View Full Version : Gas tank polishing, Fix your old faded and oxidized plastic tanks to like NEW!

Billy Golightly
09-12-2007, 06:58 PM

OK, I bought this short track tank from a salvage place up in Indiana about a 20 minute drive from haspin during TF07 thanks to erectordale and dizastersfun69. It was faded terribly, but I got an OK deal on it, $80 for it and the shrouds. After riding the flat tracker with its black short track tank, I've come to really appreciate the feel it has with the narrow seat and tank area. I'm currently in the process of setting up my 86 R as a part time MXer. I did some suspension work on the front (with some parts I dont think anyone here has used yet :)) and removed my IMS 4 gallon tank that was on it. So I decided to get this old tank out, and have a look at it. After looking it over, I had decided I was going to walk over to the house and get a box of razor blades I have and scrape the white fading off. LonesomeTriZ's wife Melissa first showed me this technique a few years ago and it works very well.

As I was on my way out the shop, I passed by a small container nearly empty of my favorite aluminum polish, Mothers mag and aluminum polish. For shits and giggles with absolutely no expectations of anything happening, I put some on a rag and rubbed on one of the places on the tank. I seen instant, albiet very small results. I applied a bunch at one time and scrubbed the shiat out of the one area, I was AMAZED at the results. Infact, if you look really close at my finger you can see a bit of a reflection horizontally across it.


The shine was awesome, like a brand new OEM finish. Maybe better! I've ended up using 2 different types of rags. One a little bit rouger, coarser type of material and then a yellow terry cloth like I normally use for brining the shine back into polished aluminum. The coarse red rag, after ALOT of scrubbing takes the oxide off, and then you can use the yellow terry cloth to really get it glossed over. The only downside to this, you have to use an awful lot of the polish to get good results. But hell, at $5 a can for the mothers I figure its worth the investment. I honestly had this gas tank written off as nothing more then a novelty that would never be usable. Its almost half way done now and will look almost like new when I'm done. This should be done to EVERY plastic fuel tank even if its not this bad just as preventive maintenance.


Will post more pics when I get closer to finishing it and of course also when it is done.

09-12-2007, 07:05 PM
Dang Mothers and some rags ehh?Sure beats the crap out of wetsanding.I have afew R tanks I am gonna give it a shot. Did you have to use the razor blade too,or just the polish?
Thanks Billy.

Louis Mielke
09-12-2007, 07:06 PM
Nice find!!!!

09-12-2007, 07:36 PM
WOW!!!!!!!!!!!! I have a Plastic ATC70 tank I might try that one. Thanks

Billy Golightly
09-12-2007, 07:42 PM
No sanding, no razor blades. Mothers and some rags, IS IT! I did just experiment with a scour pad (Like for washin dishes) and had great success with it removing the oxide, the only thing is it gets clogged up pretty easily and then it doesnt work as good. I'm done for the evening but heres the current progress:


LOOK at the gloss, thats a reflection of my own hand about a foot above it!!!!

Half way there


I have noticed, if you scrub hard enough, or without enough polishing compound to make the plastic warm, it does not work nearly as good.

09-12-2007, 07:53 PM
Looking good.The wax will wear off.It will dull a little.

Ever try using 3 Different course Scotch Brite pads?When they get clogged you can just blast them out with compressed air.

I used them to restore my 1988 KX 125 dirtbike gastank.

Billy Golightly
09-12-2007, 07:57 PM
edog, there is no wax. All I used is what I said. Mothers, some rags, and the scour pad on one spot. I dont think its gonna dull any but if it does then I'll hit it once a year with another rag and some compound and be good to go.

09-12-2007, 08:01 PM
missed that,sorry.Try the scotch brite pads sometime.

09-12-2007, 08:05 PM
mothers is the best..

nice trick!~

09-12-2007, 08:32 PM
I've been using this method for years on Mustang and Topaz headlights. Any chrome polish works. Stuff with a bit of grit in it helps as well for the tough spots. Never thought about using it on a bike before tho.

