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Re-chroming a vintage Italian frame?

Old 02-12-24, 04:17 PM
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Re-chroming a vintage Italian frame?

My mid-70's Coppi Campionissimo originally had a pearl paint job with chrome head lugs, fork head, half the forks, and half the stays. I had to have it repainted around 1988 due to living at the beach in Hermosa Beach, it was rapidly rusting. I got a nice white/red paint job but I'd sort of like to restore the bike to somewhat original. How expensive is it to have someone do this chroming plus a paint job? The bike isn't worth much at all, it would just be for my own satisfaction. TIA for the help! BTW I'm in the SF Bay Area.
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Old 02-12-24, 04:38 PM
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I had a drameset resprayed and rechromed (rear triangle,fork, head tube lugs) about five years ago by Franklin Frames. Jack Trumbull did the paintwork but he contracted the chromework out to someone he knows and has worked with for years who understands the special circumstances of frame plating. A first class job five years ago was around $750 plus shipping.I’m sure it’s more $ today.
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Old 02-12-24, 05:20 PM
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I had my Pinarello Treviso restored to original factory spec full chrome four years ago by Tom Kellogg/Spectrum Cycles (since retired). Excluding repairs to the frame, the cost of stripping the frame, rechroming, polishing and masking the brite areas, respraying (plus candy color upcharge), clear coating, and various finishing details worked out to US$1,250. The chrome was done by DGM Chrome Plating in Philadelphia.

Refinishing a "[not] worth much at all" frame "for [your] own satisfaction" is a perfectly acceptable justification. If you decide to go this way, know that you won't be alone.
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Old 02-12-24, 05:20 PM
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-----

the pitfalls of replating are legendary

when looking for a plater find a fellow cyclist to give referral(s)

since you are in the bay area you could contact Ed Litton, for example, to see if he can suggest a plater or platers he likes

a challenging business to be in with environmental regulation getting stricter all the time...


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Old 02-12-24, 06:15 PM
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Make sure the frame is totally free of any chemicals involved in the re-chroming process before you have it painted, as supposedly, what's left, specially inside the tubes, could rust up the frameset again......
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Old 02-12-24, 07:55 PM
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Sounds like you only need ends done. Franklin Frames did a fine job. Never got an itemized bill, just a total so I can't give you a price, just the results.


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Old 02-12-24, 08:08 PM
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I would give another endorsement for Jack at Franklin Frame . He did my Colnago a while back and it came out beautiful and holding up to the road well. I was lucky with the little bit of chrome on the fork crown just needed buffing out , so he didn’t have to send it out.
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Old 02-12-24, 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by iab
Sounds like you only need ends done. Franklin Frames did a fine job. Never got an itemized bill, just a total so I can't give you a price, just the results.


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Yes! That's exactly the look I want! Thank you all for the replies, especially in understanding that I'm just doing this for my own satisfaction.
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Old 02-12-24, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Galoot
My mid-70's Coppi Campionissimo originally had a pearl paint job with chrome head lugs, fork head, half the forks, and half the stays. I had to have it repainted around 1988 due to living at the beach in Hermosa Beach, it was rapidly rusting. I got a nice white/red paint job but I'd sort of like to restore the bike to somewhat original. How expensive is it to have someone do this chroming plus a paint job? The bike isn't worth much at all, it would just be for my own satisfaction. TIA for the help! BTW I'm in the SF Bay Area.
If you can't find anyone in the Bay Area, there used to be a guy advertising chroming on the Santa Maria craigslist as of a few years ago. I don't know if he's still doing it, and I never heard of anyone who had work done by him.
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Old 02-13-24, 05:53 PM
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I was really lucky getting some re-plating done locally due to friends at Pro Kote Indy who sent me to a group that does Chrome the old fashioned way. You will have to dig around in the posts to find pictures of my Faggin that got a complete re-chrome of the frame and fork. The work is fantastic and looks really beautiful. Now the downside is going to be costs; I got a sweet heart deal and was under $1K, but if you want to save one you will have to pay. But they did a great job and I am completely happy with it. I won't discourage you for doing the re-plating just be aware that there are gonna be some costs. You can contact me off line if you wish to pursue the idea. Smiles, MH
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Old 02-13-24, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by mhespenheide
If you can't find anyone in the Bay Area, there used to be a guy advertising chroming on the Santa Maria craigslist as of a few years ago. I don't know if he's still doing it, and I never heard of anyone who had work done by him.
I think the connection that @iab has utilized through Franklin Frames is a smart path.
lessons have been learned, procedures known.

out here in California the shops are closing up fast.
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Old 02-13-24, 11:41 PM
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Another vote for Franklin Frame's guy if you want chroming, not from personal experience but from other C&Ver reports.

