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How are you guys bringing old chrome back to life?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Crazy Legs, Jan 27, 2014.

  1. Crazy Legs
    Joined: Sep 3, 2008
    Posts: 266

    Crazy Legs

    I’ve seen lots of threads of people using steel wool and bringing old chrome bumpers, grilles, trim etc back to life with a bit of elbow grease and I’m always amazed on how well it looks but I can’t find any info on how you guys are actually doing this?

    There are several kinds of steel wool, what are you using?

    Are you using something with steel wool? Like a polish or lube?

    I can’t believe it doesn’t just scratch the crap of it but I’m leaving it in your hands to help out - Thanks in advance :)
  2. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 15,887


    For me, steel wool is a last resort, something has to be totally brown with rust before I'll rub it with steel wool. And even then, I've gotten some impressive results.

    But for not-horrible chrome, where you have to clean some rust stains off but want to be extra careful to preserve what's there, I use buffing compound, same stuff you'd use to buff out a new paint job. It's way less abrasive. I like Wizards Turbo-Cut, it's cheap and it smells nice. Stuff like Flitz and Simichome are really good too, but a travel-toothpaste sized tube is $10 and you can get a quart of Wizards for $18, I polish a lot of chrome.

  3. deuce354
    Joined: Feb 9, 2005
    Posts: 304


    I never did it , but last week on American Restoration . Rick talked about using aluminum foil & water . He did a small piece & it looked pretty good. Maybe give it a try?
  4. I've had excellent results by rebuffing the parts using a sewn cotton buff and red rouge compound, followed by a loose buff and white. The chrome is hard enough that the compound won't take it off as long as you don't get too heavy-handed, but the compound will zip the rust and discoloration away like magic...

  5. fsae0607
    Joined: Apr 3, 2012
    Posts: 872


    Cotton buff wheel & Wenol.
    ApacheAlex likes this.
  6. low budget
    Joined: Nov 15, 2006
    Posts: 5,563

    low budget
    from Central Ky

    I use SOS soap pads and water on rougher pieces, some light scratching doesnt really bother me tho, on a piece thats gonna be a little rough reguardless, It will at least look better.
    I have also been known to spot in a little silver/chrome paint in a small area where chrome is missing,then kind of feather back into the edges of the spot,with the SOS pad taking the overpray off the actual chrome thats still good, to kind of blend it in.

    May be an old used car salesmans trick:D but it doesnt look too bad considering.

    I wouldnt use just plane steel wool and will also add this is for chrome bumpers wheels etc.
    not stainless trim.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2014
  7. tedster
    Joined: Mar 20, 2005
    Posts: 519


    I was amazed how good Wenol worked. I love that stuff.
  8. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 15,887


    I've done this too on really shitty stuff and have had some pretty impressive results. I've seen a lot of bumpers get painted over because the chrome was "junk" that could have been brought back to decent using this method.

    And even half-assed chrome bumpers look better than painted ones 100% of the time.
  9. milkweed
    Joined: Nov 21, 2006
    Posts: 567

    from SLC UT

    por 15 metal ready let it soak for 5 or 10 minutes then rinse it off. if it is really ugly i use 0000 brass wool and then i polish with flitz and a little 3n1 oil....
  10. stimpy
    Joined: Apr 16, 2006
    Posts: 3,547


    steel wool comes in different grades like sand paper from 00 to 0000 and the more 0's the finer the wool . I use oooo, and semichrome or bronze wool . which is like steel wool but made from bronze , you get it at home depot in the paint dept as its uded for furniture wood finishing . it will not scratch chrome , we use it to finish polish aluminum semi truck rims to the chrome like surface .. if the chrome is pitted I ussually use a phos acid/caustic to clean the surface then a mechanical polish to shine it up . DO NOT !!! use Hydrochloric/muriatic acid as you can burn it or make a poison ( hex chromate )
  11. Crazy Legs
    Joined: Sep 3, 2008
    Posts: 266

    Crazy Legs

    very good info guys, thanks for the help :)
  12. fsae0607
    Joined: Apr 3, 2012
    Posts: 872


    Yes! I bought a few tubes at Paso Robles back in 2002 and I still got them. I used it to polish the door handles on my truck and they look damn near new!
  13. TagMan
    Joined: Dec 12, 2002
    Posts: 6,199


  14. Try Barkeepers Friend.

    For most applications I like it better than the Quick-Glo that Jay Leno recommends. It's FAR cheaper. Quick-Glo is about $15 for a small container. Barkeepers Friend is just a few dollars and it's at Walmart or any large grocery store next to the Ajax & Comet with the other household cleaning supplies. A large Ajax-size container of Barkeepers Friend is about $3.00

    It removes rust and water spots, and leaves a creamy feeling to chrome that will be bright and shiny. It's not an abrasive polish that requires lots of rubbing. It works by a chemical cleaning reaction, so you simply apply and move it around, then let it do it's thing.

