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How to de chrome model car parts

by George Collazo · October 28, 2014

This question arise very often among model car builders:

Why do model kit builders remove the chrome from those parts to have them painted in chrome finish again?

This is up to the model builder and his/her available resources when building a particular model kit like access to Metalizer, Alclad2 primers and finishes, air compressor, airbrush, etc. Some model kit builders can add to my answer to this question so here I go:
The chrome finish provided on model kits out of the box is very thick and out of scale. As a result, subtle details on the chrome parts are reduced or lost to a thick plating. This problem does not discriminate to any particular model kit brand. But in my honest opinion and experience, it is very strong on chrome parts from most (if not all) AMT model kits.

I have tried household bleach with no success although some colleagues often recommend it. What really does the trick for me is oven cleaner. Yeah, I went the cheap way and got a can from the Dollar Store but it is not as predictable as the one from Walmart. If you want to buy the original Easy Off brand be my guest, but I’m getting awesome results with Walmart’s Great Value brand.

The rims shown below belong to our recently featured Revell LaFerrari 1/24. A metal surface for this is preferable. I use the kitchen sink in my house for this purpose and then I take the parts to my studio. Make sure you have good ventilation because the fumes are suffocating. Once you cover your chrome parts in a cloud of oven cleaning foam, let it the cleaner do its work. If the parts have many intricate details, let them seat for some 30 minutes. By the time you get back, the foam has worked its magic. I seldom have to give a second coat due to chrome plating residue but if necessary, feel free to do it. When finished, rinse with soapy water and let the parts air dry. The 3rd picture is showing the parts primed with Alclad2 Gloss Black Base ALC-304. You can also use as base either Testors Model Master Acryl 4695 Gloss Black or Tamiya X-1 Gloss Black.

Last but not least is the shade of Aluminum or Chrome you’d like to add. On this particular kit I airbrushed with my AZTEK A470 a thin coat of Alclad 2 Duraluminum. My goal was to achieve a Dark Chrome finish on the rims.

Orange Peel effect with Alclad 2 products:
Now that I have your attention on Alclad 2 products: I read and get asked about the nasty looking orange peel finish when Alclad 2 is used. Yes, it has happened to me as well. No matter what base I have used, Acrylic or the Alclad’s own gloss black base, you can get orange skin. The problem lies on us rather than the products themselves and I say products because I’m also including Testors Model Master Metalizers. They are made with a Lacquer base and we all know that Lacquer is very ”hot” compared to enamel.

Have you paid attention to a jar of Alclad2 or Testor Metalizer that has been sitting for a long period of time without being shaken? Notice how thin the pigment is while the rest of the bottle is solvent. That’s the problem there; we want to see a metal finish with one or two thick coats instead of several thin coats. Because lacquer is so ‘hot’, we see it dry very quick and we keep spraying on our parts. What this is actually doing is softening our gloss black base with all that solvent and that’s how we get the infamous orange peel finish.

The cure? Spray your Alclad2 or Testors Metalizer at some 12 to 15 psi and do light thin coats.

Double color model kit rims?

You can use Maskol, Micro Mask (from Microscale Industries), Vallejo Liquid mask or, you can use Elmer’s Glue or Testors Clear Parts Cement and windows maker. I prefer Testors because of the applicator but you can use any of the above. The pictures below are quite self explanatory. These rims belong to a 1/24 Tamiya Taisan Porsche 911 GT2. The center of the rims on the car are supposed to have a gold color. I thought of painting it with a brush using Testors Gold Leaf from their enamel square bottles. I even bought the paint but was reluctant to start because I was concerned on how it was going to look. So I remembered that on a soft surface white glue is a nice masking agent. I applied the Testors clear cement (the fine applicator comes very handy) and left it to dry overnight. I took the rims sprue outside and finished with Krylon Gold Leaf (KSCS029) spray paint from their Short Cuts spray paint line. About an hour later with the help of a toothpick I opened a gap, with a pair of tweezers I peeled off the glue and viola! Much easier and a lot better finish.

George has been hosting review sites and blogging about toy collectibles, travel, digital photography and Nikon digital imaging since 1998. His first model kit build was a Testors 1/35 DODGE WC-54 in 1984.

