I have a workshop which, not only being congenitally untidy, is also full of so many magic products that it would warm the heart of any miracle cure hustler from the Old West. I have magic sponges; unbreakable drills; use once in a lifetime polish and, if Superman had a trade stand at a bike show, I would have been first in the line for x-ray glasses. In short, there is absolutely nothing too outlandish for me to buy.
The reason is simple. I am such an utter incompetent as a mechanic that, like the recidivist smoker addict seeking the cure-all nicotine patch, I grasp at any straw to make me even slightly less than a disaster.
So, a few years ago, I just had to buy a tin of ACF 50 – the miracle corrosion preventative. Just spray it on and rust is banished. Wow! As simple as that.
I came home from the show and my wife, Carol, patiently removed the ACF50 from my bag as one would kindly take a toy from a tired child. Then it disappeared from sight for a long time. Eventually, because I had run out of the more well-known brands of alleged rust inhibitor I decided to waste my time with this, then unknown, product.
The first thing which is different from normal spray-on rust inhibitor is that ACF50 doesn’t gush from the aerosol in a haze of Superbowl splendor. Rather, it ambles out in a thin, pink stream not much different from one of Carol’s lady cosmetics. However, once the ACF 50 hits a surface it is off like a ferret up a drain and this is the clue to its efficacy.
What’s in ACF is a closely guarded secret but, unlike the magic recipes of Snake Oil salesmen, ACF does work. The idea goes something like this. On parts which are not corroded ACF forms a flexible, water resistant barrier: really it does, honestly!
Where there is existing corrosion, ACF seeps its way into the tiny voids and displaces the water which then evaporates into the atmosphere.
As a by-product, it’s not a bad light duty lubricant for things like locks and cables, as well as being approved by its Mil-Spec (Mil-C-81309E Type II) for use in switches and on contacts.
Now I will forgive you for thinking that it’s just another case of the gullible being conned except that ACF50 comes from the aerospace industry and the list of companies approving the product is rather serious. Firms such as Boeing Helicopter, Cessna, British Aerospace and Sikorsky all find the product acceptable, as does the FAA.
In the aerospace world, ACF is recommended for spraying internally on fuselages and also on electrical components – and ultra-critical components such as helicopter rotor blades. In short, this is serious stuff because being hacked off when your Suzuki has gone rusty is one thing but having your multi-million dollar airframe corrode is a different order of discomfiture.
Application is easy on a bike and a tin lasts a long time. The best approach is to put a tiny blob on the surface to be treated and wait for it to disperse between any cracks. For example, the un-plated horn on our Suzuki V-Strom was an absolute certainty to corrode but it remains perfect after four years.
Any surplus can be spread externally with a finger or brush. Surprisingly, because chemically things which work are normally dangerous, ACF 50 is completely non-toxic and your finger won’t drop off if you touch it.
Once applied, the treatment lasts up to two years. On the V-Strom, which enjoys all the benefits of Suzuki’s traditional appalling finish, I spray all the plated bits, and painted items which are likely to get hammered by the rain and road filth, every year.
In terms of a really tough test, I also use ACF50 on the un-plated brake lever of our Seeley-Suzuki and the lightest of smears will last all season.
By way of an experiment, I have used the ACF50 on the towing hitch of our car too. The hitch has two problems. First, the original finish is dreadful and secondly, it gets constantly hosed by spray from the rear wheels. In this extreme use, the ACF50 lasts around four months.
To conclude, if ACF50 had been at Hogwarts then Harry Potter would have been out of a job with magic spells.
MSRP for the 13oz Aerosol is $14.95