How to fit chrome before painting

The last step before shooting color, This process took about 20 hours of work, and 2 weeks of waiting for custom chrome.

A few of the tools of the trade, in addition to having the rubber gaskets for all chrome and a good selection of washers and correct bolts, I used a 4 inch angle grinder and a ninety degree die grinder to shape the edges of each part. Small work was done with a dremel tool.

The rear tail lights were fairly close to the right body shape as I had fitted them previously when I leaded in the back of the car. I did find that one of the mounting brackets had to be cut off and re welded in about an eighth of an inch further over. This happened because I didn't use the correct #10 32 tpi screws when test fitting. Another lesson learned, don't cut corners on hardware when test mounting chrome.

This is what the area looked like before moving the bracket. I taped up the entire area with two layers of masking tape before fitting any chrome. Don't cut corners on masking areas while fitting parts. The tape saved me dozens of scratches. Especially when cutting the bracket off and re welding it in place. One slipped screw driver or a bit of weld spray means a re shoot of primer and tons of sanding.

Because of the major rear end replacement required on this car, custom bumpers were made to fit the new body contour. Large amounts of lead was required to blend the back of the car into the angle matching the tail light housings. Standard bumpers were way off. Jorge Cervera in San Diego made really nice custom bumpers based on templates I made of the back of the car. He knocked up custom jigs based on templates and formed bumpers which were fairly close. After he roughed out the bumpers he sent them to me for fitting, I cut them down to fit the car and mailed them back to him for finial dressing and plating.

After getting the bumpers from Jeorge, I masked off the rear of the car and started fitting, Even with custom parts the rear bumpers required a good bit of fine tuning, I had to relocate the mounting plates which were only tack welded in, and cut down the inside edge to get a correct fit. On one side I had to bend the bumper slightly to get dead on.


The front bumpers went on pretty smoothly, In this picture the Left hand bumper is getting close. A small amount of space is acceptable since the rubber body gasket will take up the space. I found that about one eighth of an inch was about all you could expect to fill with the rubber without having a noticeable dimple or gap.

Things are getting close here. I need to put some washers on the bumpers to get them to the right angle, right now both are drooping giving the mouth a funny snaggle toothed look. Getting the center bar in was a challenge. I had to cut small amounts out of the elbows and weld in a new nut with case hardened threads. The mild steel has a tendency to strip if you cross thread it at all. will eventually get them re plated. I should have gotten all the parts un plated plated from Jeorge. Live and learn.

The left side bumper is dialed in nicely now. I find that when mounting the bumpers with the rubber trim, masking tape is the best thing to hold the rubber in place while fitting. Just tape the rubber to the bumper and fit away. Once all the bolts are snugged down strip off the masking take and your done.

Another shot of the front bumper I masked up any chrome which I wasn't planning on having re plated to protect it. Here I have a pretty good gap along the bonnet and will install the rubber gasket next. You'd be surprised how much refitting is required when you put the rubber gasket on. I had to go as far as enlarge holes and even move mounting brackets on one bumper.
Here is an interesting shot of the rear bumper mounted without the over rider. I had some minor fitting problems with the over riders since these bumpers were custom made. Jeorge offered to fit them for me so I sent the bumpers and over riders back together and will let him dial them all in together be for plating. My trusty 4 inch angle grinder is in the background. Don't know how I'd live without that thing.

Ok that's it for fitting chrome, the other parts went on fairly smoothly. I fitted the window frames on the doors, and installed the weather stripping channel before painting. Now that the chrome is complete I'll tear the car down and give it a good bath with soap and water. Grinding and welding near the car had covered everything in a thin film of dirt and oil. Next I'll build a paint booth and finial prep the car for painting. Won't be long now until the color and clear are on for good!


Building a paint booth!

Author: Bill McKenna