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 Post subject: ReNickle plating
PostPosted: Mar Tue 06, 2012 7:54 am 
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I need to replate some nickle plated radio parts from the early 1920's. This is a new endeavor for me. The original plating is either discolored or pitted. Do I need to remove the original plating first or smooth and replate? If I need to remove what is the best way? I bought a plating kit but the instructions a pretty simplistic and are intended for new parts.

Keith


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 Post subject: Re: ReNickle plating
PostPosted: Mar Tue 06, 2012 5:11 pm 
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Waterski wrote:
Do I need to remove the original plating first or smooth and replate?
Keith, I suspect, as with most finishes, the better the starting point the better the result. I found the following statement regarding nickle plating which tends to support this...

"Parts to be plated must be clean and free of dirt, corrosion, and defects before plating can begin."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nickel_electroplating

They didn't mention being free of prior plating, but I know when items are re-chromed they do purposely strip off any prior chrome with some serious stuff. I imagine this is to get to a good solid substrate for the best final product.

Curtis Eickerman

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 Post subject: Re: ReNickle plating
PostPosted: Mar Tue 06, 2012 10:43 pm 
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If you don't mind the pitting, you can chemically clean the surface and plate over everything, which is what I would do with old parts. If you want them to look like new, you'd have to remove enough of the original surface to reach the bottom of the pits, but you'd be reducing the thickness of the part.

I have used sodium bisulfate (sold as "Sparex" by jewelry suppliers) to clean brass before plating. Other acids would probably work too.


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 Post subject: Re: ReNickle plating
PostPosted: Mar Wed 07, 2012 2:43 am 
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I know nothing about plating.....

It seems that plating Nickel over an existing Nickel plate would work--or any metal over itself?. In the case of chrome, they typically have some other metal under the final plating. This might be why they first strip it down?

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 Post subject: Re: ReNickle plating
PostPosted: Mar Wed 07, 2012 7:43 am 
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Location: saginaw, mi USA
Ok here is what I am wanting to do. I bought a nuetrowound radio and the tube covers and corner details need to be replated. I have access to a bead blaster and think this might be the route to go. Any thoughts?

Keith


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 Post subject: Re: ReNickle plating
PostPosted: Mar Wed 07, 2012 7:57 pm 
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They use underplating because of an incompatible base metal. There are only two reasons for stripping off top-plate remnants - getting an all over even plating AND, most importantly, guaranteeing durability. The old plating is old, and of course, of unknown veracity. Although the new plating will doubtlessly adhere to the old, there's no guarantee that the old plating won't start peeling away from the underplating.

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 Post subject: Re: ReNickle plating
PostPosted: Jun Tue 12, 2012 1:20 am 
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I am late to this but I nickel and copper plate antique telephone parts. If you want to plate over old nickel, the old nickel has to be extremely clean and will need to be "activated" (oxide layer removed) to get the new nickel to adhere.

You did not say if you were wand or immersion (tank) plating. Wand plating will be much thinner than immersion. Any pitting in the surface will show in the new plating.

I use MetalX B-9 to strip nickel off steel and MetalX B-929 to strip nickel off brass. Both work reasonably quick and neither will do any damage to the base metal. A 10% solution of sulfuric acid or hydrochloric acid will work but it can erode the base metal.

If the part is brass, I strip the old nickel, polish the part then nickel plate. If the part is to be "show" quality I strip the old nickel, polish, copper plate, polish again then nickel plate.

On steel I use one of two methods depending on the condition of the part:

1. Strip nickel, nickel "flash" (thin layer of nickel), acid copper plate, polish then nickel plate.

2. Strip nickel, alkaline copper plate, polish then nickel plate.

The copper layer gives added corrosion protection and it is easier to polish than steel. The reason for the nickel "flash" is acid copper has poor adhesion on steel. Nickel plating adheres well to steel and acid copper adheres well to nickel.

