After the part to be chromed is smooth and straight, the color coat is applied, and in the plating process that means a coat of nickel. Nickel provides the shiny reflective surface, but if left unprotected, it will tarnish. Like the clearcoat on paint, to protect the nickel the final step in the plating procedure is an application of chrome. Surprisingly, this is the least time consuming step of all the processes, taking only a few minutes in most cases. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some tricks involved. Depending on the shape of the piece being plated there may be high and low density areas—that means areas that are prominent are high density and will attract more current and consequently a thicker layer of chrome, areas such as concaves are low density and won’t receive as thick of a deposit. The cure for this is experience and specialized equipment.
While chrome is found on bumpers, grilles, and other parts, stainless steel was often used for various trim pieces; over the years most trucks were treated less than delicately so it’s not unusual for the stainless trim to suffer dings and dents or worse. Fortunately, stainless is a tough material that can often be saved. Much like bodywork, the procedure is to use hammers and dollies to remove dents. In some cases, silver solder is used to repair rips and tears, which are followed by sanding and buffing. When done properly, most stainless repairs are impossible to detect.
We followed the crew at Sherm’s around the shop to get an idea of what it takes to get the kind of results from chrome plating and stainless repair that sets one truck apart from another. CCT