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Silver and Brass plating


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In an effort to find the correct plating information for Packard and others, I have continued to ask all the knowledgeable that I can find in the hobby about the possibility of German Silver plating being used in the auto industry. To date no one has ever heard or read about such a practice by any manufacturer.

The only reference to such a practice comes from by Rick L. as being used extensively on Packards. Until I see something more to corroborate his reference, I have to score the use of such plating as a myth. A myth that might send some restorers off on a tangent.

From all I can determine Packard, in particular, used only silver, nickel and finally chrome plating for all its brightwork. If anyone has solid info that differs from this please share it.

Pete P.

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I know that some manufacturers used GS castings and GS sheet for sill plates etc. but I likewise have never seen a reference to German Silver plating. We sent out a pair of '17 Pierce sill plates for nickle plating. Plater phoned me in a panic. The pieces had literally begun to dissolve in the stripping solution. We then determined that they were GS. Had to remake them in brass and have them nickle plated.

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German-Silver plating (later called Nickle-Silver) was used for ALL Packard door-handles and some other interior parts, prior to WW2, and many other interior and exterior parts prior to '29. It's an alloy of Nickel, Zink and Copper.

No Myth, Facts, It looks very different than any other plating.

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Rick —

OK, so you say GS plating looks very different. Great, that is in the eye of the beholder, if anywhere. What I am looking for is a back-up to your claim in any reference that says that Packard actually used such plating. Barring that, it is a myth and nothing more.

I have the utmost respect for you extensive auto knowledge and the obvious talent you show on the work you do on your restorations, but I think you are dead wrong about this plating myth.

I just want to see some back-up information to your claim.

Right now EVERYTHING I can find that is written or told to me says GS plating was never used on any production vehicles and especially on Packards.

If you have information beyond an opinion, it is time to share it, as just how bits and pieces are plated is very fundamental to many restoration projects when correctness is a consideration.

No AACA judge I have spoken with has ever noted or heard of GS plating for Packards or any other car. I would think if the appearance is as different as you claim, it would have been at least noticed.

Pete P.

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Rick —

Let's not get ridiculous. What I am asking for is some back-up documentation for your claim in any believable form.

If you want to strip the plating,(most likely silver), off one of your door handles and submit it for analysis, feel free, and that MIGHT prove one handle is GS plated, but it says absolutely nothing about the millions of others out there. A Packard plating spec. or even a plating description in their literature would say much more.

I need to see something that speaks to the process Packard used during the period you call out. I repeat, EVERY reference I can access speaks of lacquered silver plating on the interior handles. This is also what the judges look for. It remain a myth pending such documentation as far as I am concerned, and my handles will be silver plated and lacquered until then.

Pete P.

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I have found no references to ANYTHING being GS plated, much less auto parts. Plenty of references to Cast GS pieces being nickle or silver plated but I cannot find a single reference to German Silver plating on any kind of substrate. There is even a specific Hallmark stamp on "silver ware" denoting "silver plated German Silver". Surely if GS plating was used in the automotive industry there would be at least one reference to it somewhere?

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Jeff —

Amen to your last. Plating in German silver appears to be a myth that has gotten legs somehow. I have no doubt Rick L. is certain he is correct, and if he is, proving it should be a simple matter of finding the correct reference. So far all that he has offered is his own subjective observation and conversation with some unnamed platers. Leaves a lot to wonder about.

The manufacturing processes of the automakers are generally well documented, or QA of the results would have been impossible.

Packard probably didn't make the handles themselves anyway, (other than in pilot form), and gave their suppliers a spec for them to meet. The plating to be used had to have been a part of that spec, (along with the plating spec. for a lot of other parts). Are Packard records that obscure? Hard to believe a process used for several decades would escape mention, or that the manuals would list the finish on these parts as lacquered silver plating when they were something else.

I'm ready to move on.

Pete P.

Pete P.

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Pete....who the heck cares. But if it bugs you to the point you are losing sleep over it, I will do my part to put this to rest. I am 100% in Speedster's corner. I will donate the door handle so you can have it analyzed. Then my friend can be vindicated and the truth will be known. Just because you cannot find anything in writing means NOTHING. You heard me correctly.... absolutely nothing. So lets get this done Peter. Need an address.

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Superods —

I am losing NO sleep over this issue, but I am concerned over those new to the hobby, or facing a plating choice for the first time. They read what Rick has put forth and will go off on a wild goose chase trying to find a plater that will do GS plating for them. If they are lucky enough to find one, he will most likely charge a premium price for the work, as the job will require a special set-up and maybe even some experimentation to create what seems to me to be a myth.

