Imperial Home Page -> Repair -> Body -> Chrome
Tip from Mike:
If you have your bumpers rechromed, remember that it is very important to protect the back side of your bumper so that it will not rust through in the future. Most platers will automatically do this, but some don't and it's good insurance to prepare the rear side if the plater does not. The best way to do this is to paint the inside with gray colored Por-15 Rust Preventer paint. This will also stop any rust from continuing its destruction to your bumper and prevent any future rust from getting a foot hold on your bumper. Also remember to wax your bumper the MINUTE you get it from the plater.
Question from Luis:
What can you guys recommend for a chrome cleaner. I have pin point rust spots on my '68 and I want to get rid of them. Any one have any suggestions?
Try "Semichrome" or Mothers metal polish.
As far as the chrome goes, believe it or not we have had pretty good luck with the Amway metal polish. It also took paint overspray and "haze" off our tail light lenses, making them look almost new.
I use Marine Chrome polish on my Vintage Cars. The Marine formula (available in Marine stores everywhere) contains a good cleaner that gets those rust pits AND some petro oil film, that provides more protection from the elements-especially those tint pits. In fact most of those tiny pitscan't even be seen until your only 2" away For what its worth.
Go to www.westmarine.com click on boat care, then paint and maintenance, then metal polishes. Scroll down to the bottom. Items 3rd and last to the bottom.
I have used & like both the Starbright and the Marine West brand. Note it actually references pitting, rust removal, protection. Even in the Northern Chesapeake there is salt in the 'sea water'- it vairies from 19 top 23 parts per million, and after wave splash- if it dries on the crome & stainless rails- you can see it, and ewven 'rain' will not completely remove it. A quick wipe with the polish does wonders. Also use it on the stainless galley & head sinks-helkps keep soap scum off- so on Vintage Car Bumpers- it really is better than carnuba. My opinion of course, but should add this is based on 52 years of observation.
Addition from Bill:
For marine polishes,and just about everything else marine try: http://www.boatersworld.com/
Question from Mary Anne:
Does anyone know of a way, other than sending the chrome out to be rechromed, to clean up some of the chrome. Any favorite and proven chrome cleaners that you have tried??
I use fine steel wool but I have heard that a product called Neverdull works well too. I use Windex after the steel wool.
Napa Auto Parts stores sell a chrome polish that is the best I've ever used. It's made by Mac's. I use it on my cars and jukebox parts with excellent results.
There is an product out there called autosol that is the best I have ever used. It was sold at the Discount Auto Parts, but since they were bought out, I have not found it. Really a good product and very easy to use.
Question from Bill:
I have heard there is a product to either eliminate or reduce the hairline cracks which are present in chrome bumpers of vintage automobiles. My '59 has these in both the front and rear bumpers, and I would be very interested in trying this as a temporary solution before re-chroming them.
Reply from Arran:
Yes there is a product, it's called wax. The wax won't eliminate the cracks but it will stop them from rusting through for a while, or getting larger. The only sure cure is to replate your bumpers. Any product claiming that it can cure cracks in the plating, without doing this, is snake oil . Someone may know different but I know of no miracle cures.
Question from Dennis:
I was polishing the headlight rings from my '53 Imperial, which has some pitting. I became curious as to why these pieces "pit" and what exactly is pitting. We all know what it looks like, but what is really the root cause. I would assume that age is a factor, but I also think it is more than that. The piece is made out of pot metal, and what is that made of and is that a contributing factor to pitting?
Reply from James:
The why's associated with pitting are not exactly straightforward, but here are the basics:
A pit results with the development of a local anode where the metal is oxidized (loses electrons). Electrons from the now oxidized metal atoms travel through the metal to a cathode area where water is reduced (gains electrons). The metal ions formed in the process can either be simply washed away, or they may be carried by water to the cathode site where they can join up with the products of water reduction to form an oxide. In the case of iron this is why you find orange deposits off to the side of the pit.
What causes a site in the metal surface to become anodic has a lot to do with the metallurgy of the metal in question. Pits often form at stress points, areas containing impurities (in stainless steels sulfur is a frequent culprit), and because alloys are never truly homogeneous some parts will simply oxidize more easily than others. Pits in chromed bits and pieces may also start in areas where there are flaws in the chrome plating, including microscopic cracks, that can expose more easily oxidized metals underneath. Chromium itself is pretty corrosion resistant due to the formation of a thin oxide layer that acts as a barrier, the same principle goes for aluminum. However, scratches and other damages (including rocks that hit headlights) that result with time can both expose what lies beneath, and perhaps more significantly, create areas where water can collect. Even if your car doesn't get wet too often, or the pitted part is inside the car, don't discount the presence of water vapor in the air.
