Dag Blast It!
Q. In the May '09 issue of PHR, "The Last Word" column was about powdercoating. Liz had some taillight bezels coated. So this question is for Liz: Does the chrome have to be removed from the parts before coating them? I have a '65 Olds 442 that has a lot of pot metal trim that would cost me a small fortune to restore. I was thinking of stripping the chrome off the parts (if possible!) and having them coated with a satin silver or stainless steel to look powdercoated. Some of the parts have pits on them that would still show if coated. Do you know if you can blast off chrome, or does it have to be stripped some other way?
Via the Internet
A. The taillight bezels that were on my Mustang were in really good condition, so they didn't need to be stripped. They use a phosphate-based cleaner that etches the chrome plating to allow the powder finish to stick. If the chrome plating isn't smooth enough to coat over, you can usually sandblast the chrome off with an aggressive media like editor Johnny Hunkins did on his pot metal '68 Chevelle trim, or grind the plating off with a sanding disc. This works best for parts that have a relatively hard underlying metal like that of a bumper or cowl panel, which are made of mild steel. The tail light bezels and other pot metal can be brittle and are easily deformed. Sandblasting, grinding, or chemically stripping these parts can ruin them, so be careful. I called four local powdercoating shops and none of them would take liability if the part was damaged in the stripping process. They all recommended that I find a reproduction piece that was in good shape, so they wouldn't need to remove the plating. We know some parts are very difficult to source, but that's what you need to do.
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