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Chromed lugs?

Old 02-15-19, 03:09 PM
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Chromed lugs?

I'm curious about the chromed lugs on some classic steel frames. Are these chromed after the frame is assembled and brazed, and if so, is the entire frame chrome under the paint, or can the tubes be masked off before chroming (which is an electroplating process, right?), or are the lugs painted with some seriously shiny silver paint?
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Old 02-15-19, 03:14 PM
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They are chromed after the frame is built. The rest of the frame may or may not be fully chromed, but you can be certain that they didn't waste time polishing the parts that were going to be painted. If the steel tubes were not polished before chrome plating, the surface finish of the chrome will be a bit rough.
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Old 02-15-19, 04:06 PM
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chrome wasn't as expensive back when it was common. I get the impression that it's not all that expensive in some countries even now. OTOH, a lot of bicycle industry chrome isn't very good.

You see a lot of chrome lugs now that are actually polished stainless. Not sure when that came about.

I always thought they fully chromed bikes, but I recently saw a Schwinn Paramount that obviously had been chromed in many steps. IIrc, the head tube lugs were chromed separately. Which still seems weird to me. I can see chroming the head tube then the seat lug then the dropouts. Even that's a lot of work when you can just put it in the tank and zap it.
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Old 02-15-19, 04:16 PM
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To elaborate- For paint/primer to adhere well some surface roughness is needed (for the coating to bite to). Highly polished anything (like chrome or stainless) is a poor surface for this bite.

While I'm sure some sort of "anti chrome (and nickel's layer as well as the base layer of copper) depositing" coating/masking is possible the usual is to try to limit the polishing to what will be exposed and dip the frame only as far as needed (in the manufacture's, the plater's opinion). It's not uncommon when stripping off paint from a bike that has chrome lugs or stay ends to find that there's chrome for quite a few inches past the exposed locations.

A well known example of this is the early 1970s Fuji Newisets and Finests. They were fully chromed but only the lugs, tube center panels, blade and stay ends were polished. It was quits a discovery to find the BB was still really rough but chromed under the paint I stripped from my 1972 Finest. The rest of the tubes (not including the polished panels) were also chromed but a smooth yet dull surface. Raleighs of the same era that had chromed stay/blade ends usually had the chrome peter out a few inched above the paint edge.

Chroming requires a dip into some pretty corrosive chemicals to clean and etch the surface just before the copper is applied. If these chemicals (usually acids IIRC) are not well flushed out of the frame's interior they will eat away the frame from the inside. Additionally Hydrogen gets absorbed into the steel during the electroplating process and if not baked out after plating hydrogen embrittlement can develop, further weakening the frame. These and other work condition and environmental issues have led some states to regulate the chroming process, to a degree that many platers have changed their processes of offerings all together. Andy
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Old 02-16-19, 03:41 PM
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Yes This,

Often the tubing is left rough so paint will stick better and only the parts that will be showing is polished ,
before whole thing goes in the chrome plating bath , & turning the power on.

Electroplating is involving the element of metal as a salt, dissolved in Acid, moving from anode to cathode, thus..

Best; Copper then Nickle , then Chrome, but skipping the 1st 2 is cheaper..

Last edited by fietsbob; 02-16-19 at 03:50 PM.
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