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Hot Rods chrome pricing?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by JOECOOL, Apr 4, 2015.

    Joined: Jan 13, 2004
    Posts: 2,757


    I purchased a Baldor buffer on a stand at an auction. I would like to use it save me some money at the chrome shop. A friend thinks that because of the size of their equipment and expertise that me trying to save money by doing my own prepping is not practical.
    Assuming I can polish my own stuff prior to taking it to them how much will the savings be ? 50% ? 75% ? or am I dreaming. I am retired so my time isn't worth much anyway. Thanks
    black_dog41 likes this.
  2. dreracecar
    Joined: Aug 27, 2009
    Posts: 3,029

    from so-cal

    The problem with doing your own prep is that now you become responsable for the finnish and quality of the work that the plater does--- even if HE screws up. With the increasing cost of plating materials and EPA issues, the prep work could be the cheapest part of the opperation
    LostBoy likes this.
  3. Man, chrome pricing makes no sense at all, none. It's a conspriracy if ever there was one.
    Rod Ari, ls1yj, 117harv and 1 other person like this.
  4. KoolKat-57
    Joined: Feb 22, 2010
    Posts: 2,960

    from Dublin, OH

    Most chrome shops I have dealt with will not accept pieces that are "pre" prepped.
    When I pay to have a part chromed, I want it to look the best that it can.
    I will continue to pay the price for good work, in the long run it's worth it.
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  5. It only makes sense that if the parts come into the chrome shop with 80% of the prep work done on the steel, and the shop takes it the final bit before the plating process starts that its should be cheaper.

    I look at it like this, if I walked into a weld shop with only a drawing of what I wanted I would expect to pay $xxxx.

    Now if I walked into the the same weld shop with a box of cut parts and the same drawing, I'd expect to pay $xx.

    Then again if I walked into a weld shop with a tacked together weldment, I'd expect to pay $x.

    Taking parts into a chrome shop doesn't work like that, even though it should. It's treated as taking your own steak into a restaurant. Makes no sense.

    If I take a car in for tires, I pay $x.
    If I drop off 4 rims for tires I pay the exact same. Why? The tire shop gives no credit for bay space, lifting the car, 20 lug nuts, or beating frozen rims off salty cars. They should but they don't. So what's in it for me to bother with the hassle of dropping just the wheels off, nothing. Let them do it.

    You can buy a simple bracket in plain steel for $40.00, or Buy The same bracket in chrome for $49.00. 9bucks for chrome. O R take the $40 bracket into a chrome shop for chrome and its $200.00. Even if you buy the 49.00 chrome bracket for modifications then take it into the chrome shop it's still 200.00 even though its already been prepped. Makes no sense at all.

    You may say, "offshore" you may say "volume" but it still makes no sense.
    reagen, gonmad, brandon and 4 others like this.
  6. 36cab
    Joined: Dec 2, 2008
    Posts: 669


  7. hawksrod likes this.
  8. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 13,642

    from oregon

    I'd bet some of the reason for the current pricing structure is the fact that chrome shop owners know their industry inside and out as to who's still left even doing this work in their area and they also understand the shipping costs involved so they kinda know they have you over a barrel.
  9. Joe,
    I just had a thought.
    If you are retired and don't value your time much, why not go to your local chrome shop and offer to do stuff/work/volunteer there.
    I'm almost fully convinced the only way to get a discount on chrome work is to work at the shop.
  10. As a percentage of the total population very few ever attempt to go into business. Of that relative few that do, something on the order of 80% of those fail at the business they attempt. That tiny number who do succeed are the survivors in that Darwinian world of business. It's amazing how many who've never actually gone on that battle field and succeeded think they know how it should work. All that being said the o.p. isn't conceptually wrong. If you could find a plating business that would communicate what preparation is correct to assist them rather than cause them more problems than it's worth, it might work. But working that out with you has a cost to the business as me now, pay me later. Government Regulation? If you've never had to grapple with it first hand it's hard to imagine just how heavy (aka expensive) the burden is (irrespective of the supposed positive outcome). How did this ever become the most economically powerful nation in history without the high level of regulation we now "enjoy"?
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2015
  11. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 14,460


    I worked at a chrome shop for years. There are a few times where customers would do thier own prep work, but those were customers we knew and trusted. You can destroy a part, or make it much harder to plate, with poor prep work. And you'd still have to have the part electro-stripped by the plater before you could start prepping it (assuming your part was already chromed at one time).

