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Gold- and silver-chrome plastic parts

RELATED TOPICS: PLASTIC
Q: At age 51, I've recently come back to model building. A lot has changed, and a great deal of new technology has been added to this art form.

I've got a million questions, but I'll ask just one: How can I gold- and silver-chrome my own plastic parts?

- Ben Spurlock
Everett, Washington

Ken: Welcome back to model building, Ben. You didn't mention how long you've been gone, but back in the old days the only way replicate chrome parts was with a can of silver paint; not too high-tech, and certainly not too convincing by today's standards. Fortunately, there are now several options for us.

The first is to contact one of the commercial aftermarket plating companies. Chrome-Tech USA is the first one that comes to mind.

All you need to do is mount the parts on a wire or plastic tree, send them off with the appropriate fee, and in a few weeks you'll pull beautifully chromed parts out of your mailbox. Contact them through their ad in this magazine, and they will walk you through the process.

The next option is to use Bare-Metal foil, which is a thin foil with an adhesive back that you cut from a large sheet, burnish into place over the part to be chromed, and trim the excess with a sharp hobby-knife blade.

BMF also comes in gold, so that base is covered, too. Suppliers of BMF can also be found in these pages.

Another popular and realistic method is to use Alclad II - an airbrush-ready lacquer that creates a beautiful chrome finish when sprayed sparingly over a base coat of gloss-black enamel. This method takes some getting used to, but the results are stunning - and surprisingly easy to achieve after you get the hang of it.

So you see, Ben, the hobby's come a long way during your absence. We hope you stick around and spent many happy hours taking advantage of all the cool, new stuff out there. While you're at it, bring on some more questions!

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