As for prevention, as stated earlier, a lot depends on the manufacture of the metal. However, keeping the car dry, clean (acids in "dirt" can accelerate the process), and trying not to damage the metal will help. Polish as necessary, but keep in mind that every time you do that you add more little scratches. You also remove the aforementioned oxide layer, making the metal form a new one, reducing the amount of metal in the metallic state, although this is a minor point.
Question from Joe:
Anybody have good suggestions for getting the oxidation off of chrome?
I've had good luck with the chrome polish put out by turtle wax. It works well except in areas where the chrome finish is truly damaged, in those areas only re-chroming will help. Too bad cars don't come with sacrificial anodes!
I use a brass wire brush, its basically a toothbrush sized wooden handle with brass bristles. The brass is softer than the chrome so it can't scratch. It does a good job of cutting through minor corrosion and heavy film. Following that with a standard chrome polish is about the best you can do short of removing the part and putting it to a buffer. Using the brush is the only way that I could clean the grill sections of my boxcar since getting a rag into the tiny spaces is impossible.
By using 3M Rubbing compound liquid, all the trim has come back beautifully, and so have the bumpers, except for those little age hairline cracks the chrome develops. The body trim almost looks brand new, and I haven't even polished it yet! The 3M product is also doing wonders on the oxidized paint finish, and is much easier to use than paste type rubbing compound. 3M also makes another liquid product that I've used on my regular driver for sometime now, with beautiful results. It is called Scratch and Swirl Remover.
Question from Bob:
Anybody got a solution for cleaning grooves on the headlight trim rings or grooves on the wheel cover center spindles for '63 Imps?
What is the best method to protect and polish the chrome?
Anybody in favor of using "4aught" steel wool or bronze wool?
Don't use steel wool, it can scratch the chrome! Bronze wool would be fine, because it is softer than the chrome so it can't scratch it. An alternative that I use for heavy deposits is a brass wire brush.
I would try either chrome polish or Brasso, which ever is handier. If it's really grungy then the #0000 steel wool would likely work well as furniture refinishers use it to rub out old finishes to clean them up and chrome is a lot harder to destroy then varnish. I just use an S.O.S. pad on bicycle rims an handle bars but I am not putting them up for show.
The best way I have found to clean chrome or stainless steel is by using the method I used when I was in the Army for cleaning up the metalwork on our dress uniforms. Coat the metal in Brasso, when dry sprinkle on some ordinary washing powder, leave for a few minutes then very gently with an old toothbrush carefully clean the metalwork with a little warm water so the washing powder becomes a paste. This has got me out of many of ten o'clock staff parades when I was a bad lad in the Army!
Use an old toothbrush to clean in the grooves. Use regular chrome cleaner polish or Simichrome polish.
I've been using NevrDull for all my chrome. It's a chemically impregnated wadding and gets into small spaces - grooves - pretty well. Doesn't leave a residue.
Question from Teresa (1955):
I am wondering if anyone out there knows of any reproduction/aftermarket source for 1956 body clips that hold on the stainless door trim? We are preparing to remove molding/trim, and I know that it is likely that at least some of the clips may break in the process.
Reply from Joe:
The Forward Look list recommends www.hillcofasteners.com
Question from Joe (1955 -1956 taillight differences):
What's the difference between '55 and '56 rear tail light assemblies? Or is there?
The '55 and '56 have completely different tail light assemblies. And as you suggested, the eagles in the front are different also. The '55 is "bulgier" than the '56; as for the tail lights, the '55 is "stubbier" and the '56 is elongated. The next time you're at a show or have the opportunity to see a '55 and a '56 side by side, you'll notice lots of little things done differently between the two years.
You will also notice differences between the early (Powerflite) '56 and the late '56 (Torqueflite) cars. Most, if not all of the early differences are the same as the '55.
Question from Jeff (1956):
My question is whether the correct sills for '56 had Imperial script on them or not.
I looked at the sill plates in my 1956 Southampton 4 door - no script - no lettering.
