Most vintage motorcycles are in need of restoration with chrome work that have rusty parts that either needs to be rechromed or replaced. Chrome wheels, frames, engine and body parts can sparkle in the sunlight once again. Some restorers have the tools and a shop set up to trichrome the parts themselves. While other restorers, prefer to purchase replacement parts. A middle ground is to hire a professional rechromer to sand and recoat the chrome for you.
The novice restorer will require numerous tool purchases in order to rechrome the parts themselves. The sections of the tailpipe must be sanded to remove all rust. The downpipes, exhaust pipes and tailpipes may be rechromed by a novice. There are books that will walk you step by step through the process. However, silencers may not be rechromed and should be purchased anew. The electroplating process damages the baffles in the box and contents of the silencer can destroy chemicals resulting in quality control issues.
A professional has the necessary tools and skills to remove rust from the chromed pieces. The chroming process consists of a thin layer of chromium being electronically transferred onto a component. Parts must be polished and cleaned before dipping in chrome. The copper layer assures good adhesion and prevents future peeling. The nickel plating is applied next followed by a hard thin translucent layer of chrome plating to prevent the nickel from tarnishing and seal the coat.
The professional knows how to dip pipes to apply an even coating. The professional also has an indoor facility for the pipes to dry. In addition, a professional has the ability to shot blast the metal and polish the metal and reflector and silvering of the headlamps. Most shops can provide a 4-week turnaround time. Check professional reviews on the company website.
Ordering replacement parts is a third option although there is pride in riding a fully restored vintage bike with all original parts. However, sometimes it is necessary to order replacement parts. There are many companies that sell vintage motorcycle parts. You can also advertise parts needed on e-Bay, while others call dealer searching for vintage parts. Try checking with other restorers. Always check for reviews online. Also speak to motorcycle owners at rallies; these guys will be your best references.
*Photo is courtesy of Harley Davidson 2 by Collin Parker and Flickr's Creative Commons.