    Works well on chrome, glass, aluminum, stainless steel, copper, brass

    Surface guide:

    DO NOT USE BAR KEEPERS FRIEND ON: Gold, silver, pewter, marble, lacquered metals, or anodized aluminum.

    I'm not sure, but both products have similar characteristics, so they may both be from the same active ingredients. Bar Keepers Friend (active ingredient is oxalic acid) seems to be a soft power like talc. Quick-Glo has grit from pumice and an element of wax. I can't find the active ingredient of Quick-Glo.

    I'm curious to know what others think.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2014
  15. crazy_tonguezz
    Joined: May 16, 2013
    Posts: 376

    from glendale

    On small parts like radio knobs , dash trim, door handles and even switches i have used vinegar. After the parts soak for a while just use a soft bristel brush with dish soap to cleane the vinegar off, youll be amazed at how shinny things come out.
    I even used polish afterwards on a few parts .
    The vinegar gets all the years of gunk off ,especially if you have things with grooves like radio knobs.
    Ive taken appart switches to clean the contacts, once they are clean I reassemble the switches and make sure to use electric grease.
    It also works great on things like brake pedals and hard rubber parts.
    But be warned if your chrome has heavy pitting it will remove the pitting if you leave it soaking long enough and will leave a small voide where the pitting was.
    Now i know this wont help on big stuff like bumpers.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2014
  16. I like to start with brown rubbing compound and follow it up with wenol on a buffing wheel. If a part like pot metal is really, really badly pitted, I'll begin with an SOS pad.
  17. bowie
    Joined: Jul 27, 2011
    Posts: 2,874


    I've had pretty good results using 0000 steel wool with penetrating oil, then Never Dull wading compound. However Never Dull seems to have changed their formula;to not quite what it used to be.
  18. geoford41
    Joined: Jul 26, 2011
    Posts: 634

    from Delaware

    My buddy swears by the aluminum foil trick, he has brought back motor cycle chrome that I was sure was too far gone. He then just uses some good wax to preserve the finish
  19. jesse1980
    Joined: Aug 25, 2010
    Posts: 1,355


    I use triple zero steel wool. It works great on daily driver stuff. I wouldn't use it for show car stuff or anything, if you want it that perfect re-chrome it.
  20. Ive seen where a guy uses diet coke and aluminum foil with pretty impressive results. Although I have not tried it myself.
  21. Gahrajmahal
    Joined: Oct 14, 2008
    Posts: 456


    I made a post for Tech Week over on the HAMB about straightening your trim in a unique and simple way. I show an example of fixing and polishing stainless, anodized aluminum wheel opening molding and non-anodized aluminum sill molding.

    Looking at your cool custom and all the great rides featured in the avitar's of the others responding with great recommendations, you all may also enjoy my other HAMB thread where I paint my convertible in the driveway in a Gene Winfield style fade paint job.
  22. txturbo
    Joined: Oct 23, 2009
    Posts: 1,771


    I've been using 0000 steel wool on chrome, (new and old) glass and stainless for amost 30 years. It doesn't scratch and is way faster than polishes.
  23. I was taught this by my granddad when I was in my early teens and believe it or not it works pretty good. HRP
  24. tfeverfred
    Joined: Nov 11, 2006
    Posts: 15,792

    Member Emeritus

    Turtle Wax chrome polish and elbow grease. Repeat as needed. Of course, that goes for all chrome polishes. They all have the same basic formula. The results depend on how much work you put into it. There is NO miracle polish. Anything you rub on chrome scratches it.
  25. Tman
    Joined: Mar 2, 2001
    Posts: 36,078


    Best stuff EVER is. Quick-Glo. Been out of production for a few years but can be found.

    Posted using the Full Custom H.A.M.B. App!
  26. jkeesey
    Joined: Oct 12, 2011
    Posts: 652


    I use the super fine steel wool with amazing results. I also started using windex with it to help clean the surface as I go. Just make sure you add polish or some kind of sealer because on a surface that has rust spots it will rust again.
  27. I think it's not out of production and easy to buy.

    You can get it directly from their website, regular and fine:
    You can talk with them directly at 225-937-0276

    Lots of bicycle shops carry it in the traditional grit.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2014
  28. Hotrodbuilderny
    Joined: Mar 20, 2009
    Posts: 1,646


    Amazon has it as well
  29. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,800

    Atwater Mike

    I used diet coke to rub out my '47 Fat Fender ride...When I was done, the damned diet coke had reduced the width by inches...
    Now my '47 looks like a danged '40!
  30. Fine steel wool..0000 works good but even extra fine steel wool will scratch the chrome surface so you really need to apply a good coat of wax after polishing. HRP
    Lloyd's paint & glass likes this.

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