Bringing old faded plastics back to lifeOriginally Written Apr. 11, 2010
by Shane Martin
The Wholie Shop

Today we will look at cleaning and restoring a set of old, sun faded plastics. The plastics here are the original plastics on a 1987 model Yamaha Banshee.



Here is a photo of the gas tank shroud, it's supposed to be red but years of sun exposure and neglect have left it chalky, faded and pretty horrible looking.
There are no special chemicals or magical sprays that will fix this. I do recommend washing the plastics before starting with some dawn dish detergent just to take off the surface dirt.

What you'll need for this project is some steel wool, a water hose, a pack of 2000 grit wet sanding paper and some time. Get comfortable and start rubbing the plastics with the steel wool. As you work you should notice the chalky mess coming off and the hint of shine hidden below.

Continue working the steel wool on the plastics and you'll see the finish starting to come back to life, as you remove the dead chalky finish use lighter pressure to smooth out the small surface scratches... Deep gouges in the plastic are going to be there to stay but for the most part you can get them pretty slick with just steel wool.

Once the plastics are clean and smoothed, it's time to break out the wet sand paper.. You'll want to just turn on the hose nearby and keep the plastic / paper wet as you sand, it will glide along the plastics easily. This photo is after one wet sanding session with 2000 grit paper. The more time you spend with water and wet sand paper the slicker and shinier the finish will get.
Under no circumstances should you ever use an electric sander on this project. You will end up permanantly dulling the plastics and nothing will bring back the shine!

The rear plastics on our 87 model banshee weren't broken or cracked but they did look pretty rough. They were covered in black spots and stained..

Again go at the other plastics in the same way as before, use the steel wool to follow the body lines, until the plastics are clean. Then lighter pressure to smooth out the surface scratches left by the steel wool. Once it's all clean start wet sanding to bring back the shine.

Here's a photo of the front plastics (untouched) and the rear plastics after a steel wool treatment and wet sanding.... Pretty dramatic difference isn't it? The black spots and stains are gone and that dull plastic is now glossy and shiny!

Here's a closeup of the front and rear plastics side by side.. You can see the rears are now slick enough that even water beads up on them! There is no wax or anything else applied to these plastics other than being cleaned and wetsanded.

Here's a picture after the plastics were all cleaned and everything wetsanded a few times, we put the plastics back on her and a little bit of elbow grease went a very long way!

We were impressed enough with the new life breathed into this old four wheeler that we went on to re-finish the entire machine, an article on that adventure is coming soon!
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