Bag O’ Tricks: Chrome Cleanup

block_2Most car guys and gals love chrome. Even if it’s not your favorite, chrome will always be a big part of the hot rodding world, and it’s been around for a long time; long enough for there to be plenty of rusty chrome in barns, driveways, and junkyards across the country. There are a bunch of products available to polish chrome, but there’s a cool trick I learned from my wife (yes, I’ll admit that). Use a little aluminum (or aluminium if you’re from across the pond), foil, and water to magically erase years of rust from chrome.

She used the little trick on these interior trim pieces from Henry when we were cleaning him up right after we bought him.

As you can see, rust had completely eaten through some of the chrome, but it still ended up looking pretty decent. In areas where there was only surface rust, you could hardly tell it had ever been rusted.

Make sure you clean the piece of loose dirt and junk before you work your aluminum magic trick. Use a small piece of aluminum foil and dip it in some water and rub lightly and watch the rust disappear! Keep dipping the foil and move along until you need a new piece or you’re done. If the metal is really pitted, ball up the foil; the rough edges will dig into the pits and remove even more rust.

The cool thing about this trick is that the aluminum foil doesn’t just scrape off the rust. Rubbing the foil against the rust creates heat, causing the aluminum to oxidize, creating…drumroll please…aluminum oxide! The small amount of aluminum oxide produced makes a wonderful polishing compound that chemically breaks down the rust while also physically scraping it off the metal. It’s a good idea to go over the area with a good chrome polish or wax for lasting protection.

I hope you enjoyed this Bag O’ Tricks and Happy Wrenching!

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