Once you get past painting and powder coating, how many other ways are you familiar with to finish the metal surfaces on your motorcycle? Well, there’s chrome, of course or you could just buff and polish everything and follow it with a sealer, but after the paint route, most everything else involves some chemicals and electricity to react in some way with the metal surface. Anodizing aluminum is a little less well known than some treatments but it offers nice benefits and it’s not that hard to do.
Just last week I was leafing through How To Plate, Polish, and Chrome at the bookstore. It’s a pretty good introduction to most of the usual methods along with anodizing aluminum. I was not very familiar with the specifics, so I looked a bit closer and what I found most interesting was the fact that you could do this at home. Not very many of you will do any chrome or nickel plating in your garage but anodizing is well within the capabilities of the garage builder.
As luck would have it, a couple of days later, Andy (Thanks, Andy!) sent me a pointer to a web site where anodizing supplies are sold, with the focus on doing it at home. They have the chemicals you’ll need plus a good explanation of how to do it. They don’t sell kits because, most of what you need you probably already have or you’ll be able to get very easily. The web site is the work of Ron Newman who is also part of the Yahoo group dedicated to anodizing and they have tips for the guy who wants to give this a try.
Anodizing, is a process specific to aluminum. Basically, you submerge the aluminum part in weak sulfuric acid and apply a positive charge (the anode). The negative charge (cathode) is applied to a piece of lead. The flow of current causes the aluminum to oxidize, forming a hard surface. An interesting option in the process is the ability to color the aluminum with various dyes. We’ve all seen blue or red anodized parts but you can use a wide variety of different colors, even in combinations which can look pretty neat.
There are a lot of smaller parts on a motorcycle that lend themselves to this sort of finish process with a home garage sized setup. If you get good at this, you could build a bigger outfit and become the guy all of your friends come to with their aluminum parts and make a few bucks on the side. But whatever you do, it looks like it could be a fun project and one more nifty skill to add to your personal toolbox.
Link: Ron Newman’s Anodizing web site