Tips for chroming parts and fixing pits
I need to get some items re-chromed on my 1941 Cadillac. What should I watch out for? Can they fix pits?
Yes, pits can be fixed, but if they are deep, it can become expensive to do it. First the item must be stripped of old plating, then the part needs to be copper plated and the pits need to be soldered up individually with silver solder. After that the part needs to be sanded, buffed smooth and polished, and then the part can be chromed.
But one very important point is to make sure your plater knows how to deal with pot metal castings. The process used in standard production plating can actually melt and destroy pot metal parts if the plater doesn’t know what he is doing. Also, be sure to wrap any threaded parts with masking tape because if the threads are chromed, they will not work with the nuts that attach them. And before you drop them off at the chrome shop, take photos of all the parts and make a list as well. Give a copy to the shop too. It is very easy for small parts to get misplaced and lost.
Some restorers even engrave their initials in items to be plated using a Dremel tool in an area that won’t show, so they can be sure that they are getting their original parts back.
Once you get the parts home, coat them lightly with motor oil and leave them out in the hot sun for several hours. Chrome is porous and the oil will seal the pores, preventing corrosion. Finally, after the parts are installed, give them a coat of paste wax to protect them.
If the car is to be stored during the winter, put a thick coat of wax on the chrome items and don’t rub it off until you are ready to put the car back into service. This is especially worth doing in wet climates and if you live near the ocean. And don’t forget the backs of things either.
Bumpers especially either need to be painted on the backside or coated with a sealant that will prevent rust. Black paint was common on cars of your Cadillac’s era, but if the bumpers were not painted in the back from the factory, silver paint works well and looks good. If you are going to use rattle can paint, I recommend RustOleum because it holds up very well and has rust inhibitors in it.