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Polishing Vintage Shimano Crank Arms... Replace Logos or Not?

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Polishing Vintage Shimano Crank Arms... Replace Logos or Not?

Old 05-10-22, 09:10 AM
  #1  
PoorInRichfield
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Polishing Vintage Shimano Crank Arms... Replace Logos or Not?

I recently purchased a "probably nostalgic only to me" 1987 Schwinn Tempo with a Shimano 105 6-speed group set. The crank arms are quite tarnished and warn looking so I am going to polish them which will obviously remove the "Shimano 105" logo (of which the logo is already coming off due to rubbing toe clip straps.)

For those of you who restore Shimano group sets, do you replace the logos or just live with the thought that "shiny, mirror finish with no logo" is better than "OEM finish with logo"?

I'm in the USA and VeloCals is the only place I've been able to find replacement decals for Shimano parts. The decals look a little pixelated and are obviously not the same as how Shimano originally put the logos on the cranks, but as close as I've been able to find. Have any of you used these decals? Did you clear coat over them? From the research I've done, clear coats over polished aluminum is apparently not a great idea.

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Old 05-10-22, 10:17 AM
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If you want to polish the cranks - go ahead and do it. It's your bike.
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Old 05-10-22, 10:20 AM
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I've seen some good decals, but doubt they'll last very long. But on the flip side, you can replace them as often as you need! I think just polished will look great.
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Old 05-10-22, 10:57 AM
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The crank is not like a rarity, Do with it what you want.
I agree that pixilated decals are somewhat disconcerting. Got some for my Pinarello, slightly disappointed.
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Old 05-10-22, 10:58 AM
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These were ordinally silkscreen or pad printed on. Although these process are usually durable for most products, on the crank they were rubbed and didn't last. So most examples will have the logo worn off to some degree. I have a pair that is 175mm. I cleaned them up and my plan was to get a vinyl transfer for it and sell it since 175 is longer than I would like. But the vinyl transfer won't last either.

My personal opinion is that I prefer not to have the labels so big on components, so if it were on my bike, I'd polish it or get a nice lightly brushed finish and leave the decal off.
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Old 05-10-22, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Velo Mule View Post
These were ordinally silkscreen or pad printed on.
I suspect it was a little tougher than that. I once tried to remove the lettering from some Ultegra hubs. Nothing I used--from paint thinner to acetone and every other solvent I could think of--even smudged the lettering. Maybe the 105 lettering is applied with inks...
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Old 05-10-22, 11:17 AM
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pad print (Tampo)inks are quite durable, much more so that thin vinyl decals or waterslides, but as noted on crank arms the constant shoe contact wears off even the most durable ink or paint.
It also wears off the even more durable anodizing, which is what you need completely off if you intend to polish the resulting "raw" aluminum alloy, it ain't gonna polish otherwise.
And with that you are in for a multi-step process and my advice: leave them blank!
Hint: paint remover (like 3M Safest or Citra Strip) applied with a brush or Q-tip will take off most Tampos (with a bit of rubbing and sometimes repeat 2X or more).

Last edited by unworthy1; 05-10-22 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 05-10-22, 02:56 PM
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Write it on using a permanent marker?

I got nothin’…..
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Old 05-10-22, 03:47 PM
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Most shimano cranks are clear anodized... So you'll have to strip off that if you actually want to polish anything. Otherwise it's just a lot of polishing clear coat, which I've tried a few times with less than amazing results.

Polishing uncoated aluminum is very easy & rewarding. Trying to polish Shimano cranks is not.

You can always try a reverse dacal and use a Birchwood Casy Alumnium Black Touch Up Pen to try and recreate the logo. That might be better than a sticker or clear coat long term.

Last edited by eshew; 05-10-22 at 03:51 PM.
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Old 05-10-22, 04:07 PM
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If you're not restoring the whole bike, why bother with the polishing? A total bike cleaning and light polish gets you on the road in style...shabby chic is how I describe most of my bikes.
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Old 05-12-22, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by eshew View Post
Most shimano cranks are clear anodized... So you'll have to strip off that if you actually want to polish anything. Otherwise it's just a lot of polishing clear coat, which I've tried a few times with less than amazing results.
Just as a test, I rubbed some fine steel wool over some of the ugly areas of the crank arm and it made a difference pretty quickly. Perhaps Shimano didn't clear coat their crank arms in the 1980s?
Originally Posted by clubman View Post
If you're not restoring the whole bike, why bother with the polishing? A total bike cleaning and light polish gets you on the road in style...shabby chic is how I describe most of my bikes.
I do intend to restore the whole bike and then hang it on the wall and just stare at it every once in a while (literally) The paint on the frame is pretty bad so I intend to do a repaint. Other than the cranks and frame, the rest of the bike and components are in really good shape.
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Old 05-12-22, 04:41 PM
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That's great news. Mother's mag & aluminium wheel polish is amazing. Highly recommended. Super good looking and fast.
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Old 05-12-22, 05:09 PM
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I can't say with certainty that your cranks are not anodized, but they sure look like it to me. I have a pair of anodized 600 cranks on a 1985 Bianchi that had the same (flat/yellowing/plastic) appearance. I used Easy-Off and a Scotch-Brite pad to remove the coating and polished using a cheap Harbor Freight polishing wheel set up on my grinder. They turned out real nice. Had I taken the time to sand before polishing, I probably could have removed some of the larger scratches, but it wasn't worth the time to me. I did polish the wheels, seat post, stem, chainring, RD, and shifters. None of the other parts were anodized. I spent about 3 hours polishing the cranks.

To be sure, try using and aluminum polish on them and check results. You should know pretty quick if they're anodized. Best of luck!

Before:



Bare aluminum:



After:


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Old 05-12-22, 05:15 PM
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[QUOTE=PoorInRichfield;22504432]

I do intend to restore the whole bike and then hang it on the wall and just stare at it every once in a while (literally)

Been there done that, more power to you!
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Old 05-12-22, 05:28 PM
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These look pretty good

[QUOTE=clubman;22504456]
Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield View Post

I do intend to restore the whole bike and then hang it on the wall and just stare at it every once in a while (literally)

Been there done that, more power to you!
For 14 dollars, this might not be a bad way to go. https://www.ebay.com/itm/15434438248...8AAOSw55NgNsCI

Make sure you thoroughly clean the cranks after polishing so that the polishing compound doesn’t impact adhesion.
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Old 05-12-22, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by smd4 View Post
I've seen some good decals, but doubt they'll last very long. But on the flip side, you can replace them as often as you need!
I have a black Shimano crankset with a foot rub spot on the drive-side arm. When it bugs me enough, I fill it in with Sharpie and it looks perfect, but after a single ride the rub mark is back. Now I just use the Sharpie when I want to take a picture of the bike.
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Old 05-22-22, 06:59 AM
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Rubbing the crank arms with some Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish and fine steel wool made an amazing difference with hardly any work. The end result isn't museum quality, but probably as nice or nicer than the original finish on a 105 crank arm.

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Old 05-22-22, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield View Post
Rubbing the crank arms with some Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish and fine steel wool made an amazing difference with hardly any work. The end result isn't museum quality, but probably as nice or nicer than the original finish on a 105 crank arm.

Did you remove the anodizing?
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Old 05-22-22, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by jdawginsc View Post
Did you remove the anodizing?
If Mothers made that kind of difference, I'd say there was no anodizing.
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