Old Cars & Classics
Maintained by Fred Zwicker - Updated 11/01/12
Technical Stuff See pictures below, or click on any link at top of page to go back to other sections.

 How to paint recessed areas on chrome.
You don't  have to be an artist to paint recessed areas on chrome.  The following procedure shows how easy this can be done.  First you need to pick up the following materials:

                            1 Spray can of "Bulldog Adhesion Promotor - Makes Paint Stick".   
                               1 Spray can of "Etching Primer" for a primer over the above surface preparation.
                               1 Spray can of "WD-40" (will explain about this later).

    1 Small can of oil base enamel in your choice of color (we used white enamel for this application

  2 Small artist brushes - one small and one very small with very fine point to get into the tight areas.
  1 or 2 Corks - these are the kind that you find in gallon  jugs. 
  Select a cork (about 1-1/4" to 1-1/2" diameter at large end.
  Small quantity of "Q-Tips" (Buy these at any drugstore).
  1 section of soft tee shirt material (must be soft but not fuzzy).  Picture of cloth not shown.



Here is a newly rechromed rear bumper from a 1939 LaSalle.  It is necessary to paint the logo.
                       We are going to paint the recessed area in white enamel.

 Using one of the Q-Tips soaked in lacquer thinner, we carefully clean the recessed areas to remove wax and other impurities so that our paints will stick.  Repeat this cleaning process several times and allow to dry.  Then, using the smaller paint brush, apply a light coat of the "Bulldog Adhesion Enhancer".  Only a light coat is required.  Best way is to spray some of the product on a piece of metal and then pick up the product from the metal with the small brush.  Do this carefully to prevent enhancer from getting outside of the recessed area. Allow to dry for one hour or longer.   Painting of the adhesion enhancer is not shown, but is similar to the photo shown below and is done with the smaller (fine) brush.


Now take the can of Etching Primer and spray some on a clean piece of metal, so that you can pick up a small quantity with the fine paint brush.  With this paint brush, apply an even coat to the recessed areas.  Any excess primer can be removed after you complete painting the recessed areas, but try to minimize the excess paint.

Take a small section of the tee shirt material (about 8" square) and fold it over the larger end of the cork and tightly twist the back part so that you have a flat surface of the material to work with.  You want the material to be very tight to provide a flat surface on the end of the cork.  The goal is to remove the excess paint without removing the paint that is in the recessed areas of the bumper.

Holding cork as shown, spray a very light coat of WD-40 onto the flat end of the cloth.  Rub this in with your finger to remove any excess.  The reason for the WD-40 is to minimize lint from the cloth and to provide a smooth surface for cleaning.  As WD-40 containes mineral spirits, it will also disolve any excess paint in the cleaning process.  Do not get WD-40 into any recessed areas of the chrome, or paint will not stick.  WD-40 is only for the final cleaning process.  (If you don't like WD-40, you can also use paint thinner in very small quantity to slightly moisten the rag).  Either way, do not use a dry rag, as in addition to lint, the the dry surface of the rag could lift up some of the paint from the recessed areas. You are now ready to remove the excess priner that is on the surface of the bumper.

Holding the flat surface against the bumper, and being sure that the material is twisted tightly around the back end of the cork to keep the flat surface tight, lightly rub across the surface. (from left to right - on the higher letters you can rub up and down.  Do not rub in a circle - apply very light pressure only.  Any excess primer will be removed.  If you hit an area that is close to the surface, you will have to apply more primer and start over on that section.  This cleaning process should be done as soon as the primer is applied - do NOT let the primer dry, as excess will be almost impossible to remove.  With a little practice you will succeed.  If you get into trouble, you can always remove all of the paint and start over.



This is how it should look after painting and cleaning.  The gray etching primer is in the recessed areas and there is no primer on the smooth part of the bumper.  Etching primer dries fairly quickly, but we recommend that you allow at least one hour before applying the enamel.

Enamel is applied in same manner as the etching primer and you can use the larger brush, as we want to get plenty of paint into the recessed areas.  The enamel will stick nicely to the primer.  After you coat the entire logo, you are ready to clean the excess, using a clean area of cloth and your cork.  This must be done immediately before the excess paint has a chance to dry on the non-recessed areas of the chrome.

