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  • WHY!?!?!?!??!?!?!?

    I am very frustrated! Normally I am a very patient person, but I have been trying to plate for nearly 2 months with no success. My latest experiment goes something like this:

    I have a steel rotor off of a Harley Davidson motorcycle. It is 12" in diameter with holes in it. I am figuring the surface area at 196 sq in. by calculating Pi(r*r)-holes. I have tried plating it in Flash Copper at 12 & 8 amps. Result both times: burnt plate, bubbled and easily peeled. So I removed all of that again and tried it at 4 amps. Result: not burnt but still bubbled and easily peeled. My parts are cleaned using a combination of ammonia, dish soap, and water, and unless I'm doing it wrong, they pass the waterbreak test. My tanks are a little on the cold side because I live in the NW and my garage isn't insulated, but even at 80 degrees the flash copper should work, right?

    WHAT AM I DOING WRONG?!?!??! IS THERE AN EASIER WAY!?!?!?!?!? WHY ME??!?!?!?!?!?!?

    I'm going to go to bed now

    P.S. Does anyone have a cheat sheet with useful tips and easy to follow operating instructions that they are willing to share with me? Excel format? Pleeeeeeeeeze

  • #2
    why me

    are you positive your passing the water break test?? i dont think your cleaning is close to good enough. i used to think i could clean with soap and water as well. here i how i clean everything i plate now.

    1- clean with soap and water
    2- electroclean using a stainless steel stock pot as the anode - this way i clean the item 360 degrees all the way around at the same time.
    3- rinse
    4-soak in a acid salts metal activator
    6- copper plate
    7- rinse
    6- nickel plate

    using this method i have never had plating peel or blister--so if it aint broke dont fix it.

    a water break test means --if you have cleaned a part properly the water should actually stay on the part as kinda like a sheet of water on the surface of the part,if its beading up at all anywhere or running off your never gonna get any type of plating to bond to your item.

    to many people fly by night on proper prep work and cleaning prior to plating and then want to blame the plating solution their using.



    • #3
      Thanks for your reply and help. Can you elaborate on the electrocleaning a little bit? Exactly how do you do this? Does it remove dirt or plating or _______? What about the metal salts activator? Is this the Pickle #4 that came with my kit?

      Sorry so many questions, but I have tried trial and error for too long now with nothing but error. I am selling services faster than I can keep up. I have a stack of parts to get done already. Luckily all of my customers are close friends and understand that I am still learning.

      Thanks for all of your help!


      • #4
        why me

        electrocleaning is baiscally reverse plating---to keep it simple-----you place your negative leed from your power supply to the anode---in my case the stock pot and your positive leed to the part. i use anywhere from 2-4 volts and the bath baiscally boils the stuff off a part you will never remove with soap and water. from my reading the pickel #4 is the same thing. make sure you have a seperate rinse for each step as well. try this and im sure you will have much more success and remember dont crank up your power supply to high as well.

        good luck and keep trying because there is a learing curve in any plating but the best way to learn is plate something even if its a copper pipe.



        • #5
          When you say that the bath "boils" off anything that soap and water don't get do you mean that you are running this at a boiling temperature?


          • #6
            why me

            i mean i heat the electrocleaner up on a hot plate to around 140-150 degrees for steel items and around 110 or so for brass base items. the best way to describe the reaction is to think of dropping an alka-seltzer into water but the anode causes the crud to be pulled off the part. my termanology could be wrong but i look at it as reverse plating basically.

            im no subject matter expert on plating terms i have only been copper and nickel tank plating since around july of this year. take a look at my web site for a lot of plating pictures.




            • #7


              Bhodges is right on. What kind of cleaning solution are you using? It sounds like your cleaning is the biggest potential problem. It wouldn't hurt to describe other aspects of your plating process however.

              You'll need to have a pretty large tank, and your anode area has to be similar to the part's surface area. Are you trying to plate both sides? You'll need to accommodate the part with the appropriate anode arrangement. Maybe a brief description of the other aspects might reveal a clue.

              You would be surprised how tough it could be to remove grease and oil from a part prior to plating. Some people in this forum are using lye-based cleaners because they really attack the greases most effectively. I had problems until I switched to EPI's EKleen 125. I have not seen a disbonding problem in over 100 plated parts since. But the stuff is awfully caustic, so you have to protect your eyes and skin. And you can't just dump it down the drain without neutralizing it. I wish Caswell carried it.

              I hesitate to advise you on mixing a solution up from the lye you can buy at the grocery store, but a small, careful experiment with it might reveal something that works better for you. DON"T MIX LYE WITH ACID. PROTECT YOUR EYES AND SKIN!

              After cleaning, you need 2 rinse tanks, then pickle (if you choose to use it), then 2 more rinse tanks. All rinsing needs to be DISTILLED WATER. Keep the rinse water clean by rotating the tanks and replacing the initial rinse tank periodically

              Proper waterbreak means that after dip rinsing it will look like the part is painted with water, and it stays there with no signs of beading. This is the ONLY way you'll know the part is clean enough prior to plating. Oh, and don't touch the part with your fingers after cleaning--even with gloves.

              Don't give up. Once you get the cleaning right, you'll start enjoying this work!!



              • #8
                Steel rotor from Harley


                One more thought.

                I know this is an obvious question, but are you absolutely positive the rotor isn't already chrome plated? If so, this chrome has to come off. Nothing will plate to chrome.