AC Plating has been working with restorers of old cars, motorcycles, boats, and planes for over 40 years. Over the years, we have learned many things about restoring and are eager to share those ideas with you. The refinishing of your bright work is one of the most visible and perhaps most expensive aspect of your project. Spend some time locating a reputable plater that answers all the questions the way you would like. Test run a few parts to see the workmanship and the delivery.
Some platers goal is to get the parts back to you the cheapest way they can, some platers restore for a good look from ten feet, and some only refinish for show quality. The three different platers will have three different prices and three different looks. For example, let’s take a door handle that needs replating. Plater one, strips the part of the chrome and nickel and leaves the copper on, polishes three steps leaving some of the pits, copper flashes and then nickel chromes the handle. You could probably get this done for about $15.00 and end up with a shiny but pitted part that looks better than when you started, but not as good as you would have liked. Plater two strips the part to base metal, polishes more of the pits out, copper plates heavy, copper buffs the part, and then inspects.
If there are more pits visible he recoppers the part and rebuffs before doing the final nickel chrome. This handle will cost between $25 and $50 depending on the number of copper plates. The third plater will do exactly as the second plater only he will fill the pits with metal before going into the final copper, nickel, chrome cycle. The cost on this one is determined by the amount of work he has to do and varies depending on the number of pits that need to be filled. I have seen some as low as $40 and as high as $250. The most frequently asked question at our facility is, "How much will it cost?". As you can see there are many factors to answer that question. Work with your plater and he will be able to ball park a figure for your bright work. Remember, you are working with older parts and sometimes an exact price can only be determined while processing the part. You can help by telling him what you plan to use the car for ( driver or show).
Now that you have identified a plater that you feel comfortable redoing your parts, how do you go about getting it done? First, take pictures of the bright work ON YOUR CAR. Go crazy and take from lots of angles, close up, far away, and capture all the details you can. These will help when you go back to reassemble. Start a diary on where and how the items came apart to go along with the pictures.
In order to chrome your parts they must be broken down to the simplest form. A rear view mirror comes off the car with two screws and the mirror assembly. To rechrome it, the glass has to come out, the base has to be removed and there are usually two nuts holding it together. So what was thought to be three pieces to be rechromed now becomes 6 and you need to make sure you will get back all 6 in order to use it. Write down each item in your diary, use a black marker pen to highlight where the surfaces are that will show, place the parts in a zip baggy, and label " front right mirror assembly". If there are any special instructions be sure to include them in the baggy, such as mask threads or remove dent. When you get ready to ship them to the plater, make sure they are packaged to prevent denting and heavy scratches. Wrap in foam paper and use cardboard to protect sharp edges and points. When placed in a cardboard box, be sure to pack tight enough so the parts won’t "rattle" and at least 2 inches from the side of the box. If you have any doubt about how strong it should be visit your local UPS and discuss with them. Insure the parts for their value in shipping. It may cost a small amount more but is well worth it if lost or broken. Now ship to: 317 Mt Vernon, Bakersfield, CA 93307. Be sure to have your contact information (name, phone and address) included in the box and an itemized list of what parts you have shipped. Allow enough time for the plater to work on your parts and not be rushed. Usually, the total restoration job takes years and the bright work is left to the last two weeks. I would suggest a two month window to make sure you have plenty of time to do the job right.
What happens at our end? We receive the parts, make a list ( and check it against yours if you included one), estimate the cost to replate, take detailed pictures of your parts, and create a work order. The sales person then calls you for approval of the expected cost. Once you approve, the work begins. After we compl]ete the process, we inspect, check parts against the pictures and itemized lists and ship back to you. Small orders are usually done in 2 weeks and larger ones take about a month. You should open the package as soon as you receive it and inspect.
Make sure you check against your list to be sure all parts were returned to you. This is important because many times a part gets removed here because it was not broken down into its most basic form and the extra piece does not show up on the photo. If you call quickly, the part is easily found.
This should help you in your restoration project. We have taken all of the above steps to help ensure a smooth process and prevent frustrations while restoring your bright work. Good luck and we hope to see your parts here at AC Plating.