Monday, October 28, 2013

Cleaning Chrome

Most of the chrome parts on the Hornet were rusted extensively and needed to be re-plated. Chrome plating is expensive in the US. A person must be careful or they will spend more for re-plating a part than purchasing a new one. I want to use as many of the original parts from the Hornet as possible so I will re-plate those that need it. This goes for the rims, fenders, and fender stays for sure as the rust is through the chrome.

Some of the parts, although rusted, cleaned up alright. The air cleaners, steering nut and handlebar clamps fell into this category. To clean them up I soaked them in Coca-Cola and then scrubbed them with aluminum foil shiny side to metal. When I was a kid I remember my father telling me he cleaned chrome car bumpers with Coke back in the 50’s. A couple of years ago I relearned this trick while restoring an old art-deco table and chairs. My wife found the tip on the internet and it has worked pretty well. Coke also removes paint off of chrome if you let it soak for a couple of weeks.

The fuel cap was covered in over spray. Coke removed this too. 

After cleaning in Coke. An aluminum brush was used to remove softened rust. 

Coke will clean stains off of chrome, but if it is rusted heavily pits will still be visible after cleaning. Once the bulk of the rust was off I put the smaller parts in a vibrating polisher filled with walnut media. Polishing paste was added to make it clean better. This is a setup I use for cleaning pistol and rifle brass for reloading. It brought out a nice finish on the smaller parts. Paste wax was used to protect the finish.

Chrome polish alone did not remove rust or stains very well, although I only tried the one type I had. Fine rubbing compound worked slightly better than the chrome polish.  The air cleaner backs polished up well with the process noted above but still had a brown hue to them. I used a pedestal grinder with a cloth buffing wheel and abrasive to remove the remaining stains.  

Cleaned up and ready for assembly.