Cleaning old parts only goes so far. Toothbrushes, brake cleaner, wire wool and electric drill attachments can help, but they rarely get the job done properly and the piece is quite often dirty again soon afterwards.
James, Matt and Charles at BDK Race Engineering in Norfolk have shown me the wonders of vapour-blasting.
Sand-blasting is often too harsh, especially for aluminium. Soda-blasting is good, fine and has less chance of leaving danger-inducing blast grit in any parts, but often goes wrong.
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Vapour-blasting seems a nice middle ground, cleaning the surface but not removing the finish of the piece.
The tools are one things, but then you need to know how to use them.
Because BDK work on the parts they’ve blasted previously, it’s in their best interest to do as good a job as possible and they know bikes, their materials and what they can do.
You would blast an old British part differently to a modern Japanese part.
Vapour-blasting uses a mix of new and used glass beads (or fine grit) that has a ‘secret’ ingredient added to give a nice gloss finish – left without it leaves a matt finish like sand-blasting gives.
But the glass also peens over the finish, helping it to keep clean for longer.
I’m now addicted, and after being allowed a go, I’m happy to pay for BDK’s knowledge! I’ve just got to make sure the rest of the bike is as good…
■Bdkraceeng.co.uk■ £15 for a rocker cover to up to £200 for crankcases
Read more News and Features in the April 2020 issue of Classic Bike Guide – on sale now!