Sunday, 9 January 2011
Rust Never Sleeps
No, not one of mine. I just posted this photo to help me feel better. "Things could be worse."
Yesterday I had a look at the Triumph and saw how badly it has fared in the last few weeks. It has stood outside through all the snow and the cold, and it has suffered. I have only used it a few times, and it shows. Today, I have spent most of the day on it, and it is looking better, but I am very disappointed by the way the finish has coped (or not) with the weather.
When I last gave it a bit of attention, it was still looking pretty good. That was back at the beginning of December, I think. This morning, on close inspection, there were telltale signs of rust everywhere. The wheel rims have broken out in a rash, and the fork legs have pitted. The footrest brackets have a rusty glow shining through the thin layer of matt-black paint. The axle nuts and adjusters look decidedly second-hand, all the fasteners have gone furry, and likewise the cooling fins. The lacquer on the engine cases (which had already started to lift at the edges) now looks as if it is ready to part company with the metal in a big way. The chain and rear sprocket, despite being lubed religiously every week and the later addition of a chain oiler, are orange throughout, and there is a big rusty stain on the rear tyre where the water has dripped. The bike looks as if it has aged five years in as many weeks.
I must have spent three or four hours on it today. It is now surgically clean, and all the rust has been polished out (although once the finish is breached, it will keep coming back, I know). All the shiny bits are covered in clean engine oil, likewise the chain, and the whole thing has been treated to a coat of protective spray. It looks good again, but I know that I am fighting a losing battle. For this reason I have done what I should have done two months ago - cleared the crap out of the garage and put it away under cover. It can stay there until the Spring.
Triumph - you aren't going to like this, but the Bonnie is the worst bike I have ever had for corrosion. Thin chrome, thin paint, badly-plated fasteners, poor lacquering. Yamahas are not known for the robustness of their finish, but the XT looks no worse than it did before Christmas, and it has had the same, or less, attention than the Bonnie. And that's a 15-year-old bike that has had a hard life.
Hondas are famed for their build quality, so it's no surprise that the Pan survived a severe winter outside with only a couple of rust spots on the brake pedal where my boots had worn the finish away. But my Suzuki Bandit (another bike famous for its cheap and cheerful finish) survived the winters well and looked the same when as sold it as the day I bought it. Likewise the Ducati: Italian bikes are well-known for falling over at the first sign of rain, but the bike lost nothing over the winter before last. All my bikes get the same treatment: they live outside, they are used in all weathers, and every week they get a good wash, the important bits get sprayed with WD40 or similar, and all the moving bits get a meeting with Mr Oilcan. For every other bike I have owned recently, this has been enough to keep them up to scratch. Not the Triumph.
The Yam has had a health check and some air in its tyres, and this is now the Official Winter Bike again. The Bonnie can stay in the garage until the weather improves. I expected a British bike to be capable of withstanding a British winter, but it looks like I was wrong. The XT has been a faithful buddy for a long time now, and it looks as though I have plenty of use for it yet.