True restoration is defined as
returning something to a previous or original condition. You
have probably seen bikes being sold as "restored" when, in fact,
they have only been partially cleaned-up. We think of these as
"rattlecan restorations" since they often involve badly
applied, hardware store aerosol "rattlecan " paint.
Swap meets, ebay and the classifieds are dominated by them.
The reasons for this are usually based upon ignorance - many people
simply do not understand what a full restoration involves and even
fewer have all of the skills necessary to complete one.
Here are the steps involved in our
full bike restorations:
- Disassembly - the bike is
completely dismantled. Brakes, fork, shocks, wheels,etc. are taken
apart down the individual nuts, bolts &
- Cleaning/stripping - decades of
accumulated grease and dirt get removed from every recess. Old
decals and badges are carefully removed along with all
traces of old adhesive; even VIN tags are removed at this time
(when possible). All polished aluminum parts have the old
clearcoat removed. All plated parts have the old plating
chemically stripped, a must before they can be
- Abrasive media blasting - all
painted items are low-pressure blasted with media mixtures
tailored to the specific item being prepped. This is the only way
to completely remove all traces of old paint and rust
from recessed areas without leaving chemical residue or thinning
the metal. This also leaves the ideal surface "tooth" for proper
- Dent removal and metal repair -
after the parts have a clean, uniform, surface small imperfections
become more visible. Cracks get welded, dents are dollied-out to
1/8' or less. Oftentimes, they are completely removed and require
no further repair. We prefer to fill any that remain with body
lead, as it cannot chip, shrink or crack like plastic fillers.
- Priming and surfacing - premium
paint jobs get a layer of two-part catalyzed epoxy
primer/surfacer. Any remaining surface imperfections will be
clearly visible after priming and, should any be present, they
will be less than .035" deep. These then get filled with plastic
body filler. The parts are then block sanded by hand. Any
minor blemishes that required filler get a second coat of primer
after sanding and a final block sanding.
- Painting - the candy colors
found on the early models are faithfully reproduced using modern
three-stage (basecoat, midcoat, clearcoat) catalyzed urethane
paints. It typically takes 9-11 coats, total. Urethane paint is
expensive, however it's durability can rival that of
powdercoat. After painting, the parts are color-sanded and
polished to a high-gloss.
- Polishing - After the old
plating has been removed, any metal repair/scratch removal is
performed. All pieces to be chromed must be polished prior to
plating, this is what gives the mirror-like look of chrome
plating. Aluminum pieces have deep scratches/gouges
removed are polished, then clearcoated ,as original. Shocks
go through an extra step to recreate the original brushed
appearance. Plated hardware items, including brake arms/pivots,
battery carrier, seat latch, spacers...down to the last nut, bolt,
washer & spring go through a four-step polishing process
that includes chemical cleaning, stripping, vibrahoning and
tumble-polishing. Axles are lathe-polished.
- Plating - After proper
preparation, the items are ready to be replated. They are returned
to as close to as-new as possible.
- Electrical items and the
speedometer are checked for condition. Any faulty wires are
repaired or replaced, then the wiring is re-wrapped. Speedometers
can be disassembled and the odometer reset to zero.
- Reassembly - The bike is now
ready to be reassembled. All new bearings, seals, gaskets, tires,
tubes and decals are used. Any visible replacement parts are
matched as closely to OEM as possible. In most cases we restore
the original pieces so this is not an issue.