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  • #31
    Re: Build Your Own Barrel Plater

    Originally posted by chromeitout View Post
    I have plenty of coax, but the braid is not copper.
    It doesn't have to be coax. Any flexible multi-stranded wire, of suitable gauge for the amperage, will work.
    Seans Zinc Plating page

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    • #32
      Re: Build Your Own Barrel Plater

      Sean,

      New member here thanks to you and many others. Have been researching barrel plating to improve end product while limiting labor and your ideas show that creativity and flexibility rule supreme. I have much to learn and have read hundreds of posts, but haven't found a clear answer. Will be copper plating batches of 500-1000 bullets at a time and building a hexagon barrel based on on a caswell solution kit. Question; have you experimented with aluminum screen to line the barrel and charge? Have seen a couple of posts on this, seems like good theory but concerned with increased cleaning and potential drag out issues. What are your thoughts?

      Thanks,
      DavTN

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      • #33
        Re: Build Your Own Barrel Plater

        i too have been reading 100's of post found on Google.
        i will be building one of these. I'm going to try to do at less "500" 185grain batch of wheel weight lead cast .40 cal bullets.
        the steps i have planed out. after unit is built

        1. cast bullets.... DONE . (the mold is a .401 in size and most will cast .402-.403)
        2. wash with acetone
        (2.1 maybe a dip in something to would etch the lead to make the copper stick better?)
        3. plate with copper sulphate mixed with (water, vinegar, or battery acid) will try all
        4. size to .401 (i may under size before plating and plate to .402 then size)
        5. polish copper (tumbler with water soap and ?)
        6. load the round
        I will be replying to this thread when I have helpful info and/or an update.

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        • #34
          yeah i think It doesn't have to be coax.

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          • #35
            I'm just finishing up on my barrel plater per Sean's design and am getting ready to try my first batch of zinc plating. Is there a chart somewhere that gives the surface area for common fasteners? I've seen the calculator, and I'll use it if need be, but it's hard to conceive someone hasn't somewhere listed out surface areas for 1/4, 5/16, 3/8, etc nuts as well as corresponding bolts of varying lengths. Thanks

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            • #36
              Even as a sticky, I realize this is an old thread and Sean hasn't been seen for 5 yrs. I've tried four different browsers. Best case got pictures at his site to load in about 10 minutes+ per selection. I was able to get the video links in post 23 to play. I get the gist of it. Only a couple things I'm not quite clear on.
              1. In the videos, why does it appear the zinc anode is only partially submerged in the solution during the barrel plating?
              2. Why a stainless steel screw selected to be on the end of the dangler instead of a copper stud?
              3. How would you estimate the amperage for the parts in contact in the barrel? Just based upon total surface area of the parts in the barrel? Assume the entire surface area of the batch is in contact?
              4. I sort of got the impression this process was akin to a line of site to the anode plating process. Puzzling over how the barrel may obstuct that. Or does all the movement counteract that? Either way, not sure how it would affect plating time other than a lot of trial and error.
              Any insights appreciated.

              Best,
              Kelly

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              • #37
                A few random thoughts/suggestions:

                Using stainless on the dangler prevents zinc from building up on it.

                You can submerge as much of the zinc anodes as you need to. Just don't submerge the leads - only zinc in the tank.

                I did many thousands of parts using my homemade barrels and this is what I learned:

                1. Lots of lots of water circulation for best results - point pumps in different directions at opposite sides of the basket to create a bit of a whirlpool

                2. You'll need much more current that you think, in order to overcome all of the obstructions. I had to experiment a lot. I used to try to calculate settings but I learned to do it by feel after time.

                3. It doesn't work with too few or too many parts in the basket, especially too few. You want to try to keep the parts in contact with each other and the dangler at all times and avoid those "plumes" that occur when contact is temporarily lost.

                4. The barrel doesn't obstruct the zinc - it's in the solution and will make its way onto the parts. You'll need more current (as I mentioned above) and more time that you would normally need if you wired them up.

                I worked long and hard at this and did many jobs, mostly for car and motorcycle restorers. I had more work than I could handle, but it was very labor intensive and the acids from the pickeling solution and brightening dip were rusting everything in my basement. I didn't want to risk getting in trouble and it's a lot of work to maintain zero waste generation. Plus, it's never good to have a couple of quarts of nitric acid laying around!


