Evil chrome!!!

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A street
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Evil chrome!!!


Post by A street » Fri Aug 22, 2008 4:36 pm

Okay Cotten, not too hard to notice the anti-chrome bias on the board and I agree in MANY instances [mindless chroming of original parts that don't need it. Some bikes wind up looking more like giant fishing lures]. I can see certain rust prone situations where it might be a reasonable idea. Now i see the 'hydrogen embrittlement' comment and I would like to know what's up with that? Is there more to the anti-chrome movement than aesthetics or tradition?

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Re: Evil chrome!!!


Post by FlatHeadSix » Fri Aug 22, 2008 5:29 pm

I think the "evil" chrome that Cotten is referring to, and I agree, are the functional and structural parts of the old bikes that were never (for good reason) chromed to begin with. There is a big difference between a chrome accessory and a functional part that was plated just for looks. I don't think any of us have any objection to chrome accessories, they are not evil, they're attractive.

When you chrome plate certain base metals it affects the metallurgy of the part. Castings and forgings are very susceptible, parts that should remain malleable become crystalline and brittle. The affect of chrome plating makes some of parts prone to failure and, in many case, makes repair of the part difficult or impossible.

To say nothing of the fact that when the chrome finish goes bad, flakes, peels, pits, etc., (and it always does) it looks terrible and usually can’t be returned to original with any amount of effort which essentially junks the part. Have you ever tried to “un-chrome” a brass Linkert carburetor body or aluminum cylinder head?



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Re: Evil chrome!!!


Post by fourthgear » Fri Aug 22, 2008 6:27 pm

If the chroming was done right and with the right process and cared for it will last a long, long time , just like any other coating put on metal .( what , you have never seen Parkerizing or Cadium rust or come off ? )

I will not disagree that some metals and there intended uses do not fair well with chrome.(modern Ceramics can be used , for instance with high temp. applications, polished casting insted of chrome , which of course will need constant maintenance, but looks great to some ) I believe the maintenance part is the key to some of not wanting it .

The fact also comes down to what coatings were available back when these machines were designed , what they wanted to spend on the manufacturer of said machines , and lastly what were the trends of what buyers liked or wanted . (a lot war vets , who road them in the military )

If properly taken care of ( not the cheap chrome you see on a lot of Taiwan /china parts etc.), a show chrome parts coating will have a as good of service life as with any other coating .

You can say that HD kept things that worked , I see a company that kept things that way because they knew no other company was out there to challenge them , and did not see the need to change , which almost cost them . It took a bowling pin company to bring them from the way of the other motorcycle companys of the day, who are they now , oh ,those others are no longer in business. I'll take my BLING , any day, but thats just me . JMHO

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Re: Evil chrome!!!


Post by Cotten » Sat Aug 23, 2008 2:30 am

I was trying to be subtle, honest.

Thanks for chimeing in and pointing out the metallurgy thing.

Besides embrittlement, tons after tons of vintage motorparts have been ruined because of the damage done to gasket surfaces. Electroplating builds up material on sharp edges more than the flats, sometimes making narrow gasket surfaces concave.
And grinding them flat nearly always ruins the chrome.

Consider all of the talk on this forum about radically machining trashed hubs. They rarely spall unless chromed.
Thousands of cams and pinion shafts have been destroyed by chromed-over camcover bushings.

It has been my good fortune to have opened more than my share of hoards and barnfinds. Often it is only the rusted chrome that makes the difference between a priceless museum piece and 'just another restoration'. Paint preserved more metal than chrome by orders of magnitude.

On to cadmium plating and parkerizing,
Both coatings were devised to prevent corrosion, and they did a better job than you might think. The appearance of cadmium darkens and loses its aesthetic appeal (except to us fanatics), and is therefore its successful preservation is often overlooked. Parkerizing can often have a thin skift of red oxide form on the surface, yet still maintain a skin of phosphate for decades. A gentle blast with walnut hulls can reveal pieces that look fresh off the shelf.

Fourthgear points out the care aspect of chrome.
Over the decades, an awful lot of good chrome was cared for right down to the nickel.
Parkerizing needs only to keep its oil, and cadmium is best when left completely alone!

Please do not think that I do not love the glint of bare metal: Nothing compares to a '49 with the stainless buffed bright!


A street
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Re: Evil chrome!!!


Post by A street » Sat Aug 23, 2008 7:49 am

Thanks gents for such clear perspective. Great info from all of you. This board's a gift. Since I appreciate the ‘make it the way you want it’ American spirit of many of us, I try to make allowances for mis-guided choices due to the just plain bad or the mis-guided style of whatever era we happen to be in. I should rot in hell for learning how to use a cutting torch in 1968 on a Pan frame to build what is now refered to as ‘old school chopper’. I’m sure whoever stole it enjoyed it and appreciated all the cool chromed stock parts. Now it’s payback time. When you’re tring to build a basically stock pan from parts in 2008 [without a big budget] you find a lot of funky-ass chrome parts at your financial level. Rust, peel, flake. I do like chrome hubs and rims and a few other things but draw the line before Chrome oil bag and chain guard. I took a knuckle/early pan cam cover to the chrome shop to have the rest of it de-chromed last week only to find I would have to get all the steel and bronze parts [breather tube, rivet, plug, bushings, baffle and pins] off it before I spent $150 and then put all the stuff back on. I don’t think so. I’m in the shop now with a die-grinder trying to be careful. No fun. Big Karma. Related question...How much aluminum can you take off a die-cast cam cover before it’s too thin? Thanks for the replies guys.

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