What you want is a vacuum metalizing shop

January 1, 2010 | By Richard Prince


In the October issue you responded to a question about peeling chrome on plastic, saying the writer should contact a “competent plastic chrome specialist.” Please refer me to one of them.

I have a 1946 Hudson with a large plastic steering wheel centerpiece that is back plated. By that I mean the front part is plastic, and chrome and paint are on the back showing through the clear plastic. I haven’t been able to find anyone to do this.

Maybe it’s my description but there seems to me to be little difference in plating the front side of a piece of plastic and plating the back side.


I believe the process used to create the decorative elements on your Hudson’s steering wheel center is something called vacuum metalizing, not chrome plating. Though the steps can vary slightly, the basic process with vacuum metalizing entails washing the part and base coating it to provide a perfectly smooth surface, evaporating aluminum in a special vacuum chamber and then condensing the aluminum vapor onto the part. Clear coat or paint is then applied over the aluminum to protect it and give it color.

There are numerous companies that provide vacuum metalizing services, including CV Vacuum Platers, Inc. (cvvacuumplaters.com), VacuCoat (vacucoat.com; 586-7911117), and Mueller Corp. (muellercorp. com).


I am a retired auto mechanic and an auto restoration hobbyist. I would like to respond to Robert Koch’s article about a dwell meter in the December 2008 issue. I agree with your Mechanic On Duty statement that the best way to check a dwell meter is to adjust the points with a feeler gauge and then connect up the meter to see what the reading is. I would like to add what an instructor once said when I was a young man in mechanic’s school in 1962: Never sacrifice point setting for dwell angle.

Some may ask why use a dwell meter at all if you’re going to set the points with a feeler gauge. The answer is that a dwell meter is a good tool for determining if you have worn bushings or other problems with the distributor.

Once you have set the point gap with a feeler gauge and checked the spring tension, which should be 17 to 21 ounces, connect the dwell meter. Start the engine and the dwell should be within factory specifications. Rev the engine up and watch the dwell meter. The dwell should not change more than a maximum of two degrees. If it does, that indicates worn distributor bushings or another problem with the distributor.


Thank you for sharing this additional information with your fellow readers.