Nickel plating woes.

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tesch1932
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Nickel plating woes.

Post by tesch1932 »

Hi,

I am trying to nickel plate hardware for a Victrola. After months of research and preparation (and fear!), I have started. Basic process I followed so far:

-Electrolyte-Vinegar (made following YT tutorials, and following the tutorial on the forum).

-Assiduous cleaning of deplated parts/buffing with rouge.

-Final cleaning with acetone and Muriatic acid solution.

-monitoring/paying attention to time, where the part is in the solution, etc.

Results:

-Plating new screws: pretty good, but consistently cannot get the slots to plate.

-plating my first parts: frankly it's a disaster and I believe the pictures speak for themselves. (Fiddled with the exposure to bring out the contrast.) I had kept each in the solution for at least 20 min. While I wasn't expecting a factory finish, I was expecting better success given the work and control I put into the process.

So what's next? I have modest means/knowledge at my disposal, so not very optimistic that I can correct the issues on my own. On a side note, feeling a little wounded pride :(

If you were me, would you just call it a day and send them out to be plated? Or is there something correctable that I'm missing?
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Curt A
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Re: Nickel plating woes.

Post by Curt A »

One observation - you said you polished the parts with jewelers rouge. Rouge is extremely difficult to remove after polishing and sometimes you see a reddish cast on brass horns that have been coated with lacquer, over the rouge remnants that weren't completely removed. So far, my best results have been to use WD-40 to initially cut the waxy/greasy blackened rouge, followed up by alcohol to remove the WD-40 remnants, then cleaned with acetone to completely remove it. Even then, it may not be clean enough to get a good plating job (I have only polished parts, not plated them). When I polish parts, I initially clean them with a brass wire wheel mounted to a motor. Then, I polish the parts initially with coarse rouge (normally black or white), then I use red rouge and finally green rouge for a finish. Also, you need a stitched cloth polishing wheel for cutting the initial finish and follow up with a loose, non-stitched "feathering" wheel with the green rouge for mirror polishing...

You mentioned two cleaning steps: (1) -Assiduous cleaning of deplated parts/buffing with rouge. AND (2) -Final cleaning with acetone and Muriatic acid solution. I think you need to completely remove the rouge on your first step after buffing using something else. I know WD-40 sounds like a weird idea, but after buffing hundreds of parts, I found that it worked well for initially cleaning the rouge off the parts. I know that alcohol or acetone wouldn't totally remove it, so that might be your problem. Plating requires the parts to be totally clean and free from oil, grease, etc. Looking at your failed parts it reminds me of finishes on wood that wouldn't take completely because of wax or grease.

I can't say for sure that this is your problem, but from my experience with removing jewelers rouge, it sounds suspect... just my opinion.

The screw slots probably don't plate because they still have rouge in them...
"The phonograph† is not of any commercial value."
Thomas Alva Edison - Comment to his assistant, Samuel Insull.

"No one needs a Victrola XX, a Perfected Graphophone Type G, or whatever you call those noisy things."
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JerryVan
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Re: Nickel plating woes.

Post by JerryVan »

Those hinges look as if they're coated with shellac. I know they aren't, but is that what emerged from the plating tank?

My knowledge of plating is very limited, but I do know, (and maybe you do too), that the plating process is a "line of sight" process. Meaning, the nickel will travel from the source to the part in a straight line. In other words, it won't turn corners, therefore, not every bit of surface area will necessarily be plated. That's why your screw slots are not getting plated. I believe screws are usually plated by the electroless nickel process. That process coats all surfaces, nooks & even crannies!

Based on the above, I'm wondering how your parts were oriented with respect to the nickel source.

tesch1932
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Re: Nickel plating woes.

Post by tesch1932 »

Curt A wrote:One observation - you said you polished the parts with jewelers rouge. Rouge is extremely difficult to remove....I think you need to completely remove the rouge on your first step after buffing using something else. I know WD-40 sounds like a weird idea, but after buffing hundreds of parts, I found that it worked well for initially cleaning the rouge off the parts. I know that alcohol or acetone wouldn't totally remove it, so that might be your problem.
Thank you, that makes a lot of sense! I actually was starting to think that about the slots, so I tried to plate without buffing. Still didn't take.

