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Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive
(Hard Chrome Plating)

by Randy Taylor, Advanced Tooling Corporation.
May, 2007

Chrome Motor Cycle Pipes

Q. I have a Harley Davidson with Vance and Hinds Long Shot chrome exhaust pipes. While the pipes were hot , I dropped a microfber cleaning cloth on the pipes. It melted instantly on the chrome pipes. The mictofiber cloth si basically polyester and turned immediately black on the pipes. How would you suggest trying to get if off the pipes without totally scratching the finish?

A. The decorative chrome of today scratches easier than it did years ago. If you try even a mild abrasive such as steel wool or chrome cleaner, you could scratch it permanently. I would first try to dissolve with a solvent, (i.e., acetone, MEK, liquor thinner...) or a strong household cleaner. I've seen good results with "whitewall" cleaners and even "Goo-be-gone." Of course, use these methods only on a "COLD" exhaust pipe, blot the fluids over a soft cloth to keep it saturated for a spell to give it some time to work. I predict the acetone will dissolve it before the others.

If the stain won't break down chemically with solvents or cleaners, try using a hair dryer to warm and soften the burnt on material, then using a wooden pop-cycle stick or other non-abrasive object, try to pick away at it from the edges. You might even try a pot of steaming hot water pouring it slowly down over then cool it with a rag to try and delaminate it from the pipe. If you are extremely careful, a sharp razor blade may assist you in lifting the edges. The softer chrome will scratch very easily so try a spot on the underside of the pipe first to make sure.

Good luck.

Randy Taylor

Q2. Thank you very much for your ideas. Someone I spoke to today told me to heat up the pipes and them use oven cleaner with a heavy cotton rag to wipe it off while it is still hot. Do you think this would damage or discolor the chrome?

A2. Oven cleaner?? Sounds like it might work?? Experiment on a small area that is hidden before you commit. One of the key ingredients in oven cleaner is NaOH (sodium hydroxide). I would be cautious that you don't accidentally duplicate the "stripping chrome" process which is normally done using reverse DC electrical current in an aqueous bath containing "sodium hydroxide" and water.

Have you considered calling Vance & Hines to ask them for tech advice? They may have a proven corrective action plan in place.

RT/ HOG member since 1995



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