Suzuki 1968 T500 Cobra and Shiny Things

In the past I have seldom bothered with re-plating bolts and fasteners – just a part of my Scottish ancestry I suppose. If the bolt looked reasonable when cleaned up a bit, that was good enough for me ! If I was really concerned about looks I’d replace it with a new one from Suzuki, or in some cases I would replace with stainless bolts. Note that I normally do toss the flat, plain steel washers and lock washers and replace with stainless almost as a matter of course.

New stainless metric bolts have a couple of problems of course – one being they have raised lettering on the heads with the grade of stainless steel they are. This can easily be removed with a swipe on a piece of 600 grade wet and dry paper and then polished up to quite a high shine. The other problem is that the heads normally are too big – the SAE sizes specify a larger head for a given shaft diameter than was used under the JIS system, even after the Suzuki thread pitches were made SAE standard. Honda generally moved to fully compliant sizes, but not Suzuki. This means that in some cases the ‘look’ is noticeably wrong, and re-plating old bolts starts to become attractive.

As well, there are other things that look better when shiny – brackets and cable clip holders for example as well as the tool set, so over the past while I have been cycling through my bolt collections,  and jars of Suzuki specific washers, bits and pieces to have them done. My first batch was done in bright zinc, and as can be seen in the photo to the left I also had the spacer tubes that go under the engine cases done in the yellow zinc that was used at the time. The colour in real life looks a lot better than in the photo, but you get the idea. My last batch was done in cadmium, mainly as it was the same price as for zinc, but also as it should look better longer than zinc will. Honda used mainly cadmium plating on its bolts and fittings, but other than the spokes Suzuki generally used zinc, at least in the 1960’s and early 1970’s.  All the zinc and cadmium plating was done at Wespen Industries here in Calgary who also did the cadmium plating of the front spokes I recently had done. For the spokes it was important to find a supplier that would bake the spokes after plating as otherwise you risk early failure due to to hydrogen embrittlement.

I have included in the batches quite a few of the odd sized washers that were used by Suzuki in places like the rubber stand-offs holding the fenders, or under the instruments. It is difficult to find these in stainless or anything else, and while I suppose a purist would make new ones the re-plated ones will do fine for quite a while I think.

And finally just in case someone asks – while I suspect that the average person would not know the difference unless the two types were along side each other (the zinc is a blue white and the cadmium is more a cold white), for Suzuki at least, zinc is more ‘correct’ and I do know that.

I think I can live with myself – they certainly are shiny !

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