I wish I could polish my '24 steel radiator cover but don't know how yet. Can't find a reasonable shiny replacement and I plan to keep everything so it can be easily put back to original.
They are selling spray-on chrome lately that looks amazing but it seems too cutting edge and possibly caustic since it is only done in Asia so far. It sounds crazy but I will post a video link below.
However, I've seen some polished steel hotrods at recent shows that make me wonder if it is now feasible to polish and clear coat a steel radiator?
A 24 radiator shell is supposed to be the same color as the body is...usually black. 26 and 27's had nickel plated shells, but not 24's.
Nice stuff, but I can't honestly think of anywhere you could use that stuff...Model T was never chrome plated and neither was the A Model for that matter either. But that is a real fascinating alternative to chrome plating, not sure how well it holds up to weather and stuff...plus I'll just bet it's expensive too.
This system has been around for a few years now. I have seen numerous programs where it is used to coat entire cars but it is not only expensive but is difficult to apply. On a large panel it needs more than one person to be on deck to apply the chrome coating and to wash it off with the special water before it all goes pair shaped.
As it is a paint type coating if the surface is pitted or has other surface problems it can be prepared as you would for normal paint with primer etc to get a good surface.
History has not shown yet as to its life span, as it will only be as good as the clear coat on top.
It is possible to polish steel to a mirror like finish. I have done it and Platers do it every day when preparing pieces to be plated, but it is very labor intensive and the steel must be totally smooth without pits. Any imperfections must be sanded off and the steel sanded using increasingly finer sandpaper, starting with 400 grit to remove the scratches left by the preceding grit and ending with 1500 grit, until you are left with a scratch free, shiney surface. Next step is to buff on a 10" buffing wheel mounted on a bench grinder using a block of jeweler's rouge to charge the buffing wheel. Charge often. Be careful when buffing around the letters. Buff too aggressively and you can deform the letters. Once you can see yourself and the background flawlessly and without haze, like in a mirror, clean thoroughly with lacquer thinner and clearcoat. If you have not cleaned all of the jewelers rouge off, you will know it because the clearcoat will cause it to lift into the finish and you will have to remove the clearcoat and clean again. You may even have to buff somemore because polished steel, without protection tarnishes quickly, so clean very thoroughly prior to the clearcoat and clear coat as soon as possible. Jim Patrick
PS. Jay Leno once demonstrated the spray on chrome and he touted it strongly. It looked great. I looked up the stuff, but it is very expensive and before applying it, you would need to get the surface to a mirrorlike finish as I described above. To see Jay's demonstration, see: www.nbc.com/jay-lenos-garage/video/spray-on-chrome/n35122.
PS. A plated finish is only as good as the surface it is applied to, so a metal surface being plated or clear coated must be virtually perfect. If you quit before it is perfect, every imperfection will be magnified. If done right, polished steel can look like it is chrome plated. Jeweler's rouge is the finest, for softer precious metals but there are also rubbing compounds designed for polishing harder steel. It is good for the initial polishing to remove scratches and polish it to a certain point, but jewelers rouge will need to be used for the final polishing to get it to a mirror-like finish. McMaster-Carr is where to get the buffing compounds. I prefer the 1 lb. blocks as they are easier and safer to charge the buffing wheel with. Charging is where you hold the block against the revolving buffing wheel so as to permeate the wheel with the compound. The number for a 1 lb. block of jewelers rouge is 4783A1 and costs $10.36 (not including shipping). You will need a buffing wheel for each type of buffing compound you use. You can also buy the 10" buffing wheels from McMaster Carr. The home improvement stores don't usually have the larger buffing wheels, like McMaster Carr: www.mcmaster.com/#polishing-compounds/=130cjam. .
I like that plan! Thank You!
Post a picture on this same thread when you get it done. Maybe even video your procedures using a tripod. You'll be an expert, by the end. Jim Patrick
Wow that works fantastic. Tim
Done a few hit miss engine parts but nothing on a T
Martin, my '27 has a painted shell and it appears to be original.
My search begins for a used stationary buffer.