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  • Bumper Modification

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays To All ~

    I have been running without front bumper guards for a couple of years and like the look and now I want to have my front bumper modified by smoothing out the indentations where the bumper guards mount. I am having trouble finding someone local who will do the job. I found a couple of old posts here from Dave D about getting repairs done to some badly beat-up bumper guards and I've seen plenty of stuff on the tube about that kind of custom work, so I know it can be done. I probably haven't found the right guy yet, and so I'm looking for some ideas. I have a spare bumper in decent shape but needing rechrome so that is the one I'm planning to modify.

    I took the spare to a well regarded welding shop and explained what I wanted done. This place has been in business forever and I have worked with them before. They were afraid to take it on for fear of ruining the bumper (?) Next I took it to the only re-plater in town. His fabricator was only willing to fill in the bolt holes, which is not what I want. And his price for doing the chrome work was $850 which seems pretty high compared to those posts from 2009-10. So, what next? Anyone have any more recent experiences with bumper repairs or re-chroming work?

    Thanks!
    Attached Files
    Regards,
    Don Vincent
    Amherst NY
    1960 HT 352
    TBird Registry 34042

  • #2
    I don't really care for them either. I wanted to change mine with the 1955-'56 Guards, or Bumperettes, but the price changed my mind.

    Chris.....From OZ.

    Comment


    • #3
      Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays To All from the Dare Family as well...

      Don, a bumper is nothing more than thick carbon sheet steel that was stamped in a press line, then polished and plated in a production line.

      'Metal Finishers' only polished the tops and front face because you must stand on your head to see the bottom side. Ford used a two-plate process; nickel then chrome. This is quite different from 'show quality' which is much more labor intensive and consequently more costly.

      'Show chrome' is a three-plate process after all imperfections are bumped, smoothed and polished. BTW, the polishing room is larger than the plating room.

      They start plating with copper because copper easily sticks to and around everything. Any dents are then filled with lead and filed or sanded smooth. Next, copper again and a good polish to a mirror shine. Nickel comes next. This is the mirror-bright part. Any imperfection will show up here. If all is ok, a very thin chrome plate is last. Chrome is so thin you see right through it because its only purpose in life is to stop nickel from oxidizing and turning yellow or gold.

      Any carbon steel piece can be plated. Certainly, holes can be welded-in then ground down and polished smooth. The end result will be perfect if you polish to a mirror finish. Plating shops have huge polishing machines and they use plenty of rouge. The key here is heat. Rouge is in a wax base. In order for the rouge to 'cut' the steel surface it must be melted into suspension. Polishing is tricky. It's hard for me to know when to quit consequently some detail gets buffed out. Sometimes bad polishing will leave a wave so I leave this up to pros.

      Ford plated over a thousand bumpers per day, in racks, all the same part done exactly the same. you have ONE that needs alteration. That makes labor costs very high. Decide which type of plating job you want. Hexavalent show chrome costs the most but lasts the longest and looks the best. Trivalent chrome has a blue cast but is cheaper. The least expensive is the two-plate process (nickel and chrome), which is what Ford used on your bumpers. - Dave
      My latest project:
      CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

      "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
      --Lee Iacocca

      Comment


      • #4
        Bumper Modification

        I'm with you as far as the bumper guards. I plan on doing the same with mine eventually. You might want to check with a hot rod shop or one that does custom work. As far as chrome work Dave pretty much summed up the process and cost. Also hazard regulations have also either driven up cost and also put some shops out of business. Merry Christmas.

        Comment


        • #5
          Your changes are no different than the mods street rodders or custom car builders do every day narrowing and tucking bumpers or filling the bolt holes. Any of these guys or retired tool and die makers or pattern makers with a small home shop could do this for you. As stated: "probably haven't found the right guy yet". Ask around some machine shops, or guys who have street rods/custom cars at shows.

          Comment


          • #6
            I've found that there's a big difference between "won't do it" (we may cause damage that we don't want to be responsible for) and "can't do it" (we have other jobs that will pay us more money). I think you found the latter. There's nothing magical or dangerous about forming a couple pieces of metal and welding them to fill the gaps. The metal on those bumpers is so heavy that the chance of warping them is almost nil. As others have suggested keep looking.

            John
            John Pizzi - Squarebirds Administrator

            Thunderbird Registry #36223
            jopizz@verizon.net 856-779-9695

            http://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by simplyconnected View Post
              Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays To All from the Dare Family as well...

