Model A & B

Ford Garage

Cadmium Plating

Contrary to conventional wisdom, real cadmium plating is not extinct or legislated out of existence by the EPA. I often hear how cadmium plating has been shut down by the EPA. Simply not true! There are over 220 cadmium plating lines currently running in this country, and they are not victims of the EPA, they are victims of economics. The EPA is equally harsh on just about all heavy metals and plating operations.

The situation is that there are many newer and superior types of platings and finishes available. This results in fewer calls for cadmium and has diminished the demand for cadmium capacity in the industry. For what it's worth, the US government contracts are still the biggest customer and consumer of cadmium in the industry. The Automotive industry was once a large consumer, but that has essentially ended with alternative finishes with better performance and/or lower cost.

Legislation against cadmium in Europe has also changed many things manufactured in the US. In order to make US vehicles export compliant, the elimination of cadmium (and mercury, and hex chrome) has become nearly complete. The manufacturing industry generally wants to make their products globally exportable, without further change or modification.

For consumer goods and other lower quality applications, bright zinc and various zinc dichromate finishes have replaced cadmium in many applications. This in turn drives up the cost of cadmium further for those that still want it. Virtually all reproduction parts which were originally cadmium are reproduced using zinc plating. Very few parts on Model A's were originally zinc plated. Cadmium plating is still available in numerous locations and all it requires is some research on the internet or on the phone to find a plater near you.

Ahhh! I love cadmium plating! I glass bead all parts prior to plating.

Cadmium anyone? Cadmium anodes.

Parts can either be racked or barrel plated. I prefer to have everything possible barrel plated because it results in a nice even finish appearance. The parts are put in a plastic tumbler which rotates in the various baths.

Pic above shows the barrel in a tank. This particular line is a small manual line for small parts. Some lines are much larger and fully automated and run continuous production.

Not exactly EPA cleanroom conditions, but passes inspections.


June 2001