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Plating Aluminum

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  • Plating Aluminum

    OK I have tried and tried. My prep is scrub is sink , SP degreaser, pickel 3, Zincate, flash copper, then nickel. I was getting blisters so now I have been etching before zincate and It has become better but getting very small pits in the nickel. When I try to buff them out I found that they go to the aluminun which is also pitted. These pieces are coming out of the flash copper looking fine. I also have an ultrasonic cleaner and an HP aluminum soak I have tried tonight. I am getting closer but still not there. Small pits in nickel. If I have to strip these parts one more time they will be pretty much ruined. SO I am asking every one for your help. Any input , suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

  • #2
    You need to determine if the the pits are in the aluminum or in the nickel.
    If in the aluminum you need better prep. If your prep is good (ie: no pits and clean) then try a good desmut. The desmut removes impurities from the surface of the aluminum( coppers,silicones,etc). This is an important step in plating aluminum we use on all aluminum in our shop. If the pits are just in the nickel (does the nickel have pits when plating steel or bright copper?) then check PH, try filtering with carbon or add wetter.

    If you are getting pits and no blisters you might be able to work them out by plating with bright copper and sanding, this way you might not have to strip again.


    • #3
      I would not put your aluminum in the pickel.
      I plate alum. all the time. First I degrease using regular old hot dishsoap. rinse well. Then zincate. rinse, stripe in a 50/50 nitric acid and water mixture, rinse, rezincate, rinse and then plate in the nickel for 30-40 min.
      I think the flash copper gives a dull finish so it would be hard to see if the pitting is there or not.
      The nickel is shinyer so it will show up.
      Do you have good air agitation in the nickel tank as you are plating? It could also be that because hydrogen bubbles will form on the surface of the nickel plate and need the bigger bubbles from the air on the bottom of the tank to scrub them off.
      Put your parts up on the shelf and practice on some scrap alum. Then work on the parts.


      • #4
        I have plated billet and tube. But these are Harley handle bar controlls. And I am having a fit with them. Is it that this are not a good quality aluminum ( impurities) if so any suggestions or tricks and tips will be very appreciated. Thanks


        • #5
          I have had some parts that just give me fits also.
          Had some billet knobs from SO-CAL that everytime I tried to zincate they would go nuts. Finally I buffed them out and gave them back to the customer charge.
          Unless you have a large range of chemistry to experiment with, sometimes you have to relize certain parts cant be plated. Just clean them up, give them back to the guy with a honest explination.