are on there tight and will come off fast and hard if you are not careful. Always remove the end nearest to you first in case the spring should fly off, it will not come your way. I should mention the front lowers should be off the bike at this point as well. Next to come off would be the rear sets on each side. They come off with an 8 mm or so allen or hex wrench. Take note to how the rear brake side comes off and apart. Place all the associated parts in a baggie or box so not to lose anything when going to put it back together. I do not recommend polishing the inside of the swing arm. I did just to see how the whole polishing attempt would come out and it progressed from there. It is too difficult to maintain, and there are no benefits to having it done.
Repeat the sanding steps as mentioned in the article on polishing the frame. Finally, polish with a good polish. I used Speedy metal polish available over the phone at 717-829-3836 from 7am-7pm EST, or from a local polishing shop. I recommend doing the maintenance polishing around once a week or so after your Sunday ride or some down time.
The entire swing arm evolution took me 12 hours. It is a long time to take to do something, but the compliments I receive never stop. My bike looks like it has mirrors on it now. It looks so good.
Pic of the swing arm
Pic of the polished frame
Excellent Pic of the swing arm showing it "glow"
Pic of the necessary tools.. Sander, sandpaper, "T" allen wrenches, axle wrenches and polish.
Comments from Mikey
I did a similar procedure to the frame polishing that is listed on your web page, but I altered slightly. I started with 80 grit and did it by hand. that takes FOREVER, but you still get the same results. ALSO, I used a dremel tool with some 120 grit sanding wheels. The biggest problem you run into with the dremel is you can end up with some ruts from where you first touch the dremel wheel to the frame. One thing I'd suggest you add to the frame polishing section......
I used 80, 160, 240, 600, then 1000 and finally 1500 grit sand papers. 2000 grit is quite expensive to buy, and I bypassed that. INSTEAD, I bought 00 Fine and 0000 Super Fine steel wool. Use each of these after the 1500 grit, and the result is AWESOME. I was able to get the mirror shine off of my frame using these, then used a product called Brasso (also known as Never Dull, available at Wal-Mart) which is cotton wadding soaked with a metal polish. It works very well.
The advantage to using the steel wool is that you can buy HUGE bags of it for under $3, and you have more than enough to do an entire frame, and using the 0000 Super Fine on a regular basis doesn't do anything to dull the metal afterwards. I'd suggest the steel wool ideas be added to the bottom of the frame polishing section, as it is a LOT cheaper than buying sheets of 2000 grit, and you get the same result!
Comments from Dax
I just wanted to let you in on a secret that I think that everyone might want to know about polishing the frame/swingarm of your F4, which I agree is the superior bike.
I hate to boost a product, but in my recent endeavor, I have found that once you get up to the 1000 grit sandpaper mark, make sure you have a tube of red tube of Wenol & blue tube of Wenol. The red Wenol is the more coarse of the two, but is great to help you push through those final hours of polishing. Once I am at the 1000 grit, I apply the red Wenol to the sandpaper that is on my sander, and start working it into what ever it is I am polishing. The compound begins to turn gray. Once the Wenol is dry, I sand it off with 1500 grit sandpaper. Sometimes not all of the Wenol will sand off due to build-up on the sandpaper, rubbing off the excess has not shown a bad difference for me.
Now that I have all of the Wenol off. I put a new piece of 1500 grit on the sander, and lightly sand until the piece begins to "mirror" again. At this point, I apply the blue Wenol to the 1500 grit sandpaper. I repeat this step much like I did for the red Wenol. Just remove the Wenol, once dry, with a new piece 1500 grit, and wipe off what excess that wouldn't come off with sanding.
Now, all you should have to do is wet sand for a little bit, and *schwing*, put on your sunglasses, because it is going to be bright.