Yellow Zinc Plating

Specializing in auto parts restoration

Frequently asked questions about zinc and cad plating:

What is the purpose of zinc or cadmium plating?

Bare steel will rust very quickly once it has been exposed to moisture and oxygen in the atmosphere.  Zinc and cad act as a barrier, protecting the steel below.  Even if scratched, the remaining zinc will protect the steel and will not peel, unlike paint or chrome coatings.

Why is a chromate applied to zinc plated parts?

Untreated zinc will begin to oxidize rapidly.  The resultant white powder (zinc oxide) is a sign of the zinc "sacrificing" itself to protect the metal it's covering.  A dichromate conversion coating provides an extra layer of protection by preventing the oxidation of the zinc plate.  Chromated zinc lasts longer, looks better and provides the added benefit of increased galvanic compatibility with aluminum items, such as cylinder heads.

Can you replate rusty parts?

Yes.  Prior to plating, all rust is removed, either chemically or by abrasive blasting.

Will the zinc plating “fill in” the rust damage to my parts?

No.  The zinc plate is relatively thin.  It will not change the appearance as much as paint or powder coating, however we may be able to fill rust pits for you.  Please inquire.

What kind of prep do I need to do?

No preparation is necessary for bare steel parts or those with existing zinc or cadmium plating.

How long does the plating last?

The chromate finish adds extra life to zinc plated parts.  Properly cared for items can remain rust free for many years.  Both the chromate finish and the underlying zinc are vulnerable to acid, however, so acidic detergents and other substances should be avoided.

Can you cad plate parts?

No.  Due to cadmium's toxicity, most manufacturers began a move away from cad plated parts decades ago.  It is still in use in some industrial and aerospace applications.

Were my parts originally cad or zinc plated?

Without a special laboratory analysis it can be very difficult to nearly impossible to tell the difference between the two.  Cadmium use on fasteners began to rapidly dwindle in the early 70s, so fasteners made after that time would likely have been zinc plated.

What type of finish will my parts have?

The finish can vary slightly, but we strive for the closest match to new yellow dichromate or blue/clear chromate possible.  Check out the photo galleries for samples of our work and please inquire if you're looking for a variation on one of the finishes we provide.

What kind of metals do you plate?

We plate standard (carbon) steel items, as well as brass and copper.  We do not zinc plate stainless or aluminum.

How long will it be before my parts are returned to me?

Normal turnaround is about a week to ten days from receipt of your parts, however some batches may take a few days longer and others can be turned around more quickly.  This also depends upon our workload.

Why don't you provide a price list for plating?

There are a lot of variables to consider, such as the condition of your parts, which may require extra prep time.  It's easy to drop us a line for a quick quote.  A photo and description of the parts is extremely helpful.

Do you only plate auto parts?

We can plate just about any steel item, in sizes of up to about 14" long.  Zinc plating is a great solution for old hinges, handles, etc. that need restoration or protection.

1980 VW Scirocco S, Callaway turbo model

About Me

I'm a car guy, a perfectionist.  I really enjoy making old parts look new again.  Admittedly, I'm a bit of a purist.  I like to keep things as original as possible, which is why I enjoy restoring shiny metal underhood bits to their former glory.

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