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Old 05-08-2007, 10:16 AM
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Hydrogen embrittlement?

Some claims that chromplated coil over springs are dangerous. The cromplating prosess cause hydrogen embrittlement which make the spring less flexible and maybe cause a breakage.

How real is this? I mean, there are lots of chromed coli over springs sold, isn't it?

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Old 05-08-2007, 11:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by staleg
Some claims that chromplated coil over springs are dangerous. The cromplating prosess cause hydrogen embrittlement which make the spring less flexible and maybe cause a breakage.

How real is this? I mean, there are lots of chromed coli over springs sold, isn't it?
Yes, there are lots of chrome plated coil springs out there isn't there.

The chrome plating process can cause the absorption of hydrogen into the coil springs surface and eventually cause failure without notice. The hydrogen is trapped under the chrome and reduces the coil springs strength and elasticity. The higher the carbon content of the coil makes it more susceptible it is to hydrogen embrittlement.

To eliminate hydrogen embrittlement a process of heating the part after plating is required. The part is baked at a specific temperature for a specific period of time to bleed out the trapped hydrogen gas through the chrome plating.

The stories of hydrogen embrittlement and chrome plating have been around for a long time. They probably started when someone chromed some parts without knowing that they had to be post baked after chroming and used them on their car and they failed.

Quality manufacturers use the post bake process. I wouldn't trust some of the no name brands without checking with the manufacturer of the part to see if this process was used.
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Old 05-08-2007, 08:20 PM
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It also seems that the better quality steels are more prone to embrittlement than the lesser.

Back in the day, chrome plated front axles and steering parts were quite popular. Then a few catastrophic failures happened. Chroming got a bad rap.

Right now I have some plated headers on my Hot Rod that are victims of hydrogen embrittlement and are cracking at an alarming rate, at the seams and weldments..
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Old 05-08-2007, 08:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BOBCRMAN@aol.com
It also seems that the better quality steels are more prone to embrittlement than the lesser...

The better quality steels are indeed more prone to problems due to Hydrogen than the "mild" steels and this has been known in the welding industry for a long time since Hydrogen embrittlement is a major concern. Low Hydrogen welding rods must be kept in a moisture controlled container and/or heated for a period of time before welding alloy steels to remove the Hydrogen containing moisture. This however is usually not considered necessary with mild steel but steels such as the springs mentioned would be quite prone to failure due to Hydrogen. I know the question was not about welding on spring steel however Hydrogen embrittlement can be a problem if not dealt with properly no matter how it occurs.
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Old 05-09-2007, 12:20 AM
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If you want the look and don't want to worry about them just get them power coated "chrome" color. While not the exact same look it should pass the 10 foot at 10mph test.
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Old 05-09-2007, 05:26 AM
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I have already bought coilovers for my ride:
-Pro Shock in front. Part of the Fat Man Stage III kit.
-QA1/Carrera 4 pcs for the Jaguar rear axle.
All looks to be chromed.

I browsed the HAL / QA1 / Carrera homepage. They tell about their special process who results in a "chorme appearing" surface, so I guess they have taken the hydrogen embrittlement problem into consideration.

On Pro Shock's homepange I can't find anything about this problem in particular, but I will use the coilovers supplied in my Fat Man kit anyway.

Last edited by staleg; 05-09-2007 at 05:43 AM.
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Old 05-09-2007, 10:00 AM
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Bob brings up a point regarding other suspension items and introduces one of my concerns.
I'm convinced I should run a forged I-beam (Chassis Engineering) front axle and not a cast (Super Bell or Magnum) axle because forgings are stronger. While I have rather limited experience in the design of space craft propulsion systems, in aircraft the general rule is; no castings and no weldments. in structural applications
I realize cast axles are more popular and have a good history, but I wonder if a chrome plated cast axle is even weaker than a non-plated axle? I tend to think the chrome platers don't generally address this issue.

With regard to springs, look at all the bikes that have chrome springs from the factory. Those manufacturers are obviously post curing or heat treating or ? the springs. I would try to talk to a heat treating company to get their views and I would not rely solely on the platers opinions.
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