Bryan Raffa
09-12-2007, 08:45 PM
works good on fiberglass too! good stuff I buy the big TUB!

09-12-2007, 11:45 PM
You could have painted it for $11.00! Twice the price of the polish? I started to use rubbing compound on mine and ended up sanding it painting it. (see the thread of paint on the cheap). Looking good though.

09-13-2007, 12:02 AM
Yea but that tank you had was metal, these are plastic, it's a different process and pretty difficult too

09-13-2007, 02:10 AM
Did you try it with the powerball? It would be cool to get the wheels done and get the tank done at the same time :lol:

09-13-2007, 03:05 AM
I definately have to give that a try...Looks like it beats the old wet sanding method.

09-13-2007, 01:34 PM
I'm going to give that a try on some of my old t3 tanks. Thanks for the info.

09-13-2007, 01:47 PM
Looks good Billy I might have to give it a try.

09-13-2007, 06:28 PM
looks like your on to something there... real nice

Billy Golightly
09-13-2007, 06:58 PM
pretty much finished it this afternoon but I haven't went back and got any new pics yet. The wash/scour pad thing works on taking the oxide off much better then the regular rag. It takes a little bit more buffing with the terry cloth to get the extra scratches out, but its not that bad.

09-18-2007, 07:28 PM

Nice find Billy, that tank is looking good!! Where the shrouds perfect? At first I thought, 80$ !! too much.... But then again it is a rare item (apparently the salvage yard knew) and you got the shrouds too. Not to mention that it seems to be cleaning up sweeeeeet. Hopefully it's done now.....

Billy Golightly
09-18-2007, 08:47 PM
Yeah it is done, I should go over tothe shop and take pics. I guess I'll be back in afew with some

Billy Golightly
09-19-2007, 12:24 AM
Guys I'm sorry about the low quality pictures...my camera SUCKS capturing under fluorescent lights and that is all there is in the shop. The camera did capture a few areas you cant tell are even there when looking at it normally, that I need to go back over. Its still much much better then it was to begin with. The only thing is that some of the polishing compound got stuck in the deep scrapes/gouges and it makes it show up much easier :( I think if you pressure washed it or something it would probably go away though.

09-19-2007, 07:47 AM
tyr using a toothbrush or something to that effect to remove the polish from the cracks and crevises. another thing i have found to work good on cleaning up fenders and such, mr clean magic erasers!!! work awesome. dulls them down a bit, but some armor all or polish to them after, they shine like a babys behind.

09-19-2007, 07:53 AM
That turned out pretty good Billy. Thanks for the tips.

You know Scoot,, I was just thinking about using those mr. clean pads the other day! they seem to work on everything else,, why wouldn't it work on atv plastics.

09-19-2007, 08:14 AM
spray it with wd40 now and wipe down, that soaks into the plastic and gives it a nice shine

09-19-2007, 02:43 PM
Billy, awesome trick you got there! I tried it out on a old tank i had kickin around, i did however attack it with a razor to get the heavy oxidation off first, but wow does that mothers put a nice shine on!

Billy Golightly
09-19-2007, 03:32 PM
Awesome! Glad to see some other folks trying it out too.

09-19-2007, 03:46 PM
another good thing for us in florida is MSI Ultragloss www.MSItrt.com i got a can from ronnie...this stuff is great. at $4.24 its a steal

09-19-2007, 06:13 PM
I had no idea that tank looked that bad before you polished it. Pictures do not do it justice. I also cannot beleive how smooth it felt.

09-19-2007, 06:27 PM
Looks good! I use some stuff made by 3M, Marine Fiberglass cleaner and wax, it has a fine compound in it and has done wonders on everything I've used it on. :beer

12-19-2007, 08:58 PM
Hey Billy,any update on this?
How is the shine holding up after a washing?
I have one to do this weekend and wanted to know if the shine will be long term?

12-19-2007, 09:03 PM
I have a 200e plastic tank that has faded white just like yours. Thanks for the idea. Already have a new can of mothers.