Follow up. I had been just using the rouge on a loose wheel (or a dremel, for screws), after sanding to 1500. If I follow correctly, you suggest rouge on a firmer wheel, followed by green on a loose? As a woodworker, I have plenty of green that I use for polishing chisel and plane irons.

I am only now learning polishing to help me do a better job on the plating, so don't have a lot of experience. Right now, I just have a wheel in a corded drill that I clamped to the bench.

JerryVan
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Re: Nickel plating woes.

Post by JerryVan »

Here's another thing about rouge, or most other buffing compounds; IT GOES EVERYWHERE!!!.

Is your plating tank, rags, cleaned parts, etc., anywhere near where you're doing your buffing? If so, your whole work area is probably contaminated.

tesch1932
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Re: Nickel plating woes.

Post by tesch1932 »

JerryVan wrote:
Based on the above, I'm wondering how your parts were oriented with respect to the nickel source.
I tried rotating every few minutes or so (average of 5 min).

The hinges were difficult for me to get prepared, because of the rivet. This is the only part that was touched by a wire wheel, and though I tried very hard to sand it smooth, the streaks that actually plated show. The whole thing started to look tarnished after it hadn't been plated.

And Re the compounds. I know my drill has turned red, but I don't think I realized how far it spreads. Might be an outdoor job!

tesch1932
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Re: Nickel plating woes.

Post by tesch1932 »

After doing some more research and considering:

Making a fresh batch of nickel bath. I don't believe it was initially concentrated enough, and don't trust it if I was putting dirty parts into it. Originally I made a gallon in a tall glass jar, but think I'll aim for less this time.

I found a source for the nickel-plated screws I need. Confirming what JerryVan said, electroless plating seems to be the only way for screws.

I read on jewelry making forums that ammonia and dish soap make a good cleaning solution, with warm/hot water (though I also saw that ammonia might be harsh on brass.)

I work in a decent but cramped space, and as a naturally clutter-prone person (if there is an empty horizontal space, I will fill it!), I just have to be more careful with particles flying and protecting parts that have already been cleaned.

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Curt A
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Re: Nickel plating woes.

Post by Curt A »

My solution for screws is to clean them and buff them to a mirror finish and they look plated... or to age them back after cleaning them, I use Super Blue liquid gun bluing.

To hold them while buffing so they don't fly out of your hand, I use ViceGrips clamped to the threaded ends.
"The phonograph† is not of any commercial value."
Thomas Alva Edison - Comment to his assistant, Samuel Insull.

"No one needs a Victrola XX, a Perfected Graphophone Type G, or whatever you call those noisy things."
My Wife

User avatar
Curt A
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Re: Nickel plating woes.

Post by Curt A »

Here is a PDF of plating instructions originally posted by Adam on the forum. He had great success and I put his instructions into a PDF document.
viewtopic.php?f=7&t=28967&hilit=+nickel+plating

This thread shows how to remove rust and nickel plate using YouTube videos:
viewtopic.php?f=7&t=43680&hilit=+nickel+plating
"The phonograph† is not of any commercial value."
Thomas Alva Edison - Comment to his assistant, Samuel Insull.

"No one needs a Victrola XX, a Perfected Graphophone Type G, or whatever you call those noisy things."
My Wife

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Henry
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Re: Nickel plating woes.

Post by Henry »

Curt A wrote:My solution for screws is to clean them and buff them to a mirror finish and they look plated... or to age them back after cleaning them, I use Super Blue liquid gun bluing.

To hold them while buffing so they don't fly out of your hand, I use ViceGrips clamped to the threaded ends.
Another way to hold screws is to run a couple of nuts onto the threads, tighten them against each other, and apply the vise (not "vice") grips to the nuts. This will prevent buggering up the threads.

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