After noticing the two rivers that fasten the steering gearbox to the column were loose, I decided itís time for a rebuild. I wanted to get into it soon anyway since the PO cut the spark and throttle levers short and threaded some goofy looking black plastic balls on the ends. I also see why he chose to paint the box. Instead of repairing a couple dings in the brass, he filled them with putty and shot it with paint. After disassembly, I stripped it bare metal. I contacted a somewhat local plating shop and after looking at the photos, they seemed confident that they could take care of the dings and plate it. They provided an estimate of $150 - $250 to do the work. Iíve never had this kind of work done, so Iím not sure if itís even competitive. For those of you that have had this done, who did you use and does this price range seem reasonable?
If it's for the car in your profile, I would paint the main part and maybe buy a new top or find a nice old one. Do not have a line on cost for comparison.
I had thought about just repainting the case, but I plan to redo the whole car in the next couple years. It's definitely going to be a driver, so it doesn't have to be a complete restoration.
I would buy a decent gear case and some unmolested levers, get a Caswell kit, and replate all the nickeled parts. I suspect you'll find that buying the kit and replating whatever needs it will cost less than having a shop do just one piece.
I should clarify... That estimate was for both the case and the cover.
James, I sent you a pm.
I had my steering gear cases, covers, and levers re-plated last year. The original cases seem to be just flash plated with nickel. A quality plater will polish the pieces, then lay down a coat(s) of copper prior to bight nickel plating. That creates a product that will last and prevent the nickel from flaking off. I believe I paid $400 to have to complete sets re-plated and am very happy with the job.
I do nickel plating. Just small items. There are several reasons why nickel will flake off, but the main reason is that nickel oxidizes quickly, and new plate will not stick or adhere to the oxidized or old plate. To plate over existing nickel you have to dip it in acid to remove the oxidation, and then immediately immerse in the plating solution, and not remove it until the entire plating process is complete.
Even this dipping in acid is not completely fool proof. The best way is to strip everything, flash copper, then fill copper, polish to a high finish, then plate with nickel.
The copper is just a filler used to get a very smooth polished finish, prior to plating with nickel. Nickel will plate right over steel, but it is hard to get the steel smooth enough for a shiny finish. I use it to plate nuts and bolts, and it looks like a galvanized finish, and protects the metal from rusting.
The bottom line is nickel won't plate over nickel, unless you strip the oxidation from the old.
Caswell plating makes the kits I use, and I have had some really good luck, and some frustration, while learning how to get really good results.
There are 2 types of plating shops: very reasonable and very expensive. No in-betweens. I think you got an expensive one. But then it's been a long while since I've had plating done.... and I'm cheap...
Either way, and whomever plates it, be sure that they don't plate the threads & the hole in the cap & gearbox, where the steering shaft passes through, or you'll never be able to put it together.
I just had a bunch of parts nickel plated and I think the charge for the steering case was $75 or $85. They also did the radiator shell ($300) and dozens of parts to a 1910 barber chair (around $700) at the same time so maybe the big order helped on the pricing for the gear case.
I think the $150 would be a little high depending on much repair work needs to be done. If they are estimating one hour of repair work @ $60 - $75 an hour then that's close to what I just paid.
It all depends on the type of restorer you are. If you are going to have the entire column apart, then you should do it right. Very few places know how to do old fashioned nickel plating. I had all of my steering column parts professionally plated over 10 years ago, and I only need to wipe them with a soft cotton cloth occasionally. The average chrome shop type nickel will not give you satisfactory results.
James, I just got this part back today from the plater.
The cost was $32 total.
The guy from New York State, that sold it to me, sent me a photo first, as he was sure it was worthless and I would not want to buy it.
Unfortunately, I did not keep the photo.
Maybe he will read this and post it.
James, what shop did yours?