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"How to tell if surface was chrome plated or anodized"

January 14, 2018

Q. I am trying determine how Jeep finished the aluminum rocker trim moldings on CJs in the 1970-1980s. We know they made two types of rockers: black anodized and a "bright" version that looks like chrome. The black anodized moldings faded quickly to just an aluminum color. The "bright" version did not fade.

I am attaching two pictures. One compares the front of two "bright" moldings (on the left) to the front of two black moldings. The second picture shows the backside of these same rockers. In this case you can see the black clearly.

60668-1front   60668-1back  

What I am trying to figure out is how the "bright" ones (the two on the left) were finished. Are they chrome plated? Are they anodized? Are they polished aluminum? How can I tell?

Thank you!


Eric Bickel
- Austin, Texas, USA

  ^- Privately respond to this RFQ -^

January 2018

A. Hi Eric. Although I'm on record many times on this site as saying that visual identification is not the answer to determining what a finish is, I think we can make an exception --

Those rocker trim moldings are bright anodized aluminum. Chrome plating is brighter, bluer, less diffuse. It's best to compare a piece of chrome plating side by side to see the difference. Find a nice Harley and it will probably have both top quality chrome plating and very nicely polished aluminum. You'll see that even well polished aluminum looks pasty white next to chrome plating.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

January 19, 2018

Q. Thank you, Ted! Can you please explain what bright anodized Aluminium is? How is the shine obtained? Do they polish the aluminum and then anodize it? I am sorry that this is likely a basic question. I am just confused because I thought anodize was a dye that bonded to the surface and was not bright. And, I am surprised if Jeep would polish the backside, which is not visible.

Eric Bickel
- Austin, Texas, USA

January 2018

A. Please see our "Introduction to Anodizing of Aluminum" for a general understanding of what anodizing of aluminum is about. It is possible to manually polish the aluminum before anodizing, or do a nitric-phosphoric acid chemical "bright dip", or do electropolishing. If the back of the molding is bright, it may have been bright dipped; but again, appearance is usually a pretty weak tool towards figuring out how somethinh was processed.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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