the London Chroming Company in the Old Kent Road and you step back
in time. With its bubbling vats of chemicals, the scene may look
Dickensian but its craftsmen have a long line of modern-day customers.
struggled to get his old BSA Scout car chromed, Phillip Lefelle
saw a gap in the market for a car and bike specialist. So in 1979,
he joined forces with Mike Chamberlain, whom he'd met working at
one of the chrome workshops in the capital at the time.
date, an Aladdin's cave of bumpers, grills and panels, forms the
centre of their business. Every part, down to the last washer, is
itemised and hand-dawn for instant recognition.
half need some form of repair," Chamberlain says. "Some
are simply falling apart, but even the slightest dent can be magnified
if it is left untouched. The finish must be flawless."
with its wipe-and-sparkle finish, was first widely used around 1930.
Previously, owners had to apply a good dose of elbow grease to get
anywhere near a mirror-like finish from the then nickel-only surface.
"People soon got fed up with that. The minute chroming arrived,
everyone changed over, almost overnight. It was amazing," says
stripped of rust and old paint, each part must be polished, passed
through a cleaning bath, plated with copper, nickel, then chrome,
and polished again. "It's not a case of a quick dip. There
are no short cuts. Patience is a real virtue," says Chamberlain.
jobs take from one to three weeks to complete and there is a variety
of work. Indeed, they've turned their hand to all manner of objects
including a Kalashnikov rifle and even the BBC2 logo.
company's most famous job was a fully chromed Volvo S40. "That
was something else!" says Lefelle. "We actually did a
pair of saloons and estates over a six-week period. The car was
quite literally taken apart, chromed and put back together again."
do a brisk trade in Harley Davidson parts, but they cater for all
makes, shapes and sizes Bentley, Aston Martin, Hispano-Suisa to
name but a few, from the early 1920's to the present time.
Copyright Evening Standard 21 September 2001