Billy Golightly
12-19-2007, 09:24 PM
Tammy I haven't had the tank on a bike but its sat in the shop and still looks very good. I will say though that after this amount of time, its easier to tell I spent more time working the left side then the right. The left side were I started and spent the most time does still look awesome, better then new probably. The right side, I started using the scour pad more as a quicker way to clean off the oxidation vs the red shop rags, and it didn't come out quite as well. Its more time consuming to use the red shop rags, and then the yellow terry cloths but that will be the best results IMO. Use lots, and lots of polish.

12-19-2007, 09:32 PM
Ok cool.
Lotsa polish,like a golfball size wad to start?

Billy Golightly
12-19-2007, 09:38 PM
Maybe not that big :lol: but you'll have to re-apply it frequently. The main thing is, make sure you have enough that the friction stays low. When it starts to get harder to polish, ya need more.

12-19-2007, 09:47 PM
Ok thanks for the tips.I will try to get some progress pics as I go.

01-01-2008, 11:15 AM
Bump on this again.
Mrs,Mosh weasled out of doing this for me.
So yesterday I took Billy's tips,and wow.I cant believe how easy it was.My tank was not trashed,but pretty ugly,dry cracking,black stains ETC.
Now it looks very nice.I spent maybe 1-2 hours on it.
I will post some pics later today.Thanks Billy,again

01-01-2008, 03:46 PM
billy try usign tooth paste it has tiny bits fo abrasive in it and worked wellfor alot of the bikes i have done before

01-01-2008, 05:21 PM
I did not get any before pics.But it was ugly.Here is a finished pic.Thanks Billy!

Billy Golightly
01-01-2008, 06:28 PM
Awesome! like brand freakin new!

Blown 331
12-29-2008, 10:14 AM
Great idea on this new forum. I'm going to give this a try on my red Tecate tank. It looks no where near as bad as what you started with so hopefully it shapes up nicely. It looks a lot better than the green Tecate tanks as well. Just some slight "whiting". My front and rear fenders are nice other than some scratches (no cracks) so this will make it it fairly sharp bike with some new decals.

01-05-2009, 12:24 PM
I'm going to try this on a sun damaged headlight bucket that I have. I will post before and afters.


02-25-2009, 05:31 AM
Anybody try doing it with a buffing wheel? I am wondering if the speed you buff will have anything to do with it. I polish my rims with a drill and buffing pad attachments, I can definately see some of the real fine pads working and speeding up the process as well.

I have to ask, Did it brighten the color back to it's original red? Mine seems as if it has discolored. I have been searching for a solution. It just looks weird. check it out.......

This is the lates picture with the new Maier shrouds

But this one really shows the color fade or darkness. It has the old shrouds on in this pic, but the problem is as pronounced as this from different angles. Thanks for any info or suggestions ahead of time. :Bounce

Billy Golightly
02-25-2009, 12:44 PM
Use the red shop towels more, it'll sort of "scrub" that discoloration off as your using the mothers polishing compound. The fine yellow terry cloths are for the final "shine" buff.

I've not used an electric one and can't really offer any guidance on it.

02-26-2009, 05:43 PM
Your the man there Bill, Ive started to do it to my other 85 R and its tits!

Billy Golightly
02-27-2009, 12:50 PM
Yet another satisfied customer :beer:

02-28-2009, 09:57 PM
I just realized i've wasted alot of money over the years.

05-20-2009, 06:50 AM
NICE!!! i would have never thought of using that cause i am going through that right now on my 200x and was like what wiill work gonna have to give it a whirl thanks for the info

05-29-2009, 08:13 PM
that turned out sweet.i have to try it on some of my stuff.probably get a work out too

08-18-2009, 11:24 AM
Any input on how it did on sunfaded plastic?

