January 30, 2020

Restoring zinc-plated parts

Some of the zinc-plated sheet metal parts on the Corvette are showing their age. I don’t mind a bit of patina, but when parts are corroded or filthy with 50 years of grease something needs to be done.

The ideal way to restore these parts would be to have them re-plated, but that’s not in my budget at the moment. It’s also not very efficient to plate parts one or two at a time, you really need to have the car apart and get all the plating done in a batch.

I decided to go with painting, using Eastwood’s Silver Cad. This approach produces a very nice (and quite accurate) finish that protects the parts from deterioration while giving me the option to strip the paint and get them re-plated in the future (if a future owner wants to do a body-off restoration for example). This also allows me to keep the original parts on the car rather than buy reproductions.

My method is to remove any existing paint with stripper, clean and degrease the part, scuff the surface with a Scotch Brite pad, wipe down with some Prepsol and then paint. I find it’s best to remove all the existing paint from sheet metal parts to avoid any weird reactions between the old and new paint.

So far I’ve used this method to refinish the bonnet latches (shown here), some of the shielding for the ignition leads and the inner and outer splash shields.

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Parts used for this project…

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