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Frame chroming..

Old 02-19-19, 08:22 PM
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Frame chroming..

Can I get a bike frame chrome plated? What preparation must be done before chroming?
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Old 02-19-19, 08:33 PM
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You can, I feel like you aren't going to like how much it costs. They need to be cleaned and polished. I take it that some platers are fairly good at polishing, but it will cost you.
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Old 02-19-19, 08:45 PM
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Environmental restrictions means that chrome plating costs a bunch more than it did decades ago, which really makes it cost-prohibitive for most folks. I remember back in the late 70's/early 80's, Schwinn charged $50 to upgrade from paint to full chrome on their 11.8 Voyageur and 12.2 Super Le Tour models. Those were the days.
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Old 02-19-19, 10:01 PM
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I think paint has gone up more
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Old 02-19-19, 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by SilverSteve View Post
Can I get a bike frame chrome plated? What preparation must be done before chroming?
Sure. It depends on your area how much it will cost. In St Louis, there is a local plater who shows $250-$300 for frame and fork. They did a frame for me about 10 years ago and I am quite pleased. I took it into them with no prep. Bear in mind that if your frame has dings and the like, they are probably not going to fill them. You will need to do that. I was fortunate in that my frame was clean AFA damage. Likely it will cost much more in your neck of the woods. Ask the local motorcyclists or people at car shows who did their work.


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Old 02-19-19, 11:04 PM
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Polish it .. plating wont hide anything...

copper> nickel >then chrome , is how you do it right ...






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Old 02-20-19, 08:12 AM
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If existing chrome it must be stripped first, but that's not too much. The polishing is where I have had trouble and had to spend money to get it right. Areas like bottom bracket lugs, as you would imagine, can not be done with a buffer made for a 1957 Chevy bumper. Call around for a shop that knows bicycles (don't want your crown race plated), have them check out your frame and give you a price for the quality you are looking for.
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Old 02-20-19, 08:58 AM
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Just to make sure I understand things... It seems like rechroming an existing chromed frame should be easier than chroming a previously "just painted" frame. Remove the old chrome, polish up the places where previous chrome loss exposed bare steel, then plate the frame? This particularly assumes you're looking to preserve original "manufacturing patina," file marks, lugs not thinned within an inch of their lives, etc.

I ask because my Atala Super Pro frame needs to be redone. It is already fully chromed, but some places (underneath down tube & top tube, chainstays) have suffered some chrome loss. I will need to make sure that's not happening from the inside out, but if not, I'm thinking it should be a bit less work than a frame which has never seen chrome before.
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Old 02-20-19, 10:26 AM
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That Atala is gorgeous. Looks like a Giuseppe Pela build to me. It is going to need lots of prep. Prep that non-bike platers just won't do correctly or at all. That it has been previously polished for chrome will make the job a little easier. A little. Robert Schmidt at Velociao.com. He does the cromovelato as well. English spoken.Very reasonable prices. Chroming will be done in Italy - it will look like Italian chrome when complete. Chrome comes in many flavors and the most perfect job that is non-Italian will not be same.

"Remove the old chrome" is not easy. Can be done with bead blasting, better done with reverse electrolysis. Reverse electrolysis is plain risky - should only be done by those who do it routinely.
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Old 02-20-19, 01:00 PM
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Franklin Frames shows $1100 for chroming and frame and fork but that might only be a new frame from them.

Rechroming a fork $225 and it just says 'call' for stays and lugs Frames
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Old 02-20-19, 01:04 PM
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Interesting stuff. Big trucks have a lot of stuff that comes from plating firms.

I had some Ducati Desmo motorcycle pieces plated at Brown's Plating in Paducah, KY in the 80's.

You send it, they may/may not give you an estimate, as you either want it done, or not.(that was the protocol in 1982, I think).

Often, they don't repair damage, but they do the prep (and charge for it). I don't think they'll do the fine sanding, etc that needs to be done on rough metal, though. If I had a frame worthy of it, I'd not hesitate.

Auto body shops once did small items in 5-gal buckets for trim pieces on cars, both in a gold-look plating and chrome-like. Not sure what that was about, but I used to see the buckets, wires coming out of them, to batteries when I visited.
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Old 02-20-19, 10:00 PM
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I just had a Giordana fork Chrome plated. $60, and it looks killer. Polished,Copper ,Nickle, and Chromed to a tee.

Of course the guys there know me so they cut me a deal. I plan on chroming the rear triangle and head tube lug area of a frame very soon. I'll post up my findings.
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Old 02-21-19, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by smontanaro View Post
Just to make sure I understand things... It seems like rechroming an existing chromed frame should be easier than chroming a previously "just painted" frame. Remove the old chrome, polish up the places where previous chrome loss exposed bare steel, then plate the frame? This particularly assumes you're looking to preserve original "manufacturing patina," file marks, lugs not thinned within an inch of their lives, etc.