              Don, a bumper is nothing more than thick carbon sheet steel that was stamped in a press line, then polished and plated in a production line.

              'Metal Finishers' only polished the tops and front face because you must stand on your head to see the bottom side. Ford used a two-plate process; nickel then chrome. This is quite different from 'show quality' which is much more labor intensive and consequently more costly.

              'Show chrome' is a three-plate process after all imperfections are bumped, smoothed and polished. BTW, the polishing room is larger than the plating room.

              They start plating with copper because copper easily sticks to and around everything. Any dents are then filled with lead and filed or sanded smooth. Next, copper again and a good polish to a mirror shine. Nickel comes next. This is the mirror-bright part. Any imperfection will show up here. If all is ok, a very thin chrome plate is last. Chrome is so thin you see right through it because its only purpose in life is to stop nickel from oxidizing and turning yellow or gold.

              Any carbon steel piece can be plated. Certainly, holes can be welded-in then ground down and polished smooth. The end result will be perfect if you polish to a mirror finish. Plating shops have huge polishing machines and they use plenty of rouge. The key here is heat. Rouge is in a wax base. In order for the rouge to 'cut' the steel surface it must be melted into suspension. Polishing is tricky. It's hard for me to know when to quit consequently some detail gets buffed out. Sometimes bad polishing will leave a wave so I leave this up to pros.

              Ford plated over a thousand bumpers per day, in racks, all the same part done exactly the same. you have ONE that needs alteration. That makes labor costs very high. Decide which type of plating job you want. Hexavalent show chrome costs the most but lasts the longest and looks the best. Trivalent chrome has a blue cast but is cheaper. The least expensive is the two-plate process (nickel and chrome), which is what Ford used on your bumpers. - Dave
              Dave When you got the chrome work done that you wrote about back in '09 what type of chroming did you go with? Is the 2 stage process still available? Seems like that would have a better chance of "matching" - - or at least not contrasting too violently with - - the rest of the chrome on my car. As far as cost, sure I understand that one-offs are more expensive than production line, but if I recall your price was around $400 for both bumpers and some other pieces, while I got quoted $875 just for the front, so I need to do some more shopping around. Just found this place in Erie PA which looks promising http://www.advancedcustomchrome.com/
              Regards,
              Don Vincent
              Amherst NY
              1960 HT 352
              TBird Registry 34042

              Comment


              • #8
                I recall the spot chrome process used to repair small damaged areas on bumpers. I always thought it wasn't perfect. In fact the area seemed magnetized for life. I got to think body shops sublet these jobs out to a plating company or a jobber came to the shop.

                Anyone know if this process is used still, and can be used on scraped bumpers?

                Dean

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by del View Post
                  Dave When you got the chrome work done that you wrote about back in '09 what type of chroming did you go with? Is the 2 stage process still available? Seems like that would have a better chance of "matching" - - or at least not contrasting too violently with - - the rest of the chrome on my car. As far as cost, sure I understand that one-offs are more expensive than production line, but if I recall your price was around $400 for both bumpers and some other pieces, while I got quoted $875 just for the front, so I need to do some more shopping around. Just found this place in Erie PA which looks promising http://www.advancedcustomchrome.com/
                  It cost me NZ $1055 to get the two bumpers and the chrome strip above the windscreen chromed.
                  And that was on my 1964 105E Anglia! (Google one to see their size)

                  So your prices seem pretty reasonable.
                  A Thunderbirder from the Land of the Long White Cloud.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I have used thes guys to strip and straighten bumpers, but not replate because I was powder coating instead. Anyway they do a ton of other bumper repairs and their chrome on other bumpers looked real good. They must be doing something right, they have a contract to do the chrome on the new Indian motorcycles. http://aihchrome.com/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Sorry I took so long to respond but I've been going nuts!

                      Many chrome platers don't have tanks large enough for bumpers. If you think of it, not many automotive (or motorcycle) parts are that large. For Squarebirds, only the front bumper requires large plating tanks. So, many of the 'show chrome' guys don't do bumpers. They do everything else.

                      The bumper plating company I have used for decades is re-doing their website and it appeared the company was no longer in business. I have one of their catalogs (from 10-yrs ago) but they haven't used paper cat's for many years. All their prices are online.

