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zinc plating has gone dull and dark grey after only a couple of strings

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  • zinc plating has gone dull and dark grey after only a couple of strings

    Hi there,

    I'm wondering what I've done wrong. I just bought the 1.5 gallon copycad kit. I mixed the solution with the correct water and then used it successfully on 8 very small clips, zinc plating them with a 1/2 teaspoon of brightener added to the solution. The more I plated, the less bright and shinny the parts are. I tried again today with poor results. I'm hanging the parts on copper wires across a copper pipe above the bucket. I'm running a small aquarium pump. Yesterday, the zinc plating on the copper wire was very bright and shiny. Today, it's dull, dark grey. Changing the current on the part has no effect. I've read this has happened to others and hope there's a fix for this solution to start plating the zinc on the parts correctly again?

    Any ideas?

    Thanks-BIll

  • #2
    Bill, not sure if I can offer any help but I've had the same 1.5 gal kit as you for about three years now with similar mixed results. Sometimes things seem to work perfect, other times nothing I do seems to work as far as prep, amperage, etc. Things just seem to come out dull and grey. It seems to be a common problem from what I've read on the forums with no clear solution. There are so many variables that one could be doing wrong it's hard to diagnose, but here's a few observations I've made that sometimes helped me.

    Aside from the troubleshooting tips in the manual, cleanliness of the plating bath seems to have an effect. After I finish plating I always remove the zinc plates and rinse them off. There is always a black residue that washes off. I can't say for certain if this helps but it can't hurt. The less contaminates in the bath the better. Sometimes when they are dry, I'll scrub them with scotchbrite.

    The other thing I've noticed is that over the winter, I put my kit away in my basement (I plate in my garage and it's too cold in winter. I live in Canada) and during that time things seem to settle out of the bath. When I open the pail in spring, theres always a crusty residue on the bottom full of all the particulates that have settled out. These particulates are everything that have fallen in as well as pieces of zinc that have fallen off the copper wires as I remove them. I always pour out the bath and clean the pail before starting. This leads me to think that all these contaminants inhibit the plating process. I've also noted that others on the forum filter their plating bath through coffee filters or similar, which further confirms my theory of a contaminated bath. I've done this too and it seems to help. I've even used just a paper towel in a funnel and used my agitation pump with a hose to filter it.

    I'm by no means a chemist nor do I fully understand the process going on but it seems to make sense that as more items are plated, the plating bath becomes dirtier causing the process to be weaker.

    I guess to sum up my long winded spiel, scrub your zinc plates and filter your bath and see if that helps. Maybe someone else out there can confirm or deny my theories.

    Cam

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Peyto View Post
      Bill, not sure if I can offer any help but I've had the same 1.5 gal kit as you for about three years now with similar mixed results. Sometimes things seem to work perfect, other times nothing I do seems to work as far as prep, amperage, etc. Things just seem to come out dull and grey. It seems to be a common problem from what I've read on the forums with no clear solution. There are so many variables that one could be doing wrong it's hard to diagnose, but here's a few observations I've made that sometimes helped me.

      Aside from the troubleshooting tips in the manual, cleanliness of the plating bath seems to have an effect. After I finish plating I always remove the zinc plates and rinse them off. There is always a black residue that washes off. I can't say for certain if this helps but it can't hurt. The less contaminates in the bath the better. Sometimes when they are dry, I'll scrub them with scotchbrite.

      The other thing I've noticed is that over the winter, I put my kit away in my basement (I plate in my garage and it's too cold in winter. I live in Canada) and during that time things seem to settle out of the bath. When I open the pail in spring, theres always a crusty residue on the bottom full of all the particulates that have settled out. These particulates are everything that have fallen in as well as pieces of zinc that have fallen off the copper wires as I remove them. I always pour out the bath and clean the pail before starting. This leads me to think that all these contaminants inhibit the plating process. I've also noted that others on the forum filter their plating bath through coffee filters or similar, which further confirms my theory of a contaminated bath. I've done this too and it seems to help. I've even used just a paper towel in a funnel and used my agitation pump with a hose to filter it.

      I'm by no means a chemist nor do I fully understand the process going on but it seems to make sense that as more items are plated, the plating bath becomes dirtier causing the process to be weaker.

      I guess to sum up my long winded spiel, scrub your zinc plates and filter your bath and see if that helps. Maybe someone else out there can confirm or deny my theories.

      Cam
      Cam,

      Thanks for replying to my question. I've since had a couple of successful plating strings but then have struggled again with getting results that don't require buffing or rubbing down with steel wool to remove the grey from the parts that I plated.

      I contacted Caswell and I didn't get any definitive answers as to what the exact problem is. In my mind, I think it's a power setting issue. Some of the very small parts I'm zinc plating can't be easily measured. As a result, I have to speculate to a power setting to use. I'm still trying to figure out my 15v5amp DC power supply as well. The volts and amps are tied together with it. Example, If I'm plating at 1.0 amp, I can't turn up the volts more and keep the amps the same. The machine decides how many volts is needed to supply the set current or amps.

      I plated a coil bracket today. I was able to measure it and it showed it needed 2.5amps to plate it. I got a good zinc application though it came out a bit crusty in spots and the copper hanging wire had a lot of crusty, dull zinc build up on it. I was able to wire wheel it and then polish it with very fine steel wool. It looks good though not like the finish you'd get from a professional plating company. There's a very nice gentleman who restores carbs and zinc plates his own parts at home. His finished parts look brand new and professionally plated.

      I'd like to reach this point where I can plate a part, pull it out and it's bright and shinny and requires no further wire wheel or polishing.

      I'm curious if other could share their amperage/volt settings to plate small screws and bolts or parts.

      Comment

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