Chrome Plating Process

As a manufacturer of custom made car and motorcycle parts I often get asked about finishing metal items that I manufacture.

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There are numerous finishing techniques and coating processes available and many different reasons why we may chose any particular one!

Paint, powder coat, clear coat, ceramic coating, chrome plating and nickel plating, anodising and hard chrome plating are all methods typically used in the custom car and motorcycle industry.

Chrome plating is a typical one that I come across regularly when repairing or re-manufacturing or modifying particularly motorcycle, but also some historic car parts. Hard chrome plating is also used in the refurbishment of fork stanchions on motorcycles.

Chrome plating is a process where by the metal is cleaned and polished, coated in copper, cleaned and often re-polished. Coated in Nickel and then a coating of chrome plate over.

1. Inspection. If I have old parts sent to me for modification or repair I first have to establish the condition of the existing part or parts. This is important as it is no good repairing or modifying the item if the original metal is in very poor condition. Old metal parts can corrode to the point that there is very little thickness left once the process of removing the old plating has been completed.

2. Stripping. Parts need to be stripped to bare metal; this process can involve removal of all paint, dirt, oil and grease, rust, old plating and any other foreign material. Typically then a process of sand blasting will be used to strip any old coating applied. It is at this point I sometimes realise that the material of the existing part is too thin to do anything with due to corrosion. Hence it is important to try and assess the part before any work (and cost) is completed.

3. Polishing. Polishing is the removal of surface material using a abrasive wheels and belts of decreasing grits to remove any marks or blemishes and “smooth” the surface. I start by using coarse-cutting sanding discs and belts, working down to soft cloth buffs. The result is a highly polished metal part with all pitting, scratches and impurities removed.

4. Cleaning. Parts must be exceptionally clean before plating — the smallest spec of dirt, grease, oil, buffing compound, rust, or any other foreign matter will cause imperfections in the finished item. For this purpose its common to use series of soap, acid and water solutions to guarantee a clean, spotless surface.

5. Copper Plating and Buffing. Parts are copper plated and then buffed to a brilliant shine. This is an important step in the process, copper offers an added layer of corrosion protection and helps to fill-in polishing lines and any marks. The actual copper coating may be very thin but this can be built up in layers to help fill in marks and blemishes (like a painter may use a filler material).

6. Nickel Plating. It is the nickel which provides the deep shine of a chromed part, in addition to providing another layer of protection for long-lasting chrome.

7. Chrome Plating. Chrome, the final plating step, is actually a protective coating over the shiny nickel which prevents the nickel from tarnishing.

Any number of layers of copper and nickel can be added to an item to build up the finish and what you will find is that in some less reputable companies these will be skimped on leaving you with an inferior quality of chrome plating that will not last as long and certainly not offer the corrosion protection expected.

If you want to know about chrome plating before you submit your parts to your chroming company ask them about their process. They should always use a “triple chrome plating” process – copper, nickel, chrome (3 steps). Some less reputable companies will use a nickel, nickel, chrome process or even just a nickel, chrome (2 step process). This obviously gives a far less desirable finish.

Thanks for reading.

 

We look forward to keeping you up to date.

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Don`t forget to email or call us for all your custom made 1 off bespoke items.

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Aluminium Motorcycle Top Yoke Machining

Here at Flashcustoms we can take a standard top yoke or fork clamp and modify to suit your requirements. We can also design and manufacture a custom one off item or a set to suit your bike or to simply stand out from the crowd with something totally different. All our stressed parts are CNC machined from aircraft grade aluminium.

The image below is a modified Triumph Top yoke. Our customer has used clip on bars instead and wanted the original top yoke and included cast handlebar risers to be machined down and “capped” to leave a flat smooth looking yoke.

 

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You will notice that because it is a casting there are pockets inside and underneath where the original bar risers had been. The actual remaining machined item may well have been perfectly strong enough to deal with the forces going through it. However, to finish it off and add a little more strength a “top plate” was cut out and fully welded around the machined area. This added in some additional material and strength and also finished off the machined down item leaving a nice smooth top to the modified yoke.

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My customer had the completed yoke and decided to rub it down and repaint it himself. I could have bead blasted it and powder coated or polished and anodised it.

We look forward to keeping you up to date.

For all your Custom Car & Motorcycle Parts, Manufacture and Welding / Repairs
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Turbo V6 Golf Rallye, Custom made Stainless steel Exhaust System

GOLF RALLYE, blast from the late 80`s and early 90`s.