Ed Litton is great for paint - I have used him a number of times and his work is first rate. But he always farms out the chrome work to one of two area chrome shops. Both were okay, but both had occasional problems, and both usually added significantly to the project time line. Also, chrome shops and California environmental regulations increasingly do not play well together - the shops are getting rarer all the time.

You really want your plater to know what he or she is doing. I mean that they really, really know what they are doing, and with plenty of bike frame experience, not just dipping car bumpers. Otherwise, there is a potential for bad things to happen. How bad? See below. I can't be sure what caused this, but an imperfect rechroming process is a very real possibility. Granted, this was a 60+ year old fork that had been replated, but still . . . .

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Old 02-14-24, 03:05 AM
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Originally Posted by bikingshearer
Another vote for Franklin Frame's guy if you want chroming, not from personal experience but from other C&Ver reports.

Ed Litton is great for paint - I have used him a number of times and his work is first rate. But he always farms out the chrome work to one of two area chrome shops. Both were okay, but both had occasional problems, and both usually added significantly to the project time line. Also, chrome shops and California environmental regulations increasingly do not play well together - the shops are getting rarer all the time.

You really want your plater to know what he or she is doing. I mean that they really, really know what they are doing, and with plenty of bike frame experience, not just dipping car bumpers. Otherwise, there is a potential for bad things to happen. How bad? See below. I can't be sure what caused this, but an imperfect rechroming process is a very real possibility. Granted, this was a 60+ year old fork that had been replated, but still . . . .

Well, that is a bit of a chroming conversation killer if ever I saw one.

Last edited by 1970bikes; 02-14-24 at 03:06 AM. Reason: Poor wording
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Old 02-14-24, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by 1970bikes
Well, that is a bit of a chroming conversation killer if ever I saw one.
…. And quite the ride killer!Rich was darn lucky he wasn’t injured…..seriously. Joe
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Old 02-14-24, 08:02 AM
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After a discussion on cracking is due to hydrogen embrittlement and avoidance by proper processing parameters I have used St. Louis Plating for two forks. This is their 60th year in business doing plating including bicycle and motorcycle plating for $300 for frames and $60 for forks.
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Old 02-14-24, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by bikingshearer
Another vote for Franklin Frame's guy if you want chroming, not from personal experience but from other C&Ver reports.

Ed Litton is great for paint - I have used him a number of times and his work is first rate. But he always farms out the chrome work to one of two area chrome shops. Both were okay, but both had occasional problems, and both usually added significantly to the project time line. Also, chrome shops and California environmental regulations increasingly do not play well together - the shops are getting rarer all the time.

You really want your plater to know what he or she is doing. I mean that they really, really know what they are doing, and with plenty of bike frame experience, not just dipping car bumpers. Otherwise, there is a potential for bad things to happen. How bad? See below. I can't be sure what caused this, but an imperfect rechroming process is a very real possibility. Granted, this was a 60+ year old fork that had been replated, but still . . . .

Fork looks bent, or is it the angle of the photo?
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Old 02-14-24, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Bianchi84
Fork looks bent, or is it the angle of the photo?
It's only bent at the end.
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Old 02-14-24, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by bikingshearer
Another vote for Franklin Frame's guy if you want chroming, not from personal experience but from other C&Ver reports.

Ed Litton is great for paint - I have used him a number of times and his work is first rate. But he always farms out the chrome work to one of two area chrome shops. Both were okay, but both had occasional problems, and both usually added significantly to the project time line. Also, chrome shops and California environmental regulations increasingly do not play well together - the shops are getting rarer all the time.

You really want your plater to know what he or she is doing. I mean that they really, really know what they are doing, and with plenty of bike frame experience, not just dipping car bumpers. Otherwise, there is a potential for bad things to happen. How bad? See below. I can't be sure what caused this, but an imperfect rechroming process is a very real possibility. Granted, this was a 60+ year old fork that had been replated, but still . . . .

