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Just a few questions about Nickel plating

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  • Just a few questions about Nickel plating

    I purchased the 1.5 gal. nickel plating kit and have used it only twice on very small parts. Now I need to plate larger parts. Would it be ok to add 3 more gallons of new nickel solution to the existing batch. Can you plate over existing nickel? Also do the nickel annodes need to be as large as the parts being plated? Any advice would be appreciated.

  • #2
    Just a few answers

    As long as you are sure the existing solution is ok (and of couse the same Caswell formula), then yes, it will be alright to add more.

    Be sure and run some tests first (by plating a piece of polished copper pipe) prior to adding the new solution.
    It would be best to perform the test on the old and new solutions.
    If both parts look identical from both solutions then you know you can't go wrong by intermixing them.
    You may want to filter the old solution (just use those huge paper coffee filters, no actiated charcoal) as an added bit of insurance.

    I have had the same solution for years, add to it when I need to plate larger parts and I have never had any issues.

    You can plate over old/existing niclel plate as long as you buff, clean, and reactivate the existing nickel plating.

    To reactivate the old/existing nickel plating, dip the part in battery acid for at least (30) seconds and rinse with distilled water.

    Be sure and go "hot" (everything electrically connected) prior to placing the part into the nickel bath.

    Don't ever break electrical contact or remove the part while it is being plated or the 2nd nickel plating layer will peel off!

    Yes, the anodes should always be as large as the part for good coverage. (2) anodes on either side of the tank works even better.
    Remember to keep at least (3) inches of distance between the anodes and part.

    The best method I have found is to use (2) anodes, large air bubble agitation and a device that rotates the part while it is being plated.
    Perfect plating coverage, no post buffing required, ever!

    Also, be sure your power supply can handle the extra load of the larger parts (approx. 75 milliamp (.075A) is needed per square inch of part surface).

    George W.
    Orlando, FL


    • #3
      Thanks for the information.


      • #4
        George W.

        Thanks for the information. I tried plating a cast iron part and used pickel #3 in the manual to activate the nickel. This is different from what you suggested. Does it make any difference? I rinsed the part w/ distilled water, put it in sp degreaser & then to the plating tank. When I pulled it out of the plating tank there wasn't any nickel on it just a very light rust color. The part had some pits so I did some grinding on it before plating.
        It is possible I went through the nickel. Could dipping the part in the acid pickel without any nickel on it have caused this problem?


        • #5
          I should have claified "batery Acid" in my post.
          Yes it is Pickel #3.

          Now, you really have me concerned.
          Did you really put the part into the plating solution right after it came out of the SP Degreaser?

          Always rinse the part in distilled water before going into any plating solution.

          I believe you may have hosed up your solution with the SP Degreaser.
          (I can't say for sure since I never put a part wet with SP Degreaser into any of my plating solutions)

          Perhaps Ken will chime in to let you know if your solution is now contaminated from the SP Degreaser.

          No, the pickel #3 on the bare steel would have not harmed a thing assuming you rinsed the part off first.
          I always do a #3 pickel dip (on steel, nickel or brass) followed by a distilled water rinse just prior to going into the nickel tank.

          E-mail me through my profile.
          I'll e-mail you my step-by-step foolproof nickel instructions.

          George W.


          • #6
            Yes I did rinse the part in distilled water before I put it in the plating tank so there should not be any degreaser in the plating tank.


            • #7
              To be honest, I don't know what is in the SP degreaser so I can't tell you what the impact of it will be. But my guess is it's organic in nature. It is not very strong on the pH scale so I doubt that should have much effect. Overall result: It should at worst dull the finish or give it a haze. A carbon filtering would clear up the nickel mix, followed by re-charging with brightener. But avoid future contamination of the nickel because it's tough on the mix.

              I strongly recommend two rinses after degreaser, and two rinses after the acid pickle. You need to be conscientious at all times about preventing rust from forming once you enter the plating process. Make sure the part has NO rust on it before going into the degreaser. From there, it should NEVER be allowed to dry off until after the plating process is complete. That means you go from degrease to rinse to rinse to pickle to rinse to rinse to plating tank with no more than a few seconds in between dips.

              Do NOT let the part dry off anywhere along the way. Coming out of the first degreaser rinse, water should cling to the part 100%. If it does not, you have a cleaning problem and you can't go any further until you solve it.

              You'll notice that after you wet sand a part under water (wearing nitrile gloves), it holds on to water like it was painted on. This is called a succesful waterbreak. This is an example of what you need to maintain in cleanliness all the way through to the plating tank.

              It is extremenly difficult to get buffing compound off. Don't underestimate the difficulty. Consider using an ultrasonic cleaner with a cup of Dawn dishwashing liquid per gallon, heated to about 140F to remove the buffing grease--as a prewash. Then go into the hot SP. Don't be afraid to double up on the concentration of SP. Also consider an ultrasonic for this as well.

              Perfect cleaning is so important to plating that I have written to Caswell to enhance his cleaning product offerings.

              I want to echo all of George's fine advice. You must use Pickle 3 to prep a nickel surface prior to nickel plating. But for plating copper, brass, or steel, you would do fine with Pickle 4 (acid salt). I don't recommend Pickle 2 because it is too aggressive and it is stinky to have around in the plating shop.

              Double check your power supply connections. You must have .075 amps per square inch to nickel plate. The + connection must be to the anode, not the part. The tank must be at 115F to get a good plate as well.