    If these are new parts that you made yourself, that have never had chrome on them, then yes, smooth them out as best you can, carefully, and if it's an old part you want re-chromed, spend your efforts tracking down the best possible core, that's where your time is best spent.
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  12. stanlow69
    Joined: Feb 21, 2010
    Posts: 4,449

    from red oak

    Go to the chrome shop with the part and ask them.
    Joined: Jan 13, 2004
    Posts: 2,757


    I have no desire to get bumpers or large items done, I have some small brackets I made for a serpentine belt and a steering shaft,that kind of stuff.
    As far as working there ,last year when I asked about this he said "I don't have that much work for the other 100 men that ask ."
    Guess I'll just try a piece or two and see. Thanks for the advice
  14. Joe,as someone pointed out in a previous reply is the quality and reputation of the shop is on the line,from experience I did the same thing thinking I would save big time.

    The plater agreed to do one of two matching pieces but they would do additional prep work to the second piece before plating it and send both pieces back to me.

    I was certain mine would look as good as what they would do but was I shocked when I unwrapped the parts.

    Suffice to say,I conceded that my time and effort were for naught.

    I learned my lesson the hard way. HRP
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2015
  15. oj
    Joined: Jul 27, 2008
    Posts: 6,247


    I just priced a Model 'A' front axle for chroming and they quoted $400 and he said they couldn't metal finish the inside relief part.
    Thats' just the axle, no brackets, no steering arms, nothing except for the bare axle.
    That is just sick.
  16. I do my own prep/buffing, and one large (IMO) advantage of doing your own buffing is you can control to a degree how the part is finished. Trying to explain that 'this part of the part doesn't need any buffing' can be an exercise in futility, if the part is mostly finished when they get it it's much easier to point out. Plus this can help with parts 'fit' if buffing some areas will change it. And as OJ has pointed out, you can go the extra mile on parts they can't or won't do. Will it save you money? That depends; some shops will give a slight break on the price, some won't. If the part is already plated, forget it; the stripping process for a replate will pretty much negate any pre-prep you'll do.

    I've learned to fab some parts out of stainless steel (you can buy a stainless stick rod that buffs up great), eliminating the need for chrome. Or make the part out of aluminum if possible.

    But even with all this, plating costs are still insane....
  17. redo32
    Joined: Jul 16, 2008
    Posts: 1,673


    You guys amuse me. Most guys don't have a clue what it takes to make a part ready to plate. Look up the thread on the guy that polishes the axles. He does a good job. I think he has 30 hours in doing that. We would like to make $100/hr, we don't, but we would like to. Our customers expect to pay $400 for an axle, that means we have to polish it in 3-4 hours and it still needs 1.5 to 2 hrs plating time.

    A customer called last month, wanted his '64 Chev C-10 bumper chromed, first words out of my mouth," A repo bumper is cheaper. They are Chinese, lighter and poor plating. We have to get time & material so the price depends on the condition of the bumper, but they average $500." So he says those magic words, "How much if I polish it & it's ready to plate?" Maybe half price. It has to be clean front & back, no rust,paint or pealing chrome. Work it down to 320. Last week he brings it in. Across the parking lot it looked pretty shiny. He spent a lot of time DA'ing it. It was so nice you could see all the rust pits, scratches and gouges from grinding. And it had a big ol' dent. Now he was a nice white haired retired gentleman with time on his hands and I took pity on him because I want to be a retired gentleman with time on my hands too. I pressed the dent out & hit it a couple of wacks with a BFH. I demonstrated how to hold the grinder & not gouge. I smoothed some of the hammer marks and showed him how to grind out the pits & scratches. I sent him home to make a mess in his garage. He did mention the other $200-300 might be a good investment. I hope he brings it back ready to go. It gives them a better appreciation of what we do every day.
    Cosmo49, wicarnut, 117harv and 4 others like this.
  18. I hear you, really I do.
    So answer me this,
    See this wire rack,
    It's USA made, chrome plated finish, 24x36" - on sale you can buy this for $58.00.

    Now why does just the chrome job on a 33 or 34 grill go for over $1000.00 on a pristine example?

