Main Motorcycle: 06 Thruxton
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Winter Park, FL USA
Other Motorcycle: '69 Bonneville
Extra Motorcycle: '71 Bonneville
I have just been through, and am still going through, some of this with my '71 project and my Jag project. It's really a hit or miss kind of thing.
First question: replate or replace? Well, from an originality point of view, replating leaves you with the original part. However, what you get in a replated part depends largely on the plater.
If you are plating yourself, you will have to decide on how good your results are. I don't do chrome but have been zinc plating for years. My results are reasonably good but probably a commercial shop could do better. The Caswell kit that I bought was a little disappointing in that the power supply was a joke and the heaters supplied died almost immediately. When I called them about my problems they would not/could not help me because that would mean acknowledging the fact that the power supply was not up to the task. They also would not replace the heater. They just suggested that I go to the fish store and buy a heater there. Eventually I found that I didn't really need a heater in the summer and began using a car battery attached to a charger for a power supply.
One of the advantages of doing it your self is inventory control. Once you turn your stuff over to some one else you always have the risk of something getting lost in the shuffle. It also becomes much more difficult to track where each piece goes. I always take lots of pictures and tag and bag every thing as I take it apart. I maintain those tags (pieces of scrap paper with a description of where this hardware goes in the bag with the nuts and bolts) through out the process. However, I still get pieces mixed up and find later that this or that doesn't really go with the rest of what's in the bag. If you send it to a shop it all gets dumped in a pot and that's the way it comes back.
If you have a good reliable plating shop that you can trust then it comes down to how much it costs versus how good a job they do. I have just spend thousands of dollars on the chrome plating for my Jag project. Add to that the chrome for the '71 project and one would think that the shop would be looking to keep me coming back. I'm not so sure that is the case
The platers always argue that their plating will be so much better than what you will get with repop parts. If that is true then in some cases the additional expense is worth it. I find that there are different levels of repop. Some, the Chinese and Indian stuff is probably on the low end of the scale. Next up is the Japanese stuff which, could easily be as good as anything else. After all they make excellent cars and bikes, I guess it's just a matter of selling to a specific market. After that is the top of the line repop, usually English or German or other original country manufacture. Quite honestly, it's hard to make the argument that the plater will produce a replated part for a price that is really a better buy that much of the top of the line repop stuff.
If you take your stuff to the plater or you ship it to them and it comes back flawed now you have to take it back/ship it back and fight with them to redo it. Most of my stuff took 6 weeks to completion. Most of the repop parts a here with in a week. If the part is flawed I send it back and if the seller is worth his salt he will comp you the shipping as well as replace it. And, when you are done you have both the original which you could sell or keep for spare as well as the new repop.
To replate or replace just comes down to a judgment call on your part, what do you intend to do with the bike. Same goes with economy repop and high end, original manufacture repop. In part it will hinge on what you hope your final result will be. My '71 is being built as a nice runner with the option of showing it but not really having any hope of winning any trophies. I went with repop gages, the price difference between them and Smiths was pretty extreme. Same with a verity of other parts. However, I got pretty good quality mufflers for it because I wanted them to be original looking with good chrome. But, economy header pipes/clamps ect.
I have a seller, Mitch Klempf, in Minesota, who I can rely on to tell me what repop parts are a good buy and what are not. Some times he will tell me that he has this inexpensive part but it's crap so the high end part is what's needed. Other times he will tell me that if I don't need a correct Lucus or Triumph replacement the cheaper repop will work just fine. However, he is usually a little high across the board so I still buy from e-bay sellers, just assuming that I will be getting the low end economy part.
Good luck with your project and post pictures, Art.