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  #1  
Old 8 Aug 2012
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RFI: How can a coating of ACF50 be completely removed from an Acerbis fuel tank?

Hi, all

I want to change the colour of a large Acerbis polyethylene fuel tank to (roughly) match the rest of the bike plastics... But this plastic tank has a coating of ACF50 applied to it and, of course, to compound this problem the surface of the plastic is not smooth like a mudguard or a side-panel, but textured.

Has anybody out there successfully removed ACF50 from similar plastic?

What did you use / what is best used to shift it?


Any good advice regarding this would be very gratefully received.

Salutations
Nick.
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  #2  
Old 9 Aug 2012
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That's a problem. ACF-50 is the stickiest, slipperiest substance known to man. I once got some on a rear tyre when winterising my Bandit and had the most bowel-loosening slide on the first corner. WD-40 would have rubbed off in an instant, but ACF was there to stay. I ended up by washing the tyre with neat petrol, and even that took a scrubbing brush and several applications.

I don't know what the 'official' solvent for ACF-50 is, but I can say that neat petrol worked for me in this instance. With a fuel tank, I can't imagine that there are any risks to the integrity of the plastic by doing this. You would need to keep cleaning, drying and then test-painting a hidden area until you were happy that the paint wasn't going to react to any material left in the pores of the surface.

Alternatives would be to seal the surface first with some kind of primer (you can tell I am not an expert here), or bite the bullet and sand it all back by hand to a clean substrate.
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  #3  
Old 9 Aug 2012
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You won't have much success painting a poly tank I'm afraid even if you do remove all traces of ACF-50.

The fuel permeates the plastic and vapours are released at the surface. This is what causes graphics to bubble and peel off tanks.

You could try vinyl wrapping the tank but you’d have to get the film perforated.

Let us know how you get on because I’d like to colour the tank on one of my DRZs
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Old 9 Aug 2012
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I wouldn't paint it.
I had one of the Universal Acerbis Africa tanks years ago and it had been painted. Dropped the tank about a foot in the shed and it shattered!
The plastic had gone very brittle, I never experienced this before in 20 years of using plastic tanks on dirt bikes.
I can only think that the painting process caused the plastic to react this way.
If this had happened anywhere but in the garage it would have been a nasty situation.
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  #5  
Old 9 Aug 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Yellow Tractor View Post
The fuel permeates the plastic and vapours are released at the surface. This is what causes graphics to bubble and peel off tanks.
Yep. Firmly stick a short piece of wide electrical insulating tape to the tank.
After a week or so you'll have a big bubble in it. (Assuming the ACF50 lets it stick).
Remove the tape, don't strike a match as you do so.

BTW, why was the tank coated with ACF50? I'm not sure if that's a good idea on those tanks. Maybe it's best to remove it anyway.
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Old 10 Aug 2012
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Hmm. Petrol, eh? Darn! I was hoping I could maybe get away with just washing-up liquid or maybe brake-cleaner spray. Thanks for sharing, BlackDogZulu - if it's petrol and a scrubbing brush that I must use, I might not be doing the cleanup too soon, then (have to find somewhere where petrol can be freely splashed!).

Guys, I won't be putting paint on it - I was instead going to "change the colour" using vinyl dye. I've been made aware of the problems with getting even primers or paints for plastic to adhere to it. The trouble is, this pesky ACF50 stuff is currently in the way of even the vinyl dye!

Scary story, Huan. That's got me worried.

McCrankpin, it's secondhand and was 'oiled' by the previous owner. Not known why it was applied - maybe just to keep it cleaner, maybe to give it a slightly darker appearance to better match the rest of the bike, maybe to help water 'on its way'. It would indeed make sense to remove it, even if just to prevent ACF50 getting rubbed onto the legs of my trousers!

Big Yellow Tractor, will report back once the job has (eventually?) been done... Or failed.

Any advance on petrol, folks? Anybody had success removing ACF50 (from textured plastic, etc.) with anything 'kinder' than a scrubbing brush and neat petrol?

Last edited by Bigfoot 2; 10 Aug 2012 at 01:43. Reason: rewording
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  #7  
Old 10 Aug 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huan View Post
I can only think that the painting process caused the plastic to react this way.
Phew, nasty! I remember that the standard advice in the early days of polycarbonate helmets was 'no paint, no stickers', for this very reason. The integrity of a fuel tank is critical to safety, and perhaps painting it would be a bad idea. Good to see (below) that Bigfoot isn't planning on this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigfoot 2 View Post
Hmm. Petrol, eh? Darn! I was hoping I could maybe get away with just washing-up liquid or maybe brake-cleaner spray. Thanks for sharing, BlackDogZulu - if it's petrol and a scrubbing brush that I must use, I might not be doing the cleanup too soon, then (have to find somewhere where petrol can be freely splashed!).

