First off, here's my RANT: "I am not a purist." (But certainly do appreciate the details!)
We are all entitled to our own thoughts, ideas, and opinions. And by the way, "Welcome to America!" While being a bit more than "just 10 cents short of having deep pockets", I do try to be thoughtful and ingenious about what I do and look to accomplish by myself. 'Time' happens to be my most abundant commodity. So go ahead and 'rag' on me if you choose - I can handle it!
That now said, I am wanting to 'chrome' a few small items for accents - headlight trim rings, the 2-piece windshield frame, steering wheel spider, spark & throttle rods, maybe even rims and clinchers, etc. The 'aluminum paint look' is not what I want.
My investigation has led me to the "Spectra-Chrome" line (costing $1000's), chrome 'wraps' which won't work for small parts, and ALSA Corp's "Chrome Effects" (under $300). Neither company has been willing/able to provide me an 'end user', let alone one in Wisconsin....
The question being presented is this - Has anyone had (or know of) someone that has used or experienced their products? What results??? There must be others with the same curiosity.
We had a "Chrome guy" here,and it tends to cheapen a Model T.I have done radiator filler necks,and steering boxes. They don't tarnish that way. I like the SS spark/throttle rods. (You can probably buy Chromed windshield frames from the hot rodders cheaper than you can plate them.
I have not used these products. But if you are looking for a chrome plater, there is an excellent near you in Brillion. Called Chrome Plating Specialist. I've had good results with this place. Give them a call, they are reasonable. (920) 756-3284, Mike
Appreciating the input. Checked down in Brillion for an estimate - "$100 each for the rods, $140 for each frame section"...
Years ago, there was a fellow in Minneapolis who chrome plated a number of parts on his Model T including the rear axle.
There is also a fellow in St. Paul who, until a couple years ago, owned a plating and metal finishing business and a number of Model As and Model Ts. When I was in his shop, I looked at his '27 roadster which had a number of chrome plated parts including the instrument panel and the windshield frame.
The fellow who took over his business is very reasonable and has a fast turnaround time. He did some nickel plating for us a couple years ago.
Plating the Headlight trim rings was at $100 apiece...
Marvin, I suspect the $100 a piece price is so you won't bother him. Doing small items for individual customers is not what some businesses are looking for.
Most of the cost in any plating job is the labour for the metal polishing. Any plating job is only as good as the finish obtained prior to plating. Depending on rust pitting/scratches, the part may have to be copper plated and polished a number of times before these flaws are obliterated. There-in lies the cost.
I have been working with a fellow at the local plating shop for nickel plating for my D&F roadster. He lets me do all the polishing and preparation, plating only as required. I have smaller items such as 4 headlight rims, 2 kick plates, radiator neck and cap all in bright nickel for just $80. His only labour is to wire the pieces up and put them through the bath.
I have the buffs and abrasive sticks on hand, as I used to do restoration work on Brass and Iron bedheads.
Hope this explains something.
Allan from down under.
Thanks, Allan. I too have the buffing & polishing equipment and compounds. If they don't want to bother with those 'small pieces', my thought is that there must be some alternative. When it is economical to put 'chrome' caps on those mis-named spray cans and even to 'chrome' plastic faucets, etc. - There has to be something that we're not seeing...
Start by looking for what you can buy off the shelf;
Thanks. Mark. Have most of the catalogs, and have checked online. Not disagreeing at all, but then I hear & read all the horror stories about the reproductions' problems when I already have the parts. To buy the reproductions would cost as much as having my parts plated... Windshield frames & stanchions for 'open' cars are available; not the case for TT's and early/'closed' cars. That is part of why I resorted to this pursuit.
Marv, I have a set of chrome plated trim rings I would part with because I'd like to go back to nickel ones. If interested, send me PM and we can talk price.
I tried to supply the hobby with inexpensive small run/batch plating. I was doing it for years and it spilled over to Model As and other non-auto items. It just got too time consuming and I think I was working for $0.10 an hour.
