Thursday, January 29, 2009

Huffy/Raleigh Chrome Before

While I procrastinate putting the wheels back together and starting the sanding and painting, I'm going back through all the parts I have already cleaned and doing a second, more thorough cleaning and inspection. The brake calipers and levers are the pieces in the worst shape. These photos are after two cleanings with steel wool and oil, followed by rubbing compound and then polishing with a clean cloth. Trust me, this is as good as they're going to get:
 The only chrome bits on the bike that aren't bad are the crank arms and chainring. The stem and handlebars were quite terrible, and after my adventure with the stuck stem bolt, they've been replaced anyway. I'm going to try the silver paint trick for these and a few other once-shiny bits like the frame clips for the cables.

I found this in William Love's How to Restore Your Collector Bicycle (which is now out of print, darn it). Love is talking about cadmium or nickel-plated bits like fender braces, kickstands, etc., but I'm going to try it with chromed pieces. I figure they can't look any worse than they do now.

Good old "chrome" silver (shinier) or aluminum (duller) spray paint works wonders to touchup these...plated parts, but not necessarily by spraying them. First, wash and thoroughly dry all of the parts.... Spray the paint liberally on a paper towel, and rub the paint on the affected part.... The deteriorated portions are a bit rough compared to the rest of the surface, and the paint sticks to these areas while blending with the original surface nicely (Love p.64).

We shall see. This is probably going to be this weekend's project. I'll let you know how it works.


  1. Hello, did you have to spray the rusted areas with something before "rubbing" paint on it or you have to completely scrub it away before painting? Thanks!

  2. Hi Tina, I did not pre-treat the rusty spots or use a primer, just scrubbed the rust to get as much off as possible, then wiped the silver paint on. This is not to say that you couldn't, but I didn't.

  3. Never use steel wool on a bicycle.

    Overnight soaking in oxalic acid (made from wood bleach crystals and water) will 12 hrs later allow you to wipe the rust right off chromed/painted metal of the bike.

    I restored a Raleigh and JC Higgins recently and am now a believer.

    Also, no elbow grease required. Even is fine on decals.

    Check for more on the subject.

  4. @ Jesse: Never say never. Very fine "0000" steel wool is just fine on chrome, with a bit of light oil. It sounds like your method is also very effective, I'll have to give it a try.

  5. have to agree with Thom. Everyone says don't use steel wool, but its superb for rust in the 0000 fine wool. I hear the same thing about WD40 too. Those happen to be the 2 best products needed for a practical restoration

  6. Hello,
    I am restoring two Murrary Montery beach cruisers,we bought new in 1980.Crank arms are bad rusty,got all rust off can I spray them with etching primer,prime them and paint them.