NOTICE:  These are tech pages explaining how I did these mods to my bike.  In almost every case -
I DO NOT SELL THE PARTS DESCRIBED.  I do tell you where I got them.  EXCEPTION - I do sell my custom exhaust mods. 

Tech Tips
Valk Products
My Valkyrie

Metal Polishing







      I just LOVE shiny things.  If I was a fish I'd never make it to lunker size as any flashy lure would catch me.  Otto my parrot thinks I'm nuts. 

      But lotsa chrome means lotsa bucks.  In fact the extras on Deerslayer cost more than the bike did.

      Deerslayer's wheels are dingy.  The punkin looks like crap.  But chroming them will cost a fortune... What to do?

      Hey, what about polishing the metal?  How hard is that?  Dunno, never did it, but it looks hard.  Well let's check it out.


      OK, so I did a little digging on the net.  Looked up some VRCC posts I had saved from before.  Found a few leads - Here's the best one, from Caswell Plating:   This booklet tells you everything you need to know to get started.  They also have a manual online that they want to charge for.  I didn't need it.

      BTW, I found this .FLV file on Youtube, on how to polish aluminum wheels - this one happens to be a Valk, too.  I just checked, it's not there anymore.  Glad I saved it.  Sorry I can't post it here to view - my site builder is old and doesn't support video viewing.  Just click on the link, download it, and watch it on your machine. It's about 8MB in size.
      Wheel Polishing.flv


      Maybe $30 or so in buffing supplies


      How much you gonna polish?  I did the front wheel in an afternoon while learning how to do it.  Next weekend I did the rotors, took me 3 hours including R&Ring them.  Next weekend I expect to do the punkin and rear wheel in a day.


    • 2-4" spiral sewn buffing wheels
    • 3-4" loose sewn buffing wheels
    • Black, Tripoli (brown), white, and blue rouge sticks
    • Denatured Alcohol
    • 100% cotton rags
    • 6" 3M paint stripper wheel
    • fine flap sander wheels



    • Bike lift
    • Electric Buffer (a drill with extra handle works fine)
    • Hex bits for socket wrenches
    • Metric wrench set including 22mm socket for axle bolt
    • torque wrench
    • small vise grips
    • 2 welding clamps
    • hacksaw blade
    • eye protection, breathing mask
    • good light (I use photographer's light stands)
    • bench vise


      The objective is to smooth out the metal so it will reflect the light instead of scattering it.  You do that by starting with a courser abrasive and graduating through finer and finer abrasives until you're using no abrasive at all.  Except for the first rough work, the abrasives are contained impregnated in the wax in the rouge compounds.  The buffing wheel then does the work - this would be WAY harder if you didn't use an electric buffer.  Download and read the PDF file   .  I can add a few points to what you learn there.  Unfortunately Illustrating these steps leaves a little to be desired - even though I was a photo studio manager then owner, I don't have the equipment or inclination anymore to get the best photos possible - reflective metal takes some effort to photograph properly.  Also I did it myself so operating the camera with one hand means most of the photos are "still lifes" - not in action.  You get the idea.

      Front wheel:

      Remove the wheel from the bike.  Remove the socket bolts attaching the rotors.  Tape over the bearings to keep crud out.  Set up a backlight so you can see the work while watching the reflection.

      Look closely at the wheel.  Clearly it was turned on a lathe, and they left spiral swirls in the metal.  You need to remove the metal to below the swirls.  I bought and tried several types and grit level abrasive wheels, in increasing increments of cutting power until I found one that was adequate to remove the swirls but not too abrasive to scratch it worse than necessary. I wound up using the fine grit sandpaper flap wheel.  Use heavy pressure, and be careful about hitting the wheel with the drill chuck - it makes a nice router on the metal you're trying to unscratch.  As the flap wheel wears it in effect becomes finer.  You can use that to good effect, to make finer and finer scratches.  Do the whole wheel once over, perhaps changing to a fresh flap wheel, then go over it again with the flaps more worn.



      Set up a 4" sisal buffing wheel with an arbor attachment.  If you couldn't find one at your local store, a spiral sewn buffer wheel will work too.   Try not to have the shaft sticking out of the wheel any farther then necessary.  Notice the pic below, the shaft is sticking out of the nut - but not in the pic farther below with the Tripoli rouge.  Yeah.  The shaft makes a nice router too.  A longer arbor adapter works better than a shorter one, as it allows you to back the drill chuck farther away from the work.  With the wheel spinning at full speed, apply black rouge to the edge of the wheel.  Push it against it with some pressure for a couple seconds at a time.  You need the friction heat to melt the carrier wax to get it to load the wheel.  Do not mix rouge types on the wheels.  Write on the face what rouge you used (they look the same after they get dirty - black).



      Pay attention to the "cut" vs. "color" motions explained in the PDF file.  For the black rouge, use "cut" motion and plenty of pressure. 


                Thanks to Caswell Plating for their graphic


      Let the compound do the work.  You will be surprised how fast this goes.  You will find you need to re-apply rouge every couple minutes or so.  After about 4 applications you will notice it's not as effective, and in fact you are adding scratches rather than removing them.  Time to clean the wheel.

      Clamp the buffer in the bench vise, turn it on & apply the hacksaw blade to the edge to knock the compound off.



       Reapply compound and resume.   Repeat until you've done both sides. 



      Set up a fresh spiral sewn (NOT siskal) wheel and apply Tripoli (brown) rouge to it.  Start with a cutting motion and medium pressure, and graduate to a color motion with lighter pressure.  Clean buffer wheel and reapply rouge as needed until you've done the whole wheel.  This goes faster than the black rouge work did.  The wheel is getting shiny.



      Clean the residual rouge off the aluminum wheel with alcohol and rags. 



      Set up a loose buffing wheel.  Apply white rouge and continue with color motion and light pressure.  Goes even faster.  You can see yourself in the metal now.

      Set up another loose wheel.  Apply blue rouge.  This is the final color.  When you're done, it's hard to tell the shine from chrome.

      Apply wax and buff with the last loose wheel.  Collinite Metal Wax is perhaps the best.





      I thought these were anodized aluminum.  But George Jackson tells me he had his done a couple years ago and they have needed no touch up - that makes them stainless.  COOL!  But they do seem to have some hard coating on them like anodizing, that has to come off before you can polish them.  I used a 3M 6" paint stripper wheel.  Clamp the rotors down with 2 welding clamps and rags - just enough to hold them, don't warp the rotors.



      Start with the paint stripper.  Then repeat the steps above.  The SS will shine more than the aluminum.



      Now go STYLIN with your SHINY WHEEL!



All technical mods described here are merely reports of what I've done.  You may attempt to replicate them at your own discretion and risk if you choose.  Horseapple Ranch, LLC and Mark Tobias will in no way be responsible for the results of your attempting to perform these mods on any motorcycle, regardless of the outcome.

All content on copyright 1999-2006 Mark Tobias except "Riders Say", "Dyno Day", Vallejo and Shop Manual and Alternator Review pages, and SWF and MP-3 files and their graphic icons, and any content specifically attributed to another author.  
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