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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 07-23-2019, 08:26 PM   #1
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Default Cleaning stainless with acid

Iíve read that using a phosphoric acid cleaner is amazing for cleaning stainless steel. However Iíve also read it will tarnish or even rust more readily as it strips the chromium layer unless itís a braided to bring the layer back.

So how about it gents? Is there truth to the idea that using some Harpic will cause my headers to tarnish super fast? I did neutralize them in a baking soda solution after and then polished with metal polish.

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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 07-24-2019, 08:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: Cleaning stainless with acid

Beautiful work my man... never tried anything acidic... just used stainless cleaner and some .000 steel wool. The result you have obtained is better than anything I've seen. No wonder it will fuck up the metal faster. Just go figure eh?

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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 07-25-2019, 01:07 AM   #3
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Default Re: Cleaning stainless with acid

Google "stainless steel passivation" if you want to learn more details than I can type out for you here.

In short, yes, you can restore the layer of passivation either by letting them sit for some time in a clean environment, or by sanding or brushing them with scotch brite/sandpaper.

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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 07-25-2019, 10:52 AM   #4
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Default Re: Cleaning stainless with acid

CORRECTION: it was hydrochloric acid (Harpic toilet cleaner).

I let it work for 10 minutes while I scrubbed with a green scotchbrite pad.

Hosed off then soaked in baking soda solution (4 lbs plus enough water to cover in a storage bin) for 5 minutes and again hosed off.

Polish was maybe 10-15 minutes more using a polish wheel on a drill or rag with metal polish.

Not my headers but the before was easily this bad:

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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 07-25-2019, 10:57 AM   #5
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Default Re: Cleaning stainless with acid

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Originally Posted by beezwiz View Post
Beautiful work my man... never tried anything acidic... just used stainless cleaner and some .000 steel wool. The result you have obtained is better than anything I've seen. No wonder it will fuck up the metal faster. Just go figure eh?


According to what Iíve read now about passivating (thank you SEBSPEED!)
Steel wool can reintroduce oxides into the surface. They seem to generally recommend nitric acid solution soaks at elevated temps. Iím thinking it will be fine what I did.

Perhaps the hydrochloric acid is too aggressive? As SEB said I have also found mention that time is my friend in this and as luck would have it Iíve got about a month before Iím on the road with this build.
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Old Streetfighter Motorcycle Forum Post 07-25-2019, 12:08 PM   #6
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Default Re: Cleaning stainless with acid

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ride View Post
According to what Iíve read now about passivating (thank you SEBSPEED!)
Steel wool can reintroduce oxides into the surface. They seem to generally recommend nitric acid solution soaks at elevated temps. Iím thinking it will be fine what I did.

Perhaps the hydrochloric acid is too aggressive? As SEB said I have also found mention that time is my friend in this and as luck would have it Iíve got about a month before Iím on the road with this build.
It's still "stainless". Only intense heat will cause the material to lose its stainless properties, that's why SS parts are passivated after welding. I've also seen loads of ppl use Harpic to clean headers, I'm sure yours will be just right when you get back to the road.

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