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Old 01-10-2010, 09:35 PM   #1
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Rust on Fork lowers

I was gonna PM you Partick but I thought maybe this could be informative for other people too.
I have a set of USD forks that have been exposed to the weather for a while and have become rusted in little spots on the lower legs. The is very slight pitting, once the rust is cleaned up.
I think it is possible to use ScotchBrite or maybe very fine steel wool to remove the corrosion, followed by something like 1000 or 1500 grit sandpaper. I am afraid that the pits left after all that will cause the forks to leak and I hate rebuilding forks.
My question is, what can be done to make these forks useable?
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Old 01-10-2010, 11:27 PM   #2
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I'm not Patrick, but I'll give you my 2 cents worth while you're waiting on the big dog to respond.

If you have access to a lathe you can chuck them up (with soft jaws) and polish them. Scotchbrite should work fine. It may not seem logical, but the finish produced in a lathe (rotational lines) will produce more desireable results than a finish with longitudinal lines (which you could most likely due very well with your dominate hand - many years of practice ).

If you can do the lathe method, you would wrap the scotchbrite around it - squeeze with your hand and slowly walk the scotchbrite from one end to the other. How fast you move the scothbrite from one end to the other is a function of the rotational speed of the lathe. You are trying to produce a cross hatch pattern with very little angle, so you will get the best results if you move the scotchbrite from end to end very slowly.

If there are really deep pits, you may have to work (rub)them individually until the majority of the sharp edges are gone before starting the lathe polishing.

The o-ring type seals in the forks are actually fairly tolerant of slight dimensional variations you may cause as you polish the pits out, but not tolerant of sharp edges. If the rust has penetrated the chrome (which it probably has because good chrome is resistant to rust) you need to do your best to polish out any sharp edges caused by the pit itself or the transition from chrome to the parent metal.

If you can't get to a lathe you can do it by hand - it's just going to take a while.

Good Luck!
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Old 01-11-2010, 09:01 AM   #3
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Quote:
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I'm not Patrick, but I'll give you my 2 cents worth while you're waiting on the big dog to respond.

If you have access to a lathe you can chuck them up (with soft jaws) and polish them...
Good Luck!
Thanks Radar,
I do have access and that's a good suggestion but, I would think that the pits that remain after the deburring would not allow for a very good seal. I was wondering if having the tubes rechromed would be the way to go (after deburring of course). I know the chrome is too thin to fill in the pits but maybe it would make them a little shallower.
My thought is maybe an industrial hydraulic cylinder rechroming outfit could do a decent job without killing my meager bank account.
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Old 01-11-2010, 12:10 PM   #4
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Old 01-11-2010, 12:16 PM   #5
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if there's pitting left after polishing and buffing them, i don't recommend using them. if the pits are big enough for you to feel with your fingers, then they're big enough to trap fluid and let it leak past the seal. it's a very very very tiny amount, but you're still losing fluid. although, i will say, i have reused pitted for tubes before when on a tight budget and haven't had problems. the most important part is making sure the legs are smooth with no raised edges around the pits that will prematurely wear out the seals.
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Old 01-11-2010, 12:27 PM   #6
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Good advice from Radar and SecretAgent. Makes my job easy!

Charlie,
As stated, if there's pitting on the forks after you polish them they probably won't hold a seal long. You can use a very fine emery cloth or Scotch Brite to clean them with. I've also had good success using a very fine stone to remove small pits, the trick is not to go through the chrome.
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Old 01-11-2010, 12:28 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Believe it or not, JB Weld is very sandable. If you spot use it on the parts you are worried about you can sand them down flush and you won't have any seal problems. Obviously you will have the discoloration that the JB provides, but they'll be fine. Just prep the spots you need to use it on and get to work. That's my suggestion.

Or, don't worry about it.
I was wondering if something like that could work but I didn't think you would ever get it to stick for very long.
Have you done that before?

As far as the worrying part... that's my hobby.
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Old 01-11-2010, 12:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Good advice from Radar and SecretAgent. Makes my job easy!

Charlie,
As stated, if there's pitting on the forks after you polish them they probably won't hold a seal long. You can use a very fine emery cloth or Scotch Brite to clean them with. I've also had good success using a very fine stone to remove small pits, the trick is not to go through the chrome.
So if there is still pitting there is nothing that can be done?

What do they do on industrial hydraulics if the cylinder gets rusty? Just replace it?
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Old 01-11-2010, 12:41 PM   #9
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On industrial rams we replate them.
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Old 01-11-2010, 01:39 PM   #10
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Old 01-11-2010, 02:03 PM   #11
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Quote:
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JB Weld will stick. I know it sounds ghetto but it really is useful stuff. I've never used it on fork tubes but there is no reason why it wouldn't work. Another possibility is a strong epoxy. If you have the money to throw away on brand new forks, go ahead and do that. But there are options. I'd say use epoxy and sanding first...I'd be willing to bet you a beer that works fine.
I may take that bet.
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Old 01-11-2010, 02:04 PM   #12
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On industrial rams we replate them.
Would that work on forks or is it a different kinda thing?
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Old 01-11-2010, 07:10 PM   #13
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It would, but it's cost prohibitive. How bad is the pitting?
As far as the epoxy thing, it would be real hard to polish it as smooth/hard as chrome. It'll eventually cut the seal.
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Old 01-11-2010, 07:38 PM   #14
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It would, but it's cost prohibitive. How bad is the pitting?
As far as the epoxy thing, it would be real hard to polish it as smooth/hard as chrome. It'll eventually cut the seal.
I don't know how bad the pitting is gonna be, I just got the forks and scratched at the rust with a fingernail. I don't think it will be real bad but near the last inch and half there's gonna be some.
Just a gut feeling how much do you think it would cost and can you suggest anybody that does cylinder chroming?
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Old 01-12-2010, 04:03 PM   #15
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In case anybody wonders about such things, I spoke with a friend who had a pair of forks rechromed. They were from an old bike and he couldn't find replacement parts.
The place he took them does hard chrome on hydraulic cylinders. They machined the forks down until the pits were gone and then, I suppose, using multiple layers, probably in the underlying metal, built the diameter back up to original. Then applied the hard chrome outer layer.
All this cost around $250 for the set. Since I can buy the inner fork legs for gixxer forks for around $100/set, obviously, I won't be replating the ones I have.
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Old 01-12-2010, 04:10 PM   #16
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Like I said; cost prohibitive.
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Old 01-12-2010, 05:29 PM   #17
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Old 01-12-2010, 08:08 PM   #18
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Because it's not the same hardness or polished as smooth as the chrome.

Back when I did heavy equipment work on everything form forklifts to dozers we would do it for a temporary fix, but eventually it would cut the packing, and the packing in those items is way more durable than fork seals.
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Old 01-13-2010, 06:44 PM   #19
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