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Heater for 5/6 Gal bucket?? or just use hot plate?? (standard anodize kit [caswell])

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  • Heater for 5/6 Gal bucket?? or just use hot plate?? (standard anodize kit [caswell])

    The kit came with the two huge stock pots that they recommend putting on a hot-plate. I would rather not use the stock pots but instead use a 5/6 gallon bucket with a immersion heater or an over the side heater. Any recommendations please? I looked online but I don't know how many watts will heat the liquid in the 5/6 gallon bucket to near boiling temp. Is it better just to buy a hot plate and use the stock pots? Any insight would be great please, as this is going to be the first time I attempt to anodize/dye anything myself. Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    If you really want to use 5 gallon plastic buckets then a 2000 watt immersion heater will do it.


    • #3
      Awesome... I live in an apt now so, yes, what came with the standard kit from caswell is what I am limited to. I am going to move back into a house with a garage soon (after the winter) and at that point I am interested in fabricating a more permanent, professional set-up. Will there be any difference in the final product when using a 5 gal bucket w a 2000 watt heater vs a 5 gal stock pot and heat plate? (assuming I am constantly monitoring the temperature)


      • #4
        Be careful with that much power in plastic. 2000W is the same as putting 20 100W light bulbs in the bucket. It's pretty hot.... like my smokin hot wife

        2000W may be overkill for 5 gallons. We used to use 2 3000W heaters for our 65 gallon seal tank which ran at about 180-190F.
        Last edited by KevinB; 10-10-2017, 07:37 PM.
        Process control doesn't give you good quality, it gives you consistent quality.
        Good quality comes from consistently doing the right things.

        Process control systems for anodizers
        If a post helps you out spread the love and LIKE the post
        Last edited by kevinB: Now. Reason: superfluous typo's


        • #5
          Originally posted by KevinB View Post
          Be careful with that much power in plastic. 2000W is the same as putting 20 100W light bulbs in the bucket. It's pretty hot.... like my smokin hot wife

          2000W may be overkill for 5 gallons. We used to use 2 3000W heaters for our 65 gallon seal tank which ran at about 180-190F.
          Thanks man... I bought a heater control board that will control 2 heaters. I bought 2 cheap regular coil 2k heaters..... But I also got a good deal on 2 screw plug 2k heaters on ebay. I plan to drill hole into bucket, jb weld heater, and then plug the heater into the heater control board and then alter power to heater accordingly. Thoughts? Like I said this will all be temporary, as I really enjoy this stuff, so when I move to a more suitable place, I will upgrade to larger, more permanent set-up. Thanks for the help so far guys!


          • #6
            I ordered Caswell's 5-gallon anodizing kit about 2 months ago. After pricing immersion heaters and hotplates, I decided against using the enamel pots included in the system. I also decided not to use the 5-gallon buckets for anything other than the anodizing tank. Instead, I went to Wal-Mart and purchased four 7-quart slow cookers for degreasing, deoxidizing, dying, and sealing. I purchased four different ones to compare them. Of the four, I prefer the Hamilton Beach with a temperature probe, which allows me to keep set specific temperatures for the solutions, plus or minus five degrees. The slow cookers also retain heat much better than 5-gallon buckets. Now that my testing is complete, and successful, I'm designing a larger, 30-gallon system, which will require immersion heaters.


            • #7
              Thanks for the replies... I will attempt to use the immersion heaters I purchased for the time being, although the slow cookers seems like a great idea for smaller objects. If I don't have "great success" with my immersion heater set up I will attempt using the slow cookers. Also, there is a seller on ebay selling immersion heaters ( ). He is selling each for 120. I offered him 2 for 140 and he accepted in 30 minutes and they arrived at my door three days later. If you are interested these might be a good start?? I don't know anything about immersion heaters so these might be junk, but they advertise to be 2kw and I am planning on adjusting the temperature with a separate heater controlling board I bought.

              Another question I have is how long are the solutions I mixed (per caswell instructions) good for? can I anodize many things using the same solutions? Granted, obviously the dye will need to be changed to desired color. But the degreaser, oxidizer, and anodizing solutions. Will they last a good while??
              Last edited by Sauce118; 10-12-2017, 09:19 PM. Reason: additional information


              • #8
                I remember reading that the anodizing solution will anodize about 100 square feet of product before it needs to be changed. I think this is just a general rule and there are a lot of variables involved. A proven way to test your anodizing solution is through using 1N NaOH titration. The other solutions should last a long time, especially if you keep them clean and replenished. You'll probably want to keep an eye on the dye PH. Caswell has a suggested PH for each dye color (black is 5.5). Just add drops of sulphuric acid or base solution to change the PH.


