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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
About a month ago, I sent my Wilson LW Professional bobtail to have it hard chrome plated… after checking the forum for recommendations on who best to do the plating, I sent it off (I’m not mentioning the company name yet because I want to work with them to address some issues first –

· My preference was to send it back to Wilson to have it plated; however, because of the lengthy turnaround time on plating (it is outsourced) I decided I didn’t want to wait that long… plus, Wilson will not hard chrome an alloy frame;
· It was supposed to be a bright polish hard chrome (I wanted to have one “bright”chrome in my collection… don’t know why);
· On Monday, the plating company called and said that they had twice attempted to “bright” polish the slide, but that due to the type of steel used in the Wilson slide (I've learned that the "type of steel" wasn't the issue, the issue was that it was parkerized under the Armor-Tuff which makes a bright polish difficult because of the etching nature of parkerizing... not anyone's fault and definitely not any quality of steel concern) it would not take the bright finish without generating an “orange peel” series of marks on the metal surface, so they called to advise that they would need to do a brushed finish. I understood and told them to go ahead with the brushed finish (I wasn’t totally convinced I wanted the shiny bright chrome anyway);
· After 25 days (great turnaround time I thought), I just received it back on Friday and took it to the range this afternoon and then problems started;
· It would no longer feed hollow point ammo that it fed fine since new prior to plating;
· During my last string of fire, the front sight came off (found it on the ground at the range) and I can slide it back & forth in the dovetail with light finger pressure - and then, the magazine lock latch & spring apparently disappeared (that I didn’t find on the range);
· When I got back to my workshop, I did a thorough cleaning on it and now I see where there are 5 large spots on the frame (each little larger than a pencil eraser) where the plating is heavily flaking off and a couple of other spots where you can now see it bubbling up (mostly around the frame rails).

I just sent the company a polite email outlining the issues… but on an almost new $3k Wilson 1911 (I fired about 800 flawless rounds through it prior to having it plated), this has me more than a little nervous and concerned.

I would like to point out – this has nothing to do with the work Wilson performed in making the handgun, they did an outstanding and first rate job (I have quite a few of their handguns)… these are all issues that only came up after sending it to be hard chrome plated to a company outside of Wilson (unless of course it turns out the my pistol is completely buggered up… in which case I’ll send it back to Wilson for warranty repair and tell them “I don’t have any idea what happened” :biglaugh: ).

Any suggestions on what I should require from the plating company to get this fairly & properly resolved (i.e. what would you do and expect from them)?
 

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I would expect them, at the very least, to send it back to Wilson to be properly finished and repaired. I might even request they completely replace the pistol, because a refinishing job (other than hard chrome) is most likely going to reduce the value.
 

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Talk to the plating company. If their reputable, they will want you to be 100% satisfied with the work they did. I would expect them to be eager to have you make recommendations about the high quality job they did on expensive quality firearm. If you don't get that kind of response after polite, professional communications, then that tells you a great deal about what your next steps need to be, and who to involve.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·



 

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Big problem.

You should have returned it to Wilson Combat.

You probably invalidated your lifetime warranty........
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Big problem.

You should have returned it to Wilson Combat.

You probably invalidated your lifetime warranty........
Z51… I was concerned about the same thing regarding the warranty, so I checked with Wilson directly prior to sending it out to be plated and they advised that as long as it was plated by a reputable plating company that it wouldn’t void the lifetime warranty.

But I agree now… I should have sent it back to Wilson and let them handle it from the git-go and dealt with the wait.
 

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Chrome can be stripped easier than applied. Unless metal was removed, no irreversible problems were created.

If this were mine, I would:
1. Have the chrome stripped by a different shop. They fed you a line about "orange peel". Not to be trusted.
2. Have the shop that strips it, vacuum bake it to remove any hydrogen that may have entered the steel as a result of crappy plating. If not done, this can cause cracking later.
3. If you still want it chromed, there a couple of routes available. You can send to wilson. Or you can find a shop that does chrome plating of machine tools. They usually know what they are doing. The problem will be finding someone to polish it. A frosted chrome finish is easier for them to do though. Otherwise, I'd say send it to Robar for NP3, or Wilson for Armor Tuff (my vote, with a letter asking them to check it out again).