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AZTEK Airbrushes, are we seeing their demise?

September 18, 2018

by George Collazo · Published September 18, 2018

Vintage Revell & Monogram Displays

by George Collazo · Published March 11, 2013 · Last modified November 30, 2018

  • Nov 30, 2020
  • #1
  • bdefen

    Senior Airman
    • Nov 30, 2020
  • #2
  • Airframes

    Benevolens Magister

    Use this, shown below ( or similar model paint remover)
    I’ve just stripped the chrome plating from some old model car wheels, and it worked very well.
    I posted a thread a few days ago, showing an “in use” review, with some advice and tips, but it seems to have disappeared !

    However, here’s a brief description.
    This particular paint remover is a non-toxic, water based gel, easy and safe to use. The instructions suggest leaving it in place for one hour, then scrape / lift the dissolved paint using a scraper.
    However, I found that, if left for an hour, the dissolved paint tends to go rather sticky, making it more difficult to remove easily, although it still comes off., and the plastic beneath might be slightly affected too. ( If this happens, let it all “set”, and then lightly sand back.).
    I found it best to treat small areas, and leave it between 15 to 30 minutes before removing the paint / chrome. The stripper can be “agitated” when on the surface, using an old paint brush to wipe over, lifting the dissolving paint, and this will also show how far the stripper has progressed doing its job.
    When done, wipe over with a tissue or old rag, and brush off any flakes, then wash under the tap.
    If required, the process can be repeated.

    The 1/24th scale wheels I stripped had been painted over the chrome plating, around 40 years ago and the enamel paint, and chrome, came off easily.
    I’ll try to post some pics a little later, to show the wheels before and after stripping.

    EDIT;- I found the “in use” review thread – I posted in the wrong section, it’s in the “Weathering Questions and Tutorials” threads.

    Jesse01V6

    Away from V6’s for now.
    • Feb 16, 2013
  • #1
  • I’ve wanted to paint some of the factory emblems on my Mustang and I’ve never had luck painting over the chrome. It never worked for me on model car parts, so I don’t know why it would on plastic emblems.

    There are a few methods; you can spray Easy Off oven cleaner on the chrome and let it sit for a few hours and its supposed to come off. I’ve also heard that letting it sit over night in a bath of Coca-Cola works too. I tried both of the above methods with no success. The method I will show here is using bleach.

    Remove chrome parts from vehicle. Clean off any heavy dirt/residue. You can also scuff them with a green scotch bright pad. That seems to help the bleach work quicker.

    Put the chrome parts into a plastic container/bucket or similar. I would advise it not be something you intend to eat from later!

    Pour in the bleach.

    Fill it up to completely submerge the parts. Some you may have to turn over. I would use the regular bleach, not the splash-less stuff.

    After about an hour you will see these black streamers and other residues come up from the parts.

    Give it a good 24 hours to soak. When you return the bleach will look like this.

    Dump out the bleach. You can see chrome (and copper) being striped from the parts.

    Scrub off the parts with some old tooth brushes or scrub brushes.

    You will repeat this process several times until all or most of the chrome and copper coating comes off, using fresh bleach after each “bath”. I would give it a good 24 hours between baths. You can also scrub the parts again with some scotch bright pads to clean them up. Just remember not to scratch the raw plastic.

    Eventually the parts will look like these.

    Paint, dye, or coat however you see fit.

    Hope this helps anyone who has thought of this before.

    If you are a car lover, you must be familiar with the process of adding chrome to your car. It is a common practice for car owners to give their vehicles chrome plating to extend their lives and keep them protected. The shiny and hard metallic coating can be found on bumpers, wheels, trim pieces, and grilles. Chrome car parts protect your vehicle in high-friction environments and give them a polished look.

    However, it is important to maintain these parts well to prevent them from getting rusted and corroded. If they come in contact with moisture for too long, chrome car parts are likely to develop rust stains on them that may affect the vehicle in the long run. If you ignore the formation of rust on your car, the issue can get serious with irreparable damages hampering the performance of your vehicle. Keeping the chrome parts clean gives long and healthy life to your car.

