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March '16 Winner
Congratulations to Tim Collins for winning our March show and shine. We receive lots of really good entries each year, but every now and again we are treated to an epic effort that raises the proverbial bar. This is one such entry. Performed over the best part of four months and involving well over two hundred hours of work, Tim's labour of love on his newly acquired bike is wonderful to behold. A no-holds barred, do it right or not at all journey that began in Germany and involved far more patience than most can muster...
"Having spent almost a year looking for the closest thing possible to a brand new BMW R1150GS Adventure (production ceased in 2005), I finally found one in Germany with 24,000 km on the clock, being sold by the original owner. I knew I'd found what I was looking for when I read the advertisement and saw (roughly translated by Google): "... was washed only by hand, so there are no scratches or other damages". When I collected the bike in Köln, it was immaculate. It seemed a shame to get it dirty, but I had to ride it the 1,789 km home to Ireland.
After finding such a mint bike, I wanted to keep it that way, so I started planning the protection detail even as I rode it home. I wanted the best possible protection for it and I'm very happy with the way the GYEON quartz coatings are performing on my Ford Ranger, so after checking with the team at Polished Bliss that Q2 MOHS would not affect the satin/matt finish on the bike, I placed an order for some more. Having performed a protection detail on my Ford Ranger a year previously, I knew how much work was going to be involved. I also knew that due to the nature of the bike, with its exposed engine and gearbox, and its spoked wheels, etc, this detail was going to take significantly longer, so I decided to log the time I spent working on it.
I obviously had to start by washing the bike, so I power-hosed it with rain water that I harvest specifically for detailing, then snow-foamed it with GYEON Q2M FOAM. After rinsing off the foam, I washed it with a Microfiber Madness Incredisponge and GYEON Q2M BATHE+. The medium sized brush from my new set of PB Luxury Wheel Woolies made easy work of washing the wheels, especially in between the spokes.
After washing, there was no contamination evident, except for a few speckles of tar on the front of the engine, but I assumed that after 1,700 km there would be some brake dust on the calipers and wheels, so I treated them with GYEON Q2M IRON. While the IRON was doing its thing, I misted a tar remover on the front of the engine and wiped off the tar spots with a microfibre towel. I hosed off the Q2M IRON and the front of the engine, then washed the whole bike again to remove anything left over from the decontamination process and dried it with my Metro Vac Blaster Sidekick.
I don't have a garage, but I needed somewhere warm and dry to complete the rest of the detail, given that I was going to be applying quartz coatings. The boxer engine on the bike is too wide to fit through a standard house door, so I couldn't bring it in through the front door to work on it in the front hallway, as I've done with my previous bikes, so the only option I had was to remove both panels of my sliding patio door and bring the bike into the kitchen! With the bike inside (and the patio doors back on), I could start the detail in earnest.
I began by removing some parts to give me better access for cleaning. I removed the seat, petrol tank, battery, sump guard, engine protection bars, cylinder head protectors and the exhaust system. I used a microfibre towel and clean water to wipe away any dirt hidden behind these parts, then progressed on to cleaning out the various corners and crevices of the engine and gearbox, including in between each of the cooling fins. I wrapped a microfibre towel around the wooden handle of an artist's paintbrush to reach into the deeper gaps and even taped a toothpick onto the handle to pick the last of the dirt out of some of the corners.
The oil filter is housed in a recess, the inside of which is painted, so I drained the oil and removed the oil filter, to allow me to clean and protect the paint inside that recess. The hardest part, by far, was around the exhaust ports, where the exhaust bolts onto the engine. There are deep crevices at either side of the two exhaust ports, where dirt had accumulated over time and the heat of the engine had baked it in place. I tried every chemical in my arsenal, including Q2M IRON and the tar remover, but in the end I found that 99.9% denatured ethanol and scrubbing produced the best results. The problem was that the depth of the crevices made scrubbing difficult, so I had to use cotton swabs with long wooden handles. The narrow, wooden handles kept bending and breaking, so I went through three packets of those and a fist full of toothpicks before I had removed all the baked in crud. I knew cleaning the engine was going to be a difficult task, but it was even worse than I had anticipated. That alone took me 59 hours. Quite a few times, the words in one of the replies from Polished Bliss came back to me: "… bikes are always a labour of love".
