Re-Chroming Lewmar Winches - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 21 Old 12-15-2009 Thread Starter
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Re-Chroming Lewmar Winches

I have been researching re-chroming winches and have gotten to the point of knowing what I don't know

There appear to be several kinds of chrome processes, one that is used for bumpers (decorative chrome) and one that is wear resistant (industrial chrome or "hard chrome").

Now from an engineering perspective I assume that the industrial chrome is stronger and would last longer but it is noted to not have nearly the polish as the decorative chrome. But, do I need the industrial chrome or is the decorative chrome what was there originally?

Does anyone know what the original chrome process is for chromed bronze winches? I am working with Lewmar winches from 1990 (i.e. the previous style) and have 12 large winches to re-chrome.

If anyone has actually had winches re-chromed and used them for a while I would be very interested in the result.

As an interesting aside, as I tend to pull the winches apart for service every winter having to send them out every few years for additional coatings would not be a significant problem, it would just be part of the normal maintenance.

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post #2 of 21 Old 12-16-2009
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I would like to do this as well and hope someone has some info on this.
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post #3 of 21 Old 12-16-2009
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I would suggest that it has to be the hard coat. I would rather a duller shine than flaky peeling shiny stuff all over my cockpit..... again. I am considering dechroming mine as dull bronze is more my style. My boat is not shiny.
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post #4 of 21 Old 12-16-2009 Thread Starter
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re-chrome winches

Well, I have sent some pictures off to a local industrial chrome shop who is interested in the work. If they like what they see in the pictures I will drop a winch by for them to look at.

This would be the "hard chrome" process, I am also checking on a couple of "dress chrome" shops to see what they recommend.

Hopefully someone on here will have actually had success with this!
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post #5 of 21 Old 12-16-2009
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I had my 30yo Lewmar 40s hard chromed two years ago and they look fantastic. Nassau Chromium in Mineola, NY did them -- wasn't cheap (about $300 for the pair, IIRC) but they look like new. No flaking/chipping and a deep, wet-look finish. I'm not a chrome/bling guy and probably would go with grey anodized if I were replacing, but these were originally chrome with roughly 50% or more worn off, and re-chroming brought them to like-new condition. FTR, I keep them under covers when we're not sailing.

Some have suggested going to a custom motorcycle shop. Some larger places wait until they have a number of smaller jobs and do them together instead of doing them individually. I had to wait about a month to get them back.

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post #6 of 21 Old 12-16-2009 Thread Starter
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So re-chroming can be successful

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Originally Posted by CLucas View Post
I had my 30yo Lewmar 40s hard chromed two years ago and they look fantastic. Nassau Chromium in Mineola, NY did them -- wasn't cheap (about $300 for the pair, IIRC) but they look like new. No flaking/chipping and a deep, wet-look finish. I'm not a chrome/bling guy and probably would go with grey anodized if I were replacing, but these were originally chrome with roughly 50% or more worn off, and re-chroming brought them to like-new condition. FTR, I keep them under covers when we're not sailing.

Some have suggested going to a custom motorcycle shop. Some larger places wait until they have a number of smaller jobs and do them together instead of doing them individually. I had to wait about a month to get them back.
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.
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post #7 of 21 Old 12-16-2009
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I had my Lewmar's re-chromed about 3 years ago at a shop that did custom chrome work. They have held up just fine. The only drawback I've seen is that the process made the drum pretty slippery, so the jib sheet will not hold as well as it did before. Since the winches are 30+ years old and looked like crap....I've learned to but up with the slipping problem.

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post #8 of 21 Old 12-16-2009
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Just be sure they understand THAT things need to masked INSIDE as i have had shops ruin things when they plated a bearing race by mistake

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post #9 of 21 Old 12-16-2009
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There is a lot to this than you seem to have gleaned but to start from the beginning the most typical form of chrome electro- plating is triple plating which uses copper alloy as the base coat, a variety of alloys, but usually nickle based, for the second plated coat, and a finish plated coat of Chrome. It does not matter whether you are doing an engineered chrome finish (AKA Industrial or hard coat) or decorative on bronze, bare metal chrome plating needs to be a triple plated process in that chrome does not adhere well directly to the bronze or most other metals. Looking at the wear pattern on my Lewmars they were clearly triple plated originally.

The difference between engineered chrome plating and decorative chrome plating (besides minor differences in the alloys) is that engineered chrome plating is a much thicker coating layer than decorative (thousands of an inch vs millions of an inch and occasionally decorative plating only has a nickel base plate layer). The engineered chrome has enough thickness to stand up to pressure applied to its surface. Since nickel and copper are softer metals, the sheer thinness of the decorative coat makes it seem softer and to fail more easily. A carefully prepared and plated Industrial Chrome plating should last a decade or more in use on a winch if it is usually cleaned of salt after it is used.

As noted, Lewmars have a very fine non-skid pattern, and the prep and plating fill these in a bit so there is less grip. This can be problematic on bigger boats or on a winch that has many replatings or on a boat that has been in need of rechroming for so long that the non-skid pattern has worn through. The interesting thing is that on properly loaded winches, the chrome generally does not fail on the non-skid gripping surfaces of the winch but on the smooth top of bottom flat which of course means that there should be pletty of non-skid left during the first rechroming.

Jeff


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post #10 of 21 Old 12-16-2009 Thread Starter
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There is a lot to this than you seem to have gleaned but to start from the beginning the most typical form of chrome electro- plating is triple plating which uses copper alloy as the base coat, a variety of alloys, but usually nickle based, for the second plated coat, and a finish plated coat of Chrome. It does not matter whether you are doing an engineered chrome finish (AKA Industrial or hard coat) or decorative on bronze, bare metal chrome plating needs to be a triple plated process in that chrome does not adhere well directly to the bronze or most other metals. Looking at the wear pattern on my Lewmars they were clearly triple plated originally.

The difference between engineered chrome plating and decorative chrome plating (besides minor differences in the alloys) is that engineered chrome plating is a much thicker coating layer than decorative (thousands of an inch vs millions of an inch and occasionally decorative plating only has a nickel base plate layer). The engineered chrome has enough thickness to stand up to pressure applied to its surface. Since nickel and copper are softer metals, the sheer thinness of the decorative coat makes it seem softer and to fail more easily. A carefully prepared and plated Industrial Chrome plating should last a decade or more in use on a winch if it is usually cleaned of salt after it is used.

As noted, Lewmars have a very fine non-skid pattern, and the prep and plating fill these in a bit so there is less grip. This can be problematic on bigger boats or on a winch that has many replatings or on a boat that has been in need of rechroming for so long that the non-skid pattern has worn through. The interesting thing is that on properly loaded winches, the chrome generally does not fail on the non-skid gripping surfaces of the winch but on the smooth top of bottom flat which of course means that there should be pletty of non-skid left during the first rechroming.

Jeff
Great information!

In my case the loss of plating is on the smooth base of the winch (probably caused by a bad lead angle which the prior owner may have been using) and especially the turn of the winch coming off the smooth base. The rough surface plating is completely intact.

So, it sounds like the industrial or hard plate chrome is what was most likely used by the original manufacturer?

So did you end up with an industrial/hard plate chrome process or the thinner process for your winches...

Thanks Jeff!

David
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