                • #9
                  2000 watt heaters are fine for 5 gallon buckets, I and everyone I know use them. The kind with built in temp control so once set to say 140 degs it's good to go.

                  As for regulating your dyes, sulfuric will work but the recommended method for lowering pH is Acetic Acid. I wouldn't worry about having to raise them as they typically increase in pH over time due to topping.


                  • #10
                    Thanks guys... You have been a huge help.. I am going to re-fab my set-up tomorrow or sunday.. I'm just going to try to do some pieces of the aluminum bars they sent to practice before I attempt anything I care about. I also ordered Eastwood's 5lb Vibratory Tumbler Bowl to help with polishing parts. It comes with a rust cutting media and a ceramic polishing media if I remember correctly. I also bought a small 7oz bottle of their "metal wash" that you are supposed to mix in with the media. I am excited to see how well that works.

                    The main reason I got in to this was to do car parts. Small stuff like custom aluminum brackets and nuts and bolts and pulleys etc. How hard is it to switch up the set up to do plating such as zinc or nickel plating over stainless steel, steel, cast iron, etc. Is it as simple as changing the solution and anodes/cathodes? or is it much more involved. I should probably do some research into that, but I want to get the anodizing under control first.

                    Do most people just use a griding wheel to get all the rust and get the object clean? I read that it is essential to make sure the part you want to anodize is mirror polished for the best finish. That seems like a very time consuming task to polish something intricate with crevices and corners by hand. Will a general media blast suffice? I'm hoping I get good results from the vibrator tumbler bucket I bought, but have read mixed reviews.
                    Last edited by Sauce118; 10-14-2017, 12:09 AM. Reason: additional question


                    • #11
                      LOL, you are getting way ahead yourself, get your ano process down first before working on your finishing side. That way if you run into problems you'll be able narrow it down, There are so many things that can and will trip you up with regards to finishing/anodizing it will make your head spin. Some of those solutions you just mentioned with your new vib finisher are going to give you a pile of headaches if they have the wrong chemistry. Things like silicates and iron are a big no no. There are very specific medias for cutting and polishing aluminum, using ones not specifically formulated for aluminum will pose a problem in the ano process. When I hear "aluminum brackets" I usually think "cast" aluminum which doesn't usually take dye well so you'll need to test them and don't be disappointed in the outcome.

                      LOL, I sound like a negative Nellie but I'm only giving you an FYI. You'll learn all these things as you go.
                      Last edited by gardinhackle; 10-14-2017, 09:45 AM.


                      • #12
                        My main occupation is an aircraft technician. I sometimes have to fabricate aluminum panels and such to replace ones damaged upon repair. I use scrap aircraft aluminum from this projects to make custom brackets for port alcohol injection, port fuel injection etc in my car. They are made from sheet aircraft aluminum. I also am interested in zinc or nickel plating nuts and bolts as mentioned in previous posts. I understand I am getting way ahead of myself lol. I get excited when I get to the meat and potatoes stage of a project. I will be doing this in baby steps of course and I am used to things not turning out exactly as planned and having to improvise adapt and overcome to any extent. I appreciate the constructive criticism, but I am simply wondering if these processes are something in my sights down the road as like said above this was my original intent in the first place (after getting the anodizing down). I appreciate the experienced knowledge and I will be refabbing my set up tomorrow night. I will post back with any questions and concerns at that point. <br />
                        <br />
                        From the above post I am coming to the conclusion that the vib tumbler is not something I should use to polish/clean aluminum? If that is not a good idea. What other methods are recommended? Thanks again guys.


                        • #13
                          Also, can you link me to somewhere to buy or research these specific media’s for cutting/cleaning/polishing aluminum please? I ordered the Eastwood 5lb vib tumbler and it comes with some generic cutting/cleaning media and also some polishing media. They state that it will Work with aluminum but I am gathering that isn’t necessarily true. Comments?


                          • #14

                            I am not the guy to discuss Plating and there are sub forums on Caswell for this. I believe Caswell sells everything you need to do this but the set up you have now does not cross over except for maybe the power source. As far as finishing is concerned, Vib finishing is a viable method for pre-anodized parts but the medias required are specific. If you are looking to finish the surface and deburr then a cutting media like Synthetic cones are appropriate. After that you can use treated cob for the polishing. Google research these items to learn more.


                            • #15
                              First epic fail
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