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  1. #1
    I like to ride bikes!
    Reputation: scoutdog's Avatar
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    Anyone know anything about chrome...

    I'm shopping for a new frame. And I really have never had a paint job (or powder) that I liked after a year or so. Always lots of small chips, scratches, lack of shine and the like.
    I have 2 TI frames and I really like the naked metal kinda thing, but a custom TI SS is not in my budget right now. So I'm thinking custom steel with chrome plating? Had plenty of chrome BMX frames back in the day and I know Bianchi does the SISS. So I figure it can be done. Would there be any negitive effects on new hitech light weight tubes? Where could I get it done? How much would it cost? Would it stay like new like my old BMXers?
    I've emailed a few builders already and have had no luck with the chrome thing.

  2. #2
    brother on a mission
    Reputation: Greenfix's Avatar
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    I do not know a lot about it, except that it can be big $$$ and it is h*ll on the environment.

    If you want to get it done yourself you might want to look into some motorcycle web pages. There is a lot of custom chroming going on there. I have seen some custom chroming on motorcycle parts go very bad after a couple of years, so be sure what you get is high quality.

    Cheers,

    GF

  3. #3
    tlg
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    Reputation: tlg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoutdog
    I'm shopping for a new frame. And I really have never had a paint job (or powder) that I liked after a year or so. Always lots of small chips, scratches, lack of shine and the like.
    I have 2 TI frames and I really like the naked metal kinda thing, but a custom TI SS is not in my budget right now. So I'm thinking custom steel with chrome plating? Had plenty of chrome BMX frames back in the day and I know Bianchi does the SISS. So I figure it can be done. Would there be any negitive effects on new hitech light weight tubes? Where could I get it done? How much would it cost? Would it stay like new like my old BMXers?
    I've emailed a few builders already and have had no luck with the chrome thing.
    Could be a great idea. There are two types of chrome plating. Hard chrome plating and "decorative" chrome plating. They are pretty much the same but hard chrome plating is much thicker and very durable. Used on things like hydraulic cylinder shafts. Decroative chrome is used on things like car bumpers. Hard chrome is not very shiny. Looks almost like plain steel.

    Look in your local yellow pages for someone local who does plating. You'll have to talk to the plater and your frame builder and see what options you have.

    With hard chrome, because it's so think the frame builder would have to make allowances in the BB threads and head tube ID to allow for chrome buildup. After it's plated, it'll be virtually impossible to chase the threads or ream the head tube. But it'll withstand just about any crash.

    "Decorative" chrome is very thin but pretty durable. It can be scratched though.

    Some good info:
    http://www.starbritechromeplating.com/pages/FAQ/
    http://www.hard-chrome.com/vm_plating.htm

  4. #4
    mtbr member
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    The vintage BMXers know all about chroming. It will cost a couple bills and depending on the state you live (greenie laws), it may be hard to find locally.

    Do some searchs over at Vintage BMX

    Here is a site that has metal finishers Chrome Baby

    Finding a good plater is going to be the hardest part but the BMXers know their Show Chroming.

  5. #5
    try driving your car less
    Reputation: jh_on_the_cape's Avatar
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    I asked a motorcycle guy at my old job about it once (my old steel frame looked like hell).
    He said it cost much less than half to powdercoat than to chrome something on his bike.
    He suggested I just PC the frame, and it's cheap enough that you could PC it about 3 times for the price of the chrome. 'Just repaint it once in a while'. He does that on some of the parts on his fancy motorbike. you can have paint be silver like chrome.

    In the end... JUST SAVE UP FOR TITANIUM!!!! Figure a few hundred bucks for chroming (or multiple repaints). It depends on the builder, but ti is about 800 more than steel... go with the ti!
    Only boring people get bored.

  6. #6
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    To chrome, or not to chrome, that is the question

    I worked in a chrome shop many years ago and we did a few bike frames. I wouldn't recommend it. While offering sheen and flash, ornamental, or decorative chrome is not a durable as you might think. Here's why:

    Chrome is hard and brittle and steel bikes flex under load causing the chrome to eventually crack and let moisture in. Ever see a chrome bumper peel and rust in an area that has been dented or bent? Same thing.

    The "shine" you see on a chrome part actually the nickel plate under the chrome. If you just chrome plated a piece of steel it would turn out a milky-blue. Nickel plating is performed prior to the chrome. Chrome give the shine a blue cast to it. The gloss and luster you see on a chrome part is just a reflection of to what degree the part was polished. You just don't dip a part in a vat and it comes out shinny. Lot of prep performed; usually before the parts, in this case bike frame, are brazed or welded with touch-up polishing done after completion.

    The plating process is a electro-chemical process that immurses the part in a mild bath of acid while being electrially charged (anode/cathode). This acid, if it gets inside a frame tube and not neutralized properly, will corrode the frame tube from the inside out. Those little holes in a bike frame are put there to vent gases inside the frame tube during the welding process. Conversely, they will let in the acid and can be difficult to drain and rinse properly.

    The chrome plating process can induce stresses into the microstructure of the steel. For a bumper or a decorative trim ring this is not an issue. However, a structural joint (in this case a bottom bracket or a head tube) could be affected if not stress relieved (usually heated in an oven). Over time, cracking could occur in these and other stressed areas.

    Decorative plating is thin and scratches easily leaving it prone to rust and pitting if not cared for. Additionally, once plated - that's it. You can't rechrome or "touch up" damaged or rusted areas as you could with paint. (You can, but it's difficult and not worth it unless you're restoring something vintage).

    Don't get me wrong, chrome plating can be done properly on a bike frame with great results. It's been done successfully for many years. However, it does have limitations and is best suited for applications were a decorative statement is desired rather than for durability; such as a road or track bike.

    If I were you, I'd save for ti. Good luck!

  7. #7
    I like to ride bikes!
    Reputation: scoutdog's Avatar
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    That was great info! Thanks to everyone!!! I guess I'll be looking further into the TI market. The one thing that still stands out in my mind is all the old BMX bikes that have held up rather well over the years. I have see them rust too, but with lots of exposure and abuse?

    Thanks again everyone!

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