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Chrome vs Nickel plating for 1930's restoration
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1930's restoration: Chrome or Nickel?
Chrome
33%
 33%  [ 3 ]
Nickel
66%
 66%  [ 6 ]
Total Votes : 9

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greenbeam



Joined: 10 Jun 2015
Posts: 68
Location: Adelaide, Australia

PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 8:39 am    Post subject: Chrome vs Nickel plating for 1930's restoration Reply with quote

Happy New Year everyone.

I am about to get the first batch of plating done for my 1935 Armstrong Siddeley. I am reliably informed that the original plating on the parts is Nickel plating, which was used in the 1930's instead of chrome. I realise that nickel is used underneath chrome in a triple-chrome plating process.

I am not sure whether to have the items plated in Chrome or to go with the original Nickel. I know the Chrome is a brighter 'blueish' finish, whereas Nickel is a yellowish finish and not as reflective as Chrome. I am not going for a mirror-finish restoration, more a 'factory-fresh' look. I understand that many of the items will need prep work to remove pitting prior to either Nickel or Chrome final finish, so it's not about taking a short-cut to get a good finish.

Everything on the car needs to be replated, so the choice I make now will go all through the car. I am into a full restoration, so saving a few dollars is not as important as a good long-term job. The car will not be left out in the weather and we have a pretty benign environment here.

Are there other factors to be aware of? Any advice would be most appreciated. This is my first full restoration and my first pre-war car!

Thanks,
Paul.
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Rick
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Apr 2005
Posts: 19133
Location: Cheshire

PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If nickel is original to the car, then I'd go with that. I prefer the look of nickel on an older car if I'm honest, and if I ever have to do the rad surround on my '20s Dodge (which is currently chrome, following a resto in Australia), I'd put it back to nickel, it just suits an older car.

RJ
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Rootes75



Joined: 30 Apr 2013
Posts: 1723
Location: Somerset

PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is there a difference in the price between nickel and chrome playing?
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greenbeam



Joined: 10 Jun 2015
Posts: 68
Location: Adelaide, Australia

PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rootes75 wrote:
Is there a difference in the price between nickel and chrome playing?


There can be. One vendor told me that the triple-chrome process (copper, nickel, chrome then polish) is more expensive than nickel (copper, then nickel, then polish). Another told me they are the same price. I think the safe conclusion is that triple-chrome is not cheaper than nickel plating, but nickel might be cheaper than triple-chrome.

Either way, in the scheme of this restoration it is not a decider for me. I am concerned that Nickel plating might be problematic for me in future, but triple-chrome might look a bit too 'blingy' on a 1930's car (apologies to those with chrome on pre-war, this is a concern of mine that I'm trying to resolve - perhaps longevity is why I've seen more chrome than nickel?)
Cheers,
Paul.
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Kleftiwallah



Joined: 27 Oct 2016
Posts: 176
Location: North Wiltshire

PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I still have the old 'workshop nickel plating bath' as advertised in motorcycle mag's quite a few years ago. I called the seller who told me they were packing it in so I bought a batch of 'stuff'.

I used it quite extensively while restoring the Triumph Model P.

Cheers, Tony. Smile
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Ray White



Joined: 02 Dec 2014
Posts: 2190
Location: Derby

PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I understand it if your car is from the 1930s it is most likely to have been chrome. Throughout the 1920s the cars were mostly nickel plated. It was the development of chromium plating techniques that made the process possible and it was an immediate hit with motorists for one reason. The problem with nickel plate was that it would quickly tarnish and required regular polishing. The beauty of chrome was that it require no maintenance and is also much harder and longer lasting.

Like Rick, I have a Dodge Brothers car from the 1920s which came to me with a chrome plated radiator shell. Originally it would have been nickel plated but in the past someone had re plated it in chrome. In my case, the shell was made from mild steel rather than brass and rust has started to show so it needed to be re plated. In order to keep the car as original as possible I opted for nickel.

I went to Derby Platers who are said to be amongst the best in the business (they certainly are expensive) and they mad a very good job. I had previously entrusted them with the brass radiator shell of my 1930 Austin Swallow which I had triple plated ; ie. chrome finish.

The only suggestion I can make is have the other plated items on the car done as well or they will look tatty against your newly finished radiator.
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Ray White



Joined: 02 Dec 2014
Posts: 2190
Location: Derby

PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As above.

Last edited by Ray White on Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:30 pm; edited 5 times in total
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troutrunner



Joined: 03 Dec 2012
Posts: 182
Location: South Lincolnshire

PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am sure you are right about Derby platers being one of the best, my friend who is a very skilled restorer will take parts to no one else.
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Ray White



Joined: 02 Dec 2014
Posts: 2190
Location: Derby

PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

troutrunner wrote:
I am sure you are right about Derby platers being one of the best, my friend who is a very skilled restorer will take parts to no one else.


