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  • The Pits

    As a newbie to the forums, and a newbie to the process, I am almost too embarrased to ask this question.

    I'm rebuilding an '82 harley lowrider. This old shovel was left out in the rain and blowing dust in Arizona for the last ten years. In the process of rebuilding, I'm trying to learn the art of polishing and buffing. The old shovel rocker-arm covers look horrible. They are horribly discolored, stained, and pitted.

    I purchased a full kit from Caswell, including a buffing machine, several wheels, and compound beyond belief. Thank God for caswell as I have had a great experience with them!

    I have read the instructions, read this forum, and have had great results because of the great advice and help, but I am faced with a small, rather tiny, problem....... THE PITTS

    While I can buff from emory to Tripoli, to white and get great shiny results, there are tiny little pitts in the aluminium that make the project look like ****. Here are my questions....

    1. Is this normal? Does cast aluminium normally have these pitts or was this due too corrosion over the years?

    2. While I have worked mainly with Emory on a Sisal, I can not get ride of the pitts, is it time to shift to a greaseless compound? If so, I have everything from 400 to 80 grit, where best to start? 400? 260?

    3. If I polishes the pitts out, are there more pitts below? (Woodworkers will understand this, as sand pitts often continue until you have nothing but a toothpick) Am I never going to see the end of my pitts?

    Any advice, direction, flames or comments are greatly appreciated!!!

    Jhelm

  • #2
    I'm no expert but I think you answered your own question.... time to sand those pits out (sand paper or greaseless). I just bought my greaseless and so far the testing is pretty encouraging. Do test on a piece of scrap by the way.

    I think the casting material on an '82 will be fine but it's possible that the casting itself is porous. Only one way to find out. If it is porous then I guess the only answer... well two answers.... is to live with the pits or send the pieces to the chromer.

    Good luck on it bro... I'm working on my XL this winter.

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    • #3
      Are you sure they are aluminum and not chromed also? Alot of those rocker box covers are chromed pieces, and they will pit just the way you are describing. I really can not tell you if they are or not, without messing up the chrome (if it is chrome). the pits you are describing may just be badly corroded chrome plating that is now gone, leaving the pits behind. Also, could be as you described and be porosity though, I can clearly say that Harley parts are usually no where near the quality of a Jap bike in terms of lack of porosity in a cast aluminum piece. Jap bikes are far easier to polish than a cast (probably in china) harley piece.

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      • #4
        Oh now ya wanna go busting on Harleys!

        Okay just kidding.

        On older ones I'm right there with you. On recent bikes however the castings have picked way up and no longer suffer the same porosity issues (thank God).

        I don't think that old shovelhead was chromed but you never know. Either way by the time you sand it (I would think) the chrome will be gone.

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        • #5
          stryder you are right .. the older bikes the parts were chromed ... i got panhead and a knuckle head sitting in the garage.. that are old as the dirt on them ... for the pitted chromed parts .. get them smooth fill them with lab metal /pyro metal .. dip them with copy chrome or triple dip them

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          • #6
            Thanks guys!

            Thanks for the help guys.....the original rocker arm covers for my bike were not chromed. Just polished. After trying to gently sand away some of the pits, more started to apear just under the surface. I don't want to sand much more off, but it look life it might be a continueing thing with the pits. I may just have to polish as nice as I can and live with the pits.

            I thought about having them chromed, but then I would n't have all this fun learning about polishing and buffing!!

            Again, thanks for all the advice.....even from the Rice grinder guy!

            Jason

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            • #7
              the pits

              Sounds like your rocker boxers have already been sandblasted! But the guys who replied to your question are right. The trouble with cast alloy is the pits will get bigger the further you go , the only way to make them 100% is to take them to your local plating shop and ask them to acid copper them until the pits are full. Then they buff the copper and ni plate and chrome.

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