    There are various household ways of dealing with the rust build-up on the chrome car parts. People often prefer using baking soda, soapy water, vinegar, and other household ingredients for cleaning the surface off the rust. However, these remedies are often time-consuming and require multiple cleaning attempts to get satisfactory results.

    With WD-40, removing rust from chrome car parts is easier than you think. A few simple sprays would provide you with a surface that is smooth and free from rust in no time. The liquid makes it easy for you to remove rust by percolating the particles and loosening the bond between them. This prevents you from spending a lot of time dealing with rust build-up and gives you chrome parts that look as good as new.

    Here are the simple and straightforward steps involved in removing rust from chrome car parts:

    By Kris Palmer , Minneapolis freelance writer
    March 20, 2009 – 4:00 PM

    Q:How do you “chrome” plastic? I have some plastic pieces I want to restore but I do not want silver spray paint. I want the factory chrome which is very shiny – a lot more than paint. Also, I would rather restore the original pieces than buy reproductions. – Carl A., Eden Prairie

    A:The auto industry and aftermarket use at least two methods to achieve a shiny silvery finish on plastic. For interior parts, the common method is called vacuum metalizing. This is not true chrome but it can be shiny and appealing to the eye in the same way. What this process leaves on the plastic is an aluminum coating. The parts to be “chromed” are placed in a vacuum chamber in which aluminum is vaporized with electric filaments. The aluminum coats the plastic to yield a uniform shiny surface. Shops that perform this process then also coat the aluminum with a urethane clear coat as is done with modern paint jobs. As clear coat does with a paint job, the clear-over-the aluminum-coated plastic protects that shiny layer from the elements.

    Shops that do this work caution that vacuum metalizing is not as durable as true chrome. Abrasive cleaners or sponges should not be used on it, nor should products containing silicone or ammonia. Over time, these chemicals can discolor the part. The shiny aluminum coat can also discolor or degrade if the clear coat protecting it gets chipped. In that event, contact the shop that did the work for help correcting the situation.

    Not all plastics can withstand this process. Depending on the age, condition and composition of the part, the vacuum metalizing process can warp, crack or shrink it. Also, as with any type of coating, a satisfactory result requires a good underlying surface. Any irregularities evident in the plastic before it gets coated will show through the coating afterward. There are several companies that may be found on the Internet with search terms such as “chrome plastic” or “vacuum metalizing” that perform this service. Many have photos of their work, FAQs, and contact information. Try contacting a couple of these places, discussing the parts you have and your expectations and find out what they think they can do for you. Ask about their warranty and how long they’ve been in the business. A company with many years in the game is probably doing good work. I’d also ask the company if its work has been featured in any show cars, etc.

    The second way to make plastic look like chrome is, in fact, to chrome-plate it. The catch is that true chrome plating is electro-plating, which requires that the part to be plated conduct electricity. Since plastic does not conduct electricity in its usual form, it needs to be modified first. The Motorbooks Publication, “How To Restore Auto Trim,” refers readers to a shop in Pennsylvania called Paul’s Chrome Plating. Speed Channel recently featured the shop, too. Paul’s “plants” the plastic with silver to make it conductive, then plates the part with copper, and then plates the copper layer with chrome. There is a shop in Miami called Universal Electrocoating that also chromes plastic. No doubt others do too. (I have not used either of these shops. As with vacuum metalizing, talk to any shop you consider until you’re satisfied it’s the right shop for your parts.)

    Because of the high-tech equipment involved, neither of these processes can be performed at home. For exterior components, chrome-plating the part is the durable way to go. For interior parts, vacuum metalizing should give you the look you’re after.

    Leather and chrome have adorned car interiors for nearly a century. For good reason too – the combination looks great. In recent years, however, automakers looking to cut costs have swapped chrome accents with bland plastic substitutes. Remember when the dials on car radios were chrome? Now they’re plain black. What a shame!

    If you’re working on an interior that you’d like to spruce up with chrome, you’re in luck. Advancements in technology allow for nearly any material’s surface – including plastic – to be chromed. Below are six ways you can transform interior plastics to chrome. Some you’ll need to hire a professional to do, while others you can do yourself.

