Chrome restoration?
March 22, 2006 11:58 AM   Subscribe

I have some chromed steel with pretty substantial pitting and rust. However if properly restored its relatively valuable. Is there anything I can do about this myself? If it should be done professionally, where in San Francisco might I take it?
posted by atom128 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total)
You cannot reapply chrome plating yourself. You're looking for a plating shop, probably not one specializing in jewelry. (Unless you're talking about jewelry.)

Industrial and automotive chrome plating is actually chrome (which is transparent in thin layers) over nickel (for that silver color) over copper (buffed to a smooth surface).
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:05 PM on March 22, 2006

Response by poster: Damn. These are bicycle handlebars. (a rare older pair)
posted by atom128 at 1:20 PM on March 22, 2006

Go to an automotive shop and get Nevr-Dull

That stuff is magic! It's a cotton batting that's slightly moistened with some kind of polish. You take a piece out and gently rub it all over the pitted chrome. Wait a few minutes and then wipe it away with the same piece of cotton. It's really cool. It shines up chrome better than anything I've ever tried. I've used it on bikes many many times.
posted by evoo at 1:30 PM on March 22, 2006

If you are willing to spend big $$$$$$, a plating shop can remove the old chrome through a reverse plating process, buff the pits out (if they are no too big) and rechrome. Be aware that most plating shops are not equiped to do decorative bright chrome. They do hard chroming instead. This would not be a problem as long as the part is not subject to flexing. Buy a large bunch of lottery tickets before you do this and don't start the job until after you win big.
posted by Raybun at 3:27 PM on March 22, 2006

You cannot reapply chrome plating yourself.

Actually you can but the do-it-yourself kit is so cost prohibitive it would be cheaper to hire someone to do it for you if you only needed the one peice chromed.

Seconds the nevr dull. But another option could be to get a cotton polishing wheel (the kind with a shank so it can be mounted to a drill) and some jewelers rouge and buff the spots out.

As to where to get it done, I'd try calling car clubs and motorcycle clubs (especially the British crowd) and ask them where their members get their chrome plating done, not all shops do a good job and you just might find a better plating shop this way rather than a search through the yellow pages.
posted by squeak at 3:43 PM on March 22, 2006

Response by poster: I think I'm gonna see how far I can get with the nevr dull tonight, I have access to a buffing wheel but it's a bit a ways away, so thats always a second option. MUST MAKE MY BIKE PRETTIER.
posted by atom128 at 3:48 PM on March 22, 2006

Response by poster: 'Course, I may just wrap the shit out of em and say ____it. heh.
posted by atom128 at 3:48 PM on March 22, 2006

Well, how rare are they? From the little that I know about automotive restoration, there are different grades of chrome jobs. If you're going to spend a couple of bucks with the idea of making even more bucks, I would find out what process was originally used and have a pro do it. Chrome jobs aren't typically expensive and I'm sure you can find a good metal-plating (low rider) shop really close to you.
posted by snsranch at 4:53 PM on March 22, 2006

If they're rare, people might actually prefer them with the original chrome, even if damaged. This is the case for many rare/antique things, so be careful.
posted by beerbajay at 6:45 PM on March 22, 2006

Polishing,buffing, etc. may make the bars look better, but it will not stop the corrosion. If the metal is pitted, the plating is penetrated all the way to the steel. Anytime it gets wet, it will rust. Hard chrome should be OK; I can't imagine that the bars flex enough to crack the chrome.

You might also research available bicycle and motorcycle bars. There is a large array of different bars available. All the motorcycle bars (except those for Harleys) are 7/8" diameter; bicycle bars may be the same. You might find some that are identical to the originals.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:40 AM on March 23, 2006

Chroming isn't that expensive, you can get a pair of heavy 60s automobile bumpers done for somewhere between $500-$1500.
posted by Mitheral at 7:18 AM on March 23, 2006

Response by poster: The bars unused would cost roughly $250 dollars. I'm not going to sell them, though, they're going on my bike which I'm slowly restoring, I want to keep them pretty. i only mentioned value as I can't afford to buy a pair in better condition. They are Cinelli Milano track drops. I have also been recommended using naval jelly to clean up the rust.

You can see them here:
posted by atom128 at 1:24 PM on March 23, 2006

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