How do I restore the dash assembly of my '67?
How do you redo the fake chrome accents on your '67's dash? NOS dash faces are
non-existent, so you're basically going to be forced to recondition your existing piece.
There are two ways I'm aware of to do this...three if you count replacing the dashface
with a NOS piece. Since you obviously don't have access to one of these or you wouldn't be
reading this, you're therefore left with the second best way, and that is to send the
parts out to be re-chromed.
Chrome plating on metal is usually a three step process. Copper is electrically
deposited on the bare metal as a filler. This is polished to a smooth finish. Nickel is
plated on next to provide the reflectivity, and again polished. A thin layer of chrome is
plated last for corrosion protection and again polished. However, the "chrome"
coating on your '67 Olds plastic dash insert is actually vacuum-deposited aluminum which
has been polished. The bare plastic part is placed in a vacuum chamber and aluminum is
vaporized and condenses on the cooler plastic. Needless to say, this process requires some
expensive specialized equipment, so replating plastic isn't cheap. There are a number of
vendors who actually use the three-step copper/nickel/chrome process on plastic. Since
plastic naturally doesn't conduct, I can only assume that the copper layer is vacuum
deposited first, followed by nickel and chrome applied with the conventional
electrochemical dip. I've not had any parts coated this way, but those who have claim that
the finish is greatly superior to the aluminum coating in both look and durability, as you
might expect. The work is expensive and they will only recoat the entire piece, the
plating is very delicate and doesn't seem to last too long....and finally, it's not
actually what the factory used, but it's the closest thing around. Some places, like Mr. G's have a catalog of parts
already done, they keep yours as a core and send you a newly rechromed one. This isn't a
cheap route to go, but the best rarely is. You can learn a lot from reading the FAQs on
Mr. G's website. Mr. G's process is vacuum metalizing. A friend who sent his dashpiece
there reported they rechrome it, painted the black and silver, and fix any damage, and
said he was pleased with the work, about $300 worth. That also included replating his
The other solution I've seen is to use a paint pen. This is described in the May 2001
issue of Muscle Car Review magazine. They restore a Chevelle SS dash and use the paint
pens for the chrome around the gauges, etc.
You can also get a "silver leaf" paint pen from the local craft store. Costs
about $3 more than the standard chrome paint pen from a model shop, but it comes out much
better (the model paint pen is more silver than chrome). The silverleaf paint pen looks
like a fat marker. This is different than an enamel or acrylic paint pen used for models,
as it is part silverleaf. It'll cost around $10 for the silverleaf pen. A friend recently
painted all of the trim on his dash this way, and while it's not shiny new chrome, it
looks pretty darn good and was very easy!
I've seen both methods up close. For a driver or occasional show car the paint pen is
pretty good, although a good show judge will notice the difference immediately. I guess it
just depends on how much you want to spend and how close to original you want the results
There is no spray paint that will give you the look of chrome. It comes out silver, or at
best, like rough aluminum. ....but, spray paint sometimes can be made to work. The hard
part is finding the right paint color, as there are a lot out there labeled silver or
chrome. In the past I've tried a lot of these colors and found those claiming to be
"aluminum" in color are the closest to chrome. Even the spray they sell for
redoing the reflective surfaces behind parking and taillight lenses isn't that good. None
will look like electroplate, but if you do all the chrome trim in spray paint it probably
won't be that noticable. Just make sure the plastic is super clean before you spray, any
oil from you fingers will cause it to orange peel bad. Use a number of light coats, with
the first one being just a fog coat. You will be able to tell immediately if the surface
is clean enough to continue. If you get any fisheyes, stop and remove the fog coat and
start over. Also make sure when you mask with tape you put a lot of pressure on the edge
of the tape to prevent edge penetration of the paint and mask or cover everything
else...you'd be amazed where overspray can get to. Finally remove the masking tape before
the paint fully dries and be careful the tape doesn't touch the rest of the piece.
There is a place called Just Dashes who can
recover your padded dash inserts. They seem to be the most popular with the Olds crowd. E-Bay often shows online auction listings for good
used dashpads or even complete dash assemblies. I've personally purchased quite a few
parts online at E-Bay for my restoration project, and for the most part I'm very pleased.
How do I polish the aluminum trim on my car?
If it's aluminum, it's probably coated and
that's why it dulls up. The best way to
polish it is to remove the coating with stripper, and then after cleaning buff with a
finishing compound and a high RPM buffer. (Naturally, you would remove the trim from the
car before using the stripper.) If it's not plastic coated, use a 600-grit wet sand on the
trim and then buff them up with polishing compound. Either way, use a good wax on the trim
after polishing to keep out the elements.
