Chrome Polishing, Mythbusters Style


Introduction: Chrome Polishing, Mythbusters Style

OK, I know that the Mythbusters didn't invent this idea, but that's where I heard about it.

Step 1: Have Some Rusty Chrome.

I'm sad to say that I've been a bad daddy to my little bike. These pipes were new a few years ago. The originals were completely rotted out, so I got these replacements on e-bay. Par for the course with aftermarkets the chrome ain't that thick.

It doesn't help that I haven't so much as pulled the cover off for weeks at a time.

Step 2: Supplies!

You will need:

"Cola" - I used Wal-Mart diet cola. I'd heard that diet is less sticky. 54 cents for 2L.
Aluminum foil
warm water
paper towels

Step 3: Pour 'n Scrub

Pour the Diet Coke on your rusty chrome (is there any better use for this stuff, lacking Mentos?) Crumple up some foil and use it to scrub the nasty rust away.

Rinse with warm water and wipe dry.

Step 4: Gawp at the Results.

I was really blown away. In some of the pictures the flash makes it look more scratchy than it really is. I don't think I'd use this on a top dollar bike, but I hope a top dollar bike would have better chrome (and better care).



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    79 Discussions

    Well, I own 6 motorcycles. Every one of them was an anchor when I got it. I restore old motorcycles for fun.

    Get three empty gallon plastic milk jugs. Go to Tractor Supply. Get yourself a gallon of "Milk Stone Remover." osts about 5 bucks. Dump it into a wide plastic bin, with three gallons of water. place your rusty item into the diluted acid. If you leave it in the solution for 6-8 hours, the rust is gone. Your part is clean, derusted, and rust resistant. I swear, you can take your fingertip, and wipe off the oxidation. When you're done, put it back in the jugs for next time. I have acid that is 10 years old. Still works. After several uses, it forms crystals which you can skim off and throw away.

    One thing, Do not use Muratic Acid. It also works well, but you will instantly flash rust. There is a good chemical reason for this, but I won't get into it. Incidentally, the chemical in the Diet Coke is an EXTREMELY diluted phosphoric acid. That's why you have to scrub. Aluminum foil WILL lightly scratch light chrome. Period.

    1 reply

    PS When you're done, rinse the part with water. You get zero flash rust.

    so just scrub with Dt. Pepsi and Aluminum foil? That sounds to easy, whats the catch?

    9 replies

    The catch is that i will rust immediately when it comes in contact with water.
    Those spots that rust, are pinholes in the chrome coat. By this or other polishing methods you remove the rust and then you you have the bare steel on the surface. You'd need to clear coat it, but there are not too many clear coats, that can handle high temps on exhaust pipes.

    There has been, for years, products that would take a rusty surface and convert the rust. The common chemical is phosphoric acid. It is also what makes this coke trick work, too, because it has a little phosphoric acid in it...makes it tangy. It is just so diluted that it has limited action in converting rust. The product, "Milk Stone Remover" is actually pure phosphoric acid. It's called that because it is used to clean the calcification in milk processing equipment. It is also dandy for rust.

    When you remove rust with phosphoric acid, you are converting it to a compound with a single oxygen atom. It's black, and inhibits rust. Unless the pits are severe, it won't rrust easily

    Like I said in the Instructable, the chrome wasn't great from the start. Of course the rust is coming from microscopic holes in the chrome. It's not very helpful to say to clear coat it, but then say clear coat won't hold up (it won't).

    As with any polished metal, the answer is to simply keep after it. This method works well, quickly and cheaply.

    Hi Temp engine paint is available in colors, shines nicely, and gives a custom touch (black for eggsample)

    Why no, it wouldn't be. But, given the choice between shiny slightly scratched chrome and a color which looked custom, I think I'll take the color.

    that's how we did it up az\t the gm plant in tarrytown, ny., to the hundreds of cars sitting in inventory. (in the 60's) 

    Brasso is for soft, unitary metals, like Silver, Brass, copper, etc. Not chromed metal.

    Brasso is great for one time use. It is mildly abrasive, however, like Soft Scrub. If you use it once a month, you can get rid of all of your chrome by the end of the summer!

    All you have to do to take care of chrome is to un-rust it with a good non-abrasive cleaner, like Nevr-Dull wadding. You get it at Auto Zone. Then a good chrome polish (maybe Meguilars?) every now and then. It prevents oxidation (rust.) Only use cotton to clean or polish, like old tee shirts, or my favorite - old towels.

    You can also use electrolysis, which doesn't cost a dime, requires no scrubbing, and delivers a beautiful result. It does flash rust, however. And make sure that you have the polarity correct, or you will remove the chrome!

    Maybe I should do an Instructable.


    2 years ago

    Most of search because we want to find ways we havent thought of and hopefully that someone has actually practiced what they are saying. That gives us a better platform to make a decision on than just opinion alone. Because opinions are like noses - pick one. :-)


    2 years ago

    Thank you Captain Pedantic. Yours is a helpful and inexpensive method and you mention the caution for new chrome. Which hopefully, wont be in that pcondition anyway. The rest of you guys are no doubt brilliant and OCB, perfectionists but if you dont have something good to say - dont say anything at all. Captain - keep up the good work and thanks for sharing.

    I have a 1975 Honda Goldwing GL1000 with a LOT of chrome, and the very best thing I have ever used is a product called "Brasso". It is a liquid, but also comes in a paste. It works on EVERY kind of metal.

    2 replies

    Always used a combination of Brasso, Autosol and Elbow grease... and worked well on all the Wing's from 76 thru to present... in fact, brasso is smooth enough (not that abrasive) that it can be used to polish the frame etc!

    However, i was introduced to a product recently (the name of which evades me at the moment - I'll check back when i remember!) which put all of those to shame. It was test proven to me on a REALLY rusty bin, literally a splash of this stuff and 3 minutes buffing with a bit of jean material and this thing shone... I mean, really shone, I never seen a bin shine quite like it. Tried it on my stained and pitted GSX400T casing and it came up SHINY, for the first time since I've owned it, and it only took about 10 minutes to do the hole case!