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Nickel Plating

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Ramon Wilson20/04/2011 08:46:37
725 forum posts
81 photos
Hi Clive, well that is new to me but certainly serves to show what you think isn't always neccessarily so.
Likewise the electrolyte - all I have read pointed to sulphuric acid but I guess that would be because of ease of obtaining it. Well it was when the articles were written - just try now!
I have not yet done enough to require uniformity though you may have read that the two Racer heads came out slightly differing colours. My needs are never likely to go beyond a few parts for an engine but when so they will need to be the same shade. I haven't reached that point yet but it is something that I will have to be aware of when it arrives.
Thanks for your continuing interest
Regards - Ramon
Clive Hartland20/04/2011 09:09:14
2550 forum posts
40 photos
Some years back I went to a firm callled Star plating as they were the only ones who would do small batch colour anodising, they were doing it in rubber buckets!
It all came out very good depth of colour.
Perhaps there is a pointer here as a DIY job.
I would think that any process will do as long as the end result is satisfactory.
Simon Geary29/04/2018 17:54:22
16 forum posts
3 photos
Posted by Clive Hartland on 18/04/2011 08:07:58:
Ramon, Nickel plating requires a base metal to plate onto so you will need to copper plate first.
I spent six months as part of my army tech. training in a plating shop at Donnington workshops and learnt a lot of basic skills there. Cleanliness both physical and chemical is paramount.
Another item is that the base layer , copper is polished to give a polished nickel layer.
Straight nickel will give a slightly rough surface.
Perhaps you should consider using stainless steel for the components or another alternative is Zinc plated and passivated.
All the processes involve an acid dip which will etch the surfaces.
Stainless steel is the way to go I think.
I sem to remember that most of the spraybars were made of brass in my engines of yesteryear, in fact I had to make a couple of them as some of my crashes were a bit spectacular and bits got broken.
I have also carried out black chrome work which still requires copper plating before being done, the copper is brushed off leaving a beautiful shining black finish which is all but impenetratable. This method was used on the components of the big guns recuperators to stop corrosion.

no it doesn't . i have plated all the corroded chrome parts on my motorbike ,and none of them had copper on them , complete BS , as long as whatever you want to plate is spotlessely clean you plate plate it with nickel ,

Clive Hartland29/04/2018 18:19:32
2550 forum posts
40 photos

I disagree, the basis of longevity for Chrome is a base of Copper and then Nickel and then a 10 Micron Chrome plate.

Perhaps a quick look at Wicky will help, if I had NOT applied copper and nickel the Foreman would have jumped all over me. I never saw anything chromed that was not copper and nickel first. Even brass number and name plates were done this way.


Harry Wilkes29/04/2018 18:26:51
865 forum posts
61 photos

Clive I absolutely agree with you having worked for British Silverware and Anochrome it's my experience that chrome plating would have a base layer of both copper and nickel !!!

duncan webster29/04/2018 19:34:28
2525 forum posts
49 photos

Many moons ago I made an exhaust pipe for a BSA C10 by cut/shut/weld. If I do say so myself it was pretty good. My mate then said he's get it chrome plated as a foreigner. 6 months later it all fell off in sheets. They plainly hadn't copper/nicke plated it first.

Fowlers Fury29/04/2018 20:52:03
339 forum posts
76 photos

OP wrote "Further to a comment on nickel plating on another thread I felt this might be better served by having 'it's own I would like to nickel plate some very small parts on a virtual one off basis. Consequently I don't particularly wish to make a big outlay to do so. "

To get back on topic, like Simon G., I plated Ni-plated many items for a motorcycle restoration some years ago.
The kit was then sold by 'Dynic Sales' and was advertised extensively in the m/cycle press of the day.
But - and it was a big but - you had also to purchase:-
An aquarium heater / aquarium aerator / amp meter / stabilised power supply or 12v battery / current controller as well as being prepared to construct various non ferrous rods from which to suspend anode & cathode on top of a plastic container.
Effective plating required control of temperature, current, agitation and a perfectly smooth surface on the steel item otherwise corrosion pitting would show up badly after plating. Again, like Simon G, I never Cu plated ferrous items first and eventually results were consistently good. (I did a petrol tank filler cap, shrouds for rear shocks, lamp bezels, Cu oil pipes and numerous steel bolts and nuts).

Bottom line? It is possible to Ni plate at home but requires one hell of a lot of aggravation and preparation. Somewhere I have the Dynic Sales instructions which are extensive. IF you really do want the buggeration of doing it for a few small items, I'll find them for you.

MW29/04/2018 21:04:30
2051 forum posts
51 photos

Just to clarify are we talking about chrome plating or nickel plating here? Because by the sounds of it, it's possible that chrome plating needs more sophisticated preparation than nickel plating.

With regards to nickel plating, I agree I've done it before, it's a bit hit or miss in terms of how well it does it at home, and you should expect to have to experiment with it. But I've got items I've plated with little signs of going anywhere sometime soon, without doing copper. 

You can also keep doing the same plating process to build up the layer, and this then falls into the realm of electroforming. 

This is all good and well if all you want to do is mess about with it, but if you've got a trophy you want doing, I would absolutely not tell you to go and get a home kit, you'll be very disappointed! Get the professionals for that. 

Michael W


Edited By Michael-w on 29/04/2018 21:10:27

John Ockleshaw 130/04/2018 02:42:36
43 forum posts
7 photos

Hello Ramon, When I wanted to diamond plate some 0.125" diameter nickel bronze I was given half a cup full of nickel plating solution by one of the local electoplaters, whom I did not know. I am in Western Australia and your health regulations may rule this out.

As suggested by Cannings, of Birmingham, I plated directly onto the nickel bronze. Used as needle files the nickel and diamond grit has clung on like the proverbial to a blanlet and given excellent service.

Regards, John

Michael Gilligan30/04/2018 08:00:10
15420 forum posts
665 photos

A quick search located this description: **LINK**


norm norton30/04/2018 09:38:10
113 forum posts
6 photos

I have done quite a lot of nickel plating successfully on motorcycle parts. It can work very well, and I put nickel straight onto steel, which is what all the domestic home platers do. Yes, for chromium 'best' plating it should be copper, then nickel, then chromium onto the steel job. I suspect that copper makes an 'easier' bond onto steel when you have less than perfect surfaces, and you have a thick polishing surface to improve the final finish - you cannot so easily polish the nickel layer.

I have stripped old chromium from 50 year old parts and found just nickel underneath. We CANNOT home plate chromium because of the cyanide baths required, never mind more recent hexavalent chromium toxicology concern.

Ramon, you can't really do it on the cheap - it's like all jobs. The BIG issue is getting clean objects. New steel is perfect to plate but anything old takes a big effort to clean and get an activated surface. It means that you need various alkali and acid cleaners to follow the mechanical preparation. You need heated, stirred baths and a means of voltage control and current readout. You also need to practice on a few jobs. Like welding and spray painting it is 70% skill and 30% tools.

There is also a nickel+zinc process that produces nice finishes on fasteners, but it is no easier or cheaper to use. Gateros are a good, small company to deal with.


Speedy Builder530/04/2018 09:55:33
1978 forum posts
139 photos

Here in SW France, if you have made something which looks good, the expression is "Nickel", if it is exceptionally good, then its "Nickel Chrome". Funny how these expressions come about !

Dinosaur Engineer01/05/2018 03:07:27
145 forum posts
4 photos

The problem in plating copper as a base layer is that copper will adhere to" rusty" steel wheras nickel won't. Therefore its particulary important to make sure that the article to be plated is clean.

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