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Thread: Need help with the blues!

  1. #1

    Question Need help with the blues!

    I need advice on how to treat the header pipes on my 2004 R1100S BCR. I bought the bike a couple of years ago and despite only having 3,200 miles on it, the pipes were a copper color near the header but remained chrome as the exhaust progressed to the rear. The bike is about to hit 18,000 miles and I continue to fight this bluing after every ride. Although tiring, removing the tarnish has become second nature but it‘«÷s starting to get a bit frustrating. The exhaust doesn‘«÷t necessarily look bad when it‘«÷s tarnished but it looks so much better when the chrome glistens. I can leave home with the pipes just gleaming but within a hundred miles they're back to being tarnished again. Is there anything that I can do to stop or at least slow this process down?

  2. #2
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    Not really. Because BMW uses single wall construction on the headers for their bikes (with the exception of the R1200C series, because cruisers have to have lots of gleaming bright chrome), the headers oxidize from heat. Stainless goes brown and chrome goes blue. You can polish it out, but it will come back on the next ride.

    There are some treatments like Jet coating and some ceramics that might help. (I can't say as I've never used them.)

    But BMW riders generally accept this "feature" of the bikes. I think most of us appreciate how little chrome there is on the bikes to have to polish and worry about in the rain.
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  3. #3
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    2 choices- JetHot ceramic coating or live with it.
    Ride Safe, Ride Lots

  4. #4
    Registered User NavyDad's Avatar
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    Just like the folks here are saying, ceramic coating or live with it. Some manufacturers go with single wall pipes to save a bit of weight plus cost savings too I reckon. I was never very fond of trying to keep pipes or other chrome polished anyway so my 04 RT makes me happy. A good, thorough cleaning (usually when the tupperware is off for routine maintenance) and a coat of a good quality wax a couple times a year and ride.

  5. #5
    Registered User roger 04 rt's Avatar
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    Another thing that's going on: these bike operate at the stoichiometric fuel air ratio of 14.7:1 (lambda=1). That is also the mixture that produces peak EGT (exhaust gas temperature) and near maximum cylinder head temperature.

    Besides getting much better performance from a modification of lambda to 0.94 (LC-1 wideband O2), the EGT can drop as much as 100 degrees F.

    My 04RT pipes were already blue and red so all I can do is polish them once in a while with 000 or 0000 steel wool.

  6. #6
    Registered User ANDYVH's Avatar
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    Shiny chrome pipes are common to the cruiser style bikes, because quite often those bikes feature a double wall construction to the header pipes. The outer pipe is chromed and operate at a cooler temp than the inner pipe.

    Since much of the cruiser market is more concerned about looks than function, the extra weight of the double wall tubing doesn't matter. On our BMWs the stainless steel headers are single wall and dissipate heat better that way. But the characteristic bluing/copper color is a simple fact you either learn to live with or find some for of ceramic coating that suits you. Though I know of no ceramic coating that comes close to chrome.

    Enjoy the bike and ride more,...fromt he seat you can't see the pipes,....but you can feel how well the bike is working for you. Chrome don't get you home!
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  7. #7
    Pepperfool GSAddict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger 04 RT View Post

    My 04RT pipes were already blue and red so all I can do is polish them once in a while with 000 or 0000 steel wool.
    Stainless steel should not be polished with steel wool, steel wire brush etc. It will leave a residue on the surface and when exposed to moisture will make the SS look like it is rusting.
    Use a good metal polish like Autosol to polish the pipes. If a metal must be used be sure it is stainless steel.
    '
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  8. #8
    All of the above! But, except for the R1200C BMW pipes are not chrome plated. The metal being discussed is a variety of stainless steel. Heat turns it blue. You can scrub it of, but it comes back. Then scrub more off. It comes back. After enough scrubs you won't have a lot of metal left, but that will take more scrubs than you have time probably.
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  9. #9
    Left Coast Rider
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  10. #10
    Registered User roger 04 rt's Avatar
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    On the catalytic converter, the oxide came off in minutes, leaving the blue. On the silencer 0000 steel wool shines them with a minimum effort. The pipes, and I now understand they're stainless, I used the 000 on and no rust has come back in 5 months over the winter. I think regular 0000 steel wool is fine on chrome (used it for years without problem) but I will look for something else for the pipes.

  11. #11
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    What's disappointing to me is that in the old Airhead days there were aftermarket stainless pipes that turned a beautiful shiney (ish) gold.

    Oilhead/Hexhead pipes turn more brownish, splotchy and definitely not shiney.
    Kent Christensen
    21482
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

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