Saturday, August 30, 2008

Finishing Touches in Modding Cars

Finishing Touches in Modding Cars

Modifying a car is a personal statement, making it differ from standard and make it more ‘your’ car. The problem is that there are more people who modify their cars than there are products on the shelf, so being different and standing out from the crowd is not so easy.

For example you see a lot of cars with this years must have alloy wheels on them but how many have you seen with polished or body coloured versions of that alloy on? Or how about how many Subarus have you seen in metallic blue? Now ask yourself how many you have seen with a flip in the paint or a pearlescent. Not that many right, that’s what finishing is all about being individual and doing something to your car that your not likely to see on lots of other cars.


Below are just some of the services available to make your car stand out form the rest:

Chrome Plating:
Chrome or Chromium is a metal which when applied to steel acts to help protect against corrosion. If you thought that the chrome plate itself is what gives your parts a mirror finish then you thought wrong, this finish is made by nickel plating the component prior to chroming. The chrome itself is actually just a thin hard shelled lacquer.

In order to produce a good finish the process takes time and if rushed will not produce a good effect and can flake off in just a few weeks. Firstly the item to be plated is dipped in hydrochloric acid to remove corrosion and any protective coatings, then the part is polished to produce a near mirror finish before it goes through a stringent cleaning process. After it has been cleaned the part is placed in a nickel tank where it stays for two hours, after which it is placed in the chrome tank for just two minutes. Then all that’s left to do is to give the part a final polish.

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There are companies which provide a triple plating service which is where the part is copper plated first, this process gives a more durable and better finish. Many materials can be chromed including plastics & alloy but the process can be very costly because few companies offer to carry out work on a single piece. For a set of alloys to be chromed you are looking at a bill of around £600 as the process involved in chroming alloy is harder & longer than that of steel.

Gold Plating:
This process involves 24 karat gold being electroplated onto a metalled component. Firstly the part to be plated is given a negative charge and stripped using potassium cyanide salts, which cleans the surface and activates the nickel plate underneath. Then a positive charge is applied to the part and the gold is applied then the part is polished and that’s it.

You can gold plate any metalled part but aluminium needs to be nickel plated and polished first, plastics can also be plated if they have a chromed finish.

Anodising protects aluminium parts from corrosion and wear. It is not a coating but instead a process where at the end the finish becomes an integral part of the component. The finish can be brightened and dyed to produce lots of different colours.

The first step is to polish the component then it is dipped in an acid bath and voltage is applied which causes the alloy to oxidise. The oxide layer is then dyed and given a good polish. The most important thing to remember is that the better quality aluminium you use the better the end result. Prices start from around £30 for a pre-polished aluminium gear knob, you should aim to have all the parts you want anodised done in one go as it can be difficult to colour match if done separately and as a bonus it will also out cheaper.

Powder Coating:
Powder coat is a form of paint which is applied using an electrostatic process, the end finish offers a very tough coating which is good at withstanding knocks and scratches. The finish always looks good but it is not a high gloss finish and can be difficult to repair if chipped. The powder coat paint comes in a number of finishes including metallic, gloss, matt and texture.

The process of powder coating starts off with the object being electrically charged whilst powder pigment is sprayed at it. The powder is attracted to the surface of the component giving it a perfect even coat when baked. Anything can be powder coated, but it is best used on parts that wont get too many knocks.

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Paint Effects:
There are four main types of paint effects available:

  • Metallics - This process is the most commonly seen, these paints carry microscopic particles of metal which catch the light and produce a very nice effect.

  • Flips - This effect uses advanced liquid crystal and interference pigments to produce a finish which when viewed from different angles appears as a different colour.

  • Pearlescents - Pearlecent finishes are achieved by a multilayer process (i.e. a matt colour base, sprayed over with a translucent colour, sprayed over with a coloured lacquer then finished off with a clear lacquer) which leaves the car mostly one colour but has another colour which gently fades in over curves in the body.

  • Metal Flakes - This finish is like a metallic paint but the metal particles instead of being small are much larger

These processes don’t come cheap so be prepared to shell out a lot of your hard earned for a professional job, for example if you wanted a flip paint effect (using 2, 3 and 4 flip Standox paints) you would be looking at paying around a grand just for the tins of paint. Then on top of that the car will need prepping then blowing by a professional sprayer and this could stretch your bill to over more than two grand.

Window Tinting:
There are lots of different styles of window tints out there, mirrored, coloured (red, blue & green), dark, light etc., the darker your tint the meaner your car looks but be aware the police don’t like cars with dark tints so you could find yourself being told to take them off, if you don’t fancy taking your chances then you’re better off sticking with a lighter tint or a colour tint. Most window tinters would be able to tell you what’s legal and what’s not, so give em a ring and get tinting.

There’s no point in making the outside of your car look smart and then leaving the inside of the car standard, this is where interior trimmers come in. The materials available come in many different colours. You can choose from materials like leather, alcantera or vinyl and have your ICE install covered, your seats & door cards retrimmed and more. The effect can be outstanding.

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