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Guest 56 Cadillac

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Guest 56 Cadillac

I am currently doing a total ground up restoration of a 1956 Cadillac model 62 convertible.

For the past 2 years I have really had my eyes opened to the wonderful world of chrome shops / polishers.

They have ruined my parts, they have lost my parts, they never have a part done when they say it will be done. And the hits keep on coming.

Its not that Iam getting parts done for free or something. I find that all of the shops I've dealt with are just prima donnas and they know they have you by the short and curlys.

All I ask is a good job in exchange for the good money they quote you and on time.

This getting !#$%%&*! around for 2 years has really soured my excitement for getting my car on the road again and I wonder if its all been worth it.

Sorry for my RANT.

Anybody have any similar horror stories like me ? :(:mad:

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First, you will get what you pay for. There is no such thing as inexpensive quality rechrome.

Second, pay no money up front.

Third, You should only deal with a shop that gives an agreeded upon price, IN WRITING. There are some pieces that may require a ball park estimate but they are rare.

Fourth, insist upon pictures of every piece with the price.

Fifth, deal only with shops that have a sterling reputation.

Six, Expect to pay through the nose.

Personally I deal with Lebrandi's plating in Harrisburg, PA. They've done three complete rechrome jobs for me. They are NOT cheap but they have complied with all of the above. They give a hard price that they stick to, they give a completion date that has always been kept to within 2 weeks, and the quality is there.

I understand there are other good shops out there, ask around..............Bob

Edited by Bhigdog (see edit history)
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I'm always reminded of my father's favorite adage:

Fast, cheap, or well-done.

Pick two.

I think some of the big name chrome shops have their work down to a science by now and wouldn't remain in business long by jerking customers around. Word of mouth is critical in this hobby, perhaps more than almost any other, and screwing up, say, a Pebble Beach contender might be the death knell of such a business. I'm reminded of a local restorer who was driven to bankruptcy by the ill words (and untrue ones, it turns out) of one particularly influential hobbyist.

Get references for your all your subcontractors on a restoration, but chrome more than any other, since many of those parts are made of unobtainium.

Good luck!

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Guest 56 Cadillac

In response to the first 2 replies, these guys were definetly not cheap nor were they fast or on time.

I agree that next time I do this kind of thing I ll use a nationally advertised company that would be worried about bad publicity.


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It is the biggest cost/stress factor in restoration IMO. Indeed, one feels at the mercy of the shop, you hear about lost parts and all kinds of horror stories.

Like bhigdog I sent my chrome to Librandis. I could talk to the owner, who has a good reputation and knows what level of quality an antique car owner expects because he is one also. I am sure there are other shops closer to me than 700 miles and they may even be cheaper, but they also may not. I would like to find someone closer but the unknown is not worth the risk to me. As Matt points out, talk to people and get references, but I can second that Librandi's knows what they are doing and runs a good business you can deal with. Todd C

PS--even they may take too long but if the quality is there you are doing OK

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Ironically I used a what I thought was a pretty good company and was promised a delivery time about 6 weeks out. (it was one 30's bumper) it took several calls and finally 4 months later I finally received my part. I got worried after 2 months. Good thing I wasn't trying to meet a show deadline.

The best part was I walked into Hershey with an accessory Grille guard for a 1948 Chevy and it had been bent at one point pretty good. I walked up to an old camping trailer and a redneck looking guy named bubba said yup I'll do it for 250.00. His operation didn't look real professional but the few pieces he had looked good. I handed it over and just about to the day about a month away he promissed it, the phone rang. I finalized the payment and a few days later the guard arrived well packed and looking spectacular. I didn't see him at Hershey last year but I was impressed. I guess you can't go by first impressions. I just wished he would have sent me some cards to give out.

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Some chromers have been "as described" in the first post. The fact that fewer of them are now in business than in the past (EPA regulations, etc.) does not help matters, any, either.

Some do have attitudes, higher prices, and poor on-time deliveries . . . and mediocre work. Certainly not all the same!

I came to realize, after looking at several re-chrome vendors at swap meets and one of them pointing this out, but many chrome shops can hand you a nicely-done finished product . . . until you look closer and see that if there was any cast-in detail to the particular part, it could well be covered up with excessive build thickness of the several layers of underlying plating before the final "chrome" is applied. Just like OEM, the thinner the layers, the better, as I figured out. The particular vendor had a competitor's piece which had some filligree in the casting underneath the heavy plating, but which had disappeared by the time the top layer was applied.

