Gleaming with Pride

| August 02, 2001

Nothing shines quite like chrome. Gleaming chrome accessories add class to any truck and make a clear statement about your pride of ownership. But if you leave the bright metal unprotected, road salt and other harsh chemicals can quickly attack the thin chrome plating, inviting rust and pitting, and resulting in a not-so-good-looking truck.

Stainless steel and aluminum components also require regular maintenance to keep their good looks. The time and effort you spend keeping your chrome and other bright metal trim looking good reflects well on you. It also pays dividends in higher resale value.

Chrome holds a shine longer than other metals, but it oxidizes, rusts and becomes pitted if neglected. The good part is that it is easy to maintain a deep shine on chrome parts. Metal polish for chrome removes rust and can bring a shine back to even a heavily rusted part. If the chrome starts flaking off, the part is too far gone for polish, and it will have to be replated.

In the chroming process, copper, nickel and chromium are used. Parts to be electroplated are immersed in a bath with a salt of the coating metal, while electric current flows through it from a positive anode. The parts are connected to the negative cathode, causing atoms of the plating metal to deposit on their surfaces.

Linda Hou, director of operations at American Chrome Company, Mokena, Ill., says that the major difference in the quality of chrome-plated accessories is in the thickness of the plating. “Most people use a three-step process in which they plate steel with copper, nickel and chrome. Our company does a five-step process. We double nickel-plate over a layer of copper and also plate two layers of chrome,” Hou says. “The extra steps ensure a longer-lasting product, with more resistance to rust and a deeper luster.”

She recommends regular washing and polishing of a truck’s bright metal. This helps remove the components that cause rust on chrome. She also recommends using liquid or paste wax to protect the shiny metal. Most of the well-known metal polishes on the market do well. The key is doing the maintenance on a regular basis, she says.

“Acid washing will adversely affect chrome and stainless products,” Hou notes. “We recommend against using truck washes that use acid in the detergent. But more and more truck washing operations are steering away from that. Even if they do acid-wash the trucks, they keep it off the chrome.” Keeping that mirror-like finish on your chrome means rinsing it well and drying it after each wash, she says.

Chromed ABS plastic nut covers, hub cabs and other wheel
coverings are becoming popular, Hou says. American Chrome molds its own products from heat-resistant ABS, that incorporates a patented design, and puts them through the chrome plating process. The accessories are much lighter than metal, very durable, and they do not rust. Hou believes that chromed ABS will grow in popularity when more truckers learn of its advantages.

Chrome bumpers make a dramatic statement on trucks and are popular among owner-operators. The 75 Chrome Shop, off I-75 (Exit 66) in Wildwood, Fla., keeps about 40 bumpers in stock, and the staff can order any kind of custom bumper that you want, reports Freda Lee. The shop carries bumpers manufactured by Valley Chrome Plating in Clovis, Calif., a leading supplier of custom truck bumpers.

Truckers seem to enjoy shopping for new chome accessories, Lee says. “That truck is their home. They live in it, and they like to decorate like a home. They want it to look nice, inside and out.” The 75 Chrome Shop carries a broad array of chrome, stainless and aluminum accessories, components and metal care products. Among the most popular polishes sold at the shop are California Custom, Zephyr, Mother’s, Blue Magic and Wenol all-purpose metal polish.

Dozens of metal polishes are on the market. Some of them are made in small batches from closely guarded formulas, and they are available only by mail order. Others are widely distributed at truckstops, truck washes and auto supply stores. Old terry towels and soft cotton T-shirts and sweatshirts are the best polishing rags. Avoid using anything that can scratch the surface of chrome parts.

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference between highly polished aluminum and chrome. “When in doubt, hold a magnet up to it. Chrome is attracted to a magnet, but aluminum and stainless are not, observes Joe Merrit of Buff, Polish & Grind Industrial Supply Co. in Argyle, Texas. “If it’s chrome, it will look perfect, with a true mirror finish.”