I ask because my Atala Super Pro frame needs to be redone. It is already fully chromed, but some places (underneath down tube & top tube, chainstays) have suffered some chrome loss. I will need to make sure that's not happening from the inside out, but if not, I'm thinking it should be a bit less work than a frame which has never seen chrome before.
I think you are in luck, Quality Plating in Sterling (<100 miles from you?) does good work. I just shipped them a fork last week. Gary will give you a price unseen but if you take it to him he can nail down the cost for exactly for what you want, lugs, stays, etc.
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Old 02-21-19, 08:15 AM
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Chrome in the UK

In the UK sandblasting and chroming a frame will set you back arond 1200 USD. The sandblasting bit is less than $100. Real chrome on cars isn't allowed any more, owing to the need for crumple zones on the front and rear, so it's gotten really expensive in this part of the world.
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Old 02-21-19, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
That Atala is gorgeous. Looks like a Giuseppe Pela build to me.
Thanks, John. Would be more gorgeous with better chrome. I'll have to get you over to my place to examine it more closely.
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Old 02-21-19, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
Franklin Frames shows $1100 for chroming and frame and fork but that might only be a new frame from them.

Rechroming a fork $225 and it just says 'call' for stays and lugs Frames
I sent my Medici's fork to Bob Freeman in WA who "has a guy." It cost $165 and looks great. Here's a before pic:

Not sure why I don't have an "after" pic of just the fork (must have grabbed the dunce cap instead of the thinking cap that day). Here's the whole shebang (click, then zoom):
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Old 02-21-19, 09:34 AM
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Make sure you send it to someone who knows how to properly deal with bikes. If not, they could over-polish and lose lug line definition. There is also a risk of something called "hydrogen embrittlement" that can occur during the chroming process. It weakens steel, which is no big deal for a Chevy bumper, but not something that would be good for a bike frame. Rechroming a chrome fork
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Old 02-21-19, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by smontanaro View Post
Just to make sure I understand things... It seems like rechroming an existing chromed frame should be easier than chroming a previously "just painted" frame. Remove the old chrome, polish up the places where previous chrome loss exposed bare steel, then plate the frame? This particularly assumes you're looking to preserve original "manufacturing patina," file marks, lugs not thinned within an inch of their lives, etc.

I ask because my Atala Super Pro frame needs to be redone. It is already fully chromed, but some places (underneath down tube & top tube, chainstays) have suffered some chrome loss. I will need to make sure that's not happening from the inside out, but if not, I'm thinking it should be a bit less work than a frame which has never seen chrome before.
Removing the chrome is simple. A few seconds in a reverse current alkaline cleaner tank will do that. The problem comes when removing the nickel and copper. When I worked in a plating shop back in the seventies, we used a nasty chemical strip with lots of cyanide in it that would slowly dissolve both nickel and copper, but will also dissolve the brazing alloy from the lugs. That may not be a problem,as long as the part isn't left in the stripper for too long. The stripper doesn't bother the steel.

Anything that is chromed has to be polished so it looks nearly like chrome, before it's plated. If the part has rust pits, it's usually given a heavy copper plating and then the copper is sanded and polished to eliminate the rust pits. That requires time and money.
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Old 02-21-19, 12:19 PM
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The risk of rechroming a vintage frame is great. The cost is even greater in terms of cash and environmental trauma. Were it me, I would seek an already chromed frame set or complete bike...
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Old 02-21-19, 12:50 PM
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I've inquired with a plater of which does not have experience with bicycles. Quite the process before final dip (as noted above). Chrome plating a fine bicycle frame is a complete different art and requirement vs. random car parts or other artifacts. Obviously you want to minimize bb threads or the inside of the head tube from chrome, but that's secondary issues.

Prep is crucial in anything, flaws underneath will show through. You have to spend the time in perfect prep before the stages of plating.

Old chrome and pitting requires a near complete peel down to the object. I say object because they chrome plate plastics and metals.

No verification but from what I've only researched on chroming bikes, improper plating and thickness of layering can change the tubing property brittleness and ride characteristics.
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Old 02-21-19, 01:43 PM
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There are platers in Rhode Island and Connecticut who have plated frames for builders. The Framebuilder's Forum might have more information.
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Old 02-21-19, 04:59 PM
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You can also look here for platers.

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Old 02-22-19, 09:16 AM
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The process is pretty involved, which is why it's so expensive anymore.

1) solvent de-greasing
2) media blasting (if required)
3) acid pickle / descale / old Cr removal
4) filling of defects / repair
5) cleaning and polishing to eliminate surface flaws
6) further solvent cleaning
7) caustic soap cleaning
8) electrocleaning (also caustic)
9) several rinse cycles
10) CN Cu strike plating (cleans and primes in one step, thanks to the cyanide)
11) rinse (multiple)
12) Cu (acid copper) base plating
13) rinse
14) Acid Ni plating
15) rinse
16) Acid Ni plating
17) rinse
18) Hex Cr or Tri Cr (depends upon what appearance one wants in the Cr plate; Hex is better but the raw materials are toxic)
19) rinse
20) inspect; if flawed; start again from step 3
21) polish
22) package and ship
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Old 02-22-19, 09:48 AM
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When I worked in a chrome shop (70's), after reverse current alkaline cleaning, there was rinse, then a dip in muriatic acid, then another rinse, then copper, nickel and chrome plating, with rinsing in between each step. Maybe the copper strike works instead of the muriatic acid dip, but I never applied any type of plating without the acid dip and rinse, before the first plating tank, whether it be copper, zinc or cadmium. Also never used more than one nickel plating step. Within nickel, at least you can pull a part out of the tank to check for adequate brilliance, then put it right back in, without a problem. No so with chrome. It's a one shot deal. It either comes out OK, or not.
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