Can I chrome or polish the pot metal trim on my
If there is still original chrome on it and it is not pitted, you can usually polish it
out and get it to look decent. Rechroming pot metal is a risky affair. If you can find a
reproduction part available, you will come out ahead to buy it. I had to get some of the
pot metal trim rechromed on my '67. If the piece is not badly pitted it will rechrome
nicely. However, I noticed that the metal posts that attach the piece to the car often
deteriorate or break off somewhere in the process. This makes it nearly impossible to
attach the hat nuts on all of the posts. What often looks like a small bump in the metal
will be a large hole by the time they strip the piece down bare. Few rechroming places
will take the time necessary to repair the piece properly before chroming it. So if you
send them a badly pitted piece, you will probably get back a pitted piece of metal with
lots of pretty chrome on it. The moral of the story is to A: get a new piece if available,
and B: get the best piece you can find if you have to have it rechromed. Trying to get an
old tired piece of metal properly repaired is going to cost a fortune.
However, another option is to simply do it yourself. Go to www.caswellplating.com and read up on the home
plating kits they offer. If you are handy in the garage and can follow directions, you can
re-plate ALL your small pot-metal parts yourself with fantastic results. Practice makes
perfect, and you quickly will learn how important the prep stages really are. The plating
kits (while some are expensive) will easily pay for themselves after you plate just a few
pieces. (One "specialized" pot metal plater wanted $200 just to re-do the short
fender spears on my '67 Cutlass which are IMPOSSIBLE to find new). These kits are only for
small items; bumpers and "big stuff" still must go to the local platers. While
there is still lots of resistance to "home plating" in the auto restoration
hobby, if you take all the necessary safety precautions, its no more dangerous than
filling a can of gas for the lawn mower. Check out their website and look at the
"customers pictures" section. You will be amazed. They have special "pot
metal" mixes that do not react and eat at the pot metal... and keep the mounting
posts intact. Check it out!!!!!
How can I correctly position the emblems on my clone
I know from
experience from my own personal clone project that on a '67, the Cutlass
emblems share the same stud location as those on the back of the 442 emblems,
making this a no-brainer. However, I SHOULD note that I've heard that although
the 442 emblems will physically fit into the Cutlass emblem holes, the
location is incorrect. So...I'll do more research and post the results.
However, if you're
attempting to locate emblems on another year, here's an idea you might try--
get your hands on some old pitted 442 emblems with studs in the same location
as your good versions. To check this, you'll probably want to stick one in a
piece of cardboard, mark a line around the edge of the emblem, and then stick
the other emblem in the same holes to see if it lines up perfectly.
Grind the studs off the back (leave just enough so you can see where there
were). Using a drill press, drill a hole through the emblem where each of the
studs were. Spray some sticky stuff on the backside (like an upholstery
adhesive-- but whatever you use, make sure it doesn't damage paint, and that
it is strong enough to hold the emblem in place, but doesn't dry or harden
very quickly). Stick the emblem on the fender. Get it just right (you'll want
to take some reference measurements off a real car, if you can't get the info
any other way-- that way you will know exactly where the emblem goes). Mark
the fender for each hole you will drill for the studs (see why I had you drill
holes through the emblem?). Remove and drill for the studs.
The reason I gave
this suggestion is just so you can start thinking of other ways to do it.
Yeah, you might get the info on where to drill each hole, but have you ever
tried to measure exactly where each and every hole is supposed to go? Chances
are, you'll be off by just a tiny little bit in relation to each other. And
that is one reason the clone cars you see often have crooked emblems. They
tried to measure each hole location separately. This way you just need to
measure where the edges of the emblem are, and that it is straight.
What is the difference between different years of Olds
The seat frames are all the same. The '69-'72 frames have the additional tubes into
which the headrest posts fit, though this was also optionally available on the 1968 cars.
The big difference is the location of the seatback release button, which was side-mounted
on the '67-'68 cars and in the middle of the seatback on the later cars.
Is there a way of lowering the riding
height of the stock bucket seats?
The power bucket option would definitely lower the seat for you.. The power bucket was a much heavier seat design and used a heavy-duty floor
bracket that had a different stud location than a non-power seat so that one could not
mistakenly interchange the seats. You could probably modify your existing seat to lower
it...however, you must be very careful.
The strength of these seat designs in a crash is marginal at best. If you modify a seat
poorly there is no telling what might happen...God forbid you are involved in a crash and
put the seat through a lot of stress. As such, never use a used seat out of a totaled car!
Because the seat track bolts onto the seat you may be able to fabricate a lower bracket to
take the place of the existing track. If you made a fixed position bracket, it would be
stronger than the track, but you would have to experiment with seat position or design it
so that you could have multiple position settings on the bracket.