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Rechroming a chrome fork

Old 01-16-12, 01:49 PM
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lml999
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Rechroming a chrome fork

I picked up a Colnago Pista, about 12 - 15 years old. The front fork is fully chromed and has some spots that have rusted through the chrome layer and into the nickel, due to sweat and salt air (raced at the Fort Lauderdale velodrome).

I used some aluminum foil and water to clean up the fork, which worked great...but I do have some spots that are beyond cleaning.

Can someone recommend a good shop for rechroming? I'd prefer to work with a shop that has experience with bike parts and won't chrome the steerer tube by accident...

Tips/suggestions/etc appreciated.

Pictures of the bike, and a Master Ti that I picked up at the same time, are available through this post.

Thanks,

Lee
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Old 01-16-12, 02:08 PM
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Suggest you state what part of the country you are in. You could certainly ship them out, but that just adds expense. I had some forks chromed at St. Louis Plating, St. Louis, MO. They did an excellent job, $50.00 and only got a small amount of the plating on the steerer tube which I was able to file off.

I'm sure if I have them do another one, they can eliminate that issue.

You might also connect up with a motorcycle dealer in your area. Sometimes they know of good quality platers in their area that do custom cycle parts.
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Old 01-16-12, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by TugaDude View Post
Suggest you state what part of the country you are in.
Thanks, I'm in Boston.

Best,

Lee
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Old 01-16-12, 04:51 PM
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I know that Franklin Frames in Ohio does rechroming. His prices are pretty reasonable, too.
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Old 01-16-12, 08:04 PM
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aside from needing to mill for the crown race what is wrong with a little chrome on the steerer?
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Old 01-16-12, 08:15 PM
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FWIW the fork on my '74 Pro is in dire need of a replate. I'm following this with bated breath.
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Old 01-16-12, 08:29 PM
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Halfway looking too. Initally, only found replaters in the $100+ range.

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Old 01-16-12, 09:04 PM
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Franklin (and CyclArt) charge $175-$200 to rechrome a fork. A plater charges $60. How much prep work does a bike painter do before he sends the fork out for plating?

Lee
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Old 01-16-12, 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by lml999 View Post
Thanks, I'm in Boston.

Best,

Lee
Im in Boston also and need a fork chromed but I was going to wait till the summer. In the processes of looking for a shop, but let me see a picture of what condition your fork is in.
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Old 01-17-12, 05:11 AM
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Originally Posted by lml999 View Post
Franklin (and CyclArt) charge $175-$200 to rechrome a fork. A plater charges $60. How much prep work does a bike painter do before he sends the fork out for plating?

Lee
Franklin does all the prep before it heads to the plater to make sure it is in perfect condition upon its return. I suggest calling him to discuss the various options.
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Old 01-17-12, 08:35 AM
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I've had several forks polished and re-chromed, as well as an entire frame and fork nickel-plated by Industrial Plating in Omaha. The forks varied in price, but none over $65. The only issue, and not really that much of an issue was with the polishing around the fork lug margins on the first one could have used a bit more attention to detail. Randye does a wide variety of vintage auto/motorcycle restoration work, so he understands the importance of not chroming the fork crown--BG, I've been told by experienced mechanics that cutting and facing tools are not happy trying to mill chromed finish--and keeping the impulse to enlarge the brazing relief vents in the fork legs under control. Any experienced full-service industrial plater who will work with you on this can and will do the work for half the price of having the work done through a frame painter.
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Old 01-17-12, 10:20 AM
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That fork needs to be stripped, polished and then replated. From your picture it doesn't look like you will be able to get a good finish unless you polish the life out of it. Every little pit will show.
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Old 01-17-12, 05:08 PM
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I get one shot at this. If a plater screws up because I don't provide proper instructions, I have a beautiful, useless fork. Colnago pista forks aren't particularly easy to find!

So I'm thinking of working through a painter...

Best,

Lee
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Old 01-17-12, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by lml999 View Post
I get one shot at this. If a plater screws up because I don't provide proper instructions, I have a beautiful, useless fork. Colnago pista forks aren't particularly easy to find!

So I'm thinking of working through a painter...

Best,

Lee
That's what I did.

I didn't care about the extra cost.

I bought the fine reputation of the builder and the painter.

I also know he has done knockout restorations.

Chris Kvale was my choice, but I'm sure you have plenty of options in your area as well.
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Old 01-17-12, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by vjp View Post
That fork needs to be stripped, polished and then replated. From your picture it doesn't look like you will be able to get a good finish unless you polish the life out of it. Every little pit will show.
This.

