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Plating kits... anyone tinkered with plating?


RoadsterRich
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A friend of mine's mother makes miniatures and does quite a bit of plating, brass, nickel, chrome, gold, etc. I mentioned that I had a ton of small parts that needed plated and he described the process his mother uses. It is a very labor/time intensive process due to the preperation work. From my understanding of his explanation, a large part of the quality of a plating job comes from the preperation.

In any event, I have been toying with the idea of trying my hand at plating on some of the small parts I have. In particular ones I have duplicates of and that are relatively easy to come by.

She uses plating kits from Caswell, Electroplating in minature ( Caswell Plating).

I am interested in hearing from others who have tried plating. I do have the added benefit of my friend (and more importantly his mothers) intimate knowledge of plating small parts. This is a cyanide free process, and from what I have heard and read so far produces excellent results. They have copper, nickel and chrome plating kits. Plating kits are in no way cheap, however it looked like something interesting to learn about.

So if you have experience (be it good, bad or indifferent) with plating yourself let me know! I would love to hear a nice discussion on this. I thought I had read about some folks using Eastwoods plating kit but could not locate the post. I seem to remember the results for those by consensus were mediocre, however it has been a bit since I read them. Not even sure they were here...

Rich

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Neat site Rich. In my case I am progressing very slowly on my project. At different stages I only have a few parts that require plating. Not enough to take to a shop. I really hope we get some feedback on the DIY kits that are out there. Thanks for the post and welcome back!\ smile.gif

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My friend purchased one of the Eastwood kits and is currently using it on small parts for a 1929 Alpha. To me by looking closely at the parts they turned out nice however I would be concerned with the plating thickness and how long it may last.

This car will be on the Concours circuit soon with very little use so it may be fine but a vehicle that is driven and used a fair amount could be a different story. Only time will tell.

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I've used the Caswell Zinc plating kit quite a bit in my restoration. It is intended to duplicate the look of cadmium plating, and it does a pretty good job. I will totally agree that the prep determines the results, and expect some practice before you get decent results.

My early results were very unproductive and ended up contaminating my solution with rust: the parts rusted instead of taking the plating, though Caswell's excellent customer service eventually helped solve the problem which was insufficient voltage from a defective rectifier. Speaking of rectifiers, invest in one if you plan on doing any volume--trying to get a battery to work or adding light bulbs for resistance works, but it's a lot easier to turn a dial. I bought my new one on Ebay for about $200, and it seems to work pretty well (the old one was a surplus unit from high school and it didn't work properly any longer).

With the Zinc plating, I've also found that running the parts through a distilled water bath after the plating solution seems to give more consistent results, though this isn't in the instructions. I don't know if the same would hold true for other metal plating.

Feel free to E-mail me if you have more questions. You can also search the log archives on my web page to see some of my experiments and results. Hope this helps.

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Dear Roadster Rich,I am just finishin up a batch of gin in the tub, now goin switch over to the HOMEMADE platin system i got RIGGED up in the same tub and will report later in the week with the show winning results.NOW if i could only get that ring out from that last bunch of homemade wine OH WELL long as i get it cleaned up before the wifes weekly bath on Saturday night.diz laugh.gif

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Diz,

Now we know why you're always Dizzy. This does explain quite a bit. I had heard your wife always outshines you, perhaps this explains that as well grin.gif

Matt,

I just spent a little time browsing your site. Great job on the site and the restoration. I am thinking about ordering the Caswell Flash Copper and Nickel plating systems. I have a friend who is retired, but use to work in the plating industry. He swears that 99% of the shine/finish is the result of the prep work. He does include the copper plating as part of the prep work on a chrome plate job. I have some pot metal parts that I sent out, they came back looking horrible. The company did not fill in the pits, they ground/buffed/polished until there were no pits. The parts are ruined. This is what has lead me to at consider doing at least the prep work for the plating myself. I paid alot of money to have several parts ruined. Fortunately I was conservative on the first batch I sent (which I had to wait 9 weeks to get back) and sent parts I could readily replace. I'm looking at powder coat systems too, but I'll save those questions for another post so we can keep this one on subject... plating.

