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  #11  
Old 12-16-2009
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I'd be careful specifying hard chrome for winches. It doesn't provide particularly good corrosion protection to the base metal.

Hard chrome is what's used on the piston rods of hydraulic cylinders. It's actually fairly porous, and holds a film of oil in it. If you see a cylinder that's been exposed to the weather for a few months without cycling, you'll see rust coming though. I expect salt exposure would accelerate that process.

On "decorative" chrome the nickel layer provides most of the corrosion protection. The final chrome layer protects the nickel from tarnishing.

A shop doing decorative work can give you a thicker layer of chrome. They just leave the parts in the tank longer. Tell them the winch drums need to be particularly wear resistant and they can probably recommend settings for them.

New England Chrome has been advertising in Good Old Boat for years. I don't have any experience with them, but they might be worth a call.

Good luck,

Tim
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The pattern of premature wear on the smooth top of the base of the winch drum almost happens by design. Winches need to be located so that the lead of the line drags acrous this surface in order to prevent over-rides of the line. Since the line is at its greatest tension and its dragging across this surface rather than sliding under control, this is where wear should be expected.

As to the winches on my current boat, while this surface has been polished back to bronze, I have not rechromed it. I see boats as tools to me and see this as a wear pattern of a well used fine tool.

Jeff
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New England Chrome looks promising!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gramp34 View Post
I'd be careful specifying hard chrome for winches. It doesn't provide particularly good corrosion protection to the base metal.

Hard chrome is what's used on the piston rods of hydraulic cylinders. It's actually fairly porous, and holds a film of oil in it. If you see a cylinder that's been exposed to the weather for a few months without cycling, you'll see rust coming though. I expect salt exposure would accelerate that process.

On "decorative" chrome the nickel layer provides most of the corrosion protection. The final chrome layer protects the nickel from tarnishing.

A shop doing decorative work can give you a thicker layer of chrome. They just leave the parts in the tank longer. Tell them the winch drums need to be particularly wear resistant and they can probably recommend settings for them.

New England Chrome has been advertising in Good Old Boat for years. I don't have any experience with them, but they might be worth a call.

Good luck,

Tim
Thank you for the lead on new england chrome, this is the first place I have seen specifically note that they do winch drums for sailboats.

I really hate to tell someone what they should be using but rather have someone with experience tell me what they think I should be doing. I will give them a call tomorrow morning and see what they can tell me.

David
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Quote:
Originally Posted by botanybay View Post
Do you know what process they used? i.e. hard chrome vs. show chrome? The $150/winch is very reasonable I am trying to determine what it is I should ask for. If you have gotten a couple of years out of them and they still look good this is definitely on the right path!

As best I can tell, the hard chrome is a thick coating applied directly to the base metal and will have some degree of imperfections, the show chrome uses a base coat of copper which is buffed to a high polish and then a layer of nickle is applied and buffed to a high polish prior to the final layer of chromium.

I am guessing that the hard chrome (also known as "industrial chrome") which is used to build up crankshaft diameters and then milled or for hydraulic cylinders is probably what I am looking for.

Even if I had to re-chrome every few years that would be good.

Thank you so much for the feedback that this is possible and the results can be good.
Not sure of the process they used, but I will tell you that it has held up nicely. I may be at the boat this weekend and will take some photos. As other have reported, the drums seemed to lose some of their grip, but I also replaced my running rigging the same year and was attributing some of that to the new sheets. Not sure whether it's improved as the sheets have broken in or if I've just gotten used to it.
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Gramp34 has it exactly right. The main difference between the two is the prep and process. Decorative chrome uses some brightening alloys and is designed to throw well into nooks and crannies in very thin layers where industrial chrome is engineered for hardness, and speed of deposition but the material is similar.
Decorative chrome typically uses a copper layer first primarily to seal the parent material for corrosion resistance as plated chrome is very porous. That is not to say industrial chrome can not be plated over copper,(it's done all the time for carbon steel marine duty piston rods) it's just that industrial applications don't normally require it so industrial shops have no need to dedicate space and expense to have a copper tank.

Ind. chrome can easily be deposited in thicknesses exceeding .020",however .002" would be lots for a winch that combined with the harder deposit (78 RC) means much greater wear resistance. Because mirror finishes are not required, Ind. shops won't have the buffing equipment to get a show finish, again, not to say ind. chrome can't buff up surprisingly well.

So what it boils down to is what your priorities are - Dec. chrome will look fantastic, wear reasonably well and protect the base material well whereas heavily plated ind. chrome over copper will last for the life of the boat and if reverse etched for 30 sec. after plating will grip your lines like sh*t to a blanket but will have a grey appearance. BTW you would expect to pay 2 to 3 times more for the industrial chrome proces described.

And yes, I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night (and own an industrial chrome shop).

Last edited by dillybar; 12-17-2009 at 12:25 AM.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff_H View Post

As to the winches on my current boat, while this surface has been polished back to bronze, I have not rechromed it. I see boats as tools to me and see this as a wear pattern of a well used fine tool.

Jeff
Cheers to that!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dillybar View Post
Gramp34 has it exactly right. The main difference between the two is the prep and process. Decorative chrome uses some brightening alloys and is designed to throw well into nooks and crannies in very thin layers where industrial chrome is engineered for hardness, and speed of deposition but the material is similar.
Decorative chrome typically uses a copper layer first primarily to seal the parent material for corrosion resistance as plated chrome is very porous. That is not to say industrial chrome can not be plated over copper,(it's done all the time for carbon steel marine duty piston rods) it's just that industrial applications don't normally require it so industrial shops have no need to dedicate space and expense to have a copper tank.

Ind. chrome can easily be deposited in thicknesses exceeding .020",however .002" would be lots for a winch that combined with the harder deposit (78 RC) means much greater wear resistance. Because mirror finishes are not required, Ind. shops won't have the buffing equipment to get a show finish, again, not to say ind. chrome can't buff up surprisingly well.

So what it boils down to is what your priorities are - Dec. chrome will look fantastic, wear reasonably well and protect the base material well whereas heavily plated ind. chrome over copper will last for the life of the boat and if reverse etched for 30 sec. after plating will grip your lines like sh*t to a blanket but will have a grey appearance. BTW you would expect to pay 2 to 3 times more for the industrial chrome proces described.

And yes, I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night (and own an industrial chrome shop).
Thank you so much for the information!

I obtained a reference to what is originally on the Winches which I am still trying to work through completely but it is a copper undercoat, a double or triple laer of nickel to a total of 25 microns, and then a minimum of 0.5 microns of chromium.

The parts are copper plated, polished, and then re-coppered and polished prior to the three coats of nickel and then a chromium layer.

At least I now know what I am trying to achieve!

The base specification is BS EN 12540:2000 service condition 4.

Off to find a shop which can do this!

I'll let you know what I find.
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Thanks for all the great info....

I have 6 of these re chromed by the PO (2 x 28 ST, 1 x 22 ST, 1 x 22, and 2 x 16 - all Barlow) and had no idea about the technology. I am still a little concerned about the "grip" but they look nice. Time will tell.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by gtod25 View Post
I have 6 of these re chromed by the PO (2 x 28 ST, 1 x 22 ST, 1 x 22, and 2 x 16 - all Barlow) and had no idea about the technology. I am still a little concerned about the "grip" but they look nice. Time will tell.

They definitely look great!

What is "by the PO" I assume that was the vendor you used?

Thanks
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Quote:
Originally Posted by botanybay View Post
What is "by the PO" I assume that was the vendor you used?
That's usually Previous Owner
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