08-19-2009, 11:04 PM
NOTE: I tried this method on my Clarke Sunfaded tank and it had no effect in recovering color.
Nice and shiny, but still orange as a trailpro trailpro trailpro trailpro trailpro trailpro trailpro trailpro trailpro trailpro trailpro trailpro

08-25-2009, 11:09 PM
Take some 0000 steel wool ... coat the tank in wd40 . and rub ... I de-oxidize all my plastics this way ... then i take a power buffer on a drill and bring the plastics out to a better than stock shine ... the steel wool will need to be turned or replaced frequently but will give good results .... or use fine sandpaper and water and wet sand it and let the water clean the sandpaper then buff with your favorite wax and a power bufffer /// just my .02 cents worth ... I do it these ways all the time ...

08-26-2009, 02:49 PM
The plastics are shiny as crap, but not red. They are colored burnt sierra orange.
Or will steel wool get that out and help me re color my tank?

09-28-2009, 05:27 PM
The plastics are shiny as crap, but not red. They are colored burnt sierra orange.
Or will steel wool get that out and help me re color my tank?

I'm not sure if you can get it back to red. Mine is the same way... if it is going to take a million hours to bring it back to red I will just buy a replacement tank in better shape

09-29-2009, 04:34 PM
Take some 0000 steel wool ... coat the tank in wd40 . and rub ... I de-oxidize all my plastics this way ... then i take a power buffer on a drill and bring the plastics out to a better than stock shine ... the steel wool will need to be turned or replaced frequently but will give good results .... or use fine sandpaper and water and wet sand it and let the water clean the sandpaper then buff with your favorite wax and a power bufffer /// just my .02 cents worth ... I do it these ways all the time ...

Cool I am going to try this on the faded plastics on my 110.


10-30-2009, 10:20 AM
How would i do black plastics, I tried a spot underneath the front fender, and all it did was scratch the crap out of it, and turn it white.

Billy Golightly
10-30-2009, 11:19 AM
Your gonna need some different compound. Mothers seems to only work on plastic tanks. And even some it doesn't do real well.

10-30-2009, 11:42 AM
This was a plastic 250r fender, any suggestions?
I started to wet sand the top of the fender, and the sanding seem work really well, just a little dull and white, but Chainsaw suggested some 3m buffing compound, so maybe that would work better.

Billy Golightly
10-30-2009, 02:19 PM
I don't know what your using for compound, but its gonna need to be different than what is used on the tanks. They are very different plastics. I don't think the injection molded fenders are nearly as porous as the gas tanks.

10-30-2009, 03:41 PM
3M Perfect-It II Fine Cut rubbing compound.
thats what he used, and for some reason i just assumed you could clean up fenders this way too...

Lots of wet sanding to do this weekend...

01-03-2010, 12:45 PM
Lets se the tecate tanks. My tanks are almost teal with no white marks at all. I usually use a heat gun to remove the white marks and faded plastic. Not sure if this will bring out my tanks or not. Pretty bad looking.

02-20-2010, 10:56 AM
OK well gave this method another shot.
I had a Short Track tank laying around that was faded badly and had some decent gouges in it.
I had to wetsand this tank from 400 grit to 1000 grit, and then I hit it with the mothers polish.
You can still see some of the remains of the deep gouges, but you really have to look for them.
I need to do a final polish job on this, but I will wait till I get it mounted.That scratch is just a finger nail mark that I made while taking the photo. It wiped right off.
Pics are in order from start to finish.







Billy Golightly
02-21-2010, 10:43 AM
VERY nice Mosh!

Billy Golightly
02-21-2010, 02:43 PM
You can try it, but it seems like the tecate tanks are made out of a different type of plastic than the Honda's. If you do, let us know the results!

