No More Chrome

Tim Kay

Lifetime Premier Supporter
What suggestions do you guys have for plating suspension parts?

I fabed up new front a-arms for my Tornado and would rather not chrome them as I had before. All suggestions welcome.
Tim, that's a good question, I'm wondering the same thing. My A arms were poorly chrome plated about 8 years ago and now the chrome is pitting and coming off.

Nickel plating looks nice (not too flash) but I'm wondering if it has good longevity in the presence of normal road grime and salt, etc. Anodizing could look nice too - there's a gold anodizing that is pretty toned down but, again, have no idea about relative durability.

I imagine that the quality of the prep job, and the skill of the plating shop can make a big difference in the durability.

Sorry to not be more helpful!
I've worked on cars that had parkerized suspension components. It is supposed to offer better protection than zinc. IMO it is about the best looking finish out there for suspension components (I don't particularly like shiny components.)

Steel is not anodized since anodizing creates an oxide layer and oxidized steel is rust. Apparently someone applied for a patent for anodizing steel, but I don't know anything about it.
I thought I had heard that plating suspension parts was a no-no. Something about not being able to see the cracks that might form in the base metal until its too late??? The engineers should chime in on this one. I personally would consider ceramic coating. It is the thinnest layer you can add. Its tough and light weight too. The chrome color looks as close as you can get to chrome. I would guess a little Mother's might bring out a little more of the shine. This piece is untouched since it came out of the polishing vat.

Never heard you couldn't use it. What do the engineers think of that for suspension pieces?

I'd powdercoat them or paint them, but I'm not a fan of dress-up stuff on race cars. If you wanted them to look shiny, you could paint them with aluminum colored paint, like Imron, and clear coat them over that. I've done that on metal boat parts in salt water and it is still holding up just fine.
I replaced my chromed trailing arms with fully adjustable 4130 steel pieces (threaded at both ends) and I had them electroless nickel plated, and I am happy with the results.

I did a lot of research at the time on hydrogen embrittlement associated with plating steel - too lazy and tired to search right now. As I recall, the problem is greatest with high-carbon steels, although it can be minimized by baking the parts as soon as they come out of the bath. I remember picking up my pieces at the plating shop and rushing home to get them in the oven. This reminds me that I still need to replace the rear clevises on my car because they were fabricated by RF by welding high-grade steel bolts to fabricated brackets, and the previous owner of my kit had them chromed. Those are very critical parts and I hate to think of what could happen should they fail. My rear upper and lower arms are chromed but I'm not worried about those because they are made of mild steel.

Tim Kay

Lifetime Premier Supporter
Good info especially the thread Mark attached ^

What material are the a-arms?
The new arms are made from 4130 chromoly.

Grey polyurethane and Keyfoss where applicable.
David, I have not heard of polyurethane as a coating nor do I have a clue what Keyfoss is. I respect your input here and you have me curious. I would appreciate very much if you can steer me in a direction to research your suggestion.

So far the electroless nickle plating has my attention.


Bronze Supporter
that one had me stumped too, so I did some research. Keyfoss (really Keyphos) was made by Henkel in Germany. It is a solvent based phosphate coating. New product replacing this is called PaintGrip 253. Haven't found a source. I think an etching primer would work on the steel.
The gray paint over this is a catalyzed urethane paint.

Tim Kay

Lifetime Premier Supporter
More of exactly what I was looking for ^ Thanks Alan. I came away from that thread with nickle plating again. And I really like the comments in that thread from Howard, safety first as always.