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View Full Version : How To: poor man's way to cleaning old chrome



cHiCoD
04-02-2012, 1:36 PM
im sure alot of you already do this,but for people who dont know,there is a pretty cheap way to clean all that old chrome.
there is a million ways to clean old chrome. coke and tin foil,etc. but this has been the best experience that iv'e had.
i know alot of people pass on old bitchin parts because of surface rust/what have you and nobody wants to pay out the nose for rechroming.

1: go to your local auto parts store and get a bag of "0000" steel wool pads (the finest coarse they have)
2: get yourself a big can of carb/choke or brake cleaner.
3: clean/wipe the crusty chrome part off real good with a clean rag/cloth
4: spray some carb cleaner directly onto the steel wool pad. you dont need alot.
5: apply to the area that needs cleaning. start off with light pressure. for more stubborn areas,apply more pressure.
it usually will take light rust and medium rust right off pretty quickly.
6: let it dry and glaze.
7: take a soft clean cloth and hand buff. works like a charm.
**NOTE: do this outside** if you have pets or kids,the steel wool pads will break down and let off alot of little dust like steel into the air. you dont want that shit in your house.
it may not be show quality,but most of you (us) cant afford that.
even spokes on wheels that are brown,more than half the time they come out pretty damn nice.
hope someone can us this .

Dig it.

CriminalKZ
04-02-2012, 1:40 PM
I'm gonna try this tonight on my exhaust. Hope it works as good as it does for you! Thanks dude

MitchMotors
04-02-2012, 2:15 PM
In germany we have some steel wool pads with soap for cleaning tins and pans and stuff.
They are called "Abrazo" pads an are the shit for cleaning rusty stuff.
http://data.mactechnews.de/429740.png
I used them for cleaning an old Vespa carrier that looked like it had been forgotten in an old chicken shack for quite some decades.
Just dip them in water to activate the soap and you are good to go. Some cleaning with WD40 afterwards to get rid of the soap residue.
Has to be quality chrome, of course, not some cheap asia shit.
Here are some work in progress pictures.

XwalkerX
04-02-2012, 3:24 PM
good little trick ill have to try out when i get home

:cheersmate:

bonestock3
03-19-2014, 11:08 PM
ill pick these items up tomorrow need to have them handy for a nice day out. thanks

offbeat
03-19-2014, 11:58 PM
I've used the soapy brillo pads and it doesn't seem to scratch the chrome. Crumpled aluminum foil too. Carb and brake clean are some nasty stuff.

SamHain
03-20-2014, 8:44 AM
I thought ketchup and aluminum foil was the poor mans way?

JohnnyRainbow
03-20-2014, 9:36 AM
Steel wool WILL scratch chrome, even if it's 0000. Use aluminum foil and water. It causes a chemical reaction where the aluminum is chemically bonded to wherever chrome is missing. And it shines old chrome really well.

JHibbler
03-20-2014, 10:31 AM
#0000 is great for cleaning up old chrome along with a lot of other things. i wouldn't use it on fresh chrome or nice chrome, but i don't think it'll scratch the surface of old chrome anymore than scrubbing rust into the surface with a piece of foil.

#0000 is also a good way to perfectly clean your car windows after wiping off any oil film.

ARBY
03-20-2014, 9:16 PM
I don't know about carb cleaner. Seems like it would evaporate quickly and just leave steel wool. I've have used #0000 steel wool and lots of light oil on blued guns without damaging the finish though so I don't image it would hurt chrome.

bobbarooski
03-21-2014, 4:58 AM
I don't know about carb cleaner. Seems like it would evaporate quickly and just leave steel wool. I've have used #0000 steel wool and lots of light oil on blued guns without damaging the finish though so I don't image it would hurt chrome.

Exactly! Removes ten year old finger pints off bluing, should be great on chrome.

Jetblack
03-30-2014, 12:27 PM
Only issue with fine steel wool is it breaks off in tiny tiny lil pieces, these lil pieces get embedded in what you're trying to clean up and well steel wool rusts too... this eventually turns into larger and larger spots to maintain. Rust is basically cancer to iron, you have to kill it or it's never going anywhere except all over what you don't want it on. The ol trick of aluminum foil and phosphoric acid found in cola's will kill the rust and then seal it against further damage. But if you wanna get it off for the time being and keep getting it off nothing wrong with wool.

govmule84
04-01-2014, 8:15 AM
In the firearm world, I've been told to use copper wool, and it works a treat.

Goon13
04-04-2014, 10:41 PM
I think the best way to clean chrome is to just get rid of it.