                      So, today I called the Plating Manager, Walt at (734) 718-2953. They are in full swing and doing well. Walt gave me prices for Squarebird bumpers. Remember, this is a two-step process of nickel and chrome over steel. As always, they include minor straightening in this service, mostly caused by bumper jacks, etc.

                      Prices as of today
                      Front
                      • Bumper - $600
                      • Guards - $127/each

                      Rear
                      • Lower - $460
                      • Upper Ends $127/each
                      • Guards - $127


                      In the past, they usually gave me a break on the price if I have multiple items to plate. That may be because I've used them many times and they recognize me. All I know is Salesman, Bob Sutherland, has always treated me very well and their work looks just like 'stock'. - Dave
                      My latest project:
                      CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

                      "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
                      --Lee Iacocca

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        No worries Dave ; thanks as always for your help!
                        I had a nice phone call with the owner of http://www.advancedcustomchrome.com/ in Erie PA this morning. They use the three stage hexavalent process, which he claims has the bluish tint "that everyone loves". He said that the trivalent process has a somewhat brownish or golden tone and he doesn't use it. He also doesn't do the two stage process. He quoted me $1150 for the chroming and $150 to patch & smooth the bumper guard mount areas. He said that he recently installed some upgraded tanks and can now handle up to 4 of these bumpers at the same time! What is the name of the company you used? These prices are definitely going in the wrong direction!
                        Regards,
                        Don Vincent
                        Amherst NY
                        1960 HT 352
                        TBird Registry 34042

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by del View Post
                          No worries Dave ; thanks as always for your help!
                          I had a nice phone call with the owner of http://www.advancedcustomchrome.com/ in Erie PA this morning. They use the three stage hexavalent process, which he claims has the bluish tint "that everyone loves". He said that the trivalent process has a somewhat brownish or golden tone and he doesn't use it. He also doesn't do the two stage process...
                          That beautiful 'creamy-looking' chrome from back in the day was hexavalent chrome. It is officially banned at most automotive companies including Ford because it is environmentally unsafe unless neutralized. I believe the UK won't allow it at all.

                          Hexavalent chrome is a big deal with the EPA and OSHA. They require 'kit samples' taken from the plating tanks just in order to stay in business. Why? Because hexavalent chrome is carcinogenic and the process uses potassium cyanide, that cannot enter our sewage system nor can it be buried. Unfortunately, this is THE chrome of all show pieces.

                          Trivalent chrome is much more environmentally friendly, thus cheaper to use. I can look at a chromed part and tell the difference by the blue color. Some people can't. So, trivalent chrome has a blue tint. Hexavalent chrome has NO color. It looks like a mirror. <--This is the chrome you see at shows.

                          If the information you got is accurate with what your PA company relayed, it seems to be conflicting.

                          The company I use:
                          The Micro Group of Companies, Chrome Plating Div.
                          I'm sorry their site isn't ready yet because it displays a host of services they offer including painting and sales of radiators, evaporators, fascias and a host of other things. They operate many plants. The one I use is right next to Ford's Model T plant in in Highland Park, MI.

                          Read about chrome in this site --> CLICK HERE - Dave
                          My latest project:
                          CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

                          "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
                          --Lee Iacocca

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Just to close out this thread, I found a local fabrication guy back in February who was happy to weld in some metal and fill in the bumper guard mounts, but he needed to do it in his spare time as he had a lot of other work backed-up. I believe that it was some time in May when he had it done for me. $100. I'm pretty sure it was the same day, I dropped it off back at our local plating guy TRIPP PLATING. In July, he got back to me with the revised chroming quote, which was a little more than what was originally quoted for the re-chrome because the modified bumper had more stuff to deal with corrosion wise than was expected. Whatever...
                            With perfect timing, as the re-cored radiator came back from the shop, the modified bumper is also ready! Picked it up on Wednesday, just coincidently, the same day I busted off a bolt for the expansion tank mount!

                            For further updates on this ongoing project , please refer to this thread http://www.squarebirds.org/vbulletin...ad.php?t=22987
                            Attached Files
                            Regards,
                            Don Vincent
                            Amherst NY
                            1960 HT 352
                            TBird Registry 34042

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Don the bumper looks great
                              Dano Calgary,Alberta Canada
                              Thunderbird Registry
                              58HT #33317
                              60 HT (Sold )

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