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I am going to have my bumpers rechromed in the next couple of weeks. I went a while back and talked with the owner of a shop. If I remember right they use nickle, copper, and then the chrome. They told me I didn't need (either the nickle or copper - can't remember which) because it is only to reduce the chance of corrosion. I currenlty live in New Mexico, so this me be true for here. The price difference was about $150. I can't imagine them advising me something that would cause them to lose money. This shop has been recommended by ALL the people I have talked to at the shows. Does this sound correct to anyone else? I will be moving to Ohio at the end of summer. Will that make a difference? Also, do they sand blast before they chrome, or do they just strip off the chrome? My bumpers aren't pitted or rusted, just faded.
 

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Rob, Back in the late 60s when I was a pre-med student I worked in a chrome plating shop and many times after hours I did a LOT of plating for my own cars. The first step in re-plating chrome parts is to remove the old plating. The shop I worked in used a reverse electrolysis method. There are other ways. SAND BLASTING IS NOT one of the ways. The secret to a nice chrome finish is just like body work, except more so. Dents and dings must be knocked out first. If there are pits from rust, they must be removed by grinding (bumpers are thicker than sheet metal so you can grind deeper and blend better). Progressively finer grit wheels are used and then last, a stiff buffing wheel and compound are used to buff the metal to a MIRROR finish. THIS is where you get the show finish, NOT in the plating (the plating is just another finish over good metal preparation). The first plate is (or should be) copper, it's like a primer coat. The copper plate makes the metal more conductive. Something that can be done, and many shops won't do it unless you insist, is to leave the part in the copper plate tank for a much longer time and build up a thick plate and then take it back to the polisher, and because copper is so soft, it can be polished to a dazziling mirror finish (otherwise the part is just copper plated a short time, but it is best to copper plate. I am not ready to believe it saves $150 not to copper plate. Maybe he means the heavy copper plate and then buffing, that may be an extra $150). THEN nickle plate it (which is the longest plating process), then chrome it for a few seconds (the chrome is a protective coating for the nickle plate, because nickle by itself will tarnish bad, which is where it is critical to get a clear, unblemished plate). If you have ever seen a chrome part that has a yellow tinted spot, THAT is where the chrome did not plate completely over the nickle. And one last point, one of the main reasons chrome plating is so expensive is that it is a very dirty, very nasty, very labor intensive process. The product, which is the plating itself, is minimal compared to the labor and skill required to polish the part before it is plated.


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[This message has been edited by DZAUTO (edited 02-12-99).]

[This message has been edited by DZAUTO (edited 02-12-99).]
 

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DZAUTO,

Always nice to see someone who knows what he's talking about. I've worked in a chrome shop too and your take is right on. The polishing of the copper plate is where push comes to shove. If the metal under the copper isn't straight, no amount of chrome will make it come out right.

As a pre-med student, did you appreciate the hazards of working in a heavy-metal contaminated environment like this? Bet you do now....

Tom
 

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That was back in the 60s after I got back from Nam and didn't know about things that were dangerous. I was just working at a job to supplement the GI bill. Unfortunately, the owner has since died from cancer. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm?

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DZAUTO,

>>the owner has since died from cancer.

Well, imagine that!

I worked at Arizona Hard Chrome for a year or so many moons ago. I did mostly grinding of large hydraulic rams and a few cranks. Never went into the vat rooms much, wonder if that was some kind of sub-conscious survival mode deal....

Tom
 
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