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Anodizing is cheap and easy to repair

Anodizing builds up a very hard oxide layer on aluminum which penetrates about one mil deep and grows about 1 mil high above the original surface. So you get about 2 mils of very hard protection on the aluminum.

This newly oxidized surface, as it swells, develops an open pore structure as it is created. The microscopic structure resembles what you see on a kitchen sponge. Since it has deep pores and an open structure, liquid paints adheres very well -- its like the best primer you could ever ask for. My experience in industry has always been to paint anodized aluminum with a 2 part urethane epoxy paint, and that is only because such a paint passes semi-conductor clean room specifications for longevity. Outdoor paints need much more UV stabilization and corrosion protection, so checking with a knowledgable bike painter would be advisable. The surface tension of some liquid paints may be insufficient to wet into anodizing's surface structure, a custom bike painter would know these kinds of details...

ALTERNATIVE

Any anodizing (ano for short) shop will be able to chemically strip off your old anodize and re-anodize your skins, and can change the color pigments while they are re anodizing. Black is the most common, clear is typically second. The color depth of all the others colors that I've seen is rather pale and weak, and only available if your vendor keeps tanks mixed with that color (military green is common in defence industry towns). Beware of any yellow or gold colors, you my be getting Alodyne (sp?) instead, which is inferior to anodize in performance, but is much simpler to process (many often confuse the two names).

When stripping, they need to remove the full thickness of the existing ano plus a little more. I recommend that you have them return your skins so that you can repair your scratches after they complete the stripping.

Anodizing is done in batches, so if you need to repair a damaged air cover, its important to also do your two fenders, two louvered side panels and the radiator covers. If not, you will end up with different shades of finish. It is impossible to match the repair outcome to the original skin, so you gotta do them all. But the good news is that you will not pay any more to strip and re-ano your entire bike, then if you just had one small part. The going batch fee is about $70 for anodize (I can't remember the stripping fee, I think its less), and a batch is typically defined as many more parts then the 8 skins on your V-Rod.

Another thing that influences the final look is the quality of the "surface finish" of the part. I would only be guessing as to how HD does it, it looks like they finish the skins (just prior to ano) with a Dual Action 180 grit or 240 grit. You could successively sand your way up to 240 by starting with 80 grit coarse, to remove your damage, then step to finer grits till you hit 240 (always sand aluminum wet, I use windex from a squirt bottle). It might even be worthwhile to step to finer polishing grits like Mothers Billet Polish on a buffing wheel, just to see how the final result would look after anodizing. The great thing about anodizing, is that you can keep re-doing it by stripping it off again and again.

Anodizing shops are found locally to all large cities, see your yellow pages under metal finishing.

SUMMARY:

Clear Anodizing is cheap and easy to repair. It is definitely less expensive then painting. You can do it yourself, all you need is a $50 Dual Action orbital sander, a variety of disks, and an Anodizing vendor in your area. Around here we are getting 24 hour turn around's at the anodizers (their business is currently down due to economic times). This is one of those excellent winter projects for those of us who put bikes away for the winter.
 
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