Looks like it rusted from the inside. Like I noted, chemicals related to the chroming process that might have not been totally cleaned off inside the frame tubes can eventually cause this
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Old 02-14-24, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by 1970bikes
Well, that is a bit of a chroming conversation killer if ever I saw one.
Suffice to say, when Ed Litton built the replacement fork (he did a fantastic job, by the way), I specified paint only, no chrome. Not a hard decision.
Originally Posted by Kabuki12
…. And quite the ride killer!Rich was darn lucky he wasn’t injured…..seriously. Joe
True that; I'm just happy it wasn't a Rich killer, A half hour before I discovered the crack, I was bombing down a two mile long, twisty but fast descent. It could have been disastrous. As it was, it was only an inconvenience. As annoying as it was and as expensive as it turned out to be, I consider myself to be truly fortunate, for which I am grateful.
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Old 02-14-24, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Chombi1
Looks like it rusted from the inside. Like I noted, chemicals related to the chroming process that might have not been totally cleaned off inside the frame tubes can eventually cause this
There was rust packed into the part below the crack, i.e., from the crack to the dropout, so you are 100% correct on the internal rust front. Like you, I also suspect it was caused at least in part by chemicals from the re-chroming that was done c.2010-12, but I'll never know for sure.

The broken off end rides with me as a decoration dangling from my seat bag, and the rest of the fork remnants live in my basement, awaiting whatever painting/medical experiments I dream up.
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Old 02-14-24, 08:29 PM
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I'd bet that Ed Litton doesn't farm out chrome plating to ANY local (ish) shop anymore. I don't think there is a single one left doing business in the 9 Bay Area Counties that have to comply with Bay Area AQMD CARB regulations that control Chrome Plating emissions. If there is/was it would probably be motorcycle (as in custom Harley) related and I wouldn't trust one to know their way around a bicycle frame or fork
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Old 02-14-24, 09:24 PM
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I'm in the L.A. area,,the chroming capital of the world. With all the Hot Rods and Lowriders and Harleys around here its easy to get anything chromed. I know several actual Chroming Facilities in the area and have done tons of chroming on old cars, Harleys and bicycles.
I recently had the forks on my Giordana done and it cost me $40 and they look flawless .

On Frames , I would Not suggest doing on only certain sections on it as it is more trouble than its worth. about 25 years ago I had only the headtube area of a Pinarello and rear triangle chromed, the build up of the Nickle ,Copper, Chrome plating left a noticeable line on the tubes that no matter how much blending /sanding we tried the line was there after painting. The Chromer advised me to do the entire frame but I didnt listen . Lesson Learned .

I have found out it is easier and cheaper to just chrome the entire frame. I had my Automoto frame chromed for under $80 , and all the other steel parts were Nickle plated for about $30 . Pictures of it are on the "French Bikes " thread.
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Old 02-14-24, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by bikingshearer
There was rust packed into the part below the crack, i.e., from the crack to the dropout, so you are 100% correct on the internal rust front. Like you, I also suspect it was caused at least in part by chemicals from the re-chroming that was done c.2010-12, but I'll never know for sure.

The broken off end rides with me as a decoration dangling from my seat bag, and the rest of the fork remnants live in my basement, awaiting whatever painting/medical experiments I dream up.
Even with a second vent hole way up near the crown as Brian Baylis worked out with his plater decades ago, there is much more extra care and syringes, and additional time, time being the big thing required to have a decent level of security there is not trouble lurking within and the vent holes are still not where they need to be. I discussed this with Max of Highland Plating (now gone) 30 years ago. Highland plating did the plating work for Art Stump. Max was surprised I knew him, and confirmed what Art told me 50 years ago now. Art did ALL the polishing and created special wire forms to place anodes at key spots at the bottom bracket area, seat lug, fork crown underside to get what he wanted.
One has to think that through, Art had to visit the facility and pick up the frame at least three times. Wild.
Other than the fork, I should have but did not ask how the seat stays were flushed out.

Partial immersion of the frame to stay clear of trouble areas can be done well, but the plater has to do some things that are non standard. No masking, each layer has to be buffed out at the end of the plating, and each successive stage has to be less immersed than the last. The only mfg that I am aware of that had this type of interested process control was Schwinn for the Paramount line. Most partial lugs and stays only were a flash of nickel and then chrome. On French bikes, some a bit of a buff then Chrome, no wonder the chrome did not last. Less build up. My hunch not also using the later fume control scheme of ping pong balls at the top of the tank fluid line. No Idea how that would effect the immersion termination line.

in California, the platers who are not doing EVERYTHING to reduce environmental pollution and waste will All be gone by 2026, the laws are set to end chrome as we have enjoyed it. The platers will be working only in more lax regulation states. the way of things.
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Old 02-14-24, 10:59 PM
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Eventually, people might have to send their stuff out for chroming in other countries like Mexico, that might be less strict about pollution coming from chroming facilities...
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Old 02-15-24, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Chombi1
Eventually, people might have to send their stuff out for chroming in other countries like Mexico, that might be less strict about pollution coming from chroming facilities...
Right, but if you do that, forget about careful handling, light touch with the polisher, and complete flushing.

Even the famed Lodi Chrome is no more, they did fantastic work.

/markp
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