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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Chrome plating

I am looking for advice on chrome plating a frogeye front grill. The simple solution would be to take it to a plater's workshop to get their advice, but there is no-one local so that's a 120 mile round trip.

So first step is to ask here! The grill is complete, and has all the fixing spires on the back. It has some rust pitting, but it is mostly on the back and is only slight - I think it will clean out with some phosphoric acid. The worst problem is that it looks like a PO has gone over it with an abrasive disk - almost all of the original chrome has gone and the surface has fine scratch marks all over it.

Does this sound as if it can be re-chromed?
Will those scratches show through, or will they assist as a "key" for the new chrome?
How much is chroming a grill likely to cost?


A quality chrome plating job consists of a base plate of copper, followed by nickel, then the chrome. The copper can be built up and allows for polishing back to fill defects. The nickel coat provides good adhesion for the chrome and is not porous, unlike chrome.

For me a good local plater is in Yate, near Bristol. I've seen their work and it looks good. Fewer of the places about these days because of all the environmental concerns with some of the chemicals involved.
David Billington

Thanks David,
I think the grill is an original. I know quality chrome goes onto a base of copper at least but this appears to just have remnants of a very thin brassy coloured layer under the chrome, and l think that is straight onto the bare steel. Presumably for a cheap 1950's car that was all they did? Doesn't really tell me how good the surface needs to be for a re-chroming job though.

Guy, provided its not severely pitted then as David says the re chroming process will, if done correctly, deal with imperfections but serious pitting has to be removed. The problem with the frogeye grill is getting the adhesion around the 'mesh' part as there are a lot of edges around the squares in the mesh. I have had 2 grills chromed over time and would recommend going to a firm who has a good reputation. its not cheap but given this is a focal part of a frog its well worth getting it right
Bob Beaumont

Yes, if it can be done and if it's worth the cost l will send it to a reputable company. Just not sure it is worthwhile as new ones are available, - at a price !

David/ Guy

The Yate company is about 2 miles from me (S & T electroplate). He seems ok to me from what I've seen. About 50 minimum I believe. I'm going to use him in a few months for the Frog resto.

W Bretherton

All of the old chrome plating has to first be removed. This, I believe is done by a "reverse" electro plating process.
I am currently refurbishing a drum kit which has lots of small chrome bits and pieces on it, and I can't believe the prices I am being quoted for re-chroming. It would possibly be cheaper to buy new, but I am trying to keep the originality as the kit is quite rare.
Also, my '73 midget might have to be restored as bumperless, because of the cost of buying new chrome bumpers, on which the plating is of an inferior quality due to, as David points out, evironmental issues and cheapness of manufacture. I did a rubber to chrome conversion on a Midget for someone a few years ago. All the parts were bought from Moss, and within 6 months the chrome had started pitting.
Bernie Higginson

Thanks all.
I was aware of the recommended multi-layer process of plating. But the grill I have doesn't appear to have been done like that. Does anyone know how the original grills were done - were any base coats used?

What I thought was remnants of "very thin brassy coloured layer" was in fact flash rusting and just wiped off. The other rust I mentioned has cleaned off after an overnight dip in phosphoric acid.

The original issue remains - A PO had obviously gone over the whole thing with a flap wheel or similar, taking virtually all of the chrome finish off, but leaving scratch marks in the surface. From reading up I understand that plating will show up imperfections so this may have already made this grill into scrap metal.

Logically, one might recover this by copper plating first, then polishing it to get a true surface, before adding the final layers, but I don't know if this is possible. If I was anywhere near a plater's I would just take it in and get first hand advice, but the nearest to me is in Longtown, about 60 miles each way.

Bernie, maybe quality is patchy of new items as I put a new front bumper on mine because it was cheaper and quicker about seven years ago and it is still as good as new. It didnt come from Moss but I suspect they all come from the same supplier.

Trevor Mason

Trevor, Bernie,
I suspect that many of these variable quality parts come from pop-up companies, at least somewhere in the supply chain. Moss, and other UK suppliers may be sourcing from different suppliers, year by year. Or they maybe they don't, and buy consistently from a single source, but who supplies them?

I suspect the original parts SHOULD have been copper nickel and chrome, but quality control of the suppliers was - variable.
I can add my personal good experience of S and T Electroplate in Yate. They follow the correct full process, and have done parts for me that still look fine after over 18 years of mostly outdoor exposure, whereas some cheap new smaller parts I've bought like rear bumper bracket covers and nuts have barely survived two years before rusting badly.

I'm sure there are other good companies available. But it is definitely worth spending more if you are confident in the company following the process as Dave B describes. If the car is a 'keeper' it's easy to work out which is cheaper!

A Cross

I agree it's worth spending more to get a quality 3 process plating done and think l have found a suitable company. But what price should l have to expect to pay?

I had my windscreen frame done on my Mga....It cost me $1000.... They did every part on it but I didn't think that was cheap.

The chromer had a guy there that would weld fill dips and high spots then sand out any imperfections.

He said he been doing it for 30 years.

I think my car was on the low end for his shop as the other car stuff that he was plating was Hispano-Suiza Delahaye and a Chrysler 300 from the 50s

Keep the original grille, Guy! A new one is almost guaranteed to disappoint you.

Easy to say that, because I don't have to pay for your refurbishment. But my grille was painted silver many years ago, and I'll be getting round to it fairly soon.

Thanks for the Yate recommendation, David. A pleasant run for me, though it would be at least twice, I suppose. But I'll enquire locally first. Anybody got one in Herefordshire?
Nick and Cherry Scoop

So despite lots of advice freely given, no one can actually say what they paid for re-chroming a grill?

These people do 'mail order' chroming.

I haven't used them, but their website looks quite impressive and they can give you a guide price before sending your item.
Dave O'Neill 2

I paid 150 for mine. It was an excellent job.
Bob Beaumont

Thanks Bob,
I was in Scotland for a few days and planning to drop the grill off with the platers on the way home. So l was hoping to get a ball park guide here beforehand so as to know how to react!
As it was l was quoted 160 and just had to go with that without knowing if l was being ripped off!. Relieved to find it is not very different to your price anyway.

Guy, mine was done about a couple of years ago so 160 is pretty good I would say.
Bob Beaumont

Done properly, there is a fair bit of time needed on the polishing wheels, so 160 probably only represents a day's work in labour rates alone. If the job is good l will put a link on here as platers seem thin on the ground in the 200 mile gap between Manchester and the Central Valley

Blimey Guy what century are you in if you think 160 is a days labour.

Trevor Mason

Trevor, I don't live in the over inflated price world of Essex or the south east! 160 is 20 an hour for an 8 hour day. Very much a reasonable days wages for a reasonable day's work. I know a lot of people who work for a great deal less than 20 an hour!

Guy, even down here most people earn a lot less than 20 an hour, but when a business adds on all the additional costs it soon adds up even if the employeee is only on minimum wage.

Trevor Mason

Trev, of course there are add-ons. But l did say "in labour rates alone". Read what l said, don't make it up! 160 is still about the going rate for a day's artisan's labour around here.

Guy, not trying to make it up. I guess it depends on what you consider to be an hourly rate, either just the guys wages or the hourly rate for the business you are talking about. Personly when talking about such things I tend to use the hourly rate for the business, but obviously that was not what you were talking about.

Trevor Mason

This thread was discussed between 15/07/2016 and 30/07/2016

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