The recessed areas are cleaned the same as before.  Don't forget to change to a clean area of the cloth and to apply WD-40 as previously explained.  You must hold the flat area of the cork parallel to the surface of the bumper and DO NOT push hard, as doing so will remove paint from inside the recessed area.  If  you remove a little paint here and there, take your smaller brush and spot in some more enamel and clean again.  This is the first coat.  Allow to dry OVERNIGHT before applying second coat.  In some cases it is necessary to apply a third coat of enamel, especially with a light color such as white.

Here is another view of the cleaning process.  Note that the soft material must be twisted and held tightly to the back side of the cork so that the bottom surface is flat and smooth.  If allowed to be loose, the cloth will sag and drop into the recessed area of the logo, removing the paint.  If this happens, just apply more paint with your smaller brush and clean again.  Remember - keep changing to a new surface of your rag and keep it lubricated with a light squirt of WD-40 and rub the excess into the rag.   You do NOT want too much WD-40 or it will drop down into the recessed areas and disolve or thin the paint. 

Here is the finished product after applying 3 coats of white enamel.  Allow at least  2 weeks of drying time before waxing bumper.  Any grease or areas of light paint on the surface of the bumper will be removed by the wax.  We do not recommend strong chrome cleaners for show cars.  See your local auto supply store for their recommendation, or a good source is TP Tools in Canfield, Ohio.  They have a huge selection of polish for this purpose.  Call 1-800-321-9260 (live operators and same day shipping) for a free catalog.  TP Tools also stocks Etching Primer, Bulldog Adhesion Promotor and has a selection of artist brushes.   You can see their products on the Internet at www.tptools.com

           How to connect (2) 6-volt batteries in parallel
                       to increase cold-cranking amps.

Older Cadillacs and LaSalles originally operated with 6-volt batteries.  Unfortunately, when engines heat up, the 6-volt batteries don't always have the cold-cranking power that we would like.  I tried an 8-volt battery and it greatly improved the starting power of the starter and felt that this was the answer.  However, it was drawn to my attention by members of the Cadillac-LaSalle Club Forum that the radio could be damaged and there could be other problems, since the gauges run on resistance and would no longer give a true reading. (Due to this problem, when using the 8-volt battery for a short time, I once ran out of gas, even though gas gauge showed 1/8 full).  In addition, the voltage regulator had to be adjusted and there were other challenges as a result of changing from 6-volts to 8-volts.  Luckily I did not connect my radio to the 8-volt system.

then went back to a new heavy-duty 6-volt battery with 600 cold-cranking amps and the car started well, but not the same as with the 8-volt battery. In my research, I found that there were heavier 6-volt batteries, but the overall size was considerably larger, requiring a larger battery box.  Since the battery in my car is under the front floorboard (driver's side), and has an original battery box and metal cover, I did not want to cut the floor and change the metal cover, preferring an original look in this area, even though concealed under the carpet. 

I read where others have tried 6-volt/12-volt setups, with a switch to run the starter at 12-volts.  Others have tried the 8-volt setup - some were happy, some were not.  I finally figured out the answer for my 1939 LaSalle was to hook up two 6-volt batteries in parallel.  Of great help was the information supplied by "Battery Tender"
www.batterytender.com   On this site, it shows how to connect batteries in paralell and also how to connect the Battery Tender to the two battery setup. (Only one Battery Tender is required - see photos below).

I purchased two (2) Optima Red-Top 6-volt batteries - 
Optima Part No. 6V-800/6 - Type 8010-044. These batteries each measure 3.5" wide x 7.8" high x 10" long.  Two of these (side-by-side) take up the exact same space as one standard 6-volt battery in Group Size 1.  It was necessary that I purchase some heavy cable and battery connectors (NAPA had them in stock) and I soldered the wire to the connectors. The original 6-volt battery was removed and the two Optima batteries were installed in place (no modification of the battery box or anything else, other than a metal strap across the top of the batteries to hold securely in place).

