Starship Modeler - The complete information source for modelers who build sci-fi, fantasy and real space subjects

Cola as Chrome Remover

By Mike Paquette - images & text © 2006

As most modelers know, you can't glue a chrome-plated part to another piece (whether plated or bare) with ordinary plastic cement. Scraping the chrome plating away from the area where you need to join usually results in damage to the part. Even if you remove just enough chrome for a good join, you usually can't putty (or otherwise fill) seams without damage to the surrounding chrome finish. The common solution to the problem is to strip all the chrome plating off using caustic household chemicals and repaint after assembly. After watching a program on cable TV about the corrosive properties of a certain brand of cola, I decided to try an experiment to remove the chrome plating from an entire parts tree using a different method.

^ Start with your chrome plated parts - in this case, from Polar Lights' Klingon Battlecruiser

Image: Alligator clips will weight this down nicely, and provide a handle

Image: Submerge and let sit

Image: Let sit overnight and ... ta-da!

What You Need

Two cans of Coca-Cola®, clamps or other weights, a container with lid, and your plated model parts.

Step One

Place the part or parts within a water-tight container like the Tupperware® bowl pictured. Make certain the part(s) have a little weight added to them; once immersed in the cola, they might float because of their inherent buoyancy of the plastic or the CO2 bubbles attaching to the surface of the model part or a combination of both.

Step Two

Pour enough cola to immerse the parts by about ¼ inch (~1 centimeter) and cover to keep from spilling.

After soaking about a day or better, overnight, you should find that most if not all of the chrome has been removed from the part(s). At least enough for you to join the part you need to for a clean, snug fit. If you find that not enough chrome has been removed, simply place back in cola bath and wait another 6 to 12 hours.

Granted, this technique isn't the most expedient way to remove chrome plating from model parts but after doing some research, I've learned that it's the most environmentally sound method of chrome removal. Other substances like bleach, brake or transmission fluid and caustic household cleaners such as Easy-Off ™ Oven Cleaner Spray have harmful vapors, cause skin irritation or are downright bad for the environment once leaving the home via the drain or the garbage.

This technique is also budget-friendly as two cans of cola might cost $1.50 US whereas a can of Easy-Off™ can cost as much as $4.00 US and it's probably something you already have in your fridge anyway.

Go back up | Tech Library | Starship Modeler Home | Site Map | Feedback

This page copyright © 2006 Starship Modeler™. First posted on 29November 2006.