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Gold Plating

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Mark Bus16/01/2019 01:28:30
50 forum posts
21 photos


So I'm building a clock and rather than lacquering to prevent tarnishing I've been thinking about gold plating. Has anyone tried to do it him or herself ? And since I don't have the patience to do a mirror polish preparation how would gold plating look or would it even work with, say, a 600 grit abrasive paper finish, then a polish job, and then the plating?



Bandersnatch16/01/2019 01:54:53
1206 forum posts
40 photos

Many years ago when we had parts gold-plated for the space-business, the process used potassium cyanide as one of the plating bath chemicals. Don't know if there's an alternative, safer process but I personally wouldn't go there with cyanide (always assuming you could actually get hold of some).

Edited By Bandersnatch on 16/01/2019 01:55:43

Robert Atkinson 216/01/2019 07:28:06
314 forum posts
17 photos

Well first you need an EPP licence for the potassium cyanide (despite this people still seem to be selling kits on ebay). Have you checked with professional plating services? it may not be as expensive as you think especially if you are not in a rush.
You don't have to polish the surface but it will "enhance" the finish. So polished, machine turned or consistent sand blasting is OK but if there are scratches or odd marks they will show up.

Robert G8RPI.

Andrew Johnston16/01/2019 07:58:57
4719 forum posts
532 photos

The only time I had parts gold plated I let the chemistry department at RAE Farnborough do it. I don't think the training centre would have been happy having cyanide compounds in the building.


Gary Wooding16/01/2019 08:01:50
568 forum posts
132 photos

I don't know if its appropriate in your case, but have you considered gilding with gold-leaf?

Martin Kyte16/01/2019 09:19:33
1463 forum posts
24 photos

My suggestion would be gold sputter coating (vacuum deposition). Find a company to do it for you unless you want to build your own coater. It could be a possibility to silicon coat (SiO) which is the normal way of protecting telescope mirrors after aluminium coating. Galvoptics offfer this service for mirrors. You are however going to have to bite the bullet and polish well. personally I don't like gold plated clocks, strangely I think it makes them look cheap.

There have been plated/coated clocks at ME shows in the past so someone will have done it.

regards Martin

Grindstone Cowboy16/01/2019 10:26:20
112 forum posts
1 photos

Surprised nobody has mentioned the plating article in the latest MEW (No. 276) yet - I'd suggest having a read of that and maybe contacting Gateros Plating for advice.

Michael Gilligan16/01/2019 10:38:07
13573 forum posts
586 photos
Posted by Rob Rimmer on 16/01/2019 10:26:20:

... and maybe contacting Gateros Plating for advice.



Eugene16/01/2019 11:16:50
130 forum posts
12 photos

As a one time electroplating chemist and company owner, I wouldn't recommend a DIY approach to gold plating clock parts.

As Mick says the preparation prior to the gold deposit going on is critical and exacting; there is usually an intervening bright nickel coating involved. There are also many colours offered in plated golds, you may want to have a look at samples before selecting one. Wear resistance is also a factor that needs be addressed.

None of this is easily done by the amateur.

Your easiest approach is to contact a manufacturing jeweller or small plating outfit. Brmingham used to be full of them.


Robert Atkinson 216/01/2019 12:38:31
314 forum posts
17 photos

Another thought came to me. Electroless nickel immersion gold plating (ENIG) has become popular on printed circuit boards for electronic assemblies. This two layer system will work on brass. If you have a PCB manufacturer near you it might be worth giving them a call.

Robert G8RPI.

Neil Wyatt16/01/2019 12:50:47
16277 forum posts
679 photos
74 articles
Posted by Michael Gilligan on 16/01/2019 10:38:07:
Posted by Rob Rimmer on 16/01/2019 10:26:20:

... and maybe contacting Gateros Plating for advice.



Gold plating kits are hazardous, but I've bought stuff from Gateros and I can confirm it comes with excellent instructions AND full manufacturers safety data sheets.

I would agree that you seek their advice first rather than just diving in.


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