Plating of all kinds is already dear enough without adding extra baggage.

I consider Rick a friend, authority, and a very definite asset to this hobby, but that does not insulate him from error. We all make mistakes from time to time, and this one seems too obvious to ignore with not much other than his opinion to support his claim. There is much more evidence that is contrary to his stance on this issue. I have to go with that preponderance of evidence.

I remain unconvinced, and if you are so certain he is correct, you get your handle plating analyzed. It will prove almost nothing, as it is only one handle in millions no matter the result. Any sort of documentation that Packard or any other manufacturer used GS plating in production of their vehicles would mean a lot more, despite what you say.

Question, what, other than loyalty to a friend, convinces you he is correct on this? I have looked at the original handles from my '28 Packard and the tarnish says silver plating loud and clear, just as the manual says they should be.

If you want to send me anything,(hate mail for instance?),the address is:

7457 Caribbean Circle

Keystone Heights FL 32656-7237

You might offer your address too, and I will send you the broken, tarnished pieces of my original handles to peruse and have checked out If you want, but it will prove nothing because that too would be one handle in a million.

Pete P.

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Hate mail ? Pete ...you are right. What is meaningful to you is just that ...meaningful. Guess it does not mean that much to me. I should have kept my nose out of it. I just do not think that way. Next time I will know better. At any rate my address is 50690 Garfield Road, Wakeman, Ohio 44889. And do not send me you broken tarnished handles they do not mean to me what they do to you. Sorry Pete

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I could easily be wrong on this, but in looking at the interior door hardware on my original 34 Eight, it's not chromium plated, it's not silver plated, in fact it's not plated at all. It has a slightly more glossy appearance than pewter and I've always thought the parts were cast in german silver alloy, period. No plating.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Speedster</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I would apologize for 'Rocking the Boat', but it's All West's Fault, for bringing it up again! smile.gif LOL smile.gif </div></div>

Yah, I've been kind of lurking around here thinking the same thing. blush.gif

Ah, heck, if you can't stir up a little trouble once in a while, what fun is life?

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My point exactly. There are many references to solid cast GS parts and as I said we did a bit of work on a '17 Pierce which most definitely had GS parts, which we learned the hard way. The dispute is whether automotive parts were ever Geman Silver plated. There seems to be no evidence whatsoever that GS plating was ever used.

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Alloy plating can be difficult. Think of most of the plating we hear about, copper, nickel, chrome, silver, gold, cadmium and the like -- they'll all pure metals. When you have an allow involved where the individual metal ions are to be taken from solution in the same ratio as they are in the base alloy, it can present some interesting challenges (I spent some years in the electroplating industry, mostly for electronic components). Perhaps solder plating (tin/lead) is a notable exception

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Rick L.

You can quiet the "rocking of the boat" started by West, as you see it, by perhaps stealing a page out of the politician's notebook and allowing that you might have misspoke on this GS plating issue as the result of being fed bad info, or that the light was bad when you evaluated the very different appearing plating on your handles. I've even used the excuse, "I'm just getting too old", to excuse my own errors at times. :-)

There is no stigma attached to being wrong on occasion, in fact, it makes you more believable if you can say you made a mistake. We all do make them from time to time, you know. I DON'T trust the expert that never makes a mistake as much as the one that can say "I goofed" when the situation merits it.

MY PROBLEM with this entire issue is that neophytes like myself will spend time, money and energy, (best spent elsewhere), chasing a plating myth on the basis of your advice. I would be at the head of the line looking for a GS plater right now if I had not seen so much in the Packard literature that said otherwise.

The problems inherent in controlling a process of laying down a true alloy plating that Owen refers in his last post should have been an alert that maybe GS plating was not used, regardless of how your handles appeared.

I hope this is the last post on this subject, because there are much more interesting and important things to discuss.

Pete P.

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Sorry, Pete

I can Not say that I made a Mistake, for any reason, because I KNOW that I am Correct, about the German-silver plating. And I hope that someday it will be proved to you also.

And as you say, that will be the Last I say about that subject, on this forum.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Maybe this will fill the bill...

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Surely if GS plating was used in the automotive industry there would be at least one reference to it somewhere?</div></div>

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Amen to your last. Plating in German silver appears to be a myth that has gotten legs somehow.</div></div>

As of Feb. 13, 1923 you could have a <span style="font-style: italic"> German Silver </span> condenser shell per Stanley Dealer Bulletin #222.

GermanSilver-vi.jpg

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German silver yes but it doesn't say German Silver Plated which is the nut we're trying to crack. There are many solid GS parts around. The question remains: Is there any evidence of GS PLATING being used in the auto industry? So far there is NO evidence that it was.

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