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Cleaning Rusty Pipes

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by davey1207, Jun 1, 2011.

  1. davey1207

    davey1207 1981 Yamaha xs400 Special

    Hi everyone, now that my xs400, Cleo, is registered and i've been riding her i am going to start restoring her back to stock before any cafe moderations are made. i have a fair amount of rust on the right exhaust pipe and was wondering if anyone had some tips to get it off... tools to use, polish to use, etc. thanks!
  2. davey1207

    davey1207 1981 Yamaha xs400 Special

    also any tips on scrubbing the whole thing clean would help. i want the engine to look brand new!
  3. Yusiro

    Yusiro XS400 Enthusiast

    To get my pipes back up to looking nice and shiny I used soapy water and some rags, then Autosol metal polish with even more rags and lots of elbow grease. I got them down to almost as good as new - used a soft wire brush in the especially stubborn places but be careful with that as it scratches the finish.

    As far as your engine - look up aluminium polishing on google. Basically you sand the shit out of it - for me it took about 4 hours of sanding from 200 grit all the way up to 2000 grit paper. Then get something like mothers mag and aluminum polish - polish on, buff off.

    As I said - lots of tutorials on google for that so you shouldn't have any trouble finding anything.

    Hope that helps
  4. Daddio

    Daddio XS400 Addict

    Aluminum likes heat!!! Start with 400grit sandpaper, get a nice even base, I use a DA sander at about 4000RPM, then I polish with a "wool" bonnet and a compound to bring to a polish. For chrome I use a brass wheel in a drill then follow up with polish and a cloth wheel and a compound.
  5. HoughMade

    HoughMade XS400 Guru Top Contributor

    For cleaning off the rust, use SOS pads and soapy water- will take surface rust and rust stains off. Then use a chrome polish for the final polish and the rust will stay away.

    As for the engine, I scrubbed it with Simple Green to get the ick off (and carb cleaner...I had a leak or two), the scrubbed with a brass brush on the jugs, it gave a decent "brushed" finish. On the side covers, I started with 400, then 800, then polish. I have a nice satin finish. If I wanted high polish, I would progress up to 2000, then polish if I was hand polishing.


    Last edited: Jun 2, 2011
  6. uglyduckling

    uglyduckling uglyduckling

    autosol and xtra fine steel wool!!! works awesome
  7. XS-Time

    XS-Time XS400 Addict

    I agree. For rusted Chrome a fine steel wool or sos pad and maybe some WD40 to get the real bad stuff off (don't hope for miracles though). And follow up with a chrome polish to get the shine. Don't use too coarse a steel wool as it will leave more noticable scratches.
  8. lhaolpa

    lhaolpa XS400 Junkie

    Steel wool and W-D 40 will work,but is messy. I used a wheel cleaner from a cheap dollar store where I went with my wife.Really works well and isn't as hard on the old joints,really worked on the aluminum fins on the motor with some small brushes from Harbor Freight.I then used a rust treatment on the rusty parts,then polish,buff. lha:bike:
  9. lhaolpa

    lhaolpa XS400 Junkie

    That's quite a transformation,Houghmade,very nice! lha
  10. OnePhate

    OnePhate XS400 Addict

    yeah Houghmade, it looks beautiful. I get my seca back this weekend and its getting your treatment!
  11. I used Liquid Wrench Penetrating oil and a brillo pad, took all my rust right off. I plan on using some chrome polish next to shine her up, we'll see how that goes.
  12. lhaolpa

    lhaolpa XS400 Junkie

    Seems that everyone has a home remedy for cleaning just about everything.The brushes at Harbor Freight are good,and cheap,when they come up on sale,I buy several packs of them.At 6 for a couple of bucks,you can't beat them and they come in handy all the time. One thing I have found is that for protection on the chrome after it's clean,you can't go wrong with a good paste wax. lha
  13. Lovin' this, mine could use the same treatment. Your still able to get in between the cooling fins or is that where the wire brush comes into play?
  14. OnePhate

    OnePhate XS400 Addict

    Hey, which brushes are you talking about? Like brass or steel or a different type? I love harbor freight haha. Just don't buy their screw removers, they break very easily.
  15. WulfgartheBlack

    WulfgartheBlack XS400 Enthusiast

    HoughMadeShiney! :thumbsup: WtB
  16. rae_man

    rae_man XS400 Member


    I love Hough's job on the bike and the before and after pics. This looks fantastic, and I want to do the same thing!
    The question I have is if you progressed from a coarse to a fine brush when cleaning the engine? If not, how would you generally describe the brush you were using: generally stiff, thicker bristles or more fine?

    I want to go pick some up, but also want to make sure I have at least some guidance as to what kind of brushes I should get to do this in terms of the general abrasiveness (is that a word?).

    Thanks! and I will be sure to post before and after pics once I am done as well!
  17. eric123

    eric123 XS400 Addict

    Coke(has to be Coke) and aluminum foil works well on rust...Seriously...
  18. HoughMade

    HoughMade XS400 Guru Top Contributor

    I usually used a brass brush or a stainless brush. The brass one is softer and what I used most of the time. I only used stainless for something really stubborn. I only know of one softness for each brush. I just got the brushes at the auto parts store.
  19. rae_man

    rae_man XS400 Member

    Thanks a lot for that info! I appreciate it.
  20. OleDoc

    OleDoc FREEBIRDS MC Central NY

    i have used nail polishing sandpaper and then progressed to the pink/white/gray polishing sticks to polish the fins

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