The four door sedan is suppose to have the additional piece included on the front door door sills that have the Imperial script just like in '55.
The Southampton four door hardtop did not include this part on the actual cars, although I believe that it is pictured in the sales brochures. I added it to mine from a sedan parts car years ago, but later removed it when I needed the script for the right front fender of one of my '55s.
I have seen Southamptons both with and without the additional "script piece". It has been included on all of the sedans that I have seen.
My Southampton hasn't got the the script either.
Question from Dave (1958):
I need to know some '58 trim info.. I am shopping for the horizontal trim that goes under the trunk lid. My rear 1/4 trim goes around the corner and kicks up-goes horizontal for a couple of inches. The vendor I am talking to for replacement trim wants to know if the trim that I am missing is in three pieces. All I have is the holes to look at.. Could you tell me what I need back there?
Reply from Philippe:
Each moldings runs to the center of the lower trunk panel, and stops below the key lock. There's a small stainless steel cap to hide the small gap betwwen them.
Question from Marty (1959):
I can't seem to find the correct fender trim for my 1959 Imperial sedan. Has anyone noticed that their is a different type of fender trim on this style car? Mine has four pieces along the fender instead of three. Was this exclusive to 59 Le Barons only?
Make sure you check all the vendors on the part's pages. I'm sure they're rare but not non-existent. If Bob doesn't have them, check Lowell Howe and the others.
The '59 LeBaron does have different trim than the other models. The part you are looking for is pretty dang rare and just to make it worse it is a different part for the left and right hand side. Left hand is 1903161 and RH is 1903160.
If the parts are rare it might be worth looking into having some spares made. Are these trim parts cast or are they made from stamped stainless steel? If they are cast you could take a sample to some foundries and investigate, lord knows plating new brass or bronze is much easier to deal with then pitted pot metal.
Question from Rich (1960):
Can someone tell me where to get some very wide [ 3.5"] molding clips for the wide rocker stainless on my 60 Imp.?? I can find the type with a stud mount, but I need the pop-in style.
Reply from John:
I've never seen any of these available new. However, the same ones are used through 63 so you may be able to find some used ones in good shape. I believe there are more of them used on the 60 then the later cars. They use a screw at the end instead of clips to hold the molding on.
Question from John (1961):
I am about to put the stainless roof inserts on Subtle XS, my main '61 project car. I got to wondering about how best to keep moisture from between there and the painted roof steel below. I am perplexed! If I seal the front edge, to keep out driving water at speed, OK, but shouldn't I then seal the top edge (under the chrome spears) for the same reason? But then I though, if I do that, then any moisture that does find its way in, won't be able to dry out. I surely can't seal the bottom edge, as that would trap even liquid water. If I don't seal it anywhere, it will get lots of moisture and rub against the paint, too. What to do? Has anyone ever pulled an original SS panel off to see how it was done at the factory? Does anyone have any experience or logic to support, full, partial or no edge sealing?
Reply from John:
I've done this on my 60. I also had a 60 LeBaron parts car that had them. They had just a few dabs of adhesive near the middle of them. Since all the edges are below the trim, I don't see any need to seal them with anything. However, do be sure to seal the bolts in the long pot metal trim pieces, or these will leak.
Question from Max (1962):
I'm restoring my '62 crown and will be ready to send it off to be painted in the near future. My body shop tells me that the clips that keep the chrome on will most likely break when the trim is removed, and that I need a good supply of these fasteners.
Does anyone know the following:
1. About how many clips/fasteners do I need to put the trim on a '62 crown?
2. What is the best source for these clips/fasteners?
3. Where do I find the clips/fasteners to attach the heat shield fabric to the inside of the hood?
4. What else is going to break when they take everything off to paint it, and where do I find those parts?
1. About how many clips/fasteners do i need to put the trim on a '62 crown? SIX FOR THE ROCKERS AND A GAZILLION FOR THE CHROME BELT.
2. What is the best source for these clips/fasteners? LOWELL HOWE IN PATTERSON CA. (209)892-3464
3. Where do I find the clips/fasteners to attach the heat shield fabric to the inside of the hood? I DON'T KNOW BUT ASK LOWELL
4. What else is going to break when they take everything off to paint it, and where do I find those parts? I FOUND SOME RUST HOLES THAT NEEDED TO BE WELDED UP AND PREVIOUS DAMAGE THAT HADN'T BEEN REPAIRED PROPERLY.
