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"Triple chrome plating?"


Everything I have read, here and elsewhere, has explained to me the enormous complexity of the chroming process as well as the EPA issues that all add up to big money on the consumer end for plated goods. I like many others who have posted here have an automobile that is in need of replating. Like many here, money is an issue, so you seek out the DIY approach. I have found a triple chrome kit for home use. How, with all the EPA laws on chroming, is it possible for me to be able to purchase something like this? As I understand it, even the rinse water in the chroming process is a Hazmat. Is there some way that "Do-it-your-selfers" can save money on getting things rechromed without having to worry about the EPA showing up at your door step and turning your house upside down? Is it possible to purchase a copper plating kit if they are less of a EPA issue and doing the labor intensive stuff, i.e. sand blasting, copper plating, filling pits, sanding and then polishing before taking it to be professionally chromed? Would they accept it with the real "bread and butter" work done?

Carl Hanson
hobbyist - Fox River Grove, Illinois, USA


You have to ask the suppliers yourself, as opinions differ. And some may be shipping a substitute for chrome like tin-cobalt, for example. This is not quite the same as true chrome plating, but may suffice and has even been used on some OEM parts.

The EPA chose plating shops for a special level of enforcement (the first categorically regulated industry), and violations are taken seriously (I personally know two platers who served penitentiary time for environmental crimes). The EPA does seem to ignore hobbyists and small time operators, a fact that the professionals don't understand and resent.

It may be--and you'd need to talk to an environmental lawyer--that you are not a plating shop if you do it only as a non-paying hobby. Universities and government "labs" are routinely considered exempt. You can view EPA CFR433 on line and see the situation for yourself (this is far from the only law, but it is probably the one that costs plating shops the most to comply with). But you can't dump hazardous waste down your sewer.

You might also consider the "chrome-look paints" which are much better than were available a few years ago and have also been used on some OEM parts.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

First of three simultaneous responses -- 2005

I agree with you wholeheartedly. If I were to buy plating chemicals I would not dream of dumping any down a drain. I am very much an environmentalist and living on a well; I would not want to be polluting my very own drinking water, let alone anyone else nearby, any more than I would want someone else doing the same thing to me and my surroundings. I am told that because it is under 40 gallons, there is no cyanide and it is a waste free system, that that is how I am able to purchase it without any sort of licence because it falls under a hobbyist category. The chemicals involved are supposed to be reusable and have an unlimited shelf life with guidelines for disposing of them outlined if the need should ever arise. I know I am not the only guy looking to save some money on chrome plating for a car. I think it would be safe to say that the majority of these people may not share the same opinion we do, as to the disposal of any waste or chemicals. So I would like to go back to my original question here, in this public forum, in hopes of some education for myself as well as any others that may be reading this with similar thoughts.

If the copper plating process is much less of an environmental issue, as opposed to chrome, would it be advantageous to those of us who would like to save money on the labor cost of chroming by doing the copper, the pit filling and the sanding and buffing ourselves, prior to having it professionally chrome plated? Would this be a feasible cost effective idea and is this type of underlayment compatible with industry copper and chrome?

Many thanks for your input on this matter,
Carl Hanson

Carl Hanson
- Fox River Grove


When you do part of the job, we get into the age-old battle of whether the buffer or the plater caused the pits and peeling. I don't think any plating shop will guarantee work that has been pre-plated by someone else, or even pre-polished by someone else.

My first choice would be that hobbyists not do metal finishing because they have limited training. My second choice would be that they do the job from start to finish with chemicals as safe as they can buy, and be prepared to spend months or years learning the art.

As for educating you and others in a public forum, Carl, the problem is that we have answered questions very similar to yours dozens of times already if not hundreds of times, but it is impossible to present organized, tutorial instruction on a subject that takes months or years to learn, in a public forum; and each hobbyist naturally wants an individualized tutorial constructed around exactly what they want to do, and around exactly what they already know and don't yet know. And then they often get angry with us when we tell them they should read books and journals and attend AESF meetings (www.nasf.org), as we do in our introduction to chrome plating FAQ :-)

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Third of three simultaneous responses -- 2005

There is no completely acceptable definition for "triple chrome", so what do you mean by it?

When I was in active plating, I had to comply with city, county, regional, state and federal laws and rulings.

Now, if chrome plating was simple, there would be a great deal of shade tree shops and the competition would be so great that they would almost give away their services. It ain't simple, so it costs to have something professionally plated.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

Ed. note: As discussed in our FAQs, it is probably better to talk about duplex nickel (2 layers of nickel plating) than "triple chrome".


Jon -

I can't give you much advice, since I'm not a chrome plater. One important thing though - if you plan on selling ANY of the parts you chrome, or if you plan on charging IN ANY WAY for providing those services for others, you are legally a metal finisher and hazardous waste generator and are responsible for A LOT of issues. Failure to meet all requirements can result in thousands to millions of dollars.

There are a lot of letters on this site describing how best to get into plating. Please read some and follow their advice before you take the legal responsibility of being a plater on your shoulders.

Jim Gorsich
Accurate Anodizing Inc.
supporting advertiser
Compton, California, USA
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Ed. note: Carl, we deleted your next set of questions, and edited some earlier entries because we don't want to discuss brands here. Please go to your supplier for specific instructions about their equipment.

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