    Services You Have to Send Parts Out For

    1. Plastic chrome plating

    The process of chrome-plating plastic is similar to that of metal. The surface of the plastic piece is coated in copper and nickel before chrome is applied. Because flexible plastics are susceptible to stress fractures, this process is only suitable for rigid plastics. For more information, check out Paul’s Chrome Plating in Evans City, PA.

    2. Vacuum Metalizing

    The vacuum method, which is commonly used to make flashlight reflectors, is another great option. Here, plastic parts are washed and given a basecoat before exposed to an aluminum vapor cloud. When the vapor cloud comes in contact with the piece to be coated, it bonds to its surface leaving a chrome-like shine. Companies like Mueller Corporation in East Bridgewater, MA specialize in vacuum metalizing.

    3. Spray Chrome

    Allowing for virtually any surface to be chromed, this three-layer, water-based process is one of the most exciting breakthroughs in chrome plating. Parts are prepped and sprayed with a black base coat, then coated with a nontoxic chrome formula that applies so smoothly it doesn’t run. Lastly, the parts are cleaned with water and clear coated. This video by Jay Leno’s Garage shows you just how it’s done: Spray-On Chrome.

    Chroming You Can Do On Your Own

    4. Stretch Chrome Film

    Stretch chrome is the latest product in an exciting new line of car-wrap films offered by Alsa Corp. The adhesive backed film stretches in every direction, allowing for curved surfaces to be easily wrapped. Best of all, it’s affordable. Stretch chrome retails for $5.99 per square foot.

    5. Killer Chrome

    Probably the best solution for trim shops, Killer Chrome is a three-step painting process similar to Spray Chrome, but can be done in your own garage with a $129 kit from Alsa Corp. Don’t confuse Killer Chrome for the cheap spray cans of the past that advertised a chrome finish, but delivered silver paint. Killer Chrome is the real deal.

    6. Mirror Chrome FX Sheeting

    Similar to Stretch Chrome, FX sheeting is a peel and stick laminate. However, this product is only intended for flat surfaces – as it does not have any stretch capabilities. The stunning mirror-chrome finish is great for accent pieces on dashboards, custom consoles and finished trunks. Before you spend $14 per square foot, try Alsa Corp‘s sample pack – which includes mirror chrome, as well as 11 other finishes like brushed aluminum and burl wood.

    OK, so in reality you’re not actually transforming plastic into chrome. Rather, you’re giving cheap-looking parts a higher-end chrome finish. Sometimes that’s good too. These options are to real chrome what gold plating is to alchemy – a feasible and attractive alternative.

    You will ride eternal, shiny, and chrome.

    The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.

    If you’re anything like The Drive’s editors, you actually take your car outside and let it experience the world—no garage shut-ins here. It breathes in neighborhood air, feels the local pavement, and gulps gas at highway exit gas stations. It also gets wet and dirty and becomes chemically unstable.

    Many metal parts on a car are susceptible to weather, road conditions, and salt, and the unsightly result can be rust spots. This looks particularly terrible on chrome-plated parts, which become dull and pitted. Fortunately, similar to how you can correct your paint, you can also do a DIY chrome correction at home.

    If your chrome has light corrosion, not chips or scratches, you should be able to shine it up with a few simple products and quick steps. The Drive’s OCD editors are here to help guide your microfiber towel along the way, so let’s get to it.

    What Is Chrome?

    Chrome is a shiny hard metallic coating primarily made of chromium. It is typically electroplated onto the surface of another metal such as steel for decoration and protection. On cars, it is most commonly found on wheels, bumpers, grilles, and trim pieces.

    Why Does Chrome Become Rusted?

    Throughout time, the metal encounters oxygen and water and begins to oxidize, which causes rust.

    The Basics of Restoring Rusted Chrome

    Estimated Time Needed: 1 hour to 1 weekend

    Skill Level: Beginner

    Vehicle System: Exterior

    Safety

    Working on your car can be dangerous and messy, so here’s exactly what you’ll need to ensure you leave the garage in the same condition in which you entered.

