Protection and Maintenance of Magnesium Castings


The main thing to remember about Magnesium is to prevent the atmosphere from coming into contact with bare metal especially in the presence of moisture.

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A white ‘fur’ or ‘spots’ shows that the surface  protection has broken down and the metal is oxidising.

The minimum temporary protection is to give the area a liberal coating of a water displacing fluid (WD40,Duckhams ‘Duck oil’ or similar product) to the casting rubbed in with a rag or brush.

Paint protection is needed as soon as possible but should only be applied to a chromated surface.


Chromating is a chemical treatment to neutralise the surface of the bare magnesium casting from atmospheric attack and provide for a good adhesion of paints or resins.

Chromating should not be considered as having a protective value in its own right, it’s only the first stage of the protection process.


3 piece wheel maintenance.

After every race you should clean and inspect wheel spokes for any damage and at a very minimum visually check for cracks.

You should on a yearly basis remove the magnesium centre from your wheel for crack testing  and repainting also replacing the fixing bolts. The spun alloy rims should not need any maintenance apart from a visual inspection, unless they have been damaged.

Do not use uncoated fixing bolts, the bare metal of the bolt can react with magnesium when moisture is present. We use  12.9 socket cap screws, bright zinc plated.


We offer a service to blast clean with aluminium oxide, crack test, rechromate and paint your centres.

Enquire for prices.


Should you consider chromating yourself the chemicals are :-

1)       Magnesium diachromate (bright orange)

2)       Manganese sulphate (white)

3)       Magnesium sulphate (white)

Please check your local area and suppliers regulations for the use of these chemicals.


 Add to 1 Imperial gallon of warm water 1 lb of orange chemical and .5 lbs each of the white chemicals

stir well to dissolve completely. Plastic or aluminium containers, a plastic dustbin works well for larger items.

Rechromating old castings

You must first clean the existing chromate off, this is best done by blasting with aluminium oxide grit (do not use sand,glass,steel or cast iron media) or boil in caustic soda (nasty). Use gloves as finger marks sometimes stops the chromating working.

Chromating can be done cold between 4 to 12 hours but if you heat the solution to about 50 degrees C  (do not boil) the process takes about 15 minutes but do it in a well ventilated area. The mix will 'go active' when it is working with small bubbles coming to the surface and even produce an orange froth depending on the preparation of the casting. The colour should be dark brown to black when the process is complete,the castings must be washed well to remove the chromating liquid  if you leave the castings in too long you will get a black powdery coating on the casting which will need hot water cleaning with a stiff brush to remove. After some time the mix will loose its effect especially if done hot, in which case throw away and wash the container for a fresh mix.


The information given above is our own version based on the information from, www.magnesium-elektron/com/data/downloads/ds256suo/pdf  .

Bearing in mind the use of our products in a racing environment and the need to strip and crack test after any accident and at yearly intervals, to use the full recommended surface corrosion given in the Magnesium Elekton data sheet would not be economic or practical.




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