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MG MGA - Aluminium foil cleaning chrome

Recently I was polishing some chrome lights that had been on the shelf in the shed and had some verdigris type roughness on them that polished off with a cutting type polish. My 16yo came in and told me to try aluminium foil folded into a pad with shiny side out and polish with this. It seemed to work well and in fact polished out some small areas of surface rust. Has anyone heard of this idea?
John McMaster

Strangely I read the same very recently somewhere. Someone recommended screwing up the foil and dipping it in cola first
Graham M V

Steel wool too, if you are game!
Barry Bahnisch

I used aluminum foil to remove rust on my bicycle's chrome 50 years ago with good success. I haven't had the nerve to try it on my grill shell. I don't really know what the roughness on the grill shell is; it's a factory brass shell from the late '60s, so I don't think it can actually be rust.

k v morton

Ken, I was just about to answer using the same historical reference but with the other medium. I used to clean my bicycle wheels and chrome fenders about 45-50 years ago using an SOS or Brillo pad. (steel wool with integrated soap). I do know that you can easily scratch chrome using plain steel wool. Yes, even 0000 grade Steel wool if you aren't too carefull. I think the soap provides some sort of lubrication, reduceing the liklyhood of scratching.

Chuck Schaefer

I've used the aluminium foil method on rust-pitted chrome, it works very well and is gentler than steel wool. I wouldn't want to use it on any half-decent chrome, but it is OK for smartening up chrome that is past its best.
Lindsay Sampford

I've used green nylon kitchen scrubs to clean chrome on my bicycle and cars in the past - it's hard enough to clean the rust off but won't damage the chrome. Finish with a wipe of oil to keep the air of the holes in the plating.

I read about the Aluminium foil trick in Practical Classics recently. They say that it leaves a little deposit of Al after clearing the rust away. Similarly it isn't hard enough to damage the chrome.
Dan Smithers

I took the foil to my grill shell today. I'm still not sure what the "growth" on the shell is, since brass doesn't rust. The foil cleaned up the chrome pretty well, but it did leave minute scratches. I'm probably going to have it repaired and replated at some point, but it may be servicable for now if I cover one small crack with a club badge.

k v morton

I soak stuff with WD40 for a few days, then use a standard red shop rag with more WD. Got a Norton Commando that had zero visible chrome after sitting for many years in a damp basement. I was going to sand the exhaust, headlamp, and rims and paint it, but instead sprayed it every day for two weeks, A couple of hours with the rag and the chrome was good enough to get me 2nd in show behind a freshly done trailer queen at a major British bike show. I rode it 200 miles in pouring rain too, and beat several other trailer Qs. That was 20 years ago and the chrome still looks good, no scratching and the WD removes corrosion from the micropits and leaves a protective coating that seals the pores in the chromeplate. The only thing on the bike that didn't look near new was the rear rim,which was a poorly plated aftermarket thing.
I've done MG grilles that are green (copper corrosion coming through the chrome), Jaguar window frames etc. WD40 and patience and a soft clean rag - only thing I ever touch chrome with. And, unlike metal polishes, this does not remove any metal or leave any scratches, ever.
Aluminum foil scratches, as does steel wool and any kind of abrasive.

FR Millmore

FRM - I too use WD40 a lot - I spray my bumpers with a thin coat every winter ( starting this weekend as the salt is just being put on roads) - it does attract filth easily but it just rubs off with a rag and can then be resprayed - prevention is better than cure!
Cam Cunningham

This thread was discussed between 08/11/2010 and 12/11/2010

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