    • Safety glasses
    • Nitrile gloves

    Everything You’ll Need To Restore Rust From Chrome

    We’re not psychic, nor are we snooping through your toolbox or garage, so here’s exactly what you’ll need to get the job done.

    Tool List

    • Everything to wash your car (buckets, microfiber wash mitt, wheel brush, car wash soap, wheel cleaner, dry towels)
    • Chrome polish or restoring compound
    • Applicator pad
    • Microfiber towels
    • Auto tape

    Organizing your tools and gear so everything is easily reachable will save precious minutes waiting for your handy-dandy child or four-legged helper to bring you the sandpaper or blowtorch. (You still won’t need a blowtorch for this job. Please don’t have your kid hand you a blowtorch—Ed.)

    You’ll also need a flat workspace, such as a garage floor, driveway, or street parking that’s also well-ventilated. Check your local laws to make sure you’re not violating any codes when using the street because we aren’t getting your ride out of the clink.

    Here’s How To Restore Your Car’s Chrome

    1. Wash and dry your car.
    2. Tape off any paint or parts on your car near the area you will be working on.
    3. Apply a small amount of chrome polish to your applicator pad or fresh microfiber towel.
    4. Start with a small area and work the polish into the chrome.
    5. Wipe the polish off with a different fresh cloth.
    6. Repeat steps 4-5 until your wheel, bumper, or trim piece is finished and returned to its shiny glory.

    Can I Use Steel Wool?

    The opinion on this topic seems to vary from person to person. Some people say that bronze wool, brass wool, or 0000 (fine grade) steel wool can be used with chrome polish to help remove any dirt, stains, and rust, as long as it’s real chrome. Others suggest that using steel wool will leave microscratches and possibly dull the surface.

    As for us, we’ll stick with the chrome polishing compound, because at the end of the day, steel wool on chrome plating is still metal on metal. If you do choose this method, use extremely light pressure and try it on a small lesser-seen spot first as a test.

    FAQs About Rusted Chrome

    Q. So Does WD-40 Remove Rust From Chrome?

    A.

    WD-40 directly claims it can remove rust from chrome, but we’d stick to the chrome polisher for car parts.

    Q. Alright, How About Vinegar?

    A. Vinegar has some acidity to it, which could slowly remove rust, but it’ll likely take longer and does not have a built-in sealant like commercial chrome polish.

    Q. Then Does Coke Remove Rust From Chrome?

    A. The acid in Coca-Cola can break things down, but we prefer using the stuff specifically formulated for the job.

    Q. What About Toothpaste, Does It Remove Rust From Chrome?

    A. Toothpaste is abrasive, so it’ll probably do the trick, but we recommend a chrome polisher. They have abrasive properties made for the job and include built-in sealers.

    Chrome is normally bright silver and very shiny, which makes it stand out as trim on a car. Chrome can also get scratched, become dull or stand out too much for some people. A good solution to these problems is to paint the chrome car trim. Paint chrome using the wrong steps can result in chipping, flaking and cracks in the paint. Using the proper steps for painting chrome car trim can result in a nice, durable finish for car trim pieces.

    Plastic Chrome Parts

    Step 1

    Remove the part from the car if possible. If not, use masking tape and paper around the part to protect the surrounding surface.

    Step 2

    Use the gray scuff pad to scuff the chrome on the entire part. The scuff pad makes the chrome surface dull. Make sure to scuff the entire part until there are no shiny areas at all.

    Step 3

    Spray primer on the part using three thin coats. Allow the primer to dry between each coat.

    Spray four thin coats of paint on top of the primer and allow each to dry. Apply three or four coats of clear to the dried paint on the part.

    Metal Chrome Trim

    Step 1

    Remove the trim from the car if possible. Use masking tape and paper around the part to protect the surrounding surface of the car.

    Step 2

    Use the 300 grit sand paper to sand the chrome surface of the car part. Sand the part until all of the chrome is completely dull. Once this step is done, sand the part again with 800 grit sand paper. This step removes the small scratches left by the 300 grit paper.

    Step 3

    Spray the part with self etching primer. This primer sticks to the chrome and allows the regular primer to stick to the part. Regular primer and paint won’t stick to a chrome surface.