Rich

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If you do the prep work on just one diecast piece you'll understand why good chrome platers are so expensive. Can't think of another area of auto restoration that is as labor intensive as plating. Prep is even more important in plating than it is in painting. In my opinion you would be further ahead to get a part time job to pay for good plating...and this from a dyed in the wool do-it-yourselfer. If nothing else you'll get a good education in plating technology. We've investigated some of these new "spray chrome" systems. At best the results look like really good silver paint. Local guy used "chrome on a roll" chrome tape to restore a '31 Rolls. Looked pretty good 'til you noticed the seams.

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RR,

Good to hear from you !

I have Caswell's catalog and have been contemplating using their stuff for my antique fans and talking machines, as well as car parts.

Like a good paint job, preparation is everything !

Also check out a site called "muggyweld.com" (or something to that effect); they advertise having special rods to fill and repair pot-metal, as well as other ferrous and non-ferrous metals...

They describe a pot-metal resto process where you carefully drill into the pits with the appropriate size drill just enough to remove all the corroded parts, then fill with their special rod, and file or sand to match the surrounding contour. It's labor-intensive, but if it's your labor...

Another battle you may be fighting is with the pot metal itself; apparently the alloy formulation that was in use before the Depression was especially prone to "inter-granular corrosion", which is characterized by "swelling", cracking, and crumbling.

Good luck with the kits if you try the Caswell stuff; I was initially looking at tin and brass plating kits; many under-hood fasteners like screws and terminal lugs were originally tin plated, and a lot of hardware I'm finding around the house was brass-plated steel...

How's the 77 coming along?

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I have used a Eastwood zinc plating kit for some parts on my Austin Healey. I sent most of the bolts, etc., to a plater but British cars have some odd parts like starter switches and various little electrical parts that you wouldn't trust to a plater. Results were generally good if you spend the time cleaning and prepping the parts. I have had a few fasteners get rusty but in general they habve lasted OK. The car is strictly show so I don't know how it would hold up on a car that is driven a lot. By the way, it is a dirty, meesy job that ranks just above stripping paint in my klist of worst jobs to do on a restoration.

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I?ll chime in here with my experience with plating. Approx 6-7 years ago I purchased the Caswell kit for copper, nickel & chrome. I set up the baths in spackle bucket size containers with heaters, electric source, anodes, etc and tried each for small parts. Parts were cleaned and polished as a prerequisite. The main problem is that the copper needs to have a good ?bite? into the part and the Caswell system didn?t seem to do it. Earlier, Roadster Rich acknowledged that it was cyanide free. A commercial plater uses the required acidic based copper followed by the nickel and chrome processes. After disappointing results, I dismantled everything and discarded the solutions. My plating now involves prepping the parts as best as possible. Repairs are made using either brazing or the low temp rods from Muggy weld http://www.muggyweld.com Don?t confuse his rods with the ?beer can? rods normally seen at flea markets. Muggy?s stuff works. Parts are sanded using the Eastwood expanding wheel (80, 120, 220, 320 grits), their polishing/grinding compounds on cloth wheels for contoured parts, and buffing using normal Tripoli and Rouge compounds. At this point, I?ve minimized the amount of prep work the plater has to do, and in theory, be the least costly. I use Paul?s plating in Evan?s City (Pitt, PA) for two reasons: 1) he uses a ?wacky? engraver (Joe Kostelnik) who over emphasizes lettering on parts so when they?re plated, they come out right, and 2) Paul?s uses a photographic control process throughout each of the steps. To date, Paul?s has not lost one single piece. My advice, skip the home kits and leave it to the pros. You?re time is better spent doing the prep work and doing other things on the car. Oh and there is the other motivator, is it worth the $1-2K difference or so to endanger yourself or family members? wink.gif

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I have been using the Caswell Plateing kits for Flash Copper, Acid Copper and Nickel for about 6 months now. I also use Eastwood's Zinc kit for more than a couple of years. Probably I have done more than 200 small parts. These parts are for my '22 Studebaker, so I don't need to do chrome. The parts in the pic are for the windshield.

There is alot of work involved in doing home plating. Depending on the part, the steps might include: stripping, grinding, flash copper, acid copper, soldering, replating, sanding, polishing again, and finally nickel.

Zinc is MUCH easier.

I am sure my results are as good as a commercial shop. Would I do it for a living... no. Would I do it for a friend's car....no.

But there is a certain satisfaction on doing it for your own car.

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