Every lowrider wants flashy chrome… How is it done? How can I save money? Chrome plating is not practical for the everyday person to set up and do at home because of money, space and environmental issues. Luckily there are many chrome shops around the country to choose from. Here we visited Nu-Chrome of Fall River, MA. We were very pleased with their operation, they are organized, timely, and the put out quality work. Most importantly the staff is very helpful and friendly. We thank them for sharing the entire plating process with us and allowing us to look around their 40,000 sq. ft facility and take some pictures.
Make sure you visit their website: Nu-Chrome
161 Graham Road
Fall River, MA 02720
Some Tips About Choosing A Chrome Shop
Here are some things to look for when choosing a chrome shop:
- Good referral
- Friendly staff
- Reasonable turn around time
- Triple plated chrome process
- The ability to chrome tanks and other difficult items
- Find out if your plater offers a limited warranty
- Check the BBB website and make sure the company has a good record
- Find out if your plater offers volume discounts
We hope this helps you choose a good chrome shop wisely.
The Chrome Process
Chrome can be done a few different ways but the triple plated chrome process yields the best results. We hope this explains the process so you understand that chrome is not just as simple as dipping a piece but it is a rather complicated and time consuming process.
The cost for restoration depends on a variety of factors including the condition, type of metal, size and complexity of the piece. Firm price quotations can only be given by the plater after a detailed inspection of the parts. Each item is usually priced individually.
1. Removal of Existing Plate
The first step in the restoration of chrome parts is the removal of all existing plating. To ensure a quality job the part must be brought down to its base metal. This is done by a chemical (acid) that removes the existing chrome and nickel plating.
2. Part Cleaning
After the plating has been removed, the parts are sand blasted clean, and/or chemically cleaned to remove rust. This process helps identify the flaws (pitting, scratches, rot) in the base metal that must be addressed.
For those parts that are deeply pitted or rotted, the chrome shop will either cut out and prefabricate the rotted area or will solder the flawed areas. Chrome shops have developed the skills and techniques required to address both the variety of metal and metal condition faced in restoring old metal parts.
Using a series of abrasives the parts are polished to a near mirror like finish. Remember that your chrome shop has devised a number to techniques and tools that polish the metal without damaging the fine detail . This is especially necessary in the handling of the more delicate pot metal castings used in many older cars.
5. Copper Plating
After polishing the base metal the parts are copper plated. The copper plate both protects the metal and allows the chrome shop workers to buff the parts to a near flawless condition.
The parts are removed from the copper solutions, rinsed and buffed. In the buffing process soft cloth wheels are used to remove small surface imperfections and to bring the parts to a mirror shine.
7. Nickel Plating
The parts are cleaned and immersed in a nickel plating tank. To insure a quality product platers continue to monitor the condition of the plating solutions. After approximately one hour the parts are removed with a brilliant nickel plate.
8. Chrome Plating
The final step of chrome plating gives protection and luster to your parts. It is the last step in the Triple Chrome Plating Process (1)Copper (2)Nickel (3)Chrome).
Most aluminum parts have an anodized surface that needs to be chemically removed before processing. After chemical treatment, all dents are removed prior to polishing and buffing to a mirror finish. The piece is then chemically cleaned to remove the buffing compound, and the aluminum surface is re-anodized.
If desired, aluminum parts can be chrome plated. The process is identical to the process used for steel except for the use of special pre-plating solutions to allow the copper, nickel, chrome plating to adhere to the aluminum surface.
You can save some money on your next trip to the plater with a little planning and effort on your side. Here are some tips to save you money at the chrome shop:
- Bring in as many parts as you can at once. You may be given a discount for volume.
- Use the same chrome plater frequently if you were happy with them in the past. Repeat customers tend save money.
- Prepare your parts by cleaning them up before the visit to the plater. Parts can be sand blasted and cleaned of oils. To take things a step further you can sand the parts down to a very smooth finish and buff the base metal with compound and a good buffing wheel until the base metal is mirror like in finish. Remember if you are unsure or don’t want to lose any details on the parts leave it to the pros.