Chrome plating is hardly a matter of dipping a bumper into a tank filled with chemicals. It is a long, involved process that often starts with polishing and buffing, cleaning and acid dipping. Whenever you have anything “re-chromed,” there is more work involved. Chrome plating shops have to strip the chrome, nickel, and the copper first before they polish out all the scratches that will show after plating. Then the whole process as described above gets repeated.

Late-year Monte Carlo rearend.

Unfortunately, simply re-plating an old car’s bumper may cost several times more than what a replacement bumper would cost. The cost of labor definitely plays a major part in the chrome business. The new item requires far less prep work, and an operator or machine can handle dozens of identical parts at the same time, whereas a mix of old parts cannot be processed at the same time, but must go through the process one piece at a time. If a chrome plater or polisher has to spend an entire day on your parts to be chromed, expect it to cost as much as an electrician or a mechanic would charge.

There isn’t much of a difference between chrome plating, chrome electroplating, chroming, or chrome dipping. Chrome is applied by electroplating; it is never melted onto parts in the fashion of chocolate on strawberries, sprayed on like paint, or applied in any other way other than by electroplating.

The phrase “show chrome” only means chrome that is good enough to be on a winning show car entry. There are some expert platers who feel that even copper plating doesn’t provide any additional corrosion resistance at all, but with or without copper plating, chrome on the top of a single thin layer of nickel will not hold up to severe exposure from a vehicle. There are also industry professionals who call the two layers of nickel, duplex nickel plating, and that is a better term to be used when it comes to the term of “triple chrome plating.”

When it comes to chrome plating though, most lowriders run down to the local chrome plating shop that is closest to the neighborhood and has the parts resembling their favorite restoration builds from other lowriders. Besides the sight of the poor laborers covered in black powder and clay, if the price is right, and the quality is there too, these shops never close.

We visited one of these lowrider chrome shops in Pomona, California, called Best Polishing & Chrome, and as you can see by the work involved in what they do here, they are the lowrider specialists when it comes to metal! They bring the bling to the lowrider machines! Call Rafael at (909) 638-6746 or visit 1055 1/2 East 3rd Street, Pomona, CA 91766.

A ’56 bumper shaved smooth. Bolts welded on the inside.

Axalta Paint Tip of the Month
By Axalta Coatings Systems

Basics for the Basecoat

As an Axata Coating Systems technical representative we run across many paint shop owners who want to produce that paint booth delivery finish with a minimal buff time, without getting rid of that OEM texture finish. You’re probably thinking, how does this affect the finish when it gets cut and buffed anyways? Well, here is why. When you trap dirt as you come along to the finished results, it’s more likely that it’s in the basecoat. Here are some easy tips to prevent dirt from appearing in your basecoat. After your basecoat is dry, the first step would be to follow up by nibbing imperfections in the base with a 1,000-grit sand paper. Step two: blow the entire vehicle off and tack as you go along. In the third step, let the vehicle settle from five to 15 minutes depending on whether you’re spraying in a garage or spray booth. The fourth step should include tacking the vehicle one more time without blowing it off, then lowering your air pressure to apply the final drop coat. The final step in this process after the basecoat has dried is to tack the basecoat one more time without using the air blower. This will ensure a quality finish in the basecoat before clear. What you will see in the end results will be a “clear finish.” For more technical advice, please feel free to contact Steven Chaparro, product specialist, at steven.c.chaparro@axaltacs.com.