    Volume on the wire racks? Ok-
    How many grills do we need to do to get the price for chrome on them down to 100.00 ?
    Cosmo49 likes this.
  19. stanlow69
    Joined: Feb 21, 2010
    Posts: 4,449

    from red oak

    The people who built that $58 rack ride bicycles to work and get paid $4 a day.
    bondolero, BigChief and GOATROPER02 like this.
  20. redo32
    Joined: Jul 16, 2008
    Posts: 1,673


    I offered to plate Bob Drakes '34 grilles, new steel fresh off the boat. I figured we could polish, copper plate, buff and nickel chrome for about $400. He paid less than that finished in the box ready to go to the customer. Of course he had a ton of money in the dies. We just finished a '33 that was one of the best original grilles I've ever seen. We had way more than 30 hours in it.
  21. They're making at least minimum wage and driving beaters.....
    31Vicky with a hemi likes this.
  22. So what's the difference in process between chrome plating wire kitchen racks and fresh steel 34 grills?

    I'm NOT being a smart ass either.
    Just some tough questions I guess.

    I would assume, the adhesion process, the material transfer process, any curing baking polishing process would be the same. EPA regulations, material costs, nickel cost, dump fees, insurance all the same. Overhead, rent, electric bills Etc all the same at least per region and a regional cost of living factor included.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2015
  23. atomickustom
    Joined: Aug 30, 2005
    Posts: 3,296


    Seriously? Look at the kitchen rack next to a nicely replated bumper and you will see the difference. The kitchen rack has no shine or depth or reflectivity at all. It just has a light flash coat, no buffing, no triple plate, etc etc. (I have a repro bumper on the front of my '53, a rechromed original on the rear, and that exact same rack in my basement so I know exactly what I'm talking about.)
    There is no comparison at all.
  24. redo32
    Joined: Jul 16, 2008
    Posts: 1,673


    The shops that do the large wire goods have huge tanks, sometimes with computer controlled hoists and high speed plating baths. You wouldn't believe how many racks per hour they can do. All the steps in manufacturing process takes into consideration the finished product. Special wire, welders etc. The parts are not polished. Put them on a rack & run them down the plating line as fast as possible and still have a product that looks good. Have you seen one of these racks that sat outside? At the junction where the wire is spot welded the plating is not very thick and it will rust. Racks that go into coolers in restaurants are clear coated.
  25. Ok, correct me if I'm wrong... My understanding of the chrome process is this:
    1. The part is polished in it's 'raw' form; this is where you remove/smooth the casting lines, machine marks, welding beads, etc. This assumes the part wasn't already plated; if so, it needs to be stripped of all old plating first (more $$).
    2. The part is copper plated. This is the 'filler' phase of the process. The copper is used to fill all the minute scratches and some small defects. If this were paint, this would be your 'primer'.
    3. The copper is now polished to a mirror finish. So you're basically polishing the part twice.
    4. The nickel is applied...
    5. ... then the chrome. Finished part.

    So it's not a simple 'dip job', there's hand work involved at the plater in any case.
    Squablow likes this.
  26. Thank you.
    I see in your answer that the "hands on labor" is eliminated.
    I can easily see that.
    Barring the manufacturing process and staying on topic of the tread as chrome plating :
    So would it be safe to assume that everything else in my post would be essentially the same but perhaps much more costly for the large plater? More costly considering the larger tanks, more chemicals, bigger dump fees, more overhead, more rent, more raw materials, more electric bills, more computer automated infrastructure?
  27. 1946caddy
    Joined: Dec 18, 2013
    Posts: 1,674

    from washington

    You can save money by prepping the parts prior to chrome plating if you know what your doing. You may think you've done a good job but may have done more harm than good. When you take the part to be plated , the chromer will bid a price based on what he sees. Consider the guy who preps the part at the chrome shop is probably 4 times faster than you and makes $10 an hr. You're working for $2.50 an hr. They also strip the chrome before they start and you never know if the piece will survive ( pot metal). Most of the cost is in the final step of the plating being the chrome. Take the same part to a company that only does nickle plating and the part will be a considerably cheaper.
  28. redo32
    Joined: Jul 16, 2008
    Posts: 1,673


    Most time on critical parts that old, rare, corroded, pitted and just plain junk, we have to copper plate them multiple times. High fill primer can lay down 6 mils and sands easy. It might take 4-5 hours to put that much copper on a part and because of current density the recesses plate less. That is the hard area to polish also. Copper doesn't sand as fast as primer either.

    After nickel plating a '33-34 grille we attach an anode because chrome is the most inefficient plating tank there is. A part that plates at 100 amps in the copper or nickel will need 1500-2000 amp to chrome. The anode helps "throw" the chrome into recesses. That takes another 30 minutes.
  29. That rack is probably hard chrome,no nickle or copper. HRP
  30. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 13,642

    from oregon

    Plus; after a slimy dead pig has dripped all over it for who knows how long it really doesn't matter.

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