Black is cool but maybe troublesome !!

Right then folks the standard exhaust headers on the early Speed Triple where stainless and black chromed...quality stuff ay, they did do a proper job on the early Triumphs (charged a lot for them!! but did a proper job).

Anyone who has had an early S3 will know after a bit of abuse the finish suffers, so to keep the black theme true to the bike what do you do ?

Well, there are about four things to consider

1. Chemical blacking
2. Painting...either High Temp paint or BBQ paint.
3. Ceramic coatings
4. Black chroming

Chemical blacking I will go into in a mo, painting is my current application so will obviously document this as it goes. Black chroming I inquired about but was told that it was now very rare to find someone that did it and that it was VERY expensive ! Ceramic coating seemed to be the only very high temp finish that could cope, every report I have seen raves about this stuff. Matt black coating can withstand 1000 degrees C, so no trouble on the heat front, and apparently very durable as well. The only trouble is it seems to be about 100-200 to get done, this was a bit outside my budget at the mo so painting it is.

So Chemical blacking? This process involves blasting the pipes to prep them for coating and then immersing them into a bath that either through electrolysis or a chemical reaction of some sort coats the pipes matt black. Believe me although the finish is good it is not suitable for high temp applications. It turned brown at the front top of the headers within 2 months and then grayed off looking a bit patchy. The further away from the header the longer the finish lasted but it was not what I had hoped for and had cost about 70 quid.

This is two years after chemical blacking was done.....



You wouldn't believe they were stainless ?



I left them in this shabby state for the next couple of years whilst I concentrated on other things. I knew I would have to try something else to sort the problem sooner or later. This year (2007) as cash is a bit tight I thought I would try painting them, I had bought some BBQ paint a while back from Wilkinsons (2.99 a can) as has been recommended by various people. I had also been told that painting stainless pipes gained quite a good result as they wouldn't corrode and lift the paint off as quickly as steel.

Anyroad today (late January) I dismantled the pipes and took a wire brush and some 120 grade wet and dry to them, the weather was mild and dry for a change. They looked cack to start with but a dull metallic sheen was soon brought up with some elbow grease, like I said they are stainless and after a dozen years they looked ok underneath. I even rubbed down the polished Scorpion link pipes !! must have been mad but they had to be black...! Rubbing them down ensured a rough surface for the paint to key to.

After rubbing down



Close up



Once cleaned up with some white spirit to degrease & remove any remaining muck. I set about applying some paint, this proved to be pretty fool proof as the matt finish is very forgiving and dries quickly too. I reckon two cans of Wilko BBQ paint should do just about anything, there was enough paint to do the lot with about three coats. This stuff is supposed to be ok up to 600 centigrade so we'll see how good that is ? It is also supposed to be cured for half an hour at blah blah temp but I reckon they will cure on the bike soon enough.

First coat up



In all I applied three or so coats of paint, I reassembled the down pipe assembly carefully using some rags wrapped around the pipes and a wooden mallet to tap them home with. Bolting the pipes to the lump is awkward to say the least, but a few tips may help...

1. Have a few wooden blocks handy to help support the pipes as you offer them up
2. Use copper grease to stick the new exhaust gaskets in place (in the head) while you fit the pipes, a few small blobs will do.
3. Fit the gaskets flange side inwards towards the engine
4. Copper grease the studs ready to take the nuts
5. Fitting the nuts onto the exhaust header studs can be v fiddley as there is very little room. I found filling a socket with a little kitchen roll and popping the nut in allowed it to sit proud in the socket, it could then be offered up to the stud and with the aid of an extension bar be wound on, this believe me beats fingers as they are too fat/short etc !!

I have recently fitted some pipes to the Sprint and at the same time replaced all the exhaust studs for stainless with copper plated flange nuts...these eliminate the fiddle nut problem described above (pics to follow)





Down pipes on and nuts tightened, 7NM first the re tighten to 20NM this will compress the gaskets correctly, I will check the torque again after a few cycles of hot and cold.

This done I set about fitting the Scorpion connecting pipes and the cans. I wanted to get a better seal on the connecting tubes as I think they may have been blowing a little previously, clear silicone sealant has been recommended BUT after buying some the wrestling match that ensued trying to get these Scorpion cans to fit right meant silicone sealant was not on the cards !!!!! This job made me swear more than just about any other I have done so far...*%?##X!@ I did finally get them on ok, it seemed as if there was a million ways to fit them wrong and only one way to set them right. Thankfully they sealed up ok.

Any road in all their glory...



Having now completed the job a few words of wisdom ( rare from me !!) don't be surprised when you start the bike for the first time and see smoke every where..it's the paint, it smells foul too. This doesn't last too long it must be part of the curing process ? Re checking the torque on the exhaust pipe mounting bolts proved to be a good idea too as they took about another full turn or so to tighten up fully after I had traveled a few miles. So far I'm quite pleased with the result, it's not super tuff but after curing seems a bit better, the good bit being you can apply this BBQ paint whenever you like so if they get a bit tatty I'll mask off the bike with some news paper and spray them up in situ which will hopefully keep their good looks going for longer. Another job I'll do when I come to remove the pipes again is mark the connecting tubes so I know exactly how they fit when I come to reassemble them again !

Bit of feed back...

It's now Almost June and they are holding up quite well, still black, a few chips but I'll wait a little longer and give them a quick touch up. I would recommend this as a good, cheap, fairly durable fix for tatty down pipes. If you not afraid of a bit of elbow grease then go for it.