Sunday, 18 January 2009

Restoration tips - Chrome & Nickel plating

Most older bicycles have some form of plating be it chrome or nickel . Most pre 1920s bicycles would have had nickel plating but some research from old bicycle catalogs will soon tell you what type of plating your bicycle had and it will then allow you to get it re plated in either nickel or chrome correct to the period.

As in re painting a bicycle frame you can also save money on getting parts plated. Although most people can not re plate parts themselves you can save money on cleaning the parts prior to being re plated. This like stripping a bicycle frame with paint stripper yourself takes a lot of time and is a rather dirty job, but with the right tools it is possible. If you intend to clean up old parts for plating you will need to invest in a electric drill or angle grinder and then fit it with a wire brush suitable for the removal of flaked plating plus you will need protective safety glasses and gloves.

If possible mount the part to be cleaned in a vice and start removing the plating with your wire brush attached to the drill or grinder prior to using any electric tools you made be able to remove some of the flaked plating with a wire brush or sandpaper etc. If you are not keen to undertake this job yourself you can save a lot of time by getting the parts sandblasted instead. For a good quality finish all parts will need to be perfectly smooth for the plater to achieve good results. If you are unable to clean all the old plating off the plating company will undertake this job and that cost will be added to the final price of the parts.

As with my 1947 Humber sports pictured above the handle bars were badly rusted and were sandblasted before being re chromed with the remainder of the parts such as the seat post, stem & cranks being hand polished with a rust remover and finally chrome polish. In time the plating on the bars will age to match the remainder of the original plating. Always try cleaning old plating first as it may be possible to remove rust and polish it rather than spending the time & money on getting parts re plated but this of course depends on what type of restoration you are undertaking.

Please note if you are cleaning old plating do not use any coarse wire brushes etc as these will only damage the plating instead soft wife brushes, kitchen pot scrubs, toothbrushes etc are the best option for obtaining good results


The Jolly Crank said...

Excellent work Don! Interesting posts. Did you have any surprises or difficulties as you restored your old Humber? Also, in a previous post you mentioned the Humber was family heirloom--what is the provenance?

Andy in Germany said...

I just found you here and I'm subscribed- I'll be in Japan in August and I was wondering about the cycling options, and I'm expecting to do a restoration on a bike here at some point.

And that Humber is beautiful.

Don Speden said...

Hi Jolly Crank & Andy

Thanks for the comments and and Jolly crank if you go back to the start of my blog you will find some detailed posts related to the Humber as my Father purchased it to ride to work on in 1947, at the time it was part of the 1st shipment of British bicycles to come to NZ with chrome plating as over the war most parts were painted instead of chromed. Andy if you come to Japan in August be prepared for very hot & humid weather, no rain but a lot of people do not cycle in August as some parts are just too humid & uncomfortable, but in saying that Hokkaido would be rather nice.

Thanks for the great comments
Cheers Don

Don Speden said...

Hi Jolly Crank

If you go back to 4 Feb 2008 you will see a posting called Cotter pin trouble and that was one of the main problems I had in restoring the Humber apart from that it was not too difficult as I have had worse projects over the years. I checked out your photo galley and blogs, very nice and your refurbishment restoration of the Kunwell is very nice indeed, keep up the great work.

Andy in Germany said...

Hi Don...

Yeah, I'm not looking forward to the temperatures...

BTW, have you any thoughts on borrowing/scrounging/renting/buying bikes in Japan? Any tips for what to look for?

Incidentally, could you enable OpenID so I can sign in from my wordpress blog?

The Jolly Crank said...

I'm sorry, there must be some mistake. I've never restored a bike in my life.

Don Speden said...

Hi Jolly Crank

Sorry I must have been looking at a photo of a restored bike on one of your links

Cheers Don

workbike said...

Thanks, that's way easier. Where is Niigata Ken btw? Google puts some of the towns you mentioned near Hiroshima, but my wife is adamant you're somewhere NE of Tokyo.

Don Speden said...

Hi Workbike

Niigata ken is located on the sea of Japan next to Nagano , if you look on google you will also see Sado Island which is part of Niigata ken and a fantastic place for cycling

The Jolly Crank said...

But, I do have a 3 speed middleweight bicycle that I had an opportunity to acquire cheaply. It doesn't need a lot of work, so it's a good project for a beginner like me. Your recent posts have been very helpful. And I have enjoyed your travel blog for quite some time now.


Don Speden said...

Hi Andy

If you take a look at the link Japan Cycling on my page that will give you plenty of info on cycling in Japan. There may be some bike shops that rent bikes in Tokyo etc but if you check that link mentioned you may be able to find out. Personally I would just bring my own bike to Japan if touring for a long period.

Cheers Don

kelvin said...

i was searching for some relevant site on chrome plating and found this blog very interesting.


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