Chrome can really make a restoration come alive. It can be a costly process, but should not be avoided, especially if the chrome is pitted and rusty. Waiting not only makes the car's appearance look bad, but it's bad for the piece that continues to rust away. Sometimes on "drivers" we have taken a piece of dull chrome, cleaned, machine buffed and polished it and it looked good and it looked "right" on a car that is well-cared-for at a "preservation" level. One of our current projects, a Jaguar Mk/2 has dark blue paint that was recently applied before we bought the car. The chrome was probably never re-plated. Whoever painted the car had hit the grill, windshield surround and some other pieces with a DA, leaving 80 grit sand marks so deep that they could only be removed by re-plating.
With the Jag's twin SU-HD6 carburetors out for rebuilding, we thought it would be a good time to send out the chrome for re-plating. Before sending chrome away, I always check the availability of replacing the pieces in case they get lost in shipping. Re-placing a door handle on our '51 Chevy Fleetline might be easier to get than a door handle on our '37 Packard Super 8, for instance. Mk/2 Grills, bumpers and headlight rings appear to be available, while tail light housings and exterior door handles are a little harder to find, so when we ship the hard-to-find parts, they will be in a separate box with enough insurance to cover replacing them if they are damaged or lost.
Visiting the plant that will be doing the plating is another option to shipping, and we have done so on several occasions to deliver and pick up some of our rare parts. It is also a good time to get to know the guys who will be doing the work and see how the parts are stripped and straightened, and go through the plating process, which really helps in understanding why re-chroming takes time and the costs that are involved.
CHROME REMOVAL: It is always best to photograph the car with the parts on first, so you will know how everything goes back on. Then read the body manual and look at the parts book to see if anything is missing. We started at the front of the car and worked toward the back.
These Jags are fun cars to work on, with the exception of certain parts of the engine compartment, where you almost have to grease your hand to get it between the inner fender well and the SU carbs. There is a service opening in the bottom/center of the radiator's splash shield for easy access to reach up and remove the nuts that secure the grill to the body. After the grill was removed, we removed the center chrome strip (this has the engine size badgeours is 3.4L). This is done by removing a connector plate at the bottom and two screws at the top. This gives access to the two emblem screws. The headlight and small parts are easily removed with set screws. The front bumper has four bumper bolts and are removed as shown in the illustration. After removal, the bumper guards (over-riders) can be removed from the bumper's back side. Our front guards have rubber fitted mounting gaskets that were in great shape, so they were carefully removed, labeled and stored for later reassembly. We removed our chrome around the front and rear windows (they just pry off), again the product of sloppy DA sanding. The outside door handles were also removed. This is done by removing the inside door panels. Carefully remove the wood trim caps. Immediately bag the slot-head oval screws and special recessed washersthey are special Jag screws. Remove the interior door handles, which are like Packards in the 1940's. The escutcheon is spring-loaded and is pushed in toward the door panels, exposing a small pin in the door handle/window regulator's shaft. Push out the retaining pin and the handle/window roller comes apart. The door panels pull off, being held on with metal spring clips on the back side of the panel. To remove the outside handles, take off the two nuts, one on either end of the handle inside the door and separate the handle from the button assemblies. Our buttons were stainless and were in great shape. The handles can now be removed.
Our trunk license plate light housing, tail light housings and rear bumper had to be removed. The license plate light and tail light assemblies are removed by taking the nuts and bolts out from access inside the trunk. The rear bumper is removed by removing the bolts that hold on the bumper to the two side mounting brackets. Then remove the two largest bolts, which secure the bumper to the two mounting rubbers (inner position), and lift off the bumper.
With the bumper off, the over-riders can be removed from the back side. Each part was photographed and labeled with masking tape. A list will accompany each box of parts as they are shipped and insured. Also, we always call our plater and establish a contact before the parts are shipped. Re-call him when UPS tracking shows delivery has been made. Now, with the parts off for re-plating, it will be a good time to detail the engine compartment and polish the two aluminum cam covers!
See you next month, and keep 'em driving!