Guys, I won't be putting paint on it - I was instead going to "change the colour" using vinyl dye. I've been made aware of the problems with getting even primers or paints for plastic to adhere to it. The trouble is, this pesky ACF50 stuff is currently in the way of even the vinyl dye!
I use all sorts of solvents in my bodging around - brake cleaner, contact cleaner, carb cleaner, xylene (Hammerite) thinners, white spirit - but I wouldn't recommend any of these. The only reason I suggested neat petrol is that petrol is what is inside the tank anyway, and is unlikely to harm the material. Anything else is a risk, and I'll remember Huan's story when I am next tempted to do something "because what's the worst that could happen?"

I wasn't aware that Acerbis tanks were slightly porous.
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Old 10 Aug 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackDogZulu View Post
I use all sorts of solvents in my bodging around - brake cleaner, contact cleaner, carb cleaner, xylene (Hammerite) thinners, white spirit - but I wouldn't recommend any of these.
I'll mention these only because they're on my shelf of solvents:
methylated spirit
nail varnish remover.
Don't know at all what meths would do on an Acerbis tank. But I have been surprised on occasion at what nail varnish remover will shift. I'd guess it's safe on the tank, and you never know..... (till you try it!)
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Old 10 Aug 2012
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Oh, yeah, and ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by McCrankpin View Post
methylated spirit
nail varnish remover
NVR is pure acetone. No idea how that would react with plastic (I've known some plastics to melt with certain solvents) but an Acerbis tank isn't where I would like to start finding out.
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Old 11 Aug 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackDogZulu View Post
Oh, yeah, and ...
NVR is pure acetone. No idea how that would react with plastic (I've known some plastics to melt with certain solvents) but an Acerbis tank isn't where I would like to start finding out.
Oh Dear!!!!!
I hope Bigfoot reads your post before he reads my stupid suggestion.

Yep, acetone is an ingredient in the little bottle of film cement I have for splicing old 9.5mm Pathescope 'safety films'.
It's a solvent for the film material - welds the ends together.
Might just melt a hole in an Acerbis tank! (But probably not I hope)

But another idea sprung up (Oh No!!). From a posting above - 'Acerbis tanks are in constant contact with petrol so that must be safe to use.'
Well, for a long time now my Acerbis tank has been in constant contact with the rain.....

And I read somewhere about ACF50, it combines 'mildly with water' to encapsulate electrolytes and prevent corrosion.
In that process it becomes 'chemically consumed', needing reapplication.

So.....
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigfoot 2 View Post
Hmm. Petrol, eh? Darn! I was hoping I could maybe get away with just washing-up liquid.....
...... just a thought - have you tried a good scrub with hot water and fairy liquid?
(Or is that another stupid suggestion)

Bye!
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  #11  
Old 11 Aug 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McCrankpin View Post
just a thought - have you tried a good scrub with hot water and fairy liquid?
(Or is that another stupid suggestion)

Bye!
D'ye know, I think that might be the best suggestion so far ...
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Old 11 Aug 2012
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Yep, that is what I had in mind. Discussed this with some friends and all manner of suggestions were overruled: diesel, paraffin, white spirit and methylated spirit were considered 'too permeating', acetone, Cillit Bang, methylated spirit (again), brake cleaner and isoprpyl alcohol considered likely to make plastic brittle. The only substances to make it through the conversations/arguments were BDZ's petrol and my washing-up liquid solution, so the favourite became 'washing it up', then a good scrubbing with petrol, then a final washing-up liquid solution.

Very interesting about the chemical effect of water upon ACF50, McCrankpin, although I suspect that necessary reapplication would follow a fair amount of water treatment over a fair amount of time. It does add even more creedance to the original 'washing it up' proposal, though, as you state. (I hope it's not a stupid suggestion, McC - I did mention a 'washing-up liquid or maybe brake-cleaner spray' suggestion earlier in the thread ['brake-cleaner spray' may've been the stupid suggestion!]).

Thanks loads for all the replies and suggestions. I'll leave the dilemma 'in the mix' for a while before fully tackling the job, as I have a few other jobs to do first - and not just ones involving the bike - in case an effective 'nicer' alternative to petrol (less damaging to the garage) comes in. Looks like I'll need to source a decent soft scrubbing brush, too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by McCrankpin View Post
...I read somewhere about ACF50, it combines 'mildly with water' to encapsulate electrolytes and prevent corrosion.
In that process it becomes 'chemically consumed', needing reapplication.
So.....
...... just a thought - have you tried a good scrub with hot water and fairy liquid?
(Or is that another stupid suggestion)

Last edited by Bigfoot 2; 11 Aug 2012 at 15:19. Reason: grammar
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  #13  
Old 12 Aug 2012
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One point about ACF-50 - it might degrade over time in contact with water, but I can state from experience that a proper application to the metal parts of a bike in the autumn is still there in the spring. I took half a day to winterise a Suzuki Bandit (tank, wheels off, the lot) and apart from the parts that took some hammer from road spray, like the front of the engine, it was all still there when I removed it* five months later. It's excellent stuff - the Suzi was ridden daily and stood outside through a British winter and looked as good after as it did before, fasteners and everything - but it's nasty stuff to use. Sticky, slimy and smells 'orrible. I'd rather use WD-40 once a week than ACF once a year.

* ... with PARAFFIN. Doh!

Try paraffin?
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