The cheapest thing to do is get out of the Model T hobby or paint everything black. That or learn to restore and plate everything yourself. Way too many people think you can return a 90 year old piece to new by just dipping it in a solution of plating chemicals. If the part is scratched or pitted going in, it will have shinny scratches and pitting coming out.
I used to nickel plate headlight rings for around $20 each until I started getting a lot that required hours and hours of restoration, not plating. Plating is simple and easy. Some steel rings were so pitted and dented I had to pull the rivets and lens retainers out to straighten and fill the pitting with 4-5 copper cycles. Also with hand sanding between each cycle. Then turn around and make new stepped rivets and dies to put it back together. I also developed and made a lot of tooling and bucks to repair various parts. Not to mention maintaining a shed full of expensive chemicals and electronic gear. I just couldn't afford to give plating away any more. So in some cases, I could very well see $100 per headlight ring and think you are getting a bargain if you want to keep original parts.
Oh, I forgot to mention; Sandblasting is "pitting" to the plating world. Some feel that if the rust hasn't turned to holes, it's good to go. If you can't see yourself in the base metal or copper fill plate, the finish plating will look like crap.
You could invest like Ken mentions and get the chemicals and equip and do your own.
Caswell sells these kits, this size would do headlamp rings, small parts, but not a windshield. Big parts need big buckets or big tanks.
I played with the small Caswell nickel plate unit, and got success with nickel on little parts, like these valve stem covers.
But for the most part, just job out to the plater's shop, that why they are in business.
Or go the paint route!
Spray chrome and clear coat to finish off
Going back to my original post... Both Spectra-Chrome and ALSA Corp. told me there needed to be their smooth 'base' coat, the silver, then another coating. Similar to doing a paint process. 'Fully equipped' Spectra-Chrome would cost up to $5-7K or so, where ALSA's "Chrome Effects" will cover 25 square feet ($289 cost/$189 for a re-fill). There could be some 'amber' maybe 10 years out. Not for engine/high heat use. Has anyone any knowledge of these products being used??? Thanks.
I haven't used it but looked into it. As you say, it is like painting. The "chrome" is really a silver precipitant by combining the liquid parts. It's the same basic process used to make mirrors by depositing the silver on glass. It's silver and that's why it is expensive and turns with age if not over-coated.
It's just like any layered process. The top coat will only be as good as the surface under it. I've seen some really bad examples with orange peel caused by the "primer". And silver looks noting like chrome in the strict sense. It doesn't have that blue hue.
ALSA claims to have that 'blue hue' with their top-coating part of the process. After getting the primer/black base smooth, they say to "dust" the silver layer, then the top-coat. All after each layer has dried of course. I doubt that I am the only one who is curious. Be assured there are others around who would also like to know.
while on this subject, my 23 has nickle headlite
doors that look 1923-ish. All my past T's were
black. So whats up; also the glass is kind of
pinkish but says Ford on it. Just wondering.
That purple hue or tint is the effect of sunlight over time on the manganese in the glass formula. Some love that look and pay more for glass lens with that hue.
As for the rims, stick a magnet to the rim, if it falls off, then that nickel rim is factory late '25 to '27 rim, nickel plated brass. If steel, as the magnet sticks, someone had them plated. Bet they are brass.
To get to '23 look, paint those rims black. Or trade, as good nickel rims for the later cars are in demand.
Disclaimer: I haven't researched the subject in detail lately. That said, from what I've found previously hiring the work done will probably cost less than the do-it-yourself approach, whether it's chrome or nickel. I suspect the way to make DIY pay would be for several people, such as a club, to combine their projects and share the costs. When it comes to hiring out the work, I've had great results and I've had good parts wrecked, so choose your plater carefully. Ask for references from previous customers. If a shop won't provide them, that tells you to move on.