                Originally posted by kcoffield View Post
                Even as a sticky, I realize this is an old thread and Sean hasn't been seen for 5 yrs. I've tried four different browsers. Best case got pictures at his site to load in about 10 minutes+ per selection. I was able to get the video links in post 23 to play. I get the gist of it. Only a couple things I'm not quite clear on.
                1. In the videos, why does it appear the zinc anode is only partially submerged in the solution during the barrel plating?
                2. Why a stainless steel screw selected to be on the end of the dangler instead of a copper stud?
                3. How would you estimate the amperage for the parts in contact in the barrel? Just based upon total surface area of the parts in the barrel? Assume the entire surface area of the batch is in contact?
                4. I sort of got the impression this process was akin to a line of site to the anode plating process. Puzzling over how the barrel may obstuct that. Or does all the movement counteract that? Either way, not sure how it would affect plating time other than a lot of trial and error.
                Any insights appreciated.

                Best,
                Kelly

                Comment


                • #38
                  Thanks for that reply zincplater. I do a lot of carburetor restoration so most parts are small brackets and hardware. I figure I'll wire up some of the brackets but would like a miniature barrel plater for all the small hardware and odds and ends. I have the Caswell Zinc/Copycad kit and a 5 amp CC rectifier but don't know much about electroplating and am about to prove it.

                  Using stainless on the dangler prevents zinc from building up on it
                  Is that because you can't zinc plate stainless or just because it's a poorer conductor and doesn't attract as much zinc from the electrolyte solution? So if you just had the stranded/braided copper wire as the dangler, will the zinc build up prevent/inhibit its ability to complete the circuit within the time of one plating session? The zinc isn't conductive enough? I had initially thought it the stainless tip was just ballast to maintain contact.

                  What are the primary constituents of the plating electrolyte solution? I'm not interested in home brew, just materials compatibility. I need some elastomers compatible with the plating solution. Would treating it as dilute acetic acid be a decent proxy to gage compatibility both for not aggressively attacking the elastomer nor fouling the electrolyte? It'd be nice if common O-ring materials could cut it. I figured I'd make all the structural parts for the barrel plater out of PVC and perhaps HDPE for the barrel.

                  Also, I take it a couple stainless fasteners on the barrel plating structure and within the electrolyte solution would pose a problem if they were not grounded. Is that so?


                  The rest of your comments are understood and appreciated.

                  Best,
                  Kelly
                  Last edited by kcoffield; 05-02-2022, 11:03 AM.

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                  • #39
                    You're going to outgrow a 5 amp rectifier pretty quickly. It's great for small batches of wired-up carb parts but you need a 20 or 30 amp for a barrel plating setup. I can't remember what settings I used to use but I'm very sure it was more than 5 amps, probably 10 or 12 or so.

                    You don't want the dangler getting mucked up with a bunch of zinc. That's why you use stainless. Any copper or brass you use if going to get zinc buildup ...and is going to oxidize when it's sitting around - and is going to need to be cleaned using an acid pickle, then shined up.

                    To be honest, I found that dealing with the automated barrel was a bit of a drag because of all of the rinsing you had to do in order to remove all of the parts (so as not to drag solution out of the tank). I mostly used a basket: I took a tupperware bowl and drilled a ton of small holes in it, then wove some brass wire all over the bottom and up a piece up pipe and, finally, out of the top so that hanging it from the buss bar allowed the parts in the basket to make contact with the cathode lead. I directed circulating pumps to it and "shook" it often while plating. I got top-notch results, which my customers loved.

                    Also, you really must use a nitric acid solution bright dip if you want good-looking zinc plating.

                    You shouldn't have any need for any metal parts if you follow the examples set by others. I wouldn't leave ANY metal in the plating tank - that isn't there to get plated.

                    Plating solution contents can be found in the Caswell MSDS. I believe potassium chloride was one component.

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                    • #40
                      Thanks again. That's all very helpful. I'm going to get myself set up over the next couple days, wire up and conventionally plate some single parts and get my process sorted.

                      Though building a miniature barrel plater sounds like a fun project, the notion of hanging a basket and hand agitating may be quite a bit more practical. I'll be a fairly infrequent plater.....small batches of small parts, 4-6 times/year. I made a couple trees to hang 8-16 brackets per batch. The interest in the barrel/basket is really for the very small stuff, like the unique Private Messages to #10 screws, nuts, and similar size hardware. The customers tend to be collectors and highly value originality or I wouldn't even mess with the hardware.....I'd just buy it but some is unique.

                      On the subject of power supply, versus 1 amp/40in2, from forum reading I was surmising I might expect 3-4x that for batch work. For the anticipated batch size and surface area, that seemed within the reach or 5 amps.

                      I'll come back and let you know how I get on.

                      Best,
                      Kelly

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                      • #41
                        Several years ago when I was still learning about electroplating I made a barrel plater. I include an attachment which may be interesting because its kind of the inverse of the barrel plater I've seen in these posts. Its a bit more complicated but it works quite well. Building a Barrel Plater.pdf

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