Best of luck. Was the shop a gunsmith?
 

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Boy oh boy. Your plating shop should pay for wilson to repair the parts on gun that giggled off. They should also refund whatever money you have paid out. As mentioned, the finish on the frame should be repaired on their dime.
All work to be done at the shop of your choice because they weren't able to.

I wasn't aware the aluminum was even able to be hard chromed :confused:.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Blr – thank you for your well thought input and suggestions… I will definitely find out about the stripping and vacuum bake to address the hydrogen issue.

Ironic you mention NP3, I have a Wilson Sentinel (completely different handgun) that I just received notification from RoBar that their NP3 work on it is complete (also alloy frame) and it is supposed to be delivered back to me by UPS on Monday… I’m really anxious to get it back and I’ve always been a fan of NP3 (just trying something different on the one I was having hard-chrome).

The plating shop I used for the hard-chrome does have a full-time gunsmith, though they principally do firearm plating. I was very pleased that WilsonCombatRep contacted me directly by PM and said that they may be able to assist in working with the plater for resolution… though he did assure me that the company is very reputable and that I shouldn’t have a problem with the plating company standing behind the work to get it made right.

I thought that it spoke very highly of Wilson Combat that they would be willing to possibly assist getting this corrected since they didn’t have anything to do with the plating company that did the work – it just speaks very highly of how far they will go to stand behind their work product.
 

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Boy oh boy. Your plating shop should pay for wilson to repair the parts on gun that giggled off. They should also refund whatever money you have paid out. As mentioned, the finish on the frame should be repaired on their dime.
All work to be done at the shop of your choice because they weren't able to.

I wasn't aware the aluminum was even able to be hard chromed :confused:.
While people do it all the time, it is generally a bad idea due to a few different reasons: aluinum oxidizes imediately, so great pains must be taken to ensure the flash goes down on clean metallic aluminum; chrome and aluminum have a vastly different coefficient of thermal expansion (aluminium is over 5 times greater), coatings greater than a few microns start to peel just due to temperature changes; and because the modulus of chrome and aluminum are so different, when loaded mechanically, they will want to delaminate also - which is why you see peeling around the areas on the frame you see.

It can be done, but there are a host of better coating to put on aluminum. The best way to protect aluminum is a chromic acid bath (aka alodine or a chromate conversion coating), followed by an epoxy coating. The CCC layer promotes adhesion and provides a very resilient anti-corrosion layer. The hard coatings, chrome included, tend to peel and delaminate because of the above mentioned reasons. People get mixed results with diamond like carbon, and even nickel phosphate (aka NP3).

Cheers,
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Blr – in your experience of the two, which would be better nickel plating or chrome plating (considering it is over aluminum)? I was also advised that “Black Chrome” was an option?
 

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Blr – in your experience of the two, which would be better nickel plating or chrome plating (considering it is over aluminum)? I was also advised that “Black Chrome” was an option?
No hard metal (chrome, nickel, cadmium, etc) over aluminum will ever work well, regardless of what a plater says.

I, personally, wouldnt do any of these. I'd nickel phosphate the frame, which because it's aluminum is now a 2 step process (zinc is deposited, to prevent oxidation, then nickel triphosphate). You might consider asking if the coatings company adds PTFE (like Robar) or PTFE + Hard particles (like SiC). This improves wear chacteristics, but reduces lubricity a bit. I'd make that trade on an aluminum part. Our firm/shop does this, but we dont have an FFL, so typically dont do firearms (other than mine ;)). Nickel phosphate can be deposited as black. This is done by not adding a couple of chemicals that scavenge dissolved oxygen from the deposition solution, resulting in some nickel oxide being deposited, colouring everything black. I do this on magazines sometimes. I'll post a pic of a Sig mag I did a while back.

Best of luck!
 

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Ironic you mention NP3, I have a Wilson Sentinel (completely different handgun) that I just received notification from RoBar that their NP3 work on it is complete (also alloy frame) and it is supposed to be delivered back to me by UPS on Monday… I’m really anxious to get it back and I’ve always been a fan of NP3 (just trying something different on the one I was having hard-chrome).