Back again to my original post to start the thread: Anyone who knows about the actual USE of the new products? I already realize this is a 'paint' rather than 'plate' process. Just would like to know more particulars about appearance, durability, etc. That defines the cost-effectiveness. Thanks.
I have had good luck on some street rod parts with chrome powder coat they have several differnt colors and it looks good.
Thanks, Jack. I've had headers 'shiny chrome' powder coated with satisfactory results. This is not the same process. Am looking for someone who has knowledge about it.
When I looked into it several years ago, I thought of using the process for Model T headlight reflectors and mirrors. It's the only place "chrome" or silver is used on the Model T. It's just not cost effective with the amount of waste. And the process needed for it to stick is critical and part of the problem getting a quality finish. I now see that smaller kits are available so that might reduce the waste.
There's just not much call for chrome on Model Ts so the effort here will most likely go unfulfilled. You should expect alternative offerings to arrive at the same result--A "chrome like" finish.
You would probably have a better chance on one of the hot rod forums. Or try YouTube. There were many examples of the application there several years ago including application to complete cars. They looked hideous.
Well I don't know if I can add to what's already been said on plating prep or the other methods used like chrome plating. Out of my league. I, however, went out and got a small set up to do copper and nickel plating for items I cast mainly out of brass. Since all the platers in my area are gone and the ones still open that I could drive a distance to want a large amount to do even small items even if made "plate ready". For me it been a problem to market stuff that was not bolt-on ready and that leaves the customer with this same task to get someone to plate it later.
Polished brass may look good but it still needs to be plated if it was originally done that way. After starting this I have found it not that difficult to get parts plated, you just need to learn the order things have to done in to get good results.
So I did some trading for a Caswell nickel plating outfit and then purchased the two types of copper plating set ups they also sold. The one copper solution is called "Flash Copper" and is used to set up a bond on the surface to be plated. The other type is called "Acid Copper" which can't be plated on steel or pot metal directly because of the acid adversely reacts with them so they have to be plated with the flash copper first to establish a barrier on the metal. The main purpose for this copper plating is to get a fast build up of copper on the surface to fill in pits or deeply rusted areas and then it's buffed smooth to then be nickel plated similar to using a fast building primer used with automotive painting to cover rust pits and sanded smooth before applying the finish coat.
Here's some window cranks and escutcheons used on the closed T sedans. Originally I got these as good originals but most of the nickel was gone but I did sell a few after polishing the brass but now that I can plate in nickel them they look a little better and are ready to bolt on.
The biggest problem was I didn't have the center screws that holds them on the shaft. I machined up some out brass rod but they were still unplated brass.
Here's a copper sheet with ones screwed to it ready for plating.
Now they are finally complete as the should be in nickel.
Bob,you sure do some nice work.
-What I've learned about spray-on chrome-
The two most prominent I've found are Spectra-Chrome http://www.sprayonchrome.com/index2.html
and ALSA Corp. http://www.alsacorp.com/products/chromefx/
Spectra-Chrome would be great if one wanted to go 'large scale', needing to invest about $5-7K. It was demonstrated at the SEMA Show (2012) in Las Vegas, and was identified as "The Most Outstanding New Product" for the show.
ALSA Corp. has their 'Killer Chrome', but I'm told it's only "about an 80% chrome finish". The rep assured me that their 'Chrome Effects' ($289/$189 refills) provides "A 100% chrome equivalent appearance" covering about 25 square feet, but may have some amber effect after a number of years.... Both are water-based and EPA friendly.
Doing a further search with YouTube, https://www.google.com/#q=Youtube+spray+chrome there were a multitude of videos I am still researching.
Bottom line? Not there yet, but it sure seems to be an eco-friendly and reasonably cost effective alternative to chrome plating, with proper surface prep, as long as one will realize it can react over time like the paint it is. Since Model T's aren't prone to colliding with bugs or stones at 70+ MPH, the trade-off may just make sense.