Try ordering clips from Gary Goers at email@example.com . Web site is www.garygoers.com . I have ordered clips for our 57 Chrysler and I believe his clips will work on Imperials. I have other catalogs for clips but not here at home. Restorations Specialties and Supplies come to mind. I can send more later. As far as number of clips, a couple of dozen or maybe 3 will do it in total, but they will be of different sizes as the side trim varies in width. Some require screw type with nuts, others are spring-like and pop into the holes on the side when you can't get behind to screw on the nut. On the front side pieces just in front of the door and where the front piece abuts the angled piece at the corners, there are screw type pieces, so don't keep trying to pop off the piece.
A lot of the clips can be re-used or as models for what to purchase. Catalogs usually have actual size pictures of the types of clips so you can match the old ones.
The clips for the heat shield definitely come from Gary Goers, nice new ones. Get plenty, they're a pain to put in if you're a novice like me.
Many of the trim clips on the '62 are either plastic or nylon. You should be able to remove the trim, then remove the clips. The clips that hold the hood pad are the same from '61-'66 & may be used on other Mopars as well. The best source for either of the above clips would be from a donor car, although plastic hood pad clips are available from Gary Goers. Some of the more generic clips may be matched up with something that should work from a company called Restoration Specialties. They put out a catalog with a wide variety of items & was very useful on my '60. Other items I would be real careful of would be the Imperial letters on the rear of the car & the side nameplates. The clips that hold the trim around the rear window are another problem & need to be removed from inside the car after taking the inside trim off. DON'T let anyone try to pry the rear window moldings off from the outside or you'll be looking for new ones. I believe someone has photos posted of this procedure in the help section. The same goes for the windshield header trim. It unbolts from the inside also. I'm sure there's many more then this, but these ones will always get messed up by someone that doesn't know how to remove them.
Question from Mark (1964 - 1966 interchange):
Does the interior trim that goes around the windshield and over the side windows and around the rear window interchange between a '64 and '66 Crown 4-door? How about the door sill plates?
Not sure about the rear window trim, but all the rest should be the same, as well as the sill plates.
They do exchange.
Question from Joe (1964):
There is a nut that holds the trim ring around the grille half that I can't figure out how to get to (actually there are two but a previous owner was kind enough to leave the top one off for me). The one I can't get to is on the fender side on the bottom. I can feel the nut, but I can't get anything to it to be able to loosen it. Is it necessary to remove the bumper to get to it? or is there some other trick?
Also, the strips that run from front to back along the fenders and doors, how are they removed?
Reply from Chris:
Alas, there is no trick. The bumper must come off. Actually, you want to do this anyway to take off the chrome/rubber mouldings between the fender and the bumper. You'll get a much better paint job that way. Same with the rear bumper.
As for the chrome pieces that run along the side, there are a nut and bolt at each end of the doors. The center section is held on by compression clips. After unbolting, gentle prying will pop the trim off. Carefully tape these compression fittings when painting, and they can be re-used.
The trunk and front fenders are similar. There are bolts wherever there is access. i.e., inside the trunk and up in the front fender well. The remainder is held on by compression clips. On the front fenders, the front fender liner panels (between the bumper and front wheel) need to come out to get access to the bolts at the front of the fender.
Question from Greg (1965):
Would anyone share with me the procedure I should follow regarding the cleanup/polishing of my '65 Imperial's front grille? If someone has already polished it or had it professionally done, what product(s) should I use to get it to look new again.
Reply from John:
The grill is a cast piece that you can use chrome cleaner on. If the chrome cleaner is not doing much, you will likely need to replate it to get any better lustre. Cast pieces tend to loose there shine over the years and get pitted; once this happens, there is little to do short of replating. try the chrome cleaner and hope for good results.
Question from Bill (1966):
Are the trim pieces that run on the top of the '66 left front fender the same as on a '65?
'66 top of the fender trim is indeed different. '64-'65 is taller then the '66.
'65 and '66 are totally different chrome... only '65 will work!!!
Question from Bob (1966):
I have all my fender and window trim off the car of my '66 LeBaron. Does anyone know of a supplier of correct clips, fasteners, nuts, etc. to replace the old ones I took off ?? Also, could someone tell me the (CORRECT) type of sealant to use when re-installing the trim back on the fenders and window. The factory used a black gunk that remained somewhat soft and some type of rubber in the nuts. I would like to thank anyone in advance for assistance regarding the trim fasteners I am seeking.