Clockwork444
04-05-2014, 11:08 PM
i did the steel wool on my 75' xs 650. it was extremely clean and stored for 20 years by my dad, but there was a massive amount of rust on the storage kickstand so bad it was about to rot off the bike. the rust and such on that made its way up to the exhaust and fenders, just a little pitting and rust spots. the wool cleaned it right up and the good chrome was left under it, but i did know i would make some swirl marks and you can't get those out. it is only noticeable in direct sunlight so dont do it on a perfect piece but on a resto project its about as good as you can do if the foil trick wont work

Huero
06-20-2014, 8:12 AM
49101

I use the old foil trick for rust spots, but I've been using NevrDull for the last 20 years to "clean" chrome. We also used in the military to clean copper, brass, etc. and it leaves a nice protectant coat when you're done.

fishparts2003
06-22-2014, 7:52 AM
Everybody seems to have their own thing, carb clean, ketchup, water, etc. I used tooth paste, and 0000 steel wool. Wipe it off and polish with Nevrdull etc. after. Like everybody says it don't get a showroom shine but it is better till you can afford to do something different.

Coco
10-28-2014, 10:49 AM
Soak the rusty chome parts in a tub with a mixture of water and oxalic acid. You can buy it at Home Depot.

Polish after with Neverdull or Mother's chrome polish ect ect.

klondikekid64
10-28-2014, 10:30 PM
Chrome plating is just a very hard thin coating on top of nickel plating, that acts as a sealer, all chrome (blue) has nickel (yellow) underneath it, custom chrome plating, will have copper under the nickel, hence, triple plating. when you clean with steel wool, it doesn't take long, but what happens is the chrome wears off, and then the nickel that shows thru, tarnishes and rust comes starts coming thru as well, because there is no chrome sealing it, so if you have rust or nickel showing, you can't really do much more damage by using steel wool, etc. After you get it clean, wax it, to try seal it. If you don't like someone piss on their chrome, acid in your piss sitting on there will mess up the finish, little trade secret.

bobscogin
10-29-2014, 6:56 PM
A point that seems to be missing here is that no one has ever removed rust from chrome. Chrome doesn't rust. If you're removing rust, the chrome is already gone and your simply de-rusting the steel that the plating was on. You can remove the rust, but it'll come back again, and again --.

Bob

Speciman
11-02-2014, 6:34 AM
Rust never sleeps. That is why I try to use parts made of alloy every chance I get. With the rusted metal I have rremaining, I use Wurth metal prep. Apply it with a brush and rinse with water. It desolves the rust and leaves a zinc coating. You may have to repeat the process 2 or 3 times dependent upon how bad the rust is but it doesnST leave scratches on the surface like 0000 wool. Don't remember how much it cost but it is expensive. On the other hand, I bought a 20oz bottle about 13 years ago and Im still using it.

seaking
11-05-2014, 7:24 AM
Steel wool WILL scratch chrome, even if it's 0000. Use aluminum foil and water. It causes a chemical reaction where the aluminum is chemically bonded to wherever chrome is missing. And it shines old chrome really well.

this is it. You wouldn't think it'd work well at all but I polished a little lowrider bike that had been left out for years with tinfoil, it looks like it's brand new now, and still looks the same as it did 6 months ago. Used a bunch of foil taco wrappers. I'm putting all the rest of the bullshit I have in the trash.

Electrolysis also works pulling rust off hard to get at parts you can't pull apart. You have to wipe it down with a towel, but it's a good temporary fix for prep.

I had a springer I didn't want to disassemble, just filled a five gallon bucket with water and baking soda and dropped the spring end in. Hook the neg. up to the part, positive to a SS spoon or SS strap steel and dip that in the bucket, and it'll pull rust off. the only problem is it comes back eventually, I saw it after I sold it, it was getting back rusty.

goofyfoot2001
11-05-2014, 8:57 AM
A point that seems to be missing here is that no one has ever removed rust from chrome. Chrome doesn't rust. If you're removing rust, the chrome is already gone and your simply de-rusting the steel that the plating was on. You can remove the rust, but it'll come back again, and again --.

Bob

I was really excited then BUZZKILL Bob came along...

Getow
02-12-2015, 7:38 AM
I use 0000 steel wool dry on all kinds of chrome. I never tried it w carb cleaner etc. It works great to remove boot marks off of pipes to. Never had an issue w scratches on old or new chrome

Mocnyang
02-17-2015, 8:37 PM
Any of you have some before and after pics of this, i tried the aluminum foil on the rims of my shovel but it didn't work that well.

