NOTE: Some people talk about copper plating beneath the nickel/chrome plating. They feel this adds to the show chrome look (Show chrome is achieved from mirror-like polishing). What it does do is help fill in imperfections (part of the prep process) and might even give it a tint color. This is not necessary if you don’t need it. It will however make the chrome too thick and headsets, bottom brackets and anything needed to be screwed in, might not fit. Some chromers add the copper because it is easier for them during the prep stages and again, they do not have a ‘level of care’ for the job they are hired to do. So do it yourself or hire somebody who cares.
CONCLUSION: Deciding when a Frame is worth Re-Chroming or Not
After understanding the long and tedious process involved in prep work and re-chroming a vintage BMX bike, an important decision must be made before enduring this task… Determining whether or not your vintage BMX frame set should be re-chromed or not.
Because when you have an old vintage BMX, the chrome might be in various conditions and the re-chroming process, as you now know, can be VERY tedious and difficult when dealing with tight areas like between the rear tubes that connect to the seat post tube and in between gussets. Especially the weld areas because if the welds are pretty rusted, it’s going to be very difficult to remove the rust, and smooth out the welds to a shine without losing weld detail.
- Surface Rust – The chrome on the frame could have surface rust which can easily be removed, but still present underneath the chrome. There might be a bit in the tight areas as well. And for those reasons, we would say just clean it with an SOS pad and water (yes it is safe and does not scratch the chrome when done properly) and leave the chrome as is.
- Rusting & Pitting – If the chrome on the frame is pitted and rusted, then we suggest de-chroming/de-nickeling and have the bike sandblasted and painted instead.
- Scrapes & Scratches – If the chrome on the frame has scrapes and scratches, then we would suggest de-chroming/de-nickeling and having the scrapes sanded out if not too deep or brass filled and sanded. Then prep it up for re-chroming.
Our advice is simple. If the chrome is decent, leave it as is. If it has slight rust and scratches, get it re-chromed. If its extremely rusted and pitted, get it painted (not powdercoated – that topic’s for another day).
If you have any questions or need help in your restoration process, email us at contact at email@example.com