Try Hillco Fasteners...
I owned H.C Fastener Company until we closed it back in the late 80s. We dealt in fasteners and trim clips from about 1928 to 1980.
All our old inventory is still in the warehouse just as it was back then. I don't have the time to research anything -- but if you can e-mail me photos of what came off your car -- if it is something I recognize -- I might be able to come up with it.
Question from Clay (1967):
The recent post about molding fasteners on a '62 has me thinking about the chrome side spear fasteners (or are they called clips?) on my 67. The clips are plastic with a approximate 1/2 inch square head. They look to be held on the body of the car with a push in type holder. Are these clips a standard type fastener that is still available? Or would breaking one be the same as taking a hammer to one of my cornering lenses?.
You want to ask R/T Specialties in Mesa or Tempe, AZ.
Tom has just about every damn fastener out there, gets them to you quick and easy too!
I was unable to find any new ones. Mopar still sells fasteners that look identical except that they are larger, about 3/4 inch square. I got a few from an IML member that was parting out a '67. They are easy to remove without damage if you do it right. The problem is when you snap off the trim, sometimes one of the corners break off. To get them off you just need to tap out the little center cylinder which locks them into the sheet metal. Since the cylinder isn't tapered, you can either tap them in or out depending on which is more convenient by using a 1/4 drift and mallet. Once the cylinders are out, carefully loosen the little prawls from the inside and carefully remove the clips. If you closely look at the back of the clips, you will see a tiny O-ring behind the head to cushion them from the paint.
RT Specialties, 961 West Ray Road #4, Chandler, AZ 85224, Phone 480-827-0171
Question from Dave (1968):
What type screw fastens the kick panels on the 1968 Imperial?
I know that the phillips with the sombraro style head hold the kick panel at the door jam.
What, however, does the job of holding the panel against the car side under the dash?
I believe it should be the shiny phillips screw like those that hold the sill plate. A total of two.
The screws you are looking for can be found at Mr G's. He sold me all new bolts and screws for my Challenger. You can get them in standard steel or stainless. They are very helpful and friendly!
Where we are in Washington State, there are a number of stores called simply Fasteners, Inc. I don't know if this is nationwide or not, but it seems like even most small towns have a store that specializes in this fasteners. I took in all the different types of screws to my Fasteners store, and the nice little man disappeared to the back only to return with all that I ever needed. Very nice...and you can buy singly or by the box, same deal, steel or stainless. P.S. Nice to hear from some other DeSoto owner....hey, it's all MOPAR!
The THREE screws holding the sill trim are panhead Phillips, bright but not quite chrome looking'
The kick panel is carpeted, but I did find two screws - one right up under the molded plastic vent panel far forward and against firewall - it's a "sombrero" type Phillips, same as the many that hold plastic trim panel inside door frame. There is a second screw, an oval-head Phillips, chrome, that holds the doorframe end of a plastic wrap-around extension of the carpeted piece - this one screws in pointing forward, into the door frame. I could not see or feel any others, so think there may be a couple of clips?? in the panel backer.
Question from Keith (1968):
I'm interested in any ideas about repairing holes that have been drilled in the stainless side molding on my '68 Crown. Evidently, someone took the quick way out in reattaching the trim before I got the car.
Reply from Roy:
You could take it to a welding shop and ask if the hole could be bridged using some stainless rod, but if that were even possible, you would then need to grind the area flat and buff it. Since the moldings are stainless, last forever and are easy to take off, there should be a lot still around. I suggest that you contact the prime Imperial parts vendors, Lowell Howe, Murray Park and Bob Hoffmeister who should be able to fix you up with a replacement at a reasonable cost. Check the website for addresses and phones.
Question from Kurt (1974):
After spending the entire summer working on my '74 it's 99% finished and now I'm finding it difficult to find the plastic clips that hold on the rockers, the local paint shop says they don't make that kind anymore. I did manage to salvage a couple off a junker NYer but still came up short. Does anyone know where I can find clips that will work for this?
Reply from Bill:
Try Restoration Specialties & Supply, Inc. They have a LOT of hard to find parts for restoring cars. You can also download their catalog at their website too.
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