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Thread: Chrome plating

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    Chrome plating

    Has anyone built a frame and had it chrome plated?
    Emails are quicker.... RobvanI-81@hotmail.com

    ISO: Roberts frame/fork 58cm

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    I built a frame that was chrome plated by the buyer against my will

    Are you looking for a plater? I have been thinking about getting a frame and some racks plated, but I don't know any platers

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    Senior Member mudboy's Avatar
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    I always wondered if I could use Titanium Nitride coating on a frame for both durability and bling.
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    i don't know about that, but I knew a guy that had a frame hard chrome plated. It was an interesting look, but that was before Ti bikes were so common, they look somewhat alike. I think spectrum will chrome plate, but it's a lot of money.

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    My local painter routinely has frames (and racks, etc.) chrome-plated.

    My not-so-local production builder has on-site chroming facilities (that are 20+ years old, gasp), but they usually only do rear ends and forks. He did just that on my first frame (as well as the painting).
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    Spectrum told me approx $700 for a complete frame/fork chrome plated. I was told of a guy in York that would do it for around $250 or so. He does a lot of motorcycle and custom car work. I've been hearing stories that chroming a frame can cause it to become brittle. Do you guys have any thoughts on that? I really want to get my "butchered" International nickel plated, so that is what is up my sleeve.
    Emails are quicker.... RobvanI-81@hotmail.com

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    there is some small chance of hydrogen embrittlement if the process isn't done properly. I don't think I have ever seen a case of that. There were tons of bikes that had chrome back in the day. I always figured if anyone was going to do the chroming wrong it was some wine-soaked production worker in a European bike factory, but I've never seen a bike that appears to have failed due to the process.

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    That's kind of what I was thinking.^ I'll talk to the plater and see what his take is on that. If/when I go through with the process, I'll let you know how it went. If you want something done that is kind of close to you, check out Paul's Chrome plating. I think he's in Grove City. #1 rated by the guys on H.A.M.B. and other street rod circles
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    Senior Member ftwelder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobE30 View Post
    That's kind of what I was thinking.^ I'll talk to the plater and see what his take is on that. If/when I go through with the process, I'll let you know how it went. If you want something done that is kind of close to you, check out Paul's Chrome plating. I think he's in Grove City. #1 rated by the guys on H.A.M.B. and other street rod circles
    Please share your findings with us. I am considering getting some work done.
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    working in the opposite direction, how hard is it to remove or partially paint over, or powder over?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mudboy View Post
    I always wondered if I could use Titanium Nitride coating on a frame for both durability and bling.
    I saw a mtn bike like this. Everyone was ooh-ing and ahh-ing about this awesome Ti bike, but turns out it was Ti plating over steel. Still a wicked nice bike and the finish had held up well since the early- mid-90s. Looked more like regular Ti than any of the Ti Nitride coatings I've seen.
    I know next to nothing. I am frequently wrong.

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    Senior Member vladuz976's Avatar
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    I have frame that's chrome plated on the rear end only.
    I am looking to get a full paint-job done on the frame.
    Does the chrome-plating complicated that?
    Will that be harder to get off before repainting it?

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    lots of bikes have paint on chrome. Let the painter worry about it

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    THE Materials Oracle Falanx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mudboy View Post
    I always wondered if I could use Titanium Nitride coating on a frame for both durability and bling.
    I wouldn't recommend it. Titanium nitride is very brittle and has no real anodic protection behaviour on steel, nor any of the ductility that plating has - basically any impact damage will eat it or spall it off.

    It works on things like casettes because the surface (or deeper into the metal if done properly) is hardened, which means the gradation of hardness from TiN on the surface to core steel is gradual and the brittle hard coating is properly supported by a substrate that doesn't deform easily.

    However, bike frame steel, even very high strength stuff like 853, S3 etc is still too soft to properly support a layer of TiN. MoSi2 on the other hand, like one or two manufacturers use is much better suited to protecting steel.

