Advice, Experience, Pros and Cons of Home Plating Nickel

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WickedMessenger
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Advice, Experience, Pros and Cons of Home Plating Nickel

Post by WickedMessenger »

I have just purchased a 1907 Victor II for $75 in decent (not exactly terrible) condition and am looking forward to restoring it. One of its shortcomings is the tonearm assembly and horn base are pretty much devoid of nickel plating at this point with the underlying brass showing through. Being quite a handy person and familiar with electrolysis for rust removal, I have been looking into what it would take to electroplate the parts myself. I started with the Internet where there's a wealth of widely varying and contradictory information and advice. Then Youtube, where you can see lots of people plating pennies or a bolt but nothing substantial like the size of the parts I need to plate. The formulas for the plating solution are also widely varying. There seems to be a lot of gun-parts plating advice and videos but most of that nickel plating seems to be of a matte finish. And then sites such as Caswell and Ebay where they sell kits, usually at great expense relative to what I'm looking to spend. And then you read the reviews of some of these products on Amazon and see anywhere from 1 to 5 stars. So I'm wondering if people on this forum have had ACTUAL EXPERIENCE with electroplating nickel onto phonograph parts at home. I have nowhere to go but up with these parts so a showroom finish is not expected but would be nice. If you have ACTUAL EXPERIENCE sending parts out to be plated and can give me an estimate of the cost I would also be interested in hearing about that as well.

I've posted a video on youtube so you can see the machine in its as-purchased state and how it played then. I'll be updating it as I go along.: http://www.youtu.be/O6o1yvGZvnY
Last edited by WickedMessenger on Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:52 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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Lucius1958
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Re: Advice, Experience, Pros and Cons of Home Plating Nickel

Post by Lucius1958 »

Well, I've done a little bit of plating on small items, with the kit provided by APSCO; but no experience with larger parts (I would like to try it on the reproducer from my BC-34......... if I ever get it back).

I know that Eric Riess has an informative section on home nickel plating in his Compleat Talking Machine, giving various formulas for plating baths. Incidentally, the original method of plating used on these machines did come out matte or dull, and had to be buffed afterwards. The 'bright nickel' process was a later refinement; some say it doesn't give quite the same appearance as the old method.

Bill :)

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FloridaClay
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Re: Advice, Experience, Pros and Cons of Home Plating Nickel

Post by FloridaClay »

Sending plating out can be farily expensive. As an example, the only local plating shop I have found charged me $166.50 to replate the casters and lower leg trim rings on my C-150. And you can run into multiples of that if you have all the small parts redone--knobs, screws, lid supports, etc.

Clay
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fmblizz
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Re: Advice, Experience, Pros and Cons of Home Plating Nickel

Post by fmblizz »

While listening to your You Tube Video I notice a loud clicking sound during play. A little noice is ok but this noice is a problem. Almost seems as though a govenor weight has let loose and hitting the bracket. The RPM's in the video are too slow so I'm sure when you increase the RPM's the
noise will get louder.

Check out the motor before something else breaks. Should be an easy fix at this point.

The crank surely is a lousy replacement but these do show up on Ebay occasionally. There are much better looking reproduction cranks out there in the mean time.

You should also probably rebuild the reproducer when you get a chance and get a couple hundred needles.

fmblizz

PS..

For $75.00 you stole it. Did you have a gun with you??? LOL

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rizbone
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Re: Advice, Experience, Pros and Cons of Home Plating Nickel

Post by rizbone »

I found it to be quite easy to plate nickel. I bought a commercial solution at a jewelry supply store (and an anode as well) and used an old train transformer as a power supply. You may have to polish it a bit, but it comes out pretty nice in the end. Make sure the piece you are plating is clean and scratch free. So little metal is used during the plating process every scratch will be faithfully reproduced. You want to connect the piece you are plating somewhere it won't be seen (thread of a screw, or inside the taper tube).

