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An Overview Of How To Apply Hard Chrome Plating To Pistons For A Car Engine At Home

Applying a layer of hard chrome plating on metal surfaces can make iron and non-iron metal parts and fasteners used in various manufacturing processes like those in the automotive industry last longer than normal. The hard chrome plating makes the surface of the metal smoother by filling in the pores normally found on an untreated metal surface. A smoother surface reduces the amount of friction between the metal surfaces of parts rubbing together, and this lowers the amount of wear and tear on the parts because it reduces the amount of heat that is produced by the friction. If you have a hobby working on rebuilding cars and motorcycles, here is how you can apply hard chrome plating to parts like the pistons for an engine at home.

Clean Pistons

The pistons should be thoroughly cleaned with a heavy degreaser to remove all the oils, dirt, and grease on them. Any impurities on the pistons will prevent the hard chrome plating from adhering to them like it should. Make sure you also rinse the pistons well to remove any residue from the degreaser.   

Prepare Hard Chrome Plating Solution

You need to use demineralized water in the process. Tap water has too many impurities that could interfere with the hard chrome plating process. Heat the water in a container large enough to dip the pistons into so they can be completely submerged in the hard chrome plating solution. The heat will help to dissolve the hard chrome crystals you’ll be adding to the water. You can purchase the hard chrome plating crystals online or at an industrial supply store.

Put on rubber gloves before handling the crystals or stirring the solution to protect your skin. You should also wear protective eye glasses in case the solution splashes out of the bucket and onto your eyes.

Add the crystals to the water once the desired water temperature is reached (check the label on the package of crystals so you know exactly how hot the water should be), and stir the solution with a wooden paint stirrer. Remove the solution from the heat source and let it sit overnight.  

Chrome Plating the Pistons

Put a small agitator in the bottom of the container to circulate the solution. Hang the pistons from a copper tube with brass wire – the copper and brass won’t react with the solution. Apply an electric current to the solution. The exact amount of current needed will be on the label of the crystals you are going to use. If you don’t have an electrical current generating machine, you can use car batteries to supply the electrical current you’ll need. Let the pistons sit in the solution for at least an hour.

Turn off the electrical supply before you lift the pistons out of the container. The pistons should now be covered with a layer of hard chrome plating and will be ready to install back into your engine.