Removing Chrome Plating

by Jerry Ben

Anyone who has ever built a model car has run into chrome plated parts. These parts are usually very heavily plated, obscuring most of the detail, and are so shinny that they look out of scale. Also, they are difficult to glue together without scrapping the chrome plating off the gluing surfaces. Painting chromed parts is another difficult thing to do since model paint does not adhere well and will chip off easily. To achieve a painted finish or a different metallic finish, the best thing to do without losing any detail is to remove all the chrome down to bare plastic. I have found that regular laundry bleach (scented or unscented) is the best chrome remover. It dissolves the chrome in front of your eyes and it won’t harm the plastic beneath it.

Before you begin, you will need to follow some safety precautions. Bleach will irritate your skin and if splashed will burn your eyes. Please wear safety eye wear, disposable rubber/latex gloves, and a respirator while working in a well ventilated area.

Please read the following steps when using bleach to remove chrome plating from model parts: Place chrome plated model parts in a small container filled with bleach. Container should be deep enough to fully immerse chromed parts. Depending on how thick the chrome is, I allow the parts to soak for at least a few minutes. You can literally see the chrome dissolve in front of your eyes. Remove your parts from your container when all the chrome plating is gone. Then rinse your parts under running water. At this point all your chrome will be removed exposing the bare shinny plastic part. That shinny stuff is a sprayed on clear coating that helps the chrome to adhere to the part. It has to be removed so you can have a bare plastic part. To remove this shinny coating, please refer to Tips & Tricks “Model Paint Remover”. After removing the shinny coating, you will see all the detail that was covered up by the chrome. No additional sanding or scrapping will be required.

Remember to wash, rinse, and dry parts thoroughly before proceeding to model building and painting.

Materials required:
Laundry bleach (scented or unscented)
Small container
Safety glasses
Disposable rubber/latex gloves