For cleaning I use a heated ultrasonic cleaner followed by a lot of rinsing. I use 10% sulfuric acid to acitvate brass then rinse then back in the cleaner then more rinsing.

Dennis


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 Post subject: Re: ReNickle plating
PostPosted: Jun Tue 12, 2012 2:12 am 
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Welcome to the Forum and thanks for the detailed information.
Quote:
I use MetalX B-9 to strip nickel off steel and MetalX B-929 to strip nickel off brass. Both work reasonably quick and neither will do any damage to the base metal.
Where does one obtain MetalX products, and is this with electrolysis or just a dip in a tank?
Quote:
Nickel plating adheres well to steel and acid copper adheres well to nickel.
I didn't know that; I thought acid copper was unsuitable for steel parts, which was too bad since it's relatively easy to set up. Are there special instructions for flash nickel plating on steel? All I have here is the old-fashioned Watts bath (nickel ammonium sulfate, nickel chloride etc.) which works well enough for brass.


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 Post subject: Re: ReNickle plating
PostPosted: Jun Tue 12, 2012 5:36 am 
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I get both the MetalX B-9 and B-929 from Caswell. I bought a 2 gallon stainless steel pot and use it on a hot plate. The stuff works best at about 140 degrees F. Aeration is very important - I use an aquarium pump. No electrolysis needed. Since it does not attack the base metal, I just hang the parts in the pot and check after about 30 minutes. If not done, I just put them back in and check later.

While it is not the preferred method, I use a variation of a Watts solution for both strike and finish plating. For the strike I just reduce the plating timing to get full coverage but no build up. Commercial platers would not do this since it is more expensive. The Watts solution is used in the jewelry industry by designers and repair. Too expensive for production plating but works well for low volume. It has more brighteners but the advantage is I can plate at room temperature (no heaters needed). I limit the size of parts that I plate to about 6" in diameter or 8" long so my plating tanks are one gallon.

If I am plating copper directly on steel, I use a citric based alkaline solution - I will not use cyanide based. I do this a lot on nuts, bolts, screws, etc. before nickel plating. Citric based alkaline copper deposits very slowly but has good adhesion on steel.

If I need to build up pits in steel that can not be sanded out then I put on a layer of nickel followed by acid copper then sand the acid copper off then nickel plate. Acid copper deposits much faster than citric based alkaline copper. Here is a switch hook I did for a wood wall phone:

https://picasaweb.google.com/dencins/Re ... teelParts#

Dennis


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 Post subject: Re: ReNickle plating
PostPosted: Jun Tue 12, 2012 5:51 am 
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I've put this aside because my results, should I say s*cked. The base metal is brass and tried bead blasting the nickel off, polishing to as good as I could mirror finish then submersing to plate. The result was a splotty finish of nickel and dark burnt areas.

I am close to just sending this out to be done. Dennis, do you do jobs for others?

Keith


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 Post subject: Re: ReNickle plating
PostPosted: Jun Tue 12, 2012 6:09 am 
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Yes I do. You can see some examples of my work here:

http://picasaweb.google.com/dencins/

If you send some pictures of the parts and something to reference the size, I can quote you a price.

Dennis


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 Post subject: Re: ReNickle plating
PostPosted: Jun Wed 13, 2012 1:52 am 
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Alan

I should clarify that I use the Watts nickel strike on steel and not stainless steel. Due to the chromium in stainless steel, adhesion can be unpredictable with a Watts bath and a Woods nickel strike would give better results. Based on what you have for Watts nickel bath, you could make up a Woods strike bath (nickel chloride and hydrochloric acid). Woods nickel bath is very acidic and is plated around 30 - 40 amps per square foot for 4 minutes.

Dennis


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 Post subject: Re: ReNickle plating
PostPosted: Jun Wed 13, 2012 2:34 am 
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Location: Pocasset, Cape Cod, MA
I have to admit, if I needed to use stainless hardware I'd just leave it as is, and very few people would know it wasn't nickel. I don't do very much plating, but the steel parts tend to be things like Radiola III tuning handles. I've always understood that nickel over steel is porous, which lets moisture in, and the copper isn't, so that's why a copper underplate was used. But is it also an adhesion question?

