Brandon asks about chrome, what is possible; costs and is it good as "old" chrome...
CyclArt has offered complete bicycle frame plating services since 1979. With the exception of a transition three years ago we've worked with a few very talented and hard working platers who have taken the time and made the investments necessary to first class results on bicycles. A great plater of auto parts can do a terrible job on a bike frame. Race frames present serious challenges to platers. First, stripping old chrome involved use of strong acids which can excessively remove brazing material. Frames have areas like for blades, seat stays and top tubes which often have small vent holes or even pinhole gaps in brazing. These are especially troubling because in the plating bath, electrical current will "draw" plating solutions into these spaces, but once out of the tank the liquids will not come out, that is until they "eat" their way out. The tendency for frames to trap solution internally is a prim reason why many conscientious platers will not work on them. Their concern is that the frame can "drag" solutions, carrying them from one tank into the next. A few parts per million of such contamination can both render a 500 gallon tank to useless toxic waste and incases of a rinse tank cause toxins to discharge to the sewer system and cost potentially mean a large fine or closure by regulators.
It's true that we rarely sue a copper base layer anymore. There are several reasons. One is that the copper tank is not the worst source of toxins. The other is that unless the frame is badly pitted or rough we don't believe it is a good thing. Given proper care and procedure, the nickel plating which preceeds all chrome plating will give excellent beauty and protection. The idea with copper is to build a thick soft base layer which is easier to polish. While it can help fill pitting, the downside is that the copper adds unnecessary weight and thickness, in fact, unless care is taken threaded and press fit surfaces will all be compromised. So while many platers complain about how the "new" techniques don't give the results of the old, we think fine results can still be had, it's just a little harder.
Another factor is the labor in polishing frames is challenging. Lugs are soft material, tubes are hard. It's difficult to keep the lugs crisp and sharp when doing a full chrome frame, especially as is usually the case, there are rust pits to polish out. Also efficient polishing requires horsepower. Most platers use wheels with 12 for 25 horse power motors, running at 1260 RPM. A mistake that causes the buffing wheel to catch between the stays and seat tube can result in severe injury. Then there are the hazards of exposure to strong acids, heavy metals, dusts and high voltage. Platers earn hazardous duty pay! Meanwhile, most quality plating shops have a clientele of motorheads who throw thousands of dollars at the chrome on their projects, which rarely present the hazards of our bike frames!
So, we are grateful that we can still offer a full range of plating services! Our listed prices include the charges necessary to prepare the area around the chrome for painting, to mask and unmask. To review our price list go to:
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