After restoring my '23 Touring and enjoying it on the road for a few years, I'd like to knock a few more items off the punch list to make the car more correct. One of those things is getting the radiator cap, hubcaps and steering parts nickel plated.
I see that I can buy new nickel plated hubcaps and radiator cap from a parts supplier for less than $100. Other than maintaining the original parts, is there any reason I should get the originals replated versus buying the available reproductions? I'm assuming that getting the originals replated will be more expensive, but that may be outweighed by other factors.
Still weighing out whether I want to tear apart the steering to make it right since its in the car and nicely painted black. I understand it would have been much easier to do it right the first time, but there were other priorities then. Any advice on how to proceed would also be appreciated.
Dan, in my experience, repro parts are not up to scratch. I have never seen a repro pressed brass radiator cap. They have all been castings.
The hubcaps are nicer, but are made from somewhat heavier material. Good originals are hard to find, so if yours are nice and straight, I suggest you have them re-plated.
Much of the cost of re-plating items is in the polishing before plating. If you can do this your self, working along with the plater, you may be able to save some money. My plater will let me do the prep work and he charges just for any little bit of corrective work he does, and the minimal cost of the actual plating.
Hope this helps.
I replaced a missing hubcap with a nickle-plated unit from Lang's. It was of excellent quality. Unfortunately, the repro headlight rings from the same source were not. I had the originals replated with nickle. In fairness to Lang's, they were great about allowing me to return the rings.
Good originals are not impossible to find. I've been buying NOS hubcaps for years for between $10-$20 each. The reproduction caps are actually better quality than the originals, but they are not original! The originals had the makers mark below Made in USA and the repros do not. Draw your own conclusions.
Another factor to consider is finding a good polisher. The prep work for plating is EVERYTHING. If you take your parts to an unknown plater, you will have no idea of whether the guy who does the polishing is a real craftsman or just some iterate bum off the street.
Careless or unskilled polishing results in rounded off corners, missing lettering, etc. It may be nice and shiny when it's done, but you won't like it very much.
If you plan to get the original parts replated, I suggest that you ask around to find someone who just does polishing as a specialty. Then let the polisher suggest a plater who he has confidence in.
I was doing a show car 30 A deluxe roadster many, many years ago. Had to by a repro windshield frame that was actually very well made, but missing some important details, like the recessed holes for the finger pull screws. I bought it unplated, so I could correct that stuff.after that I polished it, but left a little scratch in one corner that no one would ever see. Took all the stuff to the plater and paid and arm and a leg for a so-so plating job. He claimed he had to spend hour polishing stuff. Well, that scratch was still there, so I don't think he really did much!
It's hard to find a good plater nowadays.
I'm restoring a '22 Centerdoor and when it came to the radiator cap/neck, I decided to remove my originals and have them replated. I personally have never seen a repro cap with the same sharp details as the original. Same thing with the windshield knobs- sent the originals to be replated.
A good nickel plater is hard to find. A chrome shop can't do it correctly. We have a plater here in LA that has been in business forever, and they do it correctly. As far as your steering goes, I'd do it, but it takes two people to put it back together, and you have to be careful when prying those tabs for the spark and throttle rods apart, so you don't break them. Next, only have them plate the rods about 2 inches down. Another trick is to get the two rivets correct. I had to make the rivets from some that are close, because the head diameter is not the same. I think I riveted them from the bottom side. Also, while everything is apart, clean up the quadrant, or find another that has good notches.
What Larry says is very true. The original nickel plating was a thick grey nickel that had to be polished once the plating was done; it doesn't come out of the plating tank shiny. Chrome shops use "Bright Nickel" which does plate shiny, and is a thin plating, relying on the almost clear, but blue tint, chrome plating to provide the corrosion and wear resistance. It is the bluish tint of the chrome plating that makes it look different from nickel plating.
To Dick Fischer - I have had most of the stuff that has needed replating done by an outfit in Hartford, Connecticut. They have begged their customers to just send the parts in the rough. They told me that they will prepare the parts properly and if the customer prepares the parts they usually will get a lousy job or incur additional costs as New England Chrome Plating has to clean up the mess. I sent my crappy original headlight rings in the raw and they came back beautiful.
Sounds like you have found a first class plater. I wonder if Dan B. is close enough to take advantage of your positive experience.
I have a local guy who got out of the plating business because of all the grief he was getting from California environmental regulators. Now he only does polishing and then takes the parts to a couple of different platers in whom he has confidence.
I can understand the concern of platers in working with unknown preparers. In my case I'm dealing with polisher and a plater who have a good working relationship. The preparer is up front with me on what he can and cannot do, and how much the work will cost if he does what I ask.
In one case I took a set of badly corroded and dented door handles to the prep man. I asked if he could bring them back to life, and by the way, could he preserve all the features including embossed printing on the back side of the handle. He said yes, it was only a matter of money.
Below are before and after photos. In the "after" photo notice how well the lettering was preserved in spite of the heavy repairs on the same part. Please excuse the speckles on the after photo. I wiped the part off with a towel and didn't notice the lint until just now.
Sadly, due to modern EPA regulations, I doubt that it is possible to do electroplating profitably in the United States legally.
I had many items nickel plated by our Ken Kopsky several years ago. He did a superb job on my parts and took a break from plating several years ago. I don't know if he has resumed plating work, but when he does, I have more to send him. Jim Patrick