There are also different "colors" of chrome. Some are bluer, whereas others are "whiter". You don't notice the difference until you put the finished "show chrome" up against a good OEM piece. Then, you realize just how shiney the factory stuff was not, compared to a "perfect" show chrome piece. Just some things to be aware of.

With regard to pot metal parts . . . it's best to accumulate MORE than you'll end up needing for your vehicle. In the process of buffing them for replating, they can "explode" and be worthless thereafter. This is something the plater will generally not compensate you for, as it's something of a known peril of replating pot metal items.

I concur that it can be a good idea to take detailed pictures of the parts you're sending to the plater, especially if they are "away". Then, you can mark each picture with a price estimate from the plater, plus the estimated time of completion. A detailed quote on company letterhead/invoice is good, too. When payment is offered can be variable, though. But even this plan can be defeated, sometimes.

I don't know that there's any good, universal way to get good chrome work. One additional source of leads might be the motorcycle enthusiasts and shops in the area. Still, though, as with other referrals, what one person considers to be "excellent work" might be "highly mediocre work" to another person.

Remember, too, that chrome shops base their pricing on "batches" rather than "pieces", which can be significant if you have a lot of small parts to be done. Whatever fits in "one dipping basket", or at least that's the way it used to be.

Somewhere between the "Bubbas" of the world and the huge industrial-size platers, there should be some shops which can meet the needs of the automotive enthusiasts/restorers. Finding them can be the key. No different than trying to find a good body shop for repair work.

Just some thoughts,


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There used to be a super good plater in Denver (Ajax.) You could bring him 25 parts and you would get back 25 NICE parts for exactly what he quoted you and when he quoted it would be done. An inventory was done on the spot with you. If he thought your piece was questionalble to plate, he would not attempt it. That frustrated people, but I'd rather know up front before I spent money for a part that could not be saved. Environmental laws killed them. They do other plating, but no more chrome. Any plater will tell you that small details can get lost in the process. Not much if anything can be done to prevent it. They get lost during the removal of old plating or "faded" due to buffing and loss of material. Certainly not often from too much plating.

I have alocal guy for polishing, he is a bit odd but his work is top shelf. Lives with his mom (probably in his 50s) Every time I see him he is as black as night from the polishing wheel. Never uses a mask or safety glasses. Definately a low budget operation but the work does not reflect his work enviroment or workmanship.

There are many different levels of chrome! Be educated on the options and methods before you hand over anything to a plater. There is an Amphicar parts guy who goes with cheaper and within a couple years you may have nice sheets of chrome peeling off. Then he won't stand behind the part anyway. I spend more on repairing my originals so I know what I'm getting. My point is the best weapon to have is to educate yourselves.

Edited by Amphicar BUYER (see edit history)
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I have a friend/customer who owned a chrome shop in Connecticut 20+ years ago and had a great reputation. He wanted to stay small but his then partner wanted to expand so he sold out and went on to other things. A couple of years ago, he talked to me about starting a new chroming business and we almost did it, but as time went on, it appeared my initial proposed investment of $25K would realistically need to be $100K. Nearing retirement, I just didn't want to take a risk at losing that much money and I didn't want to spend my retirement working! I really think we could have made a go of it, though, as he had the knowledge and ability whereas I could do the bookwork and talk with customers. Anyway, as far as I know, my friend is still investigating the possibilty of starting his own shop but on a smaller scale. I've never restored or had a car restored but I understand that finding a good, reasonable, quality chrome shop is difficult. Guess my question would be if someone did start such a shop, would they get the business?

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Quality and reasonable (inexpensive) are mutually exclusive. There is a tremendous amount of hand labor/expense involved in parts restoration. The plating itself is easy. A careful and knowledgeable polisher has to be trained and paid a decent wage. The environmental costs are considerable. The successful shops have built a reputation with quality work but it's not cheap and I suspect not easy. I think a successful shop could be started, The demand is there, but it's a LOT harder than it sounds...............Bob

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I had a guy sit on my parts for a few months and that made me nervous. Luckily he still had them in the big box I dropped them off in. He didn't have a good excuse as to why he didn't start on them so I took them back home.

I finally had them done by a big name plater in L.A. The work varied from good to mediocre and they weren't cheap. I had them redo the mediocre stuff until it was good.

Sadly the a lot of the good stuff started going bad over the following 10 years and this was a car that always stayed garaged. I found an excellent plater to redo the critical stuff. I found him by accident. He was one of the guys who did the plating work for the Nethercutt Collection. He was very reasonable as well.

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