5000 were manufactured to satisfy FIA homologation for the 1990 world rallying championship originally. These were hand built for that purpose with a 1,763cc supercharged engine, and syncro four wheel drive system. Boxy and only in left hand drive, the square headlights are a dead give away to the period produced but, these cars are a thrill to drive and when most manufacturers were bolting on big turbo`s and sod the lag the golf rallye was a little different, incorporating a super charger for boost.

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Above is only an example of an original car.

The car I am working on is even more special with a V6 fitted and a turbo kit from the states requiring much more plumbing in.

As you can see from the following picture there is very little room between the turbo and the bulk head, also the clearance between the steering rack, bulk head and rear prop shaft has caused some issues in getting the 3″ stainless exhaust round, down and through to the under side of the car.

Initially the biggest problem here was to build an exhaust from the turbo and get a tight enough bend through almost 180 degrees to swoop the gasses away round and down. This first part needed to also include a waste gate feed pipe and 2 lambda sensor bosses. The problem was that this radius was going to have to be “FT” (flipping tight) as we needed to twist the down pipe to thread it through the gap between the bulk head and  the steering rack cover / sub frame.

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The above image is what we ended up with a very tight, sectional sweeping bend that gradually scrolled downwards, shown here tacked up and set in position, leaving a minimal 10mm clearance between pipe work, bulkhead and steering rack. Luckily the engine mounts on this are uprated and pretty rigid thus reducing any movement and hopefully any clattering of the pipe work against nearby parts of the car.

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Once past the tight spots and under the car I added a flanged joint before the straight run under the prop shaft which included a flexible section and a second flanged joint at the back just before the rear diff, where I had to then kick up  the pipe and find a way through the sub frame and drive shaft (again with minimal clearance anywhere), this called for some “scalloping” of the 3″ pipe work to give some clearance as required.

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Above image showing the flexi section after the down pipe before fitting the flange joint. Careful consideration needs to be taken with mounting points and support for a large diameter exhaust system such as this, and for this reason a mounting is fitted just after the flexible section(as above). additional supports at the rear of the car, 3 on the back box and an additional one near the diff help keep the exhaust stable and steady.

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Back box (above) was a Magnaflow unit brought in and adapted to suit the car, this is a perforated straight through high flow box with oval rolled edge tail pipe – again modified to suit the car. Rubber mounting pick up points were made from flattened 10mm bar with small “tabs” welded to the ends to prevent the rubbers slipping off the end. Also shown is the flanged and welded flexi section.

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Above image shows all sections of the fabricated exhaust with the exception of s short double slip joint section made to fit after the diff to the back box. Having built the section and tacked it all up that was to thread its way through the rear sub frame / diff and drive shaft area at the back, I found there was no way in the world I could feed all this through the gaps there were; in one piece? This meant that I had to remove a section and mate it up to the remainder and make it as a double ended slip jointed section to be able to feed in from the rear of the car, there was just no other way to get the pipes in back to the back box.

20141031_085116Rear section being modified to allow for scalloping and slip joint.

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Down pipe following welding but, not including waste gate stab in. Note that I had to brace the bend before welding to prevent the sectioned bend from shrinking in to a smaller radius and changing the angle of the following down pipe. In areas where there was a wider gap purging the back of the joint with argon helped keep the internal welds as smooth as possible for gas flow purposes. Note the addition of 2 lambda sensor bosses which are needed to accommodate the requirements of the electronics running the motor.

2014-10-31 12.17.23 Another view.

 

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The 2 images above show the final down pipe with waste gate stab in all fitted loosely into position. Due to the limited space and shape of down pipe I had to modify the position of the waste gate to exhaust pipe 3 times. This was due to the fact that you have to revolve the whole section around to get the flanged end through the gap and then roll it and twist it to get the connection to the turbo in line before clamping up. Once I added the waste gate pipe and flange the whole assembly got stuck and / or hit in other places preventing me from maneuvering the section down and through and then twisting to mate up to the turbo. All in fitting this whole section up must have taken 15 trials with mm minor adjustments each time to get it to work.

I haven’t done exhaust pipes for cars for some time as they are generally always a bit of a “pig” on modified cars, this one was a “wild boar”. It must have been one of the biggest challenges I have faced when completing an exhaust. Hence no one else wanted to take it on I believe.

I don’t think I will be doing any more on cars for sometime – give me a motorcycle exhaust any day!

We look forward to keeping you up to date.

For all your Custom Car & Motorcycle Parts, Manufacture and Welding / Repairs
Don`t forget to email or call us for all your custom made 1 off bespoke items.

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Suzuki SV 1000 Stainless Steel Chain Guard.

Suzuki SV 1000 Stainless Steel Chain Guard.

