EUREKA! - door panel chroming

Discussion in 'Cosmetic' started by Acornridgeman, Sep 6, 2012.

  1. Acornridgeman

    Acornridgeman MCCI Wisconsin State Rep Moderator Supporting Member

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    I think I finally found a suitable way to add a chrome look back onto the thin plastic of the door trim cards (AKA door panels) - not to mention many other parts on the cars that had chromed plastic, like side marker bezels, heater panel covers and other dash parts. The door panels especially have always been a problem to get the chrome look back after it is damaged from age and harsh cleaners.

    I did some experimenting with an air brushed paint made by SPAZ STIK called Mirror Chrome. It is made for the RC hobby world. When applied to smooth plastics with an air brush it does give an impressive chrome look and shine.

    BUT (isn't there always a but) - :) - it is in its natural sprayed state, very easy to damage the shine with cleaners and touching, rubbing in general. So it needs to be top coated with a very light clear coat for protection. The manufacturer recommends a water based clear. I asked at a hobby store for a water based clear and they did not carry any. He did have a Testors brand spray ultra clear that he said would work well over the Spaz Stix product. So I gave that a try. It did its job to protect the chroming but the trade off was a slightly less mirror look and a little more silver look. Still a very nice effect and way better than no chrome at all. But I still would like to experiment with the water based clear when I locate some locally. I also used this to repair the damaged chrome on a heater bezel with totally great results. I put the one I sprayed next to an NOS one and it was very hard to tell them apart.

    Spaz Stix has a web site and I bought mine through that. They also now sell the water based clear (they did not have that when I ordered mine), so I would suggest getting that too if you want to experiment yourself.

    As usual, chrome stuff is hard to photograph to post online. But I think you will be able to see some interesting shine in these pictures.

    ENJOY! ........ :thumbs2:
     

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    SlotlessMan likes this.
  2. Earl Branham

    Earl Branham Certified Old Fart

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    Very nice, Eric! Looks new in the photos.
     
  3. Wilbur Green

    Wilbur Green Member

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    Looks great, thanks for the post.
     
  4. fan2488

    fan2488 Member

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    That looks good
     
  5. simple man

    simple man Member

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    You're the best taper I've ever seen!
    I'm very impressed with the looks of the finished product! I need to do just about everything in my car that was " chromed plastic ". A friend used some kind of nail polish on his car and it looked good, it just wasn't chrome! This looks like chrome!!! :)
    Thanks for the post! :thumbs2:

    Here's the link for the site: http://www.spazstix.com/
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2012
  6. Dave B

    Dave B I like Mavericks!

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    Just awful!! Send them to me for immediate disposal!!!
     
  7. kiler be

    kiler be Member

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    Thanks for the tip. they look great.
     
  8. kiler be

    kiler be Member

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    LOL before you let Dave B have them.........Send them to me.....Thanks in advance. lol
     
  9. Acornridgeman

    Acornridgeman MCCI Wisconsin State Rep Moderator Supporting Member

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    Actually, I got these panels off ebay really cheap. As they were not a very popular color.

    [​IMG]


    I see on the Spaz Stik web site they are currently out of the airbrush bottles. The 2 oz bottle would be enough to work on many many panels and parts. the stuff goes a long way. They are on ebay if anyone needs one. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Spaz-Stix-S...Control_Parts_Accessories&hash=item1e7139609c

    I see they now sell it in a spray can. Not quite sure if that would work the same or not. I have found, even with other paints and dyes, the control the airbrush gives you is superior to a spray can. The super fine light mist you can get with the airbrush makes detail work very easy. Go back to my pictures and you will see how little overspray there is.

    :dance:
     

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  10. groberts101

    groberts101 Member

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    If you'd like?.. I can go dig in my paint collection(I'm a pro) later tonight.. to find other alternatives to this particular product. Sometimes these specialty coatings are just rebadged/repackaged mainstream coatings that are made for profit margins due to the cost per ounce. There are a few from cheap to ultra expensive. I used to even model cars myself and have a few other "fake chrome tricks" to share too.

    And a friendly FYI about the water based clear coat requirements to keep chrome paint looking its best. When you use solvent base to solvent base.. there is a chemical reaction/reactivation process occurring to increase bond characteristics between the base and top coats which inevitably means they are melting/fusing together. A proper paint job requires either that chemical process or through a mechanical bond to be most durable and avoid inter coat adhesion issues.

