Dealing with rusty exhaust pipes
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Dealing with rusty exhaust pipes

This is a discussion on Dealing with rusty exhaust pipes within the General forums, part of the Caferacer.net Forums category; Hi there! I'm trying to clean up and remove rust from my exhaust pipes. I belive they are stainless steel. I have tried polishing with ...

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  1. #1
    akh
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    Dealing with rusty exhaust pipes

    Hi there!

    I'm trying to clean up and remove rust from my exhaust pipes. I belive they are stainless steel.
    I have tried polishing with and soaking in vinegar and baking soda, but that did not do very much. Right now I'm trying to polish with autosol chrome polish (which should also work for steel) and that works okay on the parts that are not covered in a layer of rust and it removes rust among the smaller dents in the steel. This seems to be okay, albeit slow, and I suppose the smaller dents aren't a concern.

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    There is a somewhat thick layer of surface rust on some parts of the pipes, in particular the parts that are facing forward / against the road. The pipes look completely smooth on the inside so it hasn't gone all the way through yet, at least. How much of a problem is this and what can be done about it? Can this kind of rust be removed using chemical methods (diet coke and aluminium foil) or does it require polishing with steel wool or something else?

    What would be a good choice for dealing with this kind of exhaust pipe rust, should I polish it completely and paint it / wrap it, or can it be kept under control in some way?

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    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Senior Member goldy's Avatar
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    Are you sure they are stainless steel? It's hard to tell from pictures and there are so many grades that sometimes it can be hard to tell...most grades are not ferromagnetic, but some are.

    If the pitting is bad enough, you may have to resort to emery cloth strips, start with a fairly fine grade and progress to finer grades until you get it to the point that it will respond to a buffing wheel...this of course depends on the type of finish you want.

    As far a keeping it clean goes, there is nothing that works like a regular application of elbow grease....and then there is the ceramic powder coat option.
    “And this you can know – fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe.”
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  3. #3
    akh
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    I'm not at all sure that it is stainless steel, I don't know much about identifying metals, but it was my best guess. The metal is attracted to magnets, but I'm not sure if that makes it ferromagnetic. How does this affect the removal of rust?

    Do you think the rust layer can be removed without sanding, for instance using some chemical method? I'm thinking that would be a good thing to try before starting sanding, if it might work.

    What kind of finish can you get from using emery cloth strips? I'm not after anything specific, but then again, I don't really know much about this.

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    Senior Member goldy's Avatar
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    Using different abrasives of increasingly finer grades you can bring stainless to the point where is is almost like chrome, but I am beginning to doubt that these are actually stainless steel.
    It's hell of a lot of work to go to...I would recommend that you get them ceramic coated...if that's too expensive, then just get out the high heat black paint and make it easy on yourself.
    “And this you can know – fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe.”
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    Senior Member o1marc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldy View Post
    Are you sure they are stainless steel? It's hard to tell from pictures and there are so many grades that sometimes it can be hard to tell...most grades are not ferromagnetic, but some are.

    If the pitting is bad enough, you may have to resort to emery cloth strips, start with a fairly fine grade and progress to finer grades until you get it to the point that it will respond to a buffing wheel...this of course depends on the type of finish you want.

    As far a keeping it clean goes, there is nothing that works like a regular application of elbow grease....and then there is the ceramic powder coat option.
    Just FYI, Ceramic coating has nothing at all to do with powder coating other than some powder coaters also do Ceramic coating. Ceramic is a wet paint process and not dry like powder.
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    Senior Member DesmoDog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldy View Post
    Using different abrasives of increasingly finer grades you can bring stainless to the point where is is almost like chrome, but I am beginning to doubt that these are actually stainless steel.
    This only works for certain grades of stainless. 409SS, which is what most automotive systems are made of these days, will not polish well. Grades of stainless that attract magnets do not polish well IIRC. Most polished exhaust systems are 300 series stainless, which turns gold/bronze/brown when it gets hot. Or purple if you get it REALLY hot, like if one cylinder is misfiring, don't ask how I know.

