If you have studied or read much about automotive history, you may be familiar with a period or automobiles referenced to as the Brass Era. Back before nickel and chrome plating were used as the accepted finish on automobiles, brass was the number one choice by carriage houses, coach builder, and auto manufactures. Whether it was polished brass or brass plating, it was the finish of choice for trim adorning new horseless carriages during this time.
Although the brass era of automotive manufacturing was long over by the late 1920’s, a few manufactures still chose to produce a number of their car parts in brass and have them plated in nickel or chrome. In fact, many European cars (most notably Jaguar) feature trim and various other parts manufactured in brass up into the 1970’s. American automotive manufactures on the other hand had pretty much eliminated the use of brass by the 1940’s and moved to using steel and die-cast to form parts out of that would require plating. This decision was based mostly on what was most cost effective versus what was going to plate the best and last the longest. Of all the metals that you can chrome or nickel plate, brass is by far the superior metal of choice.
However, there are pro’s and con’s to everything and stamped/formed brass parts all seem to have the same con…they crack and split easy. While this is not necessarily a problem with solid brass parts, we see our fair share of formed brass parts and the majority of them have cracks or splits. This tends to happen since brass is more brittle than steel. This is especially prevalent on items like headlight rings and grille surrounds, mostly because these items are flexed and stressed more than other trim items. Have no fear though, should you discover that some of your car parts are made of brass and cracking, we can fix them!
While the majority of the parts that come through our doors here at Advanced Plating are pot metal and deteriorated steel, we also repair cracked brass parts as well. In this edition of Follow a Part From the Start you will see from start to finish all that is involved in repairing and re-plating a part that is made of brass and is unfortunately cracked. Our subject at hand for this edition will be a grille surround for a 1929-30 Chevrolet. Take a look and see how we solve this splitting issue. Enjoy!