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Electroplating an aluminum pickup truck grille

I have an aftermarket aluminum grille on my pickup truck that is really dull looking. I want to nickel (or chrome) plate it either electrically or whatever other ways are available to this kind of project. JC Whitney sells an electroplating kit, but it is kind of expensive and I would like to do it myself.

If you know of any sites that demonstrate (I am a hands-on type of person) how to do it and what materials are used I would greatly appreciate it. I have yet to find any.

Jason Rush
- Lawrenceville, Georgia


Mr. Rush:

We have a Chrome Plating FAQ which explains all the steps. But, sorry, but what you really need to do is take that aluminum grill to a plating jobshop. The chemicals you would need (most of which nobody will sell you due to hazardous waste liability issues) include strippers for the anodized coating, polishing and buffing supplies, alkaline cleaners, alkaline etchants, nitric acid based desmutters, zincates, copper cyanide plating solutions, nickel plating solutions, and chromic acid plating solutions. It takes years of experience to learn how to copper-nickel-chrome plate onto aluminum.

The plating kit you are describing is not for chrome plating and not for aluminum substrates. But if it only needs to be bright, rather than true chrome, you should be able to buff the aluminum to a good shine and clearcoat it. Good luck.

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

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