Plastic chain guards have always seemed a bit of an after thought to me on many bikes. Generally made to perform a very basic function (mot requirement as well) most manufacturers seem to spend all of at least 5 minutes making them as ugly as possible. Not on this bike anymore!

My customer has a wickedly clean SV1000, I mean you could eat your dinner off the underside of the tail end.  Awesome bike for a 2003 model its immaculate.

Anyway, the project was to design and make a bespoke 1 off polished stainless steel chain guard. I was left with a pretty open brief other than the fact it wanted to be different. The motorcycle had already had some subtle modifications and I hence I wanted to create something subtle to complement the bike, yet on closer inspection more detail being obvious.

I took measurements and details required to start a drawing, the design was to be made from 6mm diameter round bar with laser cut and etched insert panel.

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Above image shows the start of the fabrication process. You can see to the top left additional round bar frame components, hand formed around a former and shaped with a planishing hammer. The main guard part being tacked up with the tig welder is sitting on the vice in the forefront of the picture.

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Above – Top main panel and mounting brackets  tacked up and laid generally together ready for tig welding and then offering up to the bike.

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Above shows the bike with the silencer can and passenger footrest removed to give access and also to be ableto visually align the components to the bike. The 3 parts were welded up as individual components, I used a short piece of 1/2″ wooden baton taped to the chain and set the top guard panel and taped it to it. This gave me a nicely aligned main panel. Setting / bending and aligning the front and rear mounting brackets was an art and a pain to get to look right sitting on the bike as I used the original chain guard mounting lugs on the swing arm.

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Above shows both front and rear mountings sat at the correct angle (but left long) and the black mark shows where I will bend the mountings towards the main guard panel, its important to remember that the bend angles for both mountings are different as the is a shorter distance from mounting point to lain panel on the front and rear mountings.

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Above shows that alignment of the top main guard panel and the way the 2 mountings sweep up to connect to it needs very careful setting up otherwise we will end up with a twisted assembly that will not sit square and even when on the bike. In this instance bend, check / offer up, bend and check again. As always it is far easier with the bike at hand to offer parts up to get exactly “right” and be able to eye up alignment. If I didn’t have the bike on hand it would have been very difficult to set this new chain guard up accurately when using the old plastic guard as a template.

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Above images shows (from left to right) parts ready for polishing prior to tack up, smallest tacks locating the mounting panels to the main panel, and view from the rear at tack up. The idea being that by using the smallest of tacks I can bend and manipulate the parts slightly to align the assembly, or even remove and blend in the tack if I need to move anything.

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Above 2 images showing final adjustments and set up before final welding. Once I was happy with the alignment, the chain guard was removed from the bike for final welding. After cooling I acid cleaned the welds to remove the heat marks. Final stage polishing with soft mop and soaps to complete the mirror finishing prior to fitting back onto bike and re-assembly of exhaust can and hangar (shown below).

 

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After final fit up, a good hand polish with a proprietary metal polish to remove soap and mucky finger marks, leaving a finished product

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Its worth noting the the pictures don`t do this chain guard justice – (crap camera on my phone).

Was the end result worth all the work? Leave me a comment, what do you think?

 

We look forward to keeping you up to date.

For all your Custom Car & Motorcycle Parts, Manufacture and Welding / Repairs
Don`t forget to email or call us for all your custom made 1 off bespoke items.

Alloy welding / repairs, custom parts, Welding Instruction.

 

Buell Motorcycle Swing Arm Modifications

Buell Motorcycle Swing Arm Modifications.

Wicked change over and modification this job.

My customer has asked me to modify and extend a cast aluminium swing arm to give him a wider rear wheel section.

Here is the Non standard swing arm to modify.

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Now the Buell motorcycle that this aluminium swing arm is to mate up to has a simple steel swing arm affair (the difference shown below). And there are also pictures showing the aluminium swing arm offered up to the original steel frame and back end gearbox pivot mounting. Note that we are extending the swing arm by 100mm to ensure the next size belt drive fits and extend the wheelbase marginally which helps reduce front end lifting so easily under accelleration.

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If you have ever considered a similar modification for your motorcycle you will know that there are many things to consider.

Points to consider

  1. Mountings
  2. Bearings
  3. Swing angle
  4. Coil over / linkages if used?
  5. Offsets of wheel
  6. Offset of Mounting in Frame
  7. Offset of drive sprocket to wheel centre and frame centre
  8. Relocation of pipework, cables
  9. Chain or belt clearance
  10. Revised mountings for chain guard, rear sets, exhaust, rear brake
  11. Any areas of interference e.g. is the assembly going to hit any part upon compression of suspension.
  12. Maintaining rear / front wheel alignment / centres
  13. Accurate and equal measurements between wheel centre and new pivot point centres,otherwise rear wheel will be out of alignment.
  14. Strength, rigidity, flexibility
  15. Welding and machining skills, design and manufacture skills
  16. and so on !

