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Faux chrome for detailing trim pieces


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I recently purchased a new fuse box cover and Z plate on ebay for the console in my '73 240Z. Both new pieces have chrome accents around the perimeter of the part. My Z is an automatic, and the shift plate has a similar contour that I thought would look good with chrome, too; however, I would imagine that it would be extremely expensive to have chrome applied to the shift plate, especially for just one part, so real chrome was not an option. :lick:

I've been looking for alternatives that would look good, especially to the untrained eye and casual observer. None of the paints or pens I've seen have the ability to provide a comparable shine. But, while perusing a non-Z site, I came across a recommendation for using metal foil to restore chromed trim parts. I decided to investigate. :geek:

I made a trip to the local Hobbytown store which has a lot of modeling supplies, but struck out. I went next door to the local Hobby Lobby craft store and found a fair selection of metal foil products including gold and silver leaf made by a company called Mona Lisa Products/Houston Art, Inc. (www.houstonart.com)

I purchased a package of Silver Leaf foil (25 5.5"X5.5" sheets), cost $6.99; a bottle of Metal Leaf adhesive (2 oz.), cost $2.99; and a bottle of Gloss Medium & Sealer (2 oz.), cost $2.99. I figured for around 13 bux I would experiment with a few older parts I had on hand to see how it would turn out.

I had an old shift plate and an old shift handle, so I practiced on those first. Here are the steps I followed:

1. "Paint" the adhesive on to the areas to be "chromed". I used a ProTouch micro brush (I bought a pack of these at a local paint shop). The ProTouch brushes have a small, round tip made of non-absorbent fibers, perfect for precision application of paint, or in this case - adhesive. A small paint brush would do nicely, too.

2. Wait 30 to 60 minutes for adhesive to "tack".

3. Have a beer :)

4. Cut a piece of wax paper slightly larger than the square of silver leaf foil. Put the wax paper over the foil, rub it a bit, and the foil will stick to the wax paper. Makes application easier.

5. Apply the foil to the part and lightly rub the wax paper where the adhesive has been applied.

6. Remove wax paper.

7. Run a finger around the edges to remove the excess foil. It is very thin, kind of like burned paper that has turned to ash. An old toothbrush helps remove the little bits of foil that are trimmed off.

8. Coat the newly applied silver leaf with the Medium & Sealer. The ProTouch micro brush works well, so would a small paint brush.

9. Wait 30 minutes for sealer to dry.

10. Enjoy another tasty beer. :squareeye

11. Apply second coat of the sealer.

12. Wait 30 minutes for sealer to dry.

13. Time for one more beer... :knockedou

14. Admire the newly "chromed" parts

As a follow up step, the sealer can be wetsanded with a very fine grit sandpaper and buffed. I haven't done that step yet, figured I'd wait until tomorrow to make sure the last coat of sealer is thoroughly dry.

The results turned out pretty good. Not show car perfect, perhaps, but a nice bit of detail none the less. The same technique should work well for restoring the "chrome" on some of the trim parts, such as the hood emblem, fender emblems and rear hatch emblems, too.

I made a new album in my gallery with several photos. Here are a few showing the metal leaf products and the finished results.






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Chrome tape might work well for detailing some items, but I'm not sure how well it would work on the parts I have. With the shift plate I was concerned about having the "chrome" continuously applied all around the rectangular outline. In other words, I didn't want an obvious cut at the corners, which I'd get if I had used 4 strips of tape, one for each side. And the shift handle is a curved and rounded surface. Tape would probably not give a good look there. I was surprised at how well the silver leaf foil molded to the part without looking bunched up.

Chrome tape would probably work really well for the chrome strips on the door panels and interior dog legs. The silver leaf foil wouldn't do so well for those, since the sheets are only 5.5" sqare, you'd have splice lines every 5.5 inches...

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Thanks - I tried looking for similar products a while ago without luck... Will have to go for a hunt again. In the mean time, I have used a KRYLON Silver Leaf pen which is very good (best silver pen I've tried yet) but not chrome.

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Thank you Ken for this writeup. I used the chrome leaf foil as you did from the hobby shop on the door trim, but I did not put the sealer on, so the foil cracked. I think the sealer is what makes it that much more durable. I will have to try it again and use the sealer this time.

-Ben :)

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I bought a sheet of material from a local hobby shop that is chrome with a heat sencitive back . escanlon has a process he used to adhear it to the chrome trim on my doglegg and door trim . I looke like close to new and was done last summer . I don't necessarly recommend it for a concors restoration but it is close. Now no coating was applied over the product . The silver leaf that was shown above has great promise for applications that have compond curves . Thanks kenz240z , for the thread. Gary NOTE MORE INFO I remember the name of the stuff . mono/coat it is used on model air planes . If I remember right it was about $15.00 for a sheet about 15'' X 24" maby larger . Long enough to cover the strip on a door pannel .

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