From the mid-Fifties, the problems of short supply of raw materials in the car industry were all but over. Starting from the United States and working its way east to the UK and Western Europe, car manufacturers began to indulge themselves and their customers by slapping almost obscene amounts of chrome trimmings on their vehicles.
Every car lover will agree that a vehicle embellished with lots of chrome looks very impressive.
History has shown that chrome trimmings and the UK and European weather conditions were not an ideal match, especially as the region's various governments were very inclined to lay down abundant quantities of raw salt during the winter months.
Anyone taking on a car restoration project will probably be aware that one day in the not-too-distant future, the problem of chrome trim renewal will rear its head.
They should be ready with an open cheque book and at least some knowledge, if not experience, of what will be required to bring their chrome trim back to its glory days.
Chromes describes a technique of electroplating a thin layer of chromium onto a metal object,particularly steel, and is used only for a decoration .
The chrome will begin to oxidise almost immediately when exposed to a combination of oxygen and water. When it does , the first signs of rust and pitting will start to show.
When embarking on a restoration project, the first step should always be to strip the restoration vehicle of all its exterior trim.
While it may seem the least urgent of all the stages of the restoration project, it is good advice to get cracking immediately on renewing the chrome- deciding which parts require only minor repair or a good buffing, which parts need to be renewed and which parts cannot be repaired, and replacement parts ordered. The last two can take a lot of time.
If the model being restored is one of the more popular models around in the Fifties of the Sixties, it might be possible and even affordable to order reconditioned parts that have undergone a rechroming process. Only worth considering if the original parts are beyond saving.
In the likely event that neither of these options are possible, then all roads lead to the acid bath. A procedure that most restorers rarely feel comfortable about taking but has proven to be the most effective.
All that is required is for the restorer to source one of the specialist UK companies who offer these services. Rather than travelling the length and breadth of the company with the parts to be rechromed, a lot of time and expense can be saved by circulating the digital images of the parts to be renewed around these companies to get an idea of price as well as delivery times- which can sometimes be considerable.
Once the decision has been made as to which company will be given the job, all of the parts can be put in the back of a van and off to the chromers we go.
If the restorer has the time, they can hand around at the chromers for a while to observe the many stages of the rechroming process.
The first stage involves stripping the chrome surface electro-chemical that will remove all of the original plating as well as any rust that has accumulated over the years.
The parts will have been rendered back to bare metal with all the flaws exposed.
The next stage is for the metal parts to go through a process known as linishing, which will bring the metal to a clean and flat state. All the damages to the metal will be repaired, after which it goes through another cleaning making for a surface that is smooth and shiny – ready for electroplating.
Electroplating metal involves applying an electrical charge, using copper plate that draws the nickel onto the surface, giving the chrome its silver-like appearance. Professional chrome platers will always apply dual coats of nickel
Once the nickel plating is completed and the nickel polished, a final chrome coating is added, in a process known as 'triple plate chrome'.
>Restorers who set up a budget for rechroming should be prepared to lay out around £1000 for an entire vehicle and wait at least a month for the job to be completed.