Gleaming with Pride

| August 02, 2001

Nothing shines quite like chrome. Gleaming chrome accessories add class to any truck and make a clear statement about your pride of ownership. But if you leave the bright metal unprotected, road salt and other harsh chemicals can quickly attack the thin chrome plating, inviting rust and pitting, and resulting in a not-so-good-looking truck.

Stainless steel and aluminum components also require regular maintenance to keep their good looks. The time and effort you spend keeping your chrome and other bright metal trim looking good reflects well on you. It also pays dividends in higher resale value.

Chrome holds a shine longer than other metals, but it oxidizes, rusts and becomes pitted if neglected. The good part is that it is easy to maintain a deep shine on chrome parts. Metal polish for chrome removes rust and can bring a shine back to even a heavily rusted part. If the chrome starts flaking off, the part is too far gone for polish, and it will have to be replated.

In the chroming process, copper, nickel and chromium are used. Parts to be electroplated are immersed in a bath with a salt of the coating metal, while electric current flows through it from a positive anode. The parts are connected to the negative cathode, causing atoms of the plating metal to deposit on their surfaces.

Linda Hou, director of operations at American Chrome Company, Mokena, Ill., says that the major difference in the quality of chrome-plated accessories is in the thickness of the plating. “Most people use a three-step process in which they plate steel with copper, nickel and chrome. Our company does a five-step process. We double nickel-plate over a layer of copper and also plate two layers of chrome,” Hou says. “The extra steps ensure a longer-lasting product, with more resistance to rust and a deeper luster.”

She recommends regular washing and polishing of a truck’s bright metal. This helps remove the components that cause rust on chrome. She also recommends using liquid or paste wax to protect the shiny metal. Most of the well-known metal polishes on the market do well. The key is doing the maintenance on a regular basis, she says.

“Acid washing will adversely affect chrome and stainless products,” Hou notes. “We recommend against using truck washes that use acid in the detergent. But more and more truck washing operations are steering away from that. Even if they do acid-wash the trucks, they keep it off the chrome.” Keeping that mirror-like finish on your chrome means rinsing it well and drying it after each wash, she says.

Chromed ABS plastic nut covers, hub cabs and other wheel
coverings are becoming popular, Hou says. American Chrome molds its own products from heat-resistant ABS, that incorporates a patented design, and puts them through the chrome plating process. The accessories are much lighter than metal, very durable, and they do not rust. Hou believes that chromed ABS will grow in popularity when more truckers learn of its advantages.

Chrome bumpers make a dramatic statement on trucks and are popular among owner-operators. The 75 Chrome Shop, off I-75 (Exit 66) in Wildwood, Fla., keeps about 40 bumpers in stock, and the staff can order any kind of custom bumper that you want, reports Freda Lee. The shop carries bumpers manufactured by Valley Chrome Plating in Clovis, Calif., a leading supplier of custom truck bumpers.

Truckers seem to enjoy shopping for new chome accessories, Lee says. “That truck is their home. They live in it, and they like to decorate like a home. They want it to look nice, inside and out.” The 75 Chrome Shop carries a broad array of chrome, stainless and aluminum accessories, components and metal care products. Among the most popular polishes sold at the shop are California Custom, Zephyr, Mother’s, Blue Magic and Wenol all-purpose metal polish.

Dozens of metal polishes are on the market. Some of them are made in small batches from closely guarded formulas, and they are available only by mail order. Others are widely distributed at truckstops, truck washes and auto supply stores. Old terry towels and soft cotton T-shirts and sweatshirts are the best polishing rags. Avoid using anything that can scratch the surface of chrome parts.

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference between highly polished aluminum and chrome. “When in doubt, hold a magnet up to it. Chrome is attracted to a magnet, but aluminum and stainless are not, observes Joe Merrit of Buff, Polish & Grind Industrial Supply Co. in Argyle, Texas. “If it’s chrome, it will look perfect, with a true mirror finish.”

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