On Sunday mornings, we like to wake up with a cup of tea and have the TV tuned into My Classic Car on the SPEED Channel. Our favorite part of the show is when Dennis Gage showcases someone’s private car collection, like Jay Leno’s, and then gets to drive one or two around the block. But they also have some great tips on caring for your classic.
Last Sunday, Dennis was joined by Jim Hespenheide of Paul’s Chrome Plating. Jim has been in the business with his father since 1977, and they have thirty employees who have worked for them from the beginning. Gage went on to say that Paul’s is the “state of the art” place to go for chroming. But in this segment, Jim was there to talk about the company’s latest technique - the chroming of plastic parts.
To show an example of this process, Jim brought a few parts with him - a dash piece and radio bezel from a 1965 Barracuda. As Dennis handled each piece, he was surprised by how heavy and thick they were. However, they still fit perfectly! Jim said that their chroming process for plastic adds a great deal of durability to the part as well as a great appearance. He also brought a Bentley grille and a passenger “grab” bar for a motorcycle with him. Each looked better than new and both were much more durable.
We were pretty impressed with the demonstration and gave Mr. Hespenheide a call to find out more about the process. He told us, “It’s very exciting to be able to help our customers restore the not only the chrome pieces of the car, but now we can repair and chrome the plastic pieces too.” Essentially what they do is encase a plastic part in copper and then plate it. The process goes like this:
1. The part is taken down to the bare plastic.
2. Any breaks or cracks are repaired.
3. The part is impregnated with silver so it will conduct electricity.
4. Then it is built up with copper, sanded and buffed.
5. A nickel-cobalt plating alloy for corrosion resistance is applied.
6. The final stage is the chrome plating.
The charge for this service depends on the part and how many hours it will take to do the job, similarly to how they charge for pot metal plating. If you would like to know more about Paul’s Chrome Plating, you can visit them online at www.paulschrome.com. Their website doesn’t have information regarding plastic part plating yet, Jim says they've just been too busy.
If you need to replate your chrome parts, check out our Restoring Your Classic's Chrome Parts page.