Plating a new fork, or even one that was only painted, isn't a big deal. Strip paint, treat, plate. One that has rust and chrome / nickle / copper still needs to be acid bathed, stripped, blasted, treated and then plated. It's a bit larger project. Also, you north-easterners get a short end of the stick when it comes to plating (EPA things, and such). Plating around here is much cheaper, because we have no ocean access! You want show quality plating, but you also need show quality prep. I do all the prep myself, because I have access to all the tools necessary. If you don't have acid tanks, blasters and proper post-prep chemicals, you just as well bite the bullet and get it done right.
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Old 01-17-12, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by lml999 View Post
I used some aluminum foil and water to clean up the fork, which worked great...but I do have some spots that are beyond cleaning.
How does that work? The aluminum water trick...
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Old 01-17-12, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by 23skidoo View Post
I've had several forks polished and re-chromed, as well as an entire frame and fork nickel-plated by Industrial Plating in Omaha. The forks varied in price, but none over $65. The only issue, and not really that much of an issue was with the polishing around the fork lug margins on the first one could have used a bit more attention to detail. Randye does a wide variety of vintage auto/motorcycle restoration work, so he understands the importance of not chroming the fork crown--BG, I've been told by experienced mechanics that cutting and facing tools are not happy trying to mill chromed finish--and keeping the impulse to enlarge the brazing relief vents in the fork legs under control. Any experienced full-service industrial plater who will work with you on this can and will do the work for half the price of having the work done through a frame painter.
you are lucky. if i had a shop like that around me i'd be thinking of things to chrome right now.
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Old 01-17-12, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by illwafer View Post
you are lucky. if i had a shop like that around me i'd be thinking of things to chrome right now.
Road trip to Phx, just sayin'
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Old 01-17-12, 07:46 PM
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Originally Posted by illwafer View Post
you are lucky. if i had a shop like that around me i'd be thinking of things to chrome right now.
If there was a shop like that here, I'd be a lot more interested in good frames with bad chrome.
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Old 01-19-12, 05:17 AM
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I'm amazed at the number of frames I come across that have rust/pitting to the chrome forks/seatstays/chainstays. None of my Reynolds hand-built frames have chrome plating on these areas and for good reason. Reynolds did not and still don't recommend their tubing to be chromed(especially 753) as the chroming process involves processes that weaken the metal. Consequently, chroming their tubing invalidated the guarantee. Chromed steel is porous, so exposure to humidity will only invite rust. The very best UK frame builders (including Mercian, Argos, Bob Jackson et all) who ought to know a thing or two by now, also discourage customers from having chrome plating to these areas on a frame. They WILL do it, but only at the customer's own risk.

I can understand plating fork ends and and rear dropouts as paint doesn't last long here when wheels are removed/replaced, but these areas are made of solid cast steel, not thin tubing. Is it just me, or is shiny chrome really necessary and does a bike ride any better for it?
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Old 01-20-12, 11:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Kanegon View Post
How does that work? The aluminum water trick...
Crinkle up the aluminum foil, wet it and rub the chrome with it like you were using a paper towel. Wear latex gloves. Pretty easy!

Lee
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Old 01-20-12, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by olly708 View Post
I'm amazed at the number of frames I come across that have rust/pitting to the chrome forks/seatstays/chainstays. None of my Reynolds hand-built frames have chrome plating on these areas and for good reason. Reynolds did not and still don't recommend their tubing to be chromed(especially 753) as the chroming process involves processes that weaken the metal. Consequently, chroming their tubing invalidated the guarantee.
Then pray explain to me why my Carlton (who is generally considered to have known a thing or two about building bikes) fully plated the Reynolds 531 tapered blades on my Professional's fork. Please don't take this personally, but I feel you may have got some questionable information here.
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Old 01-21-12, 05:41 AM
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I'm not taking it personally, not in the slightest. I'm only going on information provided by possibly the most respected UK frame builder, Mercian. I had them custom build me a frame 25 years ago, visited the factory and had a long chat with them about chroming. They advised me against it. Here's what they currently say about chroming:

653, 725 and 853 Frames
Please note that we can only chrome the dropouts on these frames. This is because the stays are too thin to be polished for chrome plating.


Granted these tubes are thinner and lighter than 531 and I've had a good few 531 frames in my time (I still have one). I had another custom frame built by Tony Oliver 18 years ago. He was a metallurgist before he started building frames and he refused to chrome plate any forks, seat stays or chain stays. Carlton made bikes in larger quantity, latterly owned by Raleigh before they closed the factory. Raleigh/Carlton were in the business of selling bikes in quantity (albeit they were hand built to a large extent), so, with respect, would have put cosmetics higher up their priority list than a smaller independent frame builder with a waiting list.

Chrome is very pretty, but it is porous - which brings me back to my original point. Great if you never ride in the rain, but neglect it at your peril.
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Old 01-21-12, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by olly708 View Post
Chrome is very pretty, but it is porous - which brings me back to my original point. Great if you never ride in the rain, but neglect it at your peril.
Yeah - I love the way it looks, but the fork that I posted earlier in this thead came off a bike that spent most of its life in San Diego, CA. The salt air really did a number on the fork. Forturnately, the rest of the chrome on the frame fared a bit better.

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Old 01-21-12, 10:24 AM
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Well, Mercian is said to know a thing or two about framebuilding as well, Olly. I suppose it depends on where one puts one's priorities. I can very much see where an aggressive polisher could take too much metal off and significantly weaken a bike. On the other hand, the chromed forks lowers just look *so* pretty....
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