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Electroplating (and baking!?)!

Updated: Apr 21, 2020

There are so many small parts on the Landy that are either too small to galvanise, or cannot be galvanised because of threads or tight tolerances, or are not suitable for painting. One could (in some cases) buy new items, such as bolts, but it is way more satisfying (for me) to restore the old part. I thus looked into (with some help and collaboration from my mate, Graham!) simple DIY electroplating.



Armed with white spirit vinegar (which is basically a mild acid), some table salt (to aid conductivity), some white sugar (to reduce crystal size and make coating shinier) and some common or garden variety metal items, we went about baking, I mean, creating an electrolyte solution for plating items with nickel, zinc or copper. The initial solution is about a litre or two of white spirit vinegar in a plastic container. To this you can add a couple of tablespoons of table salt, and white sugar to taste(!). Then, you take the material you are interested in plating with, and create two electrodes out of it. I was keen to try nickel plating first, but as I could not find pure nickel sheeting during Covid-19 lock-down, I raided my mother-in-law's coin collection for some old South African 5c pieces (which, I believe, are pure nickel). I drilled a hole in each coin, and threaded a copper wire through the coin. I then placed the two electrodes (in this case, two bunches of coins) in the solution, with one end of each of them sticking out. I took a small DC power supply or battery (in my case I used a 5.7V cellphone charger) and connected the ground terminal to one of the electrodes, and the positive terminal to the other electrode. The chemical process begins immediately, as is evidenced by vigorous bubbles coming off the cathode (the negative electrode). The process basically saturates the acid solution with metal ions (in this case nickel ions) from the anode (the positive electrode), which then migrate to, and are deposited on, the cathode. Once you have made a fairly saturated solution (in the case of nickel, the solution turns green), you can replace the cathode electrode with the item you want to plate. You need to acid wash (swimming pool acid will do) the part before placing it in the plating solution.


The initial results have been very promising indeed. Once I can obtain some more pure material, I will try and perfect the process. For now, I have lots I can get on with...!




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You never fail to amaze me with your ingenuity and resourcefulness. You would make a good chef !!!!

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