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ShanaOB 05-27-05 09:43 PM

How do I undo this mistake?
Hi, bike newbie here, as in N-E-W-B-I-E i.e. don't know squat about bikes. I bought a circa 70's Schwinn Suburban at a garage sale because it looked cook, reminded me of my old bike as a kid, and I wanted something cool to tool around on with my 6 year old. The bike had some rust, not much but some, on the handlebars. The guy selling it whips out this chrome cleaning stuff and sandpaper to show me how easy it is to clean it. Cleaned up a spot in nothing flat and it was GORGEOUS. So, being the go-getter that I am, I do no research, rush home, grab some metal polish and sandpaper and take it to the chrome handlebars. The spot that I experimented on is now scratched to hell (though the rust is gone - haha).

Is there anything I can do to undo my stupidity here? On the upside, the spot I f*ed up is not too huge, but it is noticeable.

Shana in Portland, OR

bigbossman 05-27-05 11:20 PM

Depends on how bad it is. You might try a mildly abrasive chrome/metal polish like Flitz. Do you have a Dremel tool? A little jeweler's rouge or valve lapping compound on a felt pad at low rpm are possibilities.

Also, here's a cheap, quick suggestion - put some toothpaste on a clean rag and work it into the area in a circular pattern. Toothpaste is mildly abrasive and makes a pretty good polish for fine scratches.


John D.

mswantak 05-28-05 01:19 AM

Welcome, Shana. If the bars are as bad as you make them sound, just get another set and swap them. If you can't find any in Portland for a reasonable price, I've got several of those style bars lying around; I'll send you a set if you'll pop for the shipping.

suntreader 05-28-05 06:27 AM

A copper mesh potscrubber and some WD-40 works wonders. I've seen it make rusty handlebars and rims look pretty good. The copper doesn't leave ferrous particles that could re-rust later.

pjbaz 05-28-05 07:59 AM

Use wd-40 and #0000 steel wool to remove light rust.

Test in a small area to make sure it won't scratch too badly before doing the entire bars, etc.


mswantak 05-28-05 08:06 AM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe what she's saying is her problem is no longer the rust, but the scratches in the chrome.

el twe 05-28-05 11:54 AM

Yeah, where are the scratches? You could always just wrap your bars a little higher (the Suburban does have drop bars, does it not?) to hide it...

mswantak 05-28-05 12:08 PM

The Suburban was the townie version of the Varsity, with fenders, upright bars, and a sprung saddle.

el twe 05-28-05 05:34 PM

Nevermind then...

suntreader 05-28-05 05:54 PM

Unless you find the scratches absolutely unbearable, I think you should just live with them... and ride the bike.

If, on the other hand, you had done something to compromise the safety of the bike, then you would have cause for worry.

Although the bike holds some sentimental value for you, it's not like you just spilled paint on the Mona Lisa. Just ride the bike and be happy.

satbuilder 05-28-05 07:19 PM

Might want to try some rottenstone on a felt pad with a little oil. Rottenstone should be available at a woodworking store. It's also used to polish metal.

Good Luck

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