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Chrome Restoration on Silver Dollar Gauge Cluster

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Sorry if this overlaps with any previous responses on the subject. I've got a "Silver Dollar" gauge cluster in for rebuild at North Hollywood Speedometer, and Ralph says the guy who used to do the chrome rings around instruments and chrome surround on the cluster pod has disappeared on him. Any recommendations on either "how to" or existing shops who can do the chrome-look-on-plastic? I did read about Tesoro's Aluminum model paint, but Ralph wants a treatment that he can polish when completed (he's not keen on paint).

 

If there's nothing, I can have North Hollywood just do the gauges, and I'll paint the surrounds when the cluster is returned. Thank you! Robert

 

Picture Below

silver dollar gauges.png

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Robert,

 

Hemmings always, under “services provided”, seems to have 2 to 6 providers of “plastic chroming”. If there’s nothing on their Web version, please PM me and I’ll look at a hardcopy of the mag!

 

Best regards,

 

Steve

 

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I was just talking to Ralph the day before yesterday.  He's swapping a silver dollar tach faces for me at the moment (long story... I goofed).

 

Robert @ Dido Tuning has these now for the trim rings.   Email this to Ralph, and I can send him Robert's direct number.  Hopefully it's just what the doctor ordered.

 

44359417455_4d93fceaeb_c.jpgBMW 2002 Gauge Trim Ring by Adams Autosport, on Flickr

Edited by AceAndrew
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Thanks so much for the quick reply on the bezels. Please send Ralph an email, and I'll follow up with a phone call tomorrow. I did email him your post. Aloha, Robert

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FYI, on US-spec cars, the outer rims (bezels) on the instrument cluster (that hold the glass in place) were dull silver from the factory to comply with Federal standards that took effect in 1968, prohibiting "reflective surfaces" in the driver's line of vision--that's why the chrome dash trim disappeared at the end of the '67 model year for US cars, along with shiny chrome wiper arms and blades and the shiny chrome finish on the instrument cluster face itself. 

 

When I did a general refurbishment of my '69's cluster, I painted those plastic bezels with my favorite--Krylon Dull Aluminum spray paint, and they look almost identical to a spare cluster I have with its original finish.  

 

mike

Edited by mike
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Also, 

 

Around the time that I re-did my chrome rings and bezel around the whole cluster itself, I did a ton of research into the actual process used to achieve this. I looked into just about every spray paint there is and they all fell short of achieving the true look .... thats because BMW didnt use a spray paint, but rather a process called Vacuum Metalizing - specifically using silver particles over plastic to create a chrome like appearance. 

 

The reason they aren't "chrome" is that chroming requires a metal to be coated using electrolysis - vs Vacuum Metalizing can be used on anything but more-so plastics. Many of the elements of modern cars (for example, all the 'chrome' trim on the front of my Subaru Crosstrek is created by vacuum metalizing plastic parts) To combat the silver finish from rubbing off or wearing down, they then clear coat the plastic parts with an epoxy resin, enamel or lacquer to give it longevity - this is often the case with slightly older cars with silvered plastic parts appearing worn, is that its actually the clear coat enamel that has aged and yellowed, yet underneath it the silver coating itself is still intact. 

 

If this has happened with your cluster, you can, in some cases, re apply a clear coat to the top of the gauge rings (once removed) and it will greatly improve their appearance. 

Edited by caseywarren
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Thanks to Mike and CaseyWarren. I think both you guys are spot on. Really appreciate the responses. I'm sending all these response to Ralph at North Hollywood Speedometer. 

Aloha, and Happy Holidays! Robert

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Also, as Mike mentioned - on later US spec cars these 'chromed' items were dulled. From doing a bit of testing and research with some older vs newer rings on clusters that I have collected over the years it appears the process still starts with vacuum metalized plastic using silver then on later US spec cars, instead of using a crystal clear coat over the top, they used a statin finish clear coat (much similar to satin vs high gloss in lacquers in furniture restoration) 

 

Basically when I compared later vs earlier chrome trim rings I found that when scraping off the clear coat, they were both identical underneath. Each of them having a high gloss silver finish. 

 

 

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Casey, really great information. I've been bogged down on this project with North Hollywood, and now I'm expecting Ralph to get with it on one of these solutions! Thanks so much! Robert

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When I sent my cluster to gcartrim.com as referenced by Casey, I sent some additional trim rings for spares.  If you just want to update your rings, I can see if I can find them.

 

Mark92131

 

 

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