I now have 1600 cold-cranking amps (was 600 CCA) and the car really starts quickly.  Expensive - yes, but well worth the price to have a car that starts every time without any expensive changes or problems created by using 8-volt or 12-volt setups.  See picture below:

Above shows batteries on bench, prior to installation. Cables (size 1/0) and the 4 connectors were purchased from NAPA and were in stock. I bought 24" of cable and had about 6" left over.  Note that I am connecting positive (red) to positive terminal and negative (black) to negative terminal. This is how to connect two batteries in PARALLEL, so that the voltage remains at 6 volts.  It is a good idea to bend the cables carefully before soldering into the connectors (advance planning).  After soldering, I put red plastic electrical tape on the positive cable.  Finished installation is shown below:

Above picture shows completed installation. The existing negative battery cable (black) is shown to far left and is connected to the upper battery. The short black cable from lower battery has the copper tubular lug attached to the tightening bolt of the above black battery cable.  

Existing positive ground (red) cable is shown to far right, coming in on an angle and connected to the negative terminal of the lower battery and the short red cable is bolted to the tightening bolt of the existing red negative cable.  The other end of the short red cable leads to the negative terminal of  the upper battery.  *Note that cables were soldered into the connectors and that the right-hand cable was taped with red plastic electrical tape.  The thinner black wires lead to the Battery Tender wiring plug, which is hidden under the carpet along the side of the seat, where it can be plugged into the cord of  the battery tender. Note the position of these thinner wires - one to the negative terminal of one battery and the other to the positive terminal of the other battery (Per Battery-Tender, do not connect to the same battery).

We added a metal strap to hold batteries in place and both sides of this strap were covered with a heavy canvas material that we had in our shop. This makes for a nice installation and prevents rattles.  The nice thing is that everything fits without any modification of the original battery box and once the original metal cover plate is bolted down and carpet installed, it is not noticeable.  Everything is still running on 6-volts, but the cold cranking amperage has increased from 600 to 1800.  The difference is amazing and I will no longer worry about starting problems in winter or summer.   Next I want to paint the metal floorboard, as while not rusted, need some cleanup and some nice black enamel.  I have the original metal cover for this opening and it bolts in place with four 1/4"-20 bolts.

The Optima batteries are dry cell type and so maintenance is not required, other than the recommended use of a 6-volt Battery Tender. I hooked up the battery tender one night and by the next morning, the green light came on, indicating a full charge.  During the winter when car was parked, I had the Battery Tender disconnected, but after connecting both batteries were fully charged within an hour.

How to repair plastic seat side trim skirts on a 1954 Buick, or other similar cars.

I did a body-off restoration on my '54 Buick Riviera Special Hard Top and the plastic skirts around the bottom sides of the front seats were damaged. Many restorers cover this with leather or nuagahyde, but a better way is to repair the damage and later paint the sections, keeping the original look with vertical ribs along the sides.

Picture # 1 -  Splits in center sections - top side. This is where the plastic clips in place along the side of the seat. Both sides had this damage in the same spot and the split in the plastic was about 2 inches long. See Picture #1 as viewed from the top. I fixed this by first epoxing a 4" long round dowel rod (I actually used a wooden chop stick from the Chinese restaurant, which also makes a nice paint stirring stick). I used plenty of epoxy from the inside and pressed the wood in place, covering it with more epoxy for strength. Once the epoxy dried, I scuffed it down from inside and outside and then applied ordinary caulking on the inside surface for a smooth look (not shown). The outside lip is now rough-sanded and my painter will sand it further and add filler so that the repair will not show. I may later make a 3" long metal u-shaped section to epoxy in place from the inside to give this area more strength when clipping in place.

Picture #2 - Driver's Side - Top outside corner (towards rear of car) with hole for attachment - Plastic in this area was intact, but had some small splits around the plastic edge surrounding the hole, which I fixed by adding epoxy from below and above. I have rough-sanded it for my painter.  For all of these repairs I used "J.B.Quick" (made by J.B. Weld). There are two tubes (black and gray) which I mixed in relatively small quantities, as it dried quickly (4 minutes claimed by J.B. Weld). Color when dry is black, but it turns gray when sanded. Using a popsicle stick, I smoothed the epoxy mix into place from both sides, allowing it to dry. This stuff really sticks to your hands, so get it off quickly - I used liquid soap, warm water and a scuff pad and rubbed my fingers rapidly to get the black off - not easy, but if not done, you will have black hands for quite awhile.

