Chrome plating – the borough way
Firstly, when it comes to chrome plating, don’t go for the cheapest; it won’t last. It is a highly labour-intensive process which involves costly materials and that means cutting costs will inevitably reduce the quality of the finish.
It is essential to have other layers under the chrome – at least nickel and maybe copper below that – to protect the underlying steel from corroding. The shiny layer of chromium on top is porous and, without a waterproof layer in between it and the steel, it will more than likely only last months instead of years.
When selecting where to get your chromium plating done, don’t be persuaded by cost alone. Only a small minority of commercial platers can re-chrome older car parts as dealing with an old, grotty, dull and dirty bumper requires real knowledge and experience. Once it has been chemically stripped and then polished, dents and twists become a lot more obvious.
You should also check components carefully before taking them in and make sure the platers are able to make the necessary repairs before they get plating. Even components which are rusted-through can be repaired by cutting out all the rust and welding in new metal before plating, but it has to be done to a very high standard, which can cost a lot of money.
Where items have threads that need to be used after chroming, talk to the platers to get the threads masked or plugged. If you don’t then chances are they will come back with a layer of metal that will make it impossible for you to use them again.
Where you want to chrome items that were not chromed before, remember that the end result will only be attractive if the item can be polished all over to a mirror finish before plating. The smallest of blemishes will be magnified when plated.
Once you’ve got it plated and it’s looking stunning, look after your chrome. You should avoid chrome polish as it is too aggressive. Choose wax polish instead, as you would for paintwork. Severely corroded chromework can sometimes be brought back well by rubbing it with extra-fine wire wool.