    Kinda moot though since stainless doesn't rust. Yes, 409 will corrode but it doesn't get red rust. I also don't know of any company that chromed stainless steel exhaust systems so I'd have to say the chances this system is stainless are right around zero. I'm guessing you're looking at the typical chrome plated carbon steel. Fighting the rust is a losing proposition. To do it right would take a boatload of work. When I found myself in this position a few years back i did a temp fix of wire brushing the surface then spraying it with high temp paint. This was simply so I could ride it until I could come up with a new exhaust for it.

    I'm not all that familiar with ceramic coatings but I doubt it would be worth the money on a used rusty system? I would think the prep work to get it to stick would be expensive?
    Last edited by DesmoDog; 04-19-2014 at 12:00 PM.
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    Senior Member o1marc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DesmoDog View Post
    This only works for certain grades of stainless. 409SS, which is what most automotive systems are made of these days, will not polish well. Grades of stainless that attract magnets do not polish well IIRC. Most polished exhaust systems are 300 series stainless, which turns gold/bronze/brown when it gets hot. Or purple if you get it REALLY hot, like if one cylinder is misfiring, don't ask how I know.

    Kinda moot though since stainless doesn't rust. Yes, 409 will corrode but it doesn't get red rust. I also don't know of any company that chromed stainless steel exhaust systems so I'd have to say the chances this system is stainless are right around zero. I'm guessing you're looking at the typical chrome plated carbon steel. Fighting the rust is a losing proposition. To do it right would take a boatload of work. When I found myself in this position a few years back i did a temp fix of wire brushing the surface then spraying it with high temp paint. This was simply so I could ride it until I could come up with a new exhaust for it.

    I'm not all that familiar with ceramic coatings but I doubt it would be worth the money on a used rusty system? I would think the prep work to get it to stick would be expensive?
    The prep work would be the same as any new pipe would be. Sand blast with the proper media and profile and shoot the ceramic. It is more worth than spending big money to replace them. Your last few posts have made me lose any confidence in what you say on the subjects, you seem to be greatly misinformed.
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    Senior Member goldy's Avatar
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    Well, I'll be damned...my old trade school teacher once told me that if I ever had a day that I didn't learn anything new, I could say I had a bad day. This is a good day!
    I have a buddy who does powdercoating and ceramic coating too...I just assumed it was a similar process. Thanks o1marc for setting me straight.

    Oooo, some grades of stainless rust...especially around here, but it usually cleans up pretty easily.
    Last edited by goldy; 04-19-2014 at 04:19 PM.
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    Senior Member o1marc's Avatar
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    I made my intake manifolds out of SS bends and 5/16" plate. They rust like crazy if you don't maintain them. These polish up like chrome.

    Last edited by o1marc; 04-19-2014 at 04:59 PM.
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  11. #10
    akh
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    Quote Originally Posted by DesmoDog View Post
    This only works for certain grades of stainless. 409SS, which is what most automotive systems are made of these days, will not polish well.
    (..)
    I'm guessing you're looking at the typical chrome plated carbon steel. Fighting the rust is a losing proposition. To do it right would take a boatload of work. When I found myself in this position a few years back i did a temp fix of wire brushing the surface then spraying it with high temp paint. This was simply so I could ride it until I could come up with a new exhaust for it.
    Quote Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
    The prep work would be the same as any new pipe would be. Sand blast with the proper media and profile and shoot the ceramic. It is more worth than spending big money to replace them. Your last few posts have made me lose any confidence in what you say on the subjects, you seem to be greatly misinformed.
    Without being completely sure about the type of metal they're made of, do you think the rust can be removed using emery cloth strips or possibly a wire brush? I don't really want to spend money on new pipes or ceramic coating (not on this bike at least) so how about the high temperature paint option? Is it durable enough and what is required before painting? Any recommendations for paint, how high a temperature resistance?

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