    Step 4

    Primer the entire surface of the part with two coats of regular automotive primer. Allow each coat to dry completely.

    Paint the part with three coats of automotive paint, allowing each coat to dry completely before handling the part or replacing it on the car.

    WHAT IS IT?

    To de-chrome a vehicle (also known as chrome delete) is to cover exposed chrome with a vinyl wrap. This is most commonly done in a gloss or matte black finish, but we can of course accommodate any requests you may have. The result is a sleek, stylish look that really sets a vehicle out from the crowd.

    The vinyl wrap will also provide a layer of protection for existing chrome from the elements, dirt, and minor abrasions. It can be removed at any time without damage to existing paintwork by a reputable wrapping/wrap removal specialist. This is a service we offer as well.

    We use materials from 3M, Avery Dennison, Hexis, and Bruxafol. Across these ranges there is an availability of matte, semi-gloss, and gloss wraps. A variety of colours are also available to suit all manner of cars, tastes, and budgets. Get in touch today to see when we can fit you in!

    BEFORE AND AFTER

    WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

    • Black edition at a fraction of the price
    • Gives your vehicle a stealth look
    • Protects chrome elements under the vinyl wrap
    • Almost all of the chrome can be removed from interior and exterior trim elements
    • Vinyl wrap can be removed anytime without damage to the chrome parts
    • Customisation/personalisation of your vehicle

    WHAT DOES IT COST?

    Looking for how much it costs to get de-chroming done? See our price breakdown below, if you have any questions please get in touch!

    What is Plastic Chrome Plating?

    Many people make the mistake of thinking that they can only apply a chrome finish to a metal part. However, chrome plating plastic makes it possible to give a plastic part the same sheen as a traditional chrome part.

    Chrome Plastic Plating Process

    Unfortunately, plastic chrome plating is not as simple as applying a coat of chrome to the part. Typically, we will first coat the part with a layer of copper of nickel through a process called electro-less plating. This means that we do not use an electric current to apply the plating. Applying this coating makes the part conducive, which makes it possible to apply the chrome plating later on.

    Think of this like the base coat that you’d apply to wall before painting it. This base coat prepares the part for the electro plating techniques that we use to apply the chrome plating. Without it, we can’t bind the chrome plating to the plastic part.
    Typically, the entire process follows the following six steps.

    Step 1 – Etching

    We immerse the part into a tank that contains a mixture of concentrated sulfuric and chromic acids. During this process, the acid mixture etches a serious a microscopic holes along the surface of the plastic part. It is these tiny holes that will contain the metal coating applied during the electro-less plating process.

    Step 2 – Neutralization

    Upon removing the part from the acid mixture, we immerse it into an alkaline mixture. This neutralizes the acids to ensure they don’t continue eating into the plastic part. This neutralization is also crucial for ensuring no leftover acids disrupt the plating processes later on.

    Step 3 – Catalyzing and Accelerating

    We apply a catalytic film to the surface of the plastic part to prepare it for the electro-less plating process. However, before we do that, we must also immerse the part in a final bath that removes any leftover chemicals from the previous processes. This bath also accelerates the film, which means that it will react much more quickly to the metal plating that we apply to the part.

    Step 4 – Electro-less Plating

    We use the electro-less plating technique described above to apply a very thin layer of copper or nickel to the part. The purpose of this it to make the part conductive, which allows it to accept the chrome plating.

    Step 5 – Electro Plating

    Upon completing the electro-less coating process, we apply a negative charge to the new metal coating. We then immerse the negatively-charged part into a tank that contains positively-charged chrome ions. These ions get attracted to the negatively-charged copper or nickel layer, which causes them to attach themselves to the part. Upon attaching, the ions revert back to their neutral metallic form. This ensures that the chrome plate layer remains even throughout.

    Upon completion of the electro plating process, we remove the part from the chrome and allow it to cool.

    Step 6 – Quality Inspection

    We conduct a thorough quality inspection on the part to ensure we’ve carried out the process correctly. This inspection examines the evenness of the chrome coating, as well as ensuring that the process hasn’t led to any discrepancies in the part itself.
    For large production runs, we use an error tracking process to ensure any mistakes get corrected before they can affect an entire batch.