I agree about not using cyanide solutions. A photographer friend almost killed himself that way, by accidentally adding acid stop bath to a cyanide toning bath. He said he just barely bolted out the door and hit the exhaust fan before collapsing on the floor.


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 Post subject: Re: ReNickle plating
PostPosted: Jun Wed 13, 2012 3:15 am 
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I agree with leaving stainless steel alone.

You are correct about using copper under nickel to reduce corrosion. The industrial process for years has been to use potassium cyanide to copper plate steel. Potassium cyanide is alkaline with a pH around 10. Instead I use a citric based alkaline copper bath with a pH of 11. All the ingredients can be bought at local stores:

Copper Sulfate (Root Killer from Lowe's)
Sodium Hydroxide (Roebic Crystal Drain Operer at Lowe's)
Citric Acid (Indian Spice Store)
Distilled Water

Your photographer friend is why I do not use cyanide. All it takes is a senior moment (which I have many) and I would not be plating (or anything else) anymore.

Dennis


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 Post subject: Re: ReNickle plating
PostPosted: Jun Wed 13, 2012 7:19 am 
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I don't mean to steal this thread, but could I use this alkaline method to copper plate a radio chassis or is this too large of a surface to plate. Thanks, Ferd.


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 Post subject: Re: ReNickle plating
PostPosted: Jun Wed 13, 2012 12:19 pm 
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I have not used it for large objects but I can not think of any reason why it would not work.

Dennis


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 Post subject: Re: ReNickle plating
PostPosted: Jun Sat 16, 2012 10:02 pm 
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Unless you want to take everything off and send the chassis to a plsce that re-chrormes car parts for well heeled collecters, just scrape, mask and paint the set. A couple of coats of Rustolium will likely ort last us.


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 Post subject: Re: ReNickle plating
PostPosted: Jun Sun 17, 2012 4:39 pm 
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I am not familiar with radio chasis but from the pictures I saw in this forum's Photo Gallery and the time period many were made (1930's - 1960's), my guess many were plated with cadmium which was very popular during that time period for corrosion protection. Cadmium and zinc are very similiar in appearance and both were used at that time. The difference is cadmium is toxic and hazardous waste. Cadmium dust is especially dangerous if inhaled or absorbed. Proper protective should be used especially if it is sanded before painting.

Finding a commercial plater for cadmium is getting very difficult. Cadmium is one of six substances banned on the European Union RoHS (Restriction on Hazardous Substances). The U.S. automotive which was once a heavy user of cadmium has stopped using it. It is listed on the EPA Hazardous Waste list. Cadmium can be dissolved in acid but the solution requires Hazardous Waste disposal.

Proper safety protection and waste disposal is extremely important when working with cadmium.

Dennis


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 Post subject: Re: ReNickle plating
PostPosted: Jun Sun 17, 2012 4:56 pm 
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I'm sure there are reasons, (? like your radio is worth $8,000 and if someone were to loose your knobs your radio is worth $1,500?) but I'm sort of surprised why anyone would want to subject themselves to caustic chemicals and poisonous gasses to do their own plating when there are people out there that's all they do.
Polishing between copper/nickle/chrome layers is critical and unless you are set up in a very professional manner your results compared to a pro won't be near as good.

Hank


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 Post subject: Re: ReNickle plating
PostPosted: Jun Sun 17, 2012 9:43 pm 
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Location: Pocasset, Cape Cod, MA
Nickel is relatively easy and involves no caustic or highly poisonous chemicals. It's not practical to send out small parts like binding posts or nuts to a commercial plater. You'd be lucky to get them all back, you have no control over their cleaning/polishing process, and they would be very very expensive. Mostly all I need to do is put some nickel back on the pitted or corroded areas.


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