I was talking to Andrew Jones, the proprietor of top coach builders I Wilkinson of Derby about some work he is to do for me and he also agreed that Derby Platers are top notch. The only downside is the cost. Quality craftsmanship doesn't come cheap - but then why should it?
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Richard H



Joined: 03 Apr 2009
Posts: 2124
Location: Suffolk

PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've never had any re-chroming done, and my 1935 Standard now needs various bits doing as parts are unobtanium, and there seem to be no better secondhand parts available. Interested to read that 1930s cars tended to have nickel rather than chrome plated brightwork. I'm tempted to go down this route if this is what the car had originally - I too am not a fan of over-restored glossy pre-war cars and mine will have a cellulose home respray so I'm wondering if chrome would be too shiny. Hmm.
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Ray White



Joined: 02 Dec 2014
Posts: 2190
Location: Derby

PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Richard H wrote:
I've never had any re-chroming done, and my 1935 Standard now needs various bits doing as parts are unobtanium, and there seem to be no better secondhand parts available. Interested to read that 1930s cars tended to have nickel rather than chrome plated brightwork. I'm tempted to go down this route if this is what the car had originally - I too am not a fan of over-restored glossy pre-war cars and mine will have a cellulose home respray so I'm wondering if chrome would be too shiny. Hmm.


Actually, no. From about 1929 most cars had chromium plate rather than nickel. Nickel is very much a vintage; ie pre 1930 finish. I am pretty confident that your Standard would have been chromium plate. Having said that, it is your choice and of course chrome can always be added later - however, nickel can't be plated over chrome; it all has to be removed first.
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MikeG



Joined: 16 Sep 2013
Posts: 56
Location: Cheshire/Staffordshire Border

PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 10:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am in the process of haveing Chroming done on my 1936 Triumph Gloria to follow the original look.The Bumpers and Radiator shell have been finished and do look very bright.
I was told that to do the Radiator Grill ,each vane would need to be taken apart to Chrome and Polish at an approximate cost of 30 each and then put together.I was recomended to have the Grill Nickle Plated as it would not need stripping.
I have not collected it yet but I have been told that because of a lack of" connectivity" the apperance is not good.
The Headlights that I took were dinted in places and would cost extra to repair by Lead Filling.I checked on the cost of replacing with replicas. 1100 plus for two!!!
The cost of Lead Filling does not now look high
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Ray White



Joined: 02 Dec 2014
Posts: 2190
Location: Derby

PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MikeG wrote:
I am in the process of haveing Chroming done on my 1936 Triumph Gloria to follow the original look.The Bumpers and Radiator shell have been finished and do look very bright.
I was told that to do the Radiator Grill ,each vane would need to be taken apart to Chrome and Polish at an approximate cost of 30 each and then put together.I was recomended to have the Grill Nickle Plated as it would not need stripping.
I have not collected it yet but I have been told that because of a lack of" connectivity" the apperance is not good.
The Headlights that I took were dinted in places and would cost extra to repair by Lead Filling.I checked on the cost of replacing with replicas. 1100 plus for two!!!
The cost of Lead Filling does not now look high


I don't know where you are taking your parts, Mike, but it would concern me that they thought they could be nickel plated without having the original chrome stripped off first. As a rue, chrome will adhere to nickel but not the other way round. Also, I would prefer restoring headlight shells by panel beating. I can't see how they expect to plate over lead?...or have I got the wrong end of the stick?
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1935Hillman



Joined: 06 Apr 2010
Posts: 252
Location: Hampshire

PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have used S+T in Bristol as well as Silvabronze in Alton Hants. Both very good with S+T being particularly good at pre-plating repair work. Silvabronze nearer to me and a very friendly bunch with a very impressive album of concours winning cars and bikes among their work. I have had some very dodgy looking items brought back to life by S+T including a very 'lacey' radiator shell rejected by another firm as unsalvageable that came back weighing about three times what it weighed when I dropped it off. It had been extensively repaired and heavily coppered before chroming and looked fantastic. On the subject of correct finish I have always thought of Nickel being a finish up to the 20's with chrome being predominant from the 1930's. All old Aero Minx rad shells I've come across are always in chrome.
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UmTumTiddly



Joined: 14 Oct 2016
Posts: 22
Location: Ringwood, New Forest.

PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As an owner myself of a 100% original 1935 Armstrong Siddeley 12/6 and an active club member and concours winner in the ASOC some years back I can assure the OP that CHROME plating is the correct finish for his 1935 car.
As has been said already, nickel was used up to the late 1920's and veterans and Edwardians, prior to 1918 wore brass. Chrome for your PVT Armstrong is the correct finish.
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