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Properly restoring a Strato Bug Empty Properly restoring a Strato Bug

Post  Jason_WI on Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:05 pm

What is the best way to restore the aluminum finish on the tank and crankcase of a Strato Bug. I don't want the mirrored look of mothers or the variable look of a wire brush.

Here is a picture of the Strato Bug I got today.

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Post  Mudhen on Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:34 pm

That’s a lot of work, but worth it.
Crankcase – I first soak in rubbing alcohol to remove old fuel etc. Then I use Novus #3 and a toothbrush. I brush the case to remove rust and that grayish film. If the Novus is not abrasive enough, then I’ll mix baking soda with a couple of drops of oil and use it first. Then I’ll use the Novus. Afterwards I use Dawn dishwashing liquid and warm water brushing it as I did with the Novus. When that’s finished I rub the crank out with a cloth rag. It won’t give it a mirror shine, but a more natural, clean appearance. If after rubbing it out it happens to shine too much then I’ll brush it again with the Dawn and rinse under warm water. That will dull the shine a bit.
Tank Front. That grayish corrosion is a pest but I have had success with this. It’s difficult to describe but I’ll do my best. First I use a small bit of Grade #2 steel wool soaked in oil and clean the fuel filler tubes first. Next, Ill use a swath of the same steel wool soaked in oil and lightly rub the steel wool back and forth over the metal following the circumference of the tank to mimic the turned aluminum appearance. This may take several attempts. Eventually, you’ll begin to see the natural metal to appear. I make sure all the gray is removed. Then I’ll brush it with the baking soda or Novus and finally with the Dawn. After it’s rubbed out and dry, I remove any small patches of gray that may be left. If it’s too shiny, then brush it out again with the Dawn, or very lightly brush it with a dry piece of the #2 steel wool..
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Post  Jason_WI on Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:40 pm

Mud,

Thank you for the tips on restoring. I will have to pick up some Novus #3. I think it is defiantly worth restoring this engine.

Did you happen to see my post on the fake Strato bug I bought a few weeks back?

Jason

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Post  andrew on Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:50 pm

Nice post, Mud. Thanks for sharing your techniques.

Do you ever apply any sealant to protect the buffed out aluminum from eventual corrosion and/or oxidation?
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Post  Mudhen on Thu Jan 10, 2013 8:52 pm

I just saw the post on the fake engine. That blows. What did you pay for it?
Also, although I've had good success with restoring Strato Bugs, wait to see what Mark posts. I'm always interested in good restoring techniques. He may have some info to improve the restoration. I can tell from your engine that it's a diamond in the rough. It should turn out nice.
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Post  Jason_WI on Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:01 pm

Mudhen wrote:I just saw the post on the fake engine. That blows. What did you pay for it?
Also, although I've had good success with restoring Strato Bugs, wait to see what Mark posts. I'm always interested in good restoring techniques. He may have some info to improve the restoration. I can tell from your engine that it's a diamond in the rough. It should turn out nice.
Mud

It was on ebay so I paid too much! I have sent it back and am awaiting refund. It was sent back insured and with signature confirmation.

I will definately post pics and run it and post a video. It's already a used engine so using it one more time wont hurt it.

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Post  Mark Boesen on Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:10 pm

Yeah! You gotcha one!

I personally don't like the 'chrome' look you get from using a cleaner/polish, it does look cool, but it also stands out like a sore thumb if you're trying to restore a engine. I like to use a fine grit of wet/dry sandpaper, water or WD-40 to cut with and recreate the factory machine marks. To do it right you should pull vent tubes or work around, lots easier. I've never done a Strato, but I'm guessing you can chuck the airtube of tank in a drill much like a Babe Bee, if you're gonna leave the tubes in, gently 'sand' the area top and bottom of tubes before you 'turn' the tank, use light pressure, slowly, you don't want to take off a bunch of aluminum. The cast aluminum case is pretty hard unless you got a cheep Harbor freight polisher http://www.harborfreight.com/5-lb-metal-vibrator-tumbler-67617.html I've had good luck with Brasso Metal polish and a stiff nylon brush, using the Brasso as a cleaner more then a polish, when you're done scrubbing, rinse compound with WD-40 or water, then WD-40, don't wipe off as then you're buffing, it’s tuff, as not enough and it's not very bright, too much and it's too 'chrome like'!

The photo of Babe Bee is a mint '57-'58 from a Super Cub, notice grooves in tank.
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Last edited by Mark Boesen on Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post  Mark Boesen on Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:12 pm

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Post  Mark Boesen on Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:26 pm

I like the Dawn idea, sounds like the perfect cleaner to remove the Novus #3 or Brasso.
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Post  ahrma_581 on Fri Jan 11, 2013 11:48 am

Were the cast crankcases tumble polished originally or just as cast?
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Post  Mark Boesen on Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:10 pm

You know i'm not really sure...Help Mudd! I've used the tumbler to clean-up/polished parts.

I guess I was thinking a lot of the early engines (Atwood, McCoy, etc.) were tumbled polished, but now I'm second guessing myself?
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Post  Mudhen on Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:33 pm

The only parts I remember being tumbled were the pistons. The crankcases were molded then off to secondary machining.
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Post  Mark Boesen on Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:06 pm

Ok, so surfing thru my old info, about the only one I could find that confirmed ‘tumbling’ crankcases is a article from Air Trails Annual ‘53, the article is titled ‘How a Engine is made’ and show the steps required to build a Herkimer ‘Cub’. There’s even a photo of the tumbling barrel.
Unless there were different casting processes that required the additional step of tumbling to achieve a smooth case, I got to think other manufactures of that period used similar manufacturing techniques?

Lol, we do know that Herkimer didn’t have ‘Temp-Trol’!
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Post  Jason_WI on Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:44 pm

It's looking better than when I got it in.

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Post  Cribbs74 on Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:55 pm

Yeah man, it looks pretty darn good!
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