I didn't use water so that may have been the problem.

docmel
05-30-2015, 9:15 AM
Any type of steel wool or sandpaper, etc, will leave scratch marks on chrome, or pretty much any other steel or aluminum.
As said, rust is rust: If you see it on chrome, it will keep coming back.

But on beat up and scratched chrome (not flaked or rusted), a $20 buffing kit from harbor freight (comes with a buff pad to mount on a bench grinder and fine and extra fine rouge bars), will get all those fine scratches of. Also buffs out steel, ss, aluminum, brass like you wouldnt beleive and takes only a minute. Best $20 I have sent in awhile. Ive really brought back scratched up chrome parts and oxidized aluminum.

As far as chrome goes, once its pitted with rust, fine surface rust, or bubbled or flaked, its over, and no buffing will work.At that point its polishing a turd

BuddhahoodVato
06-03-2015, 7:20 PM
Dam boi, I forgot all about that shit. Works good, pero leaves some residue, pero who cares, que no.
49101

I use the old foil trick for rust spots, but I've been using NevrDull for the last 20 years to "clean" chrome. We also used in the military to clean copper, brass, etc. and it leaves a nice protectant coat when you're done.

inkaddict92
06-04-2015, 4:23 PM
Don't forget BrassO !! I've been using that stuff my entire military career as well

Grantman
06-06-2015, 5:04 PM
Aluminum foil has always been the best to me, but that's just to clean rust/crud off the chrome. Chrome don't get you home, but it sure makes you look good during the ride there!

EVOEATR
06-07-2015, 12:04 AM
I enjoy detailing my shit, and used to be a fan of chrome. I liked to use SOS pads on my chrome goodies, understanding and accepting that my shit will look great at 50 MPH and 50 feet away. But then I learned the basics of chrome plating...I never knew that the SHINE comes from the nickel plating and that the chrome is actually clear. That's when it struck me that the SOS pads REMOVE the chrome, leaving a temperamental nickel finish...thankfully I enjoy detailing my shit.

LilBill
06-15-2015, 9:39 AM
Electrolysis also works pulling rust off hard to get at parts you can't pull apart. You have to wipe it down with a towel, but it's a good temporary fix for prep.

I had a springer I didn't want to disassemble, just filled a five gallon bucket with water and baking soda and dropped the spring end in. Hook the neg. up to the part, positive to a SS spoon or SS strap steel and dip that in the bucket, and it'll pull rust off. the only problem is it comes back eventually, I saw it after I sold it, it was getting back rusty.

i've had good luck with electrolosis on rusty steel but i always use mild steel for the anodes, never stainless. Pulled this from another site:

"Why you should not use stainless steel electrodes for electrolysis
Many people using the electrolysis method for rust reduction swear by stainless steel, stating (incorrectly) that it's not consumed, stays clean and seems safe.
Stainless steel is indeed consumed when used in the electrolysis process, although slowly. The main problem with using it is the hazardous waste it produces. Stainless steel contains chromium. The electrodes, and thus the chromium is consumed, and you end up with poisonous chromates in your electrolyte. Dumping these on the ground or down the drain is illegal. The compounds can cause severe skin problems and ultimately, cancer. Hexavalent chromate is poisonous. These compounds are not excused from hazardous waste regulations where household wastes are.
These compounds are bad enough that government regulations mandate "elimination of hexavalent chromate by 2007 for corrosion protection."

Does your electrolyte turn yellow? That's a sign of chromates.

If you have been using stainless steel for the anodes (positive electrodes), wear rubber gloves when working with or near the liquids. If you need to dispose of it, allow it to evaporate into powders and dispose of the powders in sealed containers during your local "hazardous waste clean-up days".

Best bet - don't use stainless steel no matter how tempting it is. "

For rust removal on old chrome i mainly use brillo pads

35flathead
06-16-2015, 5:52 AM
you guys know they make brass wool too right? hah i usualy do the steel or brass wool and with some wd40 to keep the friction down a little. and then i wipe it off clean, and then use a polishing rag and some chrome polish.

Lowlifebiker
08-15-2015, 11:39 AM
I'll give it a shot thanks

hillcat
08-19-2015, 7:24 AM
Don't forget BrassO !! I've been using that stuff my entire military career as well

Reminded me of this Stooges episode - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFCxaNXv-C4

Aluminum foil (crumpled ball) dipped in water works for me.

IchibanMoto
09-08-2015, 8:00 AM
video with tips and tricks from the pros :



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76-lQwTru3s