    However, with these types of reflective coatings(the better of which actually contain aluminum/zinc particles) they are specifically designed to have the most reflective particles stay at the top of the film on the initial solvent flash. When you introduce another solvent based clear to the top of this uncured layer if fine reflective particles it destroys some if its reflective nature. Also consider that any tiny bit of orange peel in the clear can also diffuse light slightly and add to the loss of reflective quality.

    There are 2 workarounds that I know of. 1st and easiest is to allow the chrome spray to fully cure before clearing with a solvent base. Usually around 3-4 weeks without any assist. You can accelerate the process greatly with heat and/or airflow to between 3-5 days of constant airflow(if lower temps and humidity are within reason). I use an infrared heater and fans to reach 90+% cure in less than a day on time sensitive items. Obviously it would be tough to heat that door panel to 150 degrees though.. so fans alone would be the way to go there.

    Now.. be warned that there will still be some loss in reflectivity if you do not apply the clear in several lights mist coats first(think of it as fogging the part) as the solvent content of medium/full wet coats will end up too concentrated all at once and potentially reactivate(and damage that shiny top layer of pigments and resins). I personally use a series of about 4 mist coats with fan time to flash the solvents in between each coat. Then let the part dry with fan assist overnight. This will build a mildly cured protective barrier over the original color coat and allow you to apply either 2 successive medium wet coats with immediate fan time after being applied(which helps flash the solvent and avoid pooling/runs).. or 1 full wet coat with immediate fan time afterwards for the previously mentioned reasons.



    There is also a tip to avoid having a muddy looking clear as well. It involves shaking/mixing the clear the day before you will need to use it. What's the first thing that we do when we spray paint?.. shake the hell out of the can to get all the solids back up in suspension, right? Not good at all to aerate a clear before application as it leaves many microscopic bubbles in suspension after the solvent has flashed away. So, mix it the day before and only swirl the contents in a circular motion as if you're merging the solvents that last little bit before application. You'll get a deeper/cleaner looking crystal clear out of the deal.

    Another old painters trick is to heat up the can of clear(do not do the chrome paint, or any metalflake, as it is designed to have the metallic particles float to the top and the heat will interrupt the process as it increases the flash rate too much). What this does is to allow the painter to apply heavier mil thickness of material all in one shot.

    Which does several things simultaneously. Reduces the number of coats needed(1 heavy wet coat should be sufficient for the abrasion resistance we are talking about here), helps avoid trapped air particles and dirt/dust between coats.. reduces the time/coats needed to build sufficient thickness while lessoning the chance to damage the color coats reflectivity through reactivation.

    In a nutshell.. hot clear(and solids) allows full wet coats which level out very nicely(think wet lacquer bases) for further reductions in orange peel. This rule generally only applies to spray cans and non-catalyzed coatings though. The others are adjusted with solvents and/or booth temps.

    Yeah.. that's a lot of work to finesse those coatings together with minor losses in reflectivity.. but I prefer it over the water based solutions most any day I have the time to do all that.

    Otherwise.. water based can be tricky to work with but you eliminate the damage to the reflective layer through loss of chemical reaction/reactivation from the solvents of the other type. However.. water based clears are very susceptible to aeration(you stir lightly and never shake for best results) which can lead to muddy looking final coats if not taken into consideration. Oh.. and if you're working with a spray can of it?.. I would shake it 3-4 days prior to working with it and only lightly swirl it no less than an hour before application. Using full wet coats can also be tough as it's best to not preheat it since the air bubbles(from atomization) will get trapped for sure.. but you can get it right if you let it sit for a few minutes to get the air out and set.. then force cure it immediately after initial set with a fan. Best to experiment first of course.

    Hope that helps.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2012
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  11. Acornridgeman

    Acornridgeman MCCI Wisconsin State Rep Moderator Supporting Member

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    That is some awesome additional information to the project!

    I definately learned a few things in your post .............. :tiphat:
     
  12. simple man

    simple man Member

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    Me too! :Handshake
     
  13. chandler

    chandler Member

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    Wow that is GOOD info
     
  14. starsky74

    starsky74 Technician

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    out of stock :(
     
  15. Acornridgeman

    Acornridgeman MCCI Wisconsin State Rep Moderator Supporting Member

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    Look at post #9 - there is an ebay link that is lower priced than the web page.

    Or, at Spaz Stix web page there is a stocking dealer link. Might be a hobby store near you that carries it.

    (y)
     

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