When consulting with the team at Polished Bliss about which products to use, they advised that I mask off the decals before applying the Q2 MOHS and treat them afterwards with GYEON Q2 TRIM. I spent a day masking the decals; sticking on a piece of masking tape, tracing around the decal with a pencil, pulling off the tape, cutting it to size, and carefully lining it up and sticking it on. With everything masked, I set the heating to 20°C, wiped everything down with GYEON Q2M PREP and started applying the Q2 MOHS. Q2 MOHS is quite easy to apply and I quickly treated the tank and other flat surfaces but, as before, the nooks and crannies of the engine made hard work out of it, especially as I had to apply two coats.
With all the painted surfaces treated with Q2 MOHS, I moved on to treating the plastics and decals with Q2 TRIM. The polycarbonate screen had swirl marks on both sides, so I brought out my DA polisher and started with a finishing pad and Menzerna Super Finish Plus 3800. Three passes of this combination removed almost all of the swirls, but I had to step up to a medium cut pad to remove the few deeper ones left. With the screen looking like new again, I wiped it down with Q2M PREP and treated it with Q2 TRIM. I did the same for all the other plastics on the bike, including the insides of the mudguards.
Anyone that has detailed a motorbike will be familiar with the sandblasting effect on the front of the engine, caused by debris thrown up by the front wheel. When I read the post on the Polished Bliss blog about them installing XPEL paint protection film to the front end of a Porsche 911 (997) GT2 RS, it immediately occurred to me that XPEL PPF was the perfect way to protect the front of my engine. There are no pre-made kits for the BMW R1150GS, so I used a square of XPEL Ultimate PPF and cut it to shape for my engine. I also installed some on the lower end of the front forks, which tend to get chipped by stones. After installing the PPF, I sealed it with XPEL PPF Sealant.
The next step was to treat the brake calipers, wheels and bare metal (anodized aluminium, stainless steel and chrome) with GYEON Q2 RIM. I applied Q2 RIM to the engine protection bars first, as they were off the bike, then treated the anodised aluminium on the front forks, as well as the painted parts of the forks where the calipers are mounted. I removed the wheels, used a plastic key card to prise off the balancing weights and used denatured ethanol to remove any residue from the adhesive. I wiped the wheels down with Q2M PREP and applied Q2 RIM to them, including each individual spoke, then did the same to the brake calipers. I gave the Q2 RIM a few days to cure before balancing the wheels with black, self-adhesive weights which are less obtrusive on the dark coloured rims than the normal silver coloured weights.
The chrome on the exhaust downpipes was discoloured due to heating. It was a dark blue - almost black - near the exhaust ports and faded out to a yellow-golden colour further down the pipes. I asked the team at Polished Bliss if this could be removed, or if it was permanent. They told me that: "… bluing arises when chromium (either solid or a coating) becomes really hot and starts to oxidise", and assured me that it could be removed with a strong metal polish, such as Raceglaze Alutech. They also said that if I sealed the chrome with Q2 RIM after I'd corrected them that it would prevent them from oxidising again, even if they got very hot. The team at Polished Bliss had suggested that polishing the exhaust by hand would be easier, so I started with a Lake Country Hydro-Tech Cutting Hand Pad and Raceglaze Alutech. After about five hours, I had progressed about four inches down the first pipe. The muscles in my hand and forearm were starting to cramp and I decided that no matter how awkward it was with my DA polisher, it couldn't be any harder than polishing by hand.
After five minutes with a cutting pad on the DA and Raceglaze Alutech, I'd made more progress than I had in the previous five hours by hand. Only then did it occur to me that when the team at Polished Bliss said it might be easier by hand, they would have assumed that the exhaust was still on the bike, making it difficult to get access with the DA! Another two hours of work had removed most of the discolouration from the downpipes, but closer to the exhaust ports was still a bit dull with some dark patches. Over the next day and a half, I finished correcting the chrome finish on the whole exhaust system, including the catalytic converter. After restoring the colour of the chrome, there were swirl marks visible under strong sunlight, so I used Meguiar's NXT All Metal Polysh to bring up the mirror finish I was looking for. After wiping the whole exhaust system down with Q2M PREP, I treated it with two coats of Q2 RIM.
After giving the Q2 RIM on the exhaust twenty four hours to cure, I started the fun task of rebuilding the bike. It took me half a day to do, applying copper grease to every bolt. I then loaded it into an enclosed trailer (box van) and took it to take photos at Ballyglunin Railway station, which was used as Castletown railway station in the 1952 film, The Quiet Man. When I totted up the hours in my log, I was shocked to realise that I had spent a total of 227.5 hours performing the detail, over the space of almost four months. It was a lot of work, and a lot of effort, but it was worth it to know that the bike now has the best possible protection it can have, and for many years to come."