Lazarus63,

After your receive you NP3ed Sentinel back, please post a report on it. I have been pondering having a 1911 NP3ed myself and would like to know your results. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Neal – I just received my NP3 Wilson Sentinel by UPS this afternoon and just got back from a quick range session… I couldn’t be more happy with it, without a doubt I am very pleased.

The last 1911 I had plated with NP3 was a Kimber TLE/RL and because of the spacing on the slide cocking serrations it was very slippery (NP3 is a very slick finish due to the Teflon added with the nickel)… so I was a little concerned about it on the Wilson with an even smaller slide. Because the Wilson has the standard cocking serrations, I have no problem getting a very solid grip on the slippery finish to grasp the slide for cycling… so I am very relieved.

I only put about 100 rounds through it this afternoon, but it shot flawlessly from round 1 (I had about 2k rounds through it before sending if off, but you never know after refinishing/plating). NP3 has a slightly more “mellow” hue to the finish compared to hard-chrome, so the finish is not bright and not as “white” as chrome.

After I clean it tonight, I’ll try to take some pictures tomorrow… but I am very pleased with how the NP3 turned out.
 

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When you get your problem resolved please let me know who did the plating, I have been considering plating one myself for years and missed out when Tripp quit doing them, big mistake on my part looking back now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
HUESMAN – I will do, I actually talked at length with the plating company today and their owner called me about 0800 this morning immediately after seeing the pictures I emailed him.

He was very apologetic and extremely knowledgeable… he does a lot of plating for Colt and Springfield Armory and I am convinced that this is a one-time thing. It appears that because the frame was previously Armor-Tuff, the plating tech may not have taken an additional vital step that would ensure that none of the remnant Armor-Tuff coating remained in the pores of the frame… though admittedly the tech should have known and brought it to the attention of the owner as soon as a possible issue arose.

I feel confident enough that they are going to absolutely make it right and the owner is going to follow it through to ensure that it is done 100% correctly before it leaves his shop. Mistakes happen to even the best of shops… the fact that he immediately stood up to make it right (he’s covering all costs of course and is going to turn it around very quickly after stripping/re-plating and then test firing with 50 rounds of my carry loads and some of their regular ammo to ensure it is completely in order).

The owner says that I should have it back in about 10 days… again, I feel confident enough about this being a one-time thing and that their reputation is very solid after 30-years in the business that I also sent them a Sig P238 to have plated in black chrome (all except the frame, the frame is anodized and I’m not touching it… but the rest is Sig’s “Titanium Nitride Rainbow” finish and the purple/gold color combo is so embarrassing that I would have to think twice using it in self-defense out of embarrassment. It was the only P238 I could locate at the time, but I cannot handle the “colorful” finish from the factory).
 

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Neal – I just received my NP3 Wilson Sentinel by UPS this afternoon and just got back from a quick range session… I couldn’t be more happy with it, without a doubt I am very pleased.

The last 1911 I had plated with NP3 was a Kimber TLE/RL and because of the spacing on the slide cocking serrations it was very slippery (NP3 is a very slick finish due to the Teflon added with the nickel)… so I was a little concerned about it on the Wilson with an even smaller slide. Because the Wilson has the standard cocking serrations, I have no problem getting a very solid grip on the slippery finish to grasp the slide for cycling… so I am very relieved.

I only put about 100 rounds through it this afternoon, but it shot flawlessly from round 1 (I had about 2k rounds through it before sending if off, but you never know after refinishing/plating). NP3 has a slightly more “mellow” hue to the finish compared to hard-chrome, so the finish is not bright and not as “white” as chrome.

After I clean it tonight, I’ll try to take some pictures tomorrow… but I am very pleased with how the NP3 turned out.
How about the feel of the slide on the frame? Any different than before you had it plated? I'll watch for pics. Thanks.
 

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Wilson Combat stands behind their work, in-house or out-sourced, 100 percent, and it is their pistol. WITW would you send it anywhere else? Black or green Armortuff may look like hell after a few years of holster wear, but it is most certainly more resistant to rust and corrosion than hard chrome and does not run the risk of hydrogen embrittlement of the underlying steel. I have found the gray Armortuff to be both more wear-resistant and cosmetically attractive than the other two colors when the pistol is worn and used daily.
Bad advice; bad decision. Good luck.
 
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