sand crazed
02-21-2010, 03:08 PM
wd40 work great too with less srcubing

02-22-2010, 10:04 PM
You have that tank looking pretty good. I have been trying to perfect the method of polishing ATV plastic. I have a thread on this and it works great on white plastic and very well with the red. Any imperfections will show up on red plastic such as swirls . I am now in the process of fixing that problem I am sure. The solution I think is on the last step after wet sanding and buffing. It is called a "White Rouge" or maybe the "BLUE ROUGE". This product supposebly makes plastic look like glass and removes all swirls. I can make any atv plastic shine but I had a small problem with the red. I polished a 1985 ATC350X front fender, it turned out very nice and shiny but had some very fine swirls left, I beleive the blue or white rouge will make it perfect,like NOS. When I am done perfecting all the steps I will post this and have billy help me put this in the technical section of 3WW. "Below are the pictures of the 1985 350X fender I polished very close to NOS. I cannot even pick up the super fine and I mean super fine swirls on camera,there was not any kind of compound used. It turned out great for a rider and I beleive the ROUGE will make it perfect." Note picture number five is before,very bad shape and the fourth picture I had not finished sanding and the corner was scuffed,the others are the finished product.

02-22-2010, 11:48 PM
haha, Glamy beat me to it. I was just recomending him here, LOL!

02-27-2010, 01:09 AM
I just did a restore on a plastic tank that had smoke damage.
Will post the pics before and after and let you know what I use.

Billys method looks good !! Nice and easy too.

02-28-2010, 12:03 AM
Kewl, let's see!

03-06-2010, 02:51 AM
My '86 350x has a white clarke plastic tank on it that is a little yellowed. No oxidation or even scratches, just is a little yellowed. Will this method take the yellow out, or does anyone know how to? I really hate having nice white fenders and a yellow tank, but I can't bring myself to buy a new one when mine works fine.

03-14-2010, 10:32 PM
does anyone know if this method will work on my 1980 tri moti 125 fenders and plastic?

Billy Golightly
03-16-2010, 11:54 AM
Probably not by itself. Those yamaha fenders like need to be scraped first most of the time to get back down to good plastic. After thats done you could probably try the mothers trick to get it back to a high shine

03-17-2010, 07:43 AM
My '86 350x has a white clarke plastic tank on it that is a little yellowed. No oxidation or even scratches, just is a little yellowed. Will this method take the yellow out, or does anyone know how to? I really hate having nice white fenders and a yellow tank, but I can't bring myself to buy a new one when mine works fine.

I always used a SOS pad on my white clark R tank. It does mark it up a lil, but its white so they are damn near invisible!

03-17-2010, 11:54 AM
I do know all Honda plastic tanks are made of polyproylene, a plastic can can be polished and is very durable. Clark tanks should be the same material but you would have to research that. check out my link .."More pictures of the fender I restored" This may help http://www.3wheelerworld.com/showthread.php?107561-More-pictures-of-the-fender-I-restored

03-17-2010, 12:05 PM
Exactly what polish did you use to get out the fine swirls/scratches?

Mr. Clean
11-22-2010, 12:45 PM
Great job.

Billy Golightly
11-22-2010, 01:09 PM
Man that turned out SWEET Mike!!

11-23-2010, 06:39 AM
great job on your tanks,you did good.time is money but that is bank for sure.

Mr. Clean
11-23-2010, 01:15 PM
Great Job.

01-12-2011, 10:23 PM
How about using a electric buffer with the Mothers?

01-13-2011, 08:44 AM
how would you go about gettin the yellow from gas out of a white clark tank?

02-03-2011, 09:27 PM
Nice job. Beats the 10-15 hrs I spent on mine wetsanding and buffing. I might even try this to get it even better. Thanks.

Mr. Clean
03-19-2011, 05:38 PM
Great Job.

Mr. Clean
11-12-2011, 04:48 PM
Gas tanks look great.

12-05-2011, 05:39 AM
Ive used a buffer and rubbing compound on similar problems as this. you have to use a lot of compound, run it at a low speed, and BE CAREFUL to not melt the plastic and smear it. luckily, if you do that, you can let it cool, sand the area and re-buff and all is well.

polishing the plastic by hand is safer, but anyone competent with a buffer should adapt to plastic easily. just try it on some TOALLY JUNK parts first :)

05-26-2012, 08:21 PM
Bump for the people that complain about how easy this is to do

09-28-2014, 06:33 PM
trying this tonight on my R tank!

09-28-2014, 10:42 PM
Wish it would work on the tecate