So all in all not a job for the feint hearted. As you can see there are many things that need consideration before any work takes place.

 

How did I complete this job?

A complete breakdown of this modification can be seen below.

Measure, measure and check again! 

I use any number of methods to work out all the above. First and foremost an image in my head of how I think I can tackle the job, what the end result may look like, will I be able to make it “work”. Its no surprise what people throw at me as far doing custom made jobs. Often upon initial conversation / email I may not know if I can make / modify / fit / manufacture what the customer requires. Often its a case of getting more information / pictures / sketches / notes / dimensions etc to fathom out if indeed it is even possible and will work.

Once I have pictured the overall job and agreed that I can do it, there may be several steps involved in being sure I can make what the customer wants as I may have a different picture in my head to what the customer thinks.

Anyway this modification was quite logical in planning and implementing.

A marked out layout was completed on my work bench using the wheel centre as a datum point. I then overlayed the original and also the new swing arms. Instantly this gives me a layout that I can pattern from. By doing this I can compare what dimensions I have to work from to make the new swing arm fit to the back end mounting in the frame for the original pivot point. At this stage a flat template was made from aluminium as a check and compare guide.

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Once the template had been made and offered up to the frame and original pivot mounting points I could clearly see that the pivot mounting point and frame centre line was some 10mm out of alignment. This meant that the template and layout had to be adjusted to ensure that the centre line of the rear wheel was moved over to correct the offset and ensure the frame and rear wheel centre line is on the same plane.

Designing the new Swing Arm Extension

Once the correct layout, centre lines and overall plan is checked and double checked again, I know what we have to work with. At this point I have designed a 3d model of the infill piece which will extend  the swing arm by 100mm. The item will be machined from one block of material and be pinned and welded to the aluminium swing arm.

This positive positioning will be via 2 aluminium “top hat” pins that will be a press fit into the adapter / extension piece and also the bearing bore on  the actual aluminium swing arm. Once happy with the fit these will be welded in position and the slab side of the extension will also be fully welded all round to the swing arm. Creating a fully fitted extremely strong extension piece which is now one part with the swing arm.

Initially several sketches were made to clear my mind dimension were correct and also to put my ideas on paper to be able to produce a model. Careful thought needed putting in to design of the item to meet all the parameters and miss vital components such as the back edge of the main framework.

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Sketches always help me with considering a design for a one off job and clarifies points in my head and what I want it to look like. From the sketches I can easily make a 3d model as below
swing arm mods (2)

The above image shows a 1 piece extension unit complete with front pivot bearings and rear top hat pins in place. From this an engineering drawing was produced to enable manufacture. This included all dimension required to ensure dimensions and fits for bearings and pins are all to tolerance and “work” accordingly as designed.

swing arm dwgpin bosses dwg

Points to consider when designing this part !

Strength, weight, size, machine-ability, weld-ability, fit, finish, conflict with other parts (as its a moving part).

So all above considered this was the final machined extension piece manufactured from T6 Aluminium.

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Once checked dimensionaly and any sharp edges removed the next step was to offer up to the cleaned up swing arm, removing all the original paint to ensure no weld contamination in the welded areas we could tack up and check against the frame before final welding.

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2 images above show the main extension welded to the original swing arm. Location was critical and so top hat pins were machined up to a light push fit into the new extension and aligning with the original bearing bores in the swing arm. This ensures a “true” aligned extension piece. Once all tacked and aligned the whole unit was fully welded using the TIG welding process. As the swing arm incorporated an oil tank within the pivot end of the swing arm, some difficulties occurred in welding as due to the nature of alloy being porous oil soaks into the material somewhat. This is fine but during the welding process this contamination “burns out” and floats on top of the weld pool.

Once welded the surface of the weld was cleaned with a skotch pad to remove any surface contamination. Weld integrity is critical on a job like this where so many forces are travelling through and acting on the pivot point. In this instance there is in excess of 600mm of weld all around the added extension piece to original swing arm so its not going anywhere.

Infill panels were then cut, positioned and welded in position to finish the “boxing in” of the extension piece.

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To add more strength and infill the area above the new extension I added a fabricated triangulated section which ties in the extension fully to the original swing arm – see image below.

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Final shots of the new swing arm fitted up to the frame – below

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Thanks for looking, hope this blog was useful to you and remember if I can help you with your project please don’t hesitate to give me a call, or use the contact form above.