Picture # 3 - Notice small mounting hole on far right side of picture. This hole was there, but had a split in two areas along center of the hole. I epoxied a small flat metal washer into place over the hole to add strength and to cover the damaged area.

Picture #4 - Passenger Side - Same top outside corner as above (towards rear of car).This side was really in bad shape. Not only the flat area with mounting hole was missing, the entire curved top surface and inside lip were both missing in about a 12 inch section. Since the missing plastic lip is about 3/8" in depth, I made a pattern and (using my band saw), cut a section of 3/8" plywood to match the curve as closely as possible. Since the flat area with the mounting hole was missing, I cut out a small piece of tin to the approximate size and cut out the matching area of the top of the plywood with a razor knife so that the metal would sit flat. I then screwed it in place with 1/2" long brass rouind-head screws. After tightening the screws, used a grinder and sanded off the top of the screws so that they look almost like a rivet, but with enough metal to hold the metal in place. Since the screws went all the way through the wood, I also sanded off the points on the underside of the plywood. Later my body man covered this with body filler (see type used at bottom of page).

Above picture shows a closeup top view of the metal attached to the plywood after it was epoxied in place. I used C-clamps and vice grips to hold everything in place and allowed to dry overnight. Picture #3 shows an inside angle view, showing the 3/8" plywood to match the inside lip of the original plastic to the left. The mounting hole will be located and drilled when the section is assembled.

We have more to do on this, but the basic reconstruction is nice and solid and ready for some body filler, primer and later paint. We will want to use a satin or semi-gloss paint that can be sprayed over plastic, and we are in hopes that it will look close to new when completed.

The entire job took about 3 hours, plus drying time and adding some small amounts of epoxy in missed areas the next day, plus some rough sanding time. Add another 10 minutes for cleanup of your hands each time you touch the stuff. I expect we will have another hour in final prep work prior to painting.

Angle view of the pieces after preliminary repair.  Body filler, sanding and painting to follow.

Top view of both sections, ready for body filler and painting.  Paint will need to formulated to work over plastic and be flexible.  Sections were originally a satin black color, which should not be difficult to match.

Shown below are the pictures of the products used to make this repair:

1)  Fiberglass Repair Kit, available from TP Tools in Canfield, Ohio. 
Contains 1 quart of USC Fiberglass Resin wih hardener, spreader and 8 sq. ft. fiberglass mat.
Order as Part Number ME-58005.   Order at

2)  Evercoat Rage Gold Lightweight Body Filler with Cream Hardener. 
Easiest-sanding body filler available and provides maximum adhesion.
Order as Part Number ME-112  Sold in 0.8 gallon container.   Order at 

3)  SEM Vinyl Prep to clean and remove wax and grease.  12 oz. spray can. 
Order as Part Number SEM-38343.  Order at 
www.tptools.com   Also available from TP Tools is SEM Soap, which can be used with a gray scuff pad to clean vinyl and plastic.  This not only cleans the surface, it also improves adhesion. Sold in 15 oz. container.  Part Number SEM-39362

4)  SEM Plastic & Leather Prep to prepare surface for Color Coat.  Will not harm plastic.
Order as Part Number SEM-38353.  12 oz. spray can.  Order at 

5) SEM Color Coat - Flexible Coating to match, restore, or hange color on flexible plastic, rigid plastic, vinyl, carpet and velour.  It is fade resistant, flexible and a permanent coating. Comes in 12 oz. spray cans or Quarts in many colors.  We used SEM-15233 Gloss Black for this application in a 12 oz. spray can and the results were outstanding.  Order at

SEM products are used by professionals and are the industry standard for products of this type.  For a complete selection of SEM products you can obtain a Free Catalog from TP Tools in Canfield, Ohio by calling them at 1-800-321-9260 (phones are answered live, so you don't have to spend time pushing buttons or being put on hold).  You can also order a Free TP Tools 160 page Catalog at
www.tptools.com   Click on the Free Catalog Icon.  Catalogs are sent the same day by 1st class mail.

Shown at bottom of this section (below the product pictures) is a picture of the finished product.  Note that this 1954 Buick scored a perfect 400 point score (out of 400 possible points) at the 2012 Buick National Judging in Charlotte, NC.  Judges look very closely at such details, so all of the work involved in repairing these front seat trim was well worth it.

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