    Quote Originally Posted by mconlonx View Post
    I saw a mtn bike like this. Everyone was ooh-ing and ahh-ing about this awesome Ti bike, but turns out it was Ti plating over steel. Still a wicked nice bike and the finish had held up well since the early- mid-90s. Looked more like regular Ti than any of the Ti Nitride coatings I've seen.
    Titanium is a nightmare to plate out, but, and here's the best bit - it's anodic to steel, so like zinc or cadmium, it's application will protect the steel underneath even should it be scratched :-)
    Last edited by Falanx; 02-15-11 at 03:09 AM.
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    Falanx, do you have any words of wisdom about chrome plating?

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    I am the painter...

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    THE Materials Oracle Falanx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    Falanx, do you have any words of wisdom about chrome plating?
    Well, I didn't want to get involved because there's *reams* of things you could say about it, but, if you're requesting...

    A good, dense and uniform chromium plating, dependant on the buffer layer and underplating, can perform admirably for years, requiring little more than a lick of polish every so often on a selvit cloth. The aeospace industry, despite the environmental problems associated with it, and Germany's demonising of all things hexavalent, still mandate hard chromium plating on things like gears and MLG for a reason.

    That said, decorative chromium is a subtly, some may say substantially, different animal because of the thinness of the films involved. Personally, as my understanding of galvanics grew, I moved away from a hardline stance against it, just because it's not sacrificial as put down and therefore accelrates local corrosion at breach sites, to a more forgiving view.

    It is true that the application of either copper or nickel, or both, beneath the chromium is the reason for the lack of galvanic protection, as chromium alone *would* protect the steel underneath as zinc or cadmium. However, chromium alone would not plate onto steel in the first place.

    If the frame is well prepared, rinsed and cleaned with an alkaline cleaner, not just a hydrocarbon solvent; then given a sound copper strike, a dense nickel layer and then neatly chromed with no voids in any of those three layers, then the chromium will be sound and more than acceptable. The problem is, as with all complex operations, that the risk of error increases exponentially with the complexity, and the slightest error with any one of those three layers will compromise the integrity of the product.

    Assuming a sound, good chroming, the only area of concern is the edge of the chroming, where paint will interface. Paints notoriously dislike smooth, high-stress (read: fine, dense crystal boundary, like hard chromium plating) metals, because even etch priming tends to leave a key too fine for the paint film to grab. As a result, the best approach is to etch prime and prime with a serious anticorrosive primer over the edge of the chromium to the interface geometry desired (chevrons, whatever) by a good 2mm and then the paint layers above by a film thickness more, and the lacquer by a film thickness on top -say a total of 200 microns or so overlap. It will require a remask between each operation, and a very steady hand, but I've managed it on a frame I was restoring for my girlfriends father... And restorers I've seen this side of the pond do the same.

    Long story short: It's pretty, I like it applied judiciously on some frames, but make sure it's done soundly by a reputable finisher who specialises in it, and you get what you pay for. All the usual caveats.
    "While my father fought for you, I learnt. While my father glorified your petty administration, I learnt. While he longed every day for our line, Adun’s line, to be restored, I learnt. He sent me away to bring the Dark Templar back when the time was right!
    "And you tell me that I cannot do this? That I cannot feel the weight of the universe?
    "Damn you, Tellan! Aldaris killed my father!"

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    That was quite the explanation! I'm going to talk to the chrome plater today (hopefully) and discuss all the potential concerns etc. I'll report back my findings.
    Emails are quicker.... RobvanI-81@hotmail.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by RobE30 View Post
    That was quite the explanation! I'm going to talk to the chrome plater today (hopefully) and discuss all the potential concerns etc. I'll report back my findings.
    That's what they pay me for :-)
    "While my father fought for you, I learnt. While my father glorified your petty administration, I learnt. While he longed every day for our line, Adun’s line, to be restored, I learnt. He sent me away to bring the Dark Templar back when the time was right!
    "And you tell me that I cannot do this? That I cannot feel the weight of the universe?
    "Damn you, Tellan! Aldaris killed my father!"

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    Charles Ramsey
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    Schwinn had some chrome plated paramounts fail and they stopped offering the option.

