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