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Henry
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Re: Advice, Experience, Pros and Cons of Home Plating Nickel

Post by Henry »

When you say "train transformer," can you be more specific? For example, Lionel and also American Flyer (I think) normally run on AC, although Lionel motors will operate on either AC or DC. But Lionel O and O-27 transformers produce only AC. OTOH, HO and the smaller scales use DC as they usually have permag motors, as opposed to Lionel's wound field motors. It's my further understanding that you need DC to do plating. Enlighten me!

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rizbone
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Re: Advice, Experience, Pros and Cons of Home Plating Nickel

Post by rizbone »

I used a Marklin z guage transformer, but I suppose any would work. It's been years, but I think most train transformers have AC and DC output. I think the track runs on DC and the accessories on AC in the case of my old set. You do indeed need DC current to plate. It's fairly quick unless you are plating gold (using a toxic solution always increases the set up and clean up time). :)

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scullylathe
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Re: Advice, Experience, Pros and Cons of Home Plating Nickel

Post by scullylathe »

I've used kits from caswellplating.com. They're a bit pricey to get started, but if you're going to be doing a lot of restoration, it's worth the cost. There is a local shop that does plating (copper, nickel, chrome and anodizing) but just to get a tonearm plated it costs about as much as a startup kit from caswell. The electroless kits produce about the nicest looking finish, but the appearance of your finish is only as good as your prep work. You have to invest in a powered grinder fitted with buffing pads and you will need to practice with the wheels buffing compound grades to get a metal finish that can be plated. If you put in a dull or scratched piece, it will come out dull and scratched. Your work has to be smooth, shiny and looking almost like it's been plated before it goes into the bath. I have gotten some excellent results from the caswell systems both powered and electroless. You just have to be careful with how much voltage you apply. Too much and you'll "burn" the work - e.g. it will come out looking dark gray and nasty. To little and the finish won't "stick" or will look patchy. It took me about two months of experimentation before I found the right combination of prep work, power and process. (You sometimes have to apply a light coating of nickel, then put the work in a copper bath, then back into the nickel for the finish.) After you get a good plate, you then lightly buff with a fine grade compound to give the piece the 'shine' you want. Just my $.02

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WickedMessenger
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Re: Advice, Experience, Pros and Cons of Home Plating Nickel

Post by WickedMessenger »

Ok, I thank everyone for their input. I got a bit discouraged by both the comments here as well as all the info I was able to find on the web. It was not looking as easy as I would have liked. I found a video of this product called "Medallion Care Rub On Silver" and it looked pretty convincing. I bought the kit on Ebay for $20 and it arrived today. I tried it on the worst of the pieces I need to plate, the U-shaped piece that connects to the reproducer. It was entirely devoid of nickel. I polished it up really well, cleaned it with their cleaner and then rubbed on the silver. It worked! pretty amazing stuff. From what I understand it bonds silver ions onto any exposed brass, nickel, or copper. Once all the base metal is covered the reaction stops. So it's impossible to build it up to any thickness. But it definitely covered the underlying color and now it's solid silver, and yes, not exactly the true hue of nickel plating but it doesn't look as good as real silver plate. I would say it looks like a well-preserved original now, and not replated. I figure if at some point in the future I do get good as nickel plating I can buff off all the silver and start over.
Attachments
This is after the rub on silver. It looks a LOT better in person than in this pic. Very silvery.
This is after the rub on silver. It looks a LOT better in person than in this pic. Very silvery.
This is the before pic. polished and ready to plate.
This is the before pic. polished and ready to plate.

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WickedMessenger
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Re: Advice, Experience, Pros and Cons of Home Plating Nickel

Post by WickedMessenger »

fmblizz wrote:While listening to your You Tube Video I notice a loud clicking sound during play. A little noice is ok but this noice is a problem. Almost seems as though a govenor weight has let loose and hitting the bracket.
Here's a pic of the governor. It had three different weights, one of which looks home made.
Attachments
This is why the thing rattled.
This is why the thing rattled.

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