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    All depends of the chroming job, good chrome plating last centuries. The other thing is to ask for triple chroming, thats the one that last longer. Charles are u talking about the fix gear ones paramounts? that chrome plating didn't even feel to the touch like real chroming, there are many cheap processes in the market that look like chroming. In the case of those paramounts looked more like paint to me.

    Modern track cinelli's offer some chromed paint something also, but is horrible bad. Had a legnano with chromes, a pinarello also, a miyata road that was full chromed under the paint, another ishiwata jap frame that was chromed under the paint and the last one i have is a lemond that apparently is full chromed under it.

    Still figuring out how they managed to stick the paint to the chrome, anybody knows the trick using wet paint?

    Thanks

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    Decrepit Member Scooper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Ramsey View Post
    Schwinn had some chrome plated paramounts fail and they stopped offering the option.
    I've read the article about vintage lightweight pricing by Michael Kone on Sheldon Brown's website and his brief comment in the Schwinn Paramount section of the article, "Chrome bikes a bit more (although they are a bit heavier and more prone to failure)", sounds more like a general comment about chrome plated bicycle frames than failures of Paramounts specifically. My father was a factory sales manager for Schwinn in the southeast U.S. for thirty years. Part of his job was to visit Schwinn distributors (before Schwinn set up its own distributor network) and dealers and provide feedback to the factory regarding product complaints and quality problems. According to him, Schwinn stopped offering chrome plated Paramounts from 1973 on because of the increased cost to properly prepare frames for plating (file marks and sloppy brazing show through chrome like a sore thumb) and the cost to plate the frames (a very complex process since it involved copper plating, then nickel plating, then chrome plating, then baking the frame to reduce the risk of hydrogen embrittlement) could not be recovered in the retail price. In fact, an all chrome finish was priced the same as painted finish when Schwinn decided not to offer completely chromed frames at the end of 1972. Also, environmental restrictions were making disposal of the plating process waste chemicals extremely expensive.

    Dad told me that he had never heard of a chromed Paramount failing because it was chrome plated, and he was very close to the folks at the factory. I believe the comment about chrome bike failures was due more to failure stories related improper post plating baking to relieve hydrogen embrittlement than to chrome plated frames in general, and Schwinn had the process down pat.
    - Stan

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    Decrepit Member Scooper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ultraman6970 View Post
    Charles are u talking about the fix gear ones paramounts? that chrome plating didn't even feel to the touch like real chroming, there are many cheap processes in the market that look like chroming. In the case of those paramounts looked more like paint to me.
    I'm not sure I understand the comment about chrome Paramounts looking like they're painted. Every chrome Paramount I've ever seen had a deep, lusterous, chrome appearance. Perhaps you're talking about the 1973 and later Paramounts with the Silver Mist paint finish?

    Here's my 1972 chrome P15-9 Paramount. All of the 1972 Paramounts that were destined to be chrome plated were brazed by Don Mainland of Racine, WI, under contract. One reason for this was the high production numbers during the bike boom required outsourcing, and Don's brazing was nearly flawless. It hasn't been babied, but it's never been abused and has always been stored inside. It still looks brand new and is mostly original (major exceptions are the clincher rims and tires, and the Campy carbon long cage RD).





    - Stan

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scooper View Post
    "Chrome bikes a bit more (although they are a bit heavier and more prone to failure)", sounds more like a general comment about chrome plated bicycle frames than failures of Paramounts specifically.
    this was received knowledge in the '70s, and it just keeps on being passed down without evidence. I would really like to know where it came from because I have never seen a broken frame that was chromed. The only exception being a few Campagnolo dropouts. That might be related to chrome, and it makes repair much more involved, but they have been known to break.

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    OK, fairly closely related topic, I've been thinking about repainting my folding bike, and I've heard of "chrome-effect" powdercoating. What's the general opinion on that? Does it manage to pull off a reasonable impression of genuine chrome, so to speak? If so, might it cost the OP less for that than actual chrome? Just a thought...

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