Chrome Plating Care

Discussion in 'General Harley Davidson Topic' started by The Prophet, Dec 27, 2012.

  1. The Prophet

    The Prophet Member

    Yes. I freely admit it, I DO lurk on other forums from time to time. Guilty as charged!

    I lurk around other sites occasionally in an attempt to find anything of special interest - which I seldom do BTW - but it's worth a try anyway.

    Just yesterday, I found a lengthy thread on Chrome Cleaning, etc, that I believe is 100% extremely bad advice. It seems that there are a LOT of myths and misunderstandings over chrome, so I thought it might be good to discuss.

    Doing a search on hdtalking revealed no previous articles or threads on Chrome Care, so i thought I'd bring it to the table.

    A#1 is: You should NEVER try to "buff-out" or "Polish" Chrome Plating. Despite what some may think, this is a bad idea. It is the nickel plating which provides the deep luster of a chromed part, in addition to providing another layer of protection for long-lasting chrome. Chrome, the final plating step, is actually a hard, but extremely thin protective coating over the shiny nickel which prevents the nickel from tarnishing. This "Chrome" layer is extremely thin, like paper thin, and can be easily worn through by attempts at "Polishing" (in the real definition of "Polishing"). Think of it as clear coat, and think of how many "amateurs" with a buffer have worn through the clearcoat of their vehicle with disastrous results.

    Aftermarket manufacturers do us no help by labeling various chrome related cleaning products as "Polish" (like "Premium" Fuel!). This is a misnomer, as it is more likely just a liquid cleaner/wax. "Polishes" will contain various levels of abrasives, which you would NOT want to use on a Chrome plated part.

    Highly abrasive products that "polish" silver, brass, copper, etc by removing tarnish will do nothing for chrome. Chrome doesn't tarnish. But, the "Nickel" beneath WILL as you eventually wear away the thin protective final Chrome Layer/.

    Abrasive products will do no more than likely provide tiny scratches and discoloration, eventually wearing through the extremely thin chrome layer to expose the Nickel plating beneath. This exposed nickel plating will require weekly "polishing" to get back to a shiny finish. This may be what many are doing thinking they are polishing up the chrome!

    Never use steel wool, abrasive pads, a buffer or polishing rouge on chrome, as it will only damage the surface.

    In the harshest situations, try using a 50/50 mix of White vinegar and water. Soak a rag or paper towel in the solution, then drape the rag over the chrome part. Leave for an hour, then remove the cloth and clean the part with Rubbing Alcohol. Any automotive (or motorcycle) related pure wax can be applied afterwards.

    If your chrome is pitted or rusting - get it re-plated, plain and simple.

    None of the above applies to cheap, inferior "chrome" finishes, particularly those on Asian or British Bikes in the early 70's to the mid 80's. This (mostly fenders and tanks) was inferior workmanship and materials, nothing more. Get it re-chromed by a modern professional.

    "Google" search "Chrome Plating" and find reliable, professional platers, and then read their advice on care. They know.

    Hope this helps others, and debunks some of the wild (and harmful) myths about chrome care out there.

    Good Luck, and have fun!:read

  2. Breeze3at

    Breeze3at Well-Known Member

    Bob; Good info in your post. I totally agree, and have been trying to spread the word for years that you can't POLISH chrome. But many insist that their chrome looks better after using steel wool, abrasives or even aluminum foil.
    My chrome gets only soap, water and glass cleaner.
  3. fin_676

    fin_676 Experienced Member Staff Member Moderator Contributor

    I use a wee bit of soap and water on my chrome and perhaps a wee bit of furniture polish just to help coat the surface

  4. Rubyred

    Rubyred Senior Member

    I use soap and water and Windex!
  5. screwylouie

    screwylouie Active Member

    If I had to "polish" chrome, I'd be looking for a different finish like powdercoating or anodizing! I thought the whole idea with chrome plating was to have a durable and beautiful finish with low maintenance. Soap and water and a good quality wax for me!:D
  6. gator508

    gator508 Senior Member

    Haven't had to use anything stronger than Pledge.
  7. kdaddy

    kdaddy Active Member

    50/50 water and white vinegar is the best cleaner I have found. Spray it on a rag and wipe avoiding the paint. Leaves no residue whatsoever. A coat of wax occasionally. Chrome is very hard and does not need polishing unless tarnished or blue then Never dull works great without scratching.