View Full Version : understanding the re-chromium process

mark g
11-26-2003, 08:07 AM
Throughout the past 30 years, I have come to the conclusion that the majority of boat restorers both amateur and professional are very limited in their knowledge as to what is involved in the re-finishing of hardware. Because of this they often get taken advantage of in terms of cost. I will gladly share with all readers of this forum valuable tips and facts you should know so that you get a fair price when having your hardware re-finished. I look forward to sharing these tips.
Knowledge is invaluable and will save money!
mark g

Lucky Luke
11-27-2003, 04:20 AM
That's a very nice offer, and everyone certainely appreciates, but may I do a little suggestion?
That is:
Please, would you take the time to write a LONG post about chromium plating, hard chrome and so on, give some practical information about some "do it yourself" possibilities and methods, describe the processes, give price examples, and many other topics that we assume you know could, that will be helpful.
I quite agree that I am an idiot on that subject (and many more), and therefore would love to know more.
Thank you

11-27-2003, 02:07 PM
Many times I have seen chrome plated plastic. That is I think it was chrome plated? If it is in fact chrome plated then that means you can chrome plate anything, including wood, rocks etc. Please set me straight on this?

mark g
11-29-2003, 07:18 AM
Lucky Luke
Thanks for your inquiry. I wont go into a detailed lesson in electro-chemistry. That wasnt my intention. The process of re-chroming is very involved and time consuming, thus expensive. I have had so many people say to me "why so expensive, dont you just dip the parts into a tank?" This is my point, I suppose. I have found that restorers tend to learn everything they can about restoring the woodwork etc of an old boat as well as the mechanical functions. Why not learn about the decorative aspect. The hardware which, when done correctly will make their boat standout from the others who tried to cut costs or even do it themselves.
mark g

mark g
11-29-2003, 07:21 AM
Plastics are very often chrome plated. Toys for instance. can rocks be chrome plated or wood? Yes, but first the object must be coated with a conductive metallic coating to allow for the plating to adhere.
Hope I answered your question
Mark g

11-29-2003, 07:33 AM
cool. Im gonna chrome plate the hull of my chris craft :D

11-29-2003, 08:55 AM
Chrome plating is a crime! Sometimes. The catalogues contain bronze items which would be perfect on Prairie Islander if they were not defiled with chrome plating. Since these items do not seem to be available without the plating, how can one get the chrome off?

11-29-2003, 09:12 AM
Mark, I think it would be very helpful if you could describe what an amateur boat restorer could do to worn, peeling, and pitted chrome boat hardware to assist the refinisher and reduce the cost of replating. Thanks for offering your expertise here.

mark g
11-29-2003, 12:21 PM
Norm and MMD
Everyone has their preferences...Bright shiny chrome vs older patina look of bronze. How would a beautifully restored wooden Chris Craft look with older green hardware on the deck? Conversely a vintage wooden hulled sailboat would look out of place with chrome. Yes it has its place and is not a crime. To answer your questions about removing chrome.. Remember there is copper and nickel plating under the chrome. There are no home remedies I would suggest to aid the refinisher and reduce the cost to you. In most cases it makes his job harder to properely prepare the surfaces for a nice quality job.

ion barnes
11-29-2003, 02:31 PM
Sometimes what is taken for chrome is really nickel, but the removal process is the same. Had some Galt Brass tub fixtures that I had stripped of the nickel and have the most beautifull brass fittings on a 6' castiron tub.

Once the chrome is removed, you can make your alterations and then replate. I have plated oil pans, rocker covers, timing covers with cadnium or nickel to ward off rust but it has to be free of rust first. Some stripping shops can do the prep work and then take the parts to the plate shop.

Paul Scheuer
11-29-2003, 02:32 PM
Tim: I think the initial metalization on plastics is done by plasma deposition, in a vacuum chamber.
Once there is a conductive surface, the more normal electro-deposition can be done. Plating and entire hull would be quite a project.

mark g
11-29-2003, 04:31 PM
I agree that nickel is sometimes mistaken for chromium. The best way to visually distinguish is to lay the piece on a sheet of white paper and see what color ia cast in the light. If a yellowish color then the coating is nickel, If bluish, then it is chrome. This is precisely the way shops see if the chromium coverage (over the nickel) is complete of voids.
I agree that plating a boat hull would certainly be quite an adventure!
Mark g

11-29-2003, 07:12 PM
As mentioned above chrome plating is expensive and I was concerned about the expense. However, I found that it was not all that expensive here in Brazil. Here is an example of plating cost. The winch pictured cost $16 for plating. I didn't count how many screws, plates, etc were plated but it is more than "a few."

mark g
11-30-2003, 12:04 AM
I would say that $16.00 to have that winch re-chromed is a bargain!! I guess labor rates aren't quite the same as here in the US. That winch would have cost at least 150.00 here. You got a good deal in my opinion, assuming a high quality level. Thanks,
mark g

Lucky Luke
11-30-2003, 03:08 AM
Hi Ionbarnes,

Tell us, if you like materials to be left bare of any coating, did you take off the enamel from your iron bath-tub? :rolleyes:

I think that it's a hell of a lot more maintainance than when it was chromium plated...

Well, may be you could have your taps gold plated if the tub is still enameled...

Chrome, chrome, yes, chrome everywhere! Go ahead, chrome the Chris Craft! :D

[ 11-30-2003, 03:10 AM: Message edited by: Lucky Luke ]

Lucky Luke
11-30-2003, 03:16 AM
Marc, thank you for mail and offer to help.
The thing which, I think, many would like to know is: what can we do ourselves?
I don't know but I've been told....that after a good mechanical polishing, all what was needed was to dip it in a bucket with a car's battery doing trhe little electro-something...or that, roughly, it is something like that.
What's the real job?
Can you describe?

mark g
11-30-2003, 07:20 AM
Lucky Luke
The proper procedure for a high quality re-chrome job involves a series of steps: First, the part is stripped of all plating to the original bronze. Now a series of polishing (using abrasive belts) starting with a 120 grit or sometimes an 80 grit to remove the scratches and pits in the casting. Then a 180 followed by a 240 and finished with a 320. Now the buffing part begins. First a red satin rouge which starts to minimize the polishing lines, then a black satin to minimize further. Now three buffing operations. First I use a brown cut rouge then a white "color" rouge then a green color buff to make the part mirror like. Now the part is ready for cleaning and plating. Copper strike .0001 thick, nickel plate .0005-.0006 thick and finally chromium .00003 thick. Sometimes the nickel needs to be buffed prior to chrome if the appearance is hazy. As you can see a great amount of time and labor is needed to do the job. Any cut corners will show in the end result. Hope I answered your question. A job for a professional for sure!
Mark g

ion barnes
11-30-2003, 03:54 PM
Luke, I left the brass bare and was surprised how clean it remained. It was a golden yellow to begin with and darkened with age but not so much that I want to pull out the brasso. These fixtures, I suspect, have a large percentage of copper, you know, red brass as opposed to yellow brass. They have been that way now for a good twenty years! No lies!

I do not have a chromed claw-foot tub! but I sand the hell outa the porcelin(sp) and coated it with tub epoxy. Tub is getting to need refinishing now. Ion