Can anyone recommend a good Nickel Plating Specialist?
Anyone that does good chrome plating in your area can do nickel plating. when my local plater did mine he explained that they simply eliminate the last phase of the operation. instead of applying copper then nickel then chrome. they just do copper then nickel.
Someone mentioned in a previous post that most chrome shops do not know how to do nickel and that it should be done the old way. The new way of doing nickel will be dull in a matter of days outside.
I have no idea what he was talking about or if there is ant truth to this but wanted to get some feedback from people in the know.
I've done hundreds of pieces for MTFCA and MAFCA folks over the last umteen years using the "new way" and I don't know what he's talking about either. It would be good to have feedback from some of those folks; Good, bad or questionable. It would settle the question once and for all. But I've had a few pieces I did over eight years ago that are as nice today as the day they were plated.
I'm not marketing anything because I don't do outside plating any more so this is just informational.
There is no old way or new way, just one way. I do a little plating for myself. I use Caswell kits. It is pretty simple process. The only trick is getting a good coat of copper on it and polish it. Once you have shinny copper, the nickel will be shinny too. As said in a previous post, any good chrome guy can do nickel.
That's good enough for me. I have a chrome guy a few hours away. I'll give him a shot. Thanks for the input guys.
It would be nice to hear the other side of the argument just for argument sake. But I guess with anything if its not done right it wont look good or last no mater what method you use.
Ken's work is top notch. I have a radiator neck he did couple years ago,and it is still in great shape.
I used Caswell for silver plating Daguerreotype plates. They work rather well, and if you have small things to do that is a great way to go! A friend has used their nickel kits with success. (I stopped using them only because I run a cyanide plate bath now, not because of their product)
Not sure if this is the answer but it could be that some are using a cheaper process to save costs ( probably for them not the customer.
Chrome plating is similar to the process of painting.
The base, usually steel for auto use is first smoothed to a fine finish. When the process starts copper is first applied ( primer) and linished and buffed to fill any minor imperfections and scratches. Copper works well and is rust proof and cheap and easy to electroplate on.
Once a good surface is obtained nickel is used, it can also be buffed if needed to improve the finish of the surface. Being a nice silver like finish it was a big improvement over the brass parts used on cars.
When Chromium became available the process was extended. Now the finish has a better mirror image and is harder wearing but nickel is used under it as the chrome was expensive and the cheaper nickel allows the chrome to achieve better coverage with less material just as some paints have a color placed under them first so they cover better (opacity).
By using some cheaper product besides nickel one could reduce costs, and as always there is always someone looking to do a cheaper job taking shortcuts and cutting back on the quality of the materials is one way of doing that.
One should be able to easily find out if a business is known for its quality work or not. Like painting this process can have failures. One of our members who had an accident and required his radiator surround to be replated had to return it as the plating flaked off. Done properly it should outlast us old owners.
As to chroming a Model T I would think most of us would expect a to pay less for a chrome plated model T than an equal conditioned nickel plated one.
I have to agree with Jack on Ken's work.
He plated the window frame arms on my '25 Light Express three years ago and they still look brand new.
Back in the late '50's/early '60's in Chicago, I had numerous '28 Model A Ford parts chrome plated by a friend,...an old fellow (long gone now of course) who had a very small but very successful chrome plating business. He chrome plated many parts for me, but would ONLY chrome plate the parts if I promised to paint the backs of the thin sheet metal pieces (like radiator shroud and window mouldings) with Rustoleum before I installed the parts on the car. He claimed that for chrome plating to last a long time on such parts that were exposed to weather such as automotive parts (especially the thin ones) that over a long period of time, the chrome plating would deteriorate from moisture that would very slowly and gradually enter from a raw and unfinished back side. It should be noted that this fellows work was very highly respected (by his customers AND other chrome platers in the area) and he would take many small plating jobs that other chrome platers would not touch. Small parts for musical instruments for orchestras for example. My point is, I always questioned (but not to him) his theory of moisture slowly entering from the raw metal back side and ultimately ruining the chrome plating on the front, or finished side. Does this make any sense? Always wondered,.......anybody?.......George.......??? Thanks,.....harold
New one on me...other than unlike nickel or copper, chrome plate is in fact microscopically porous...but that doesn't make sense other than stuff could still rot from the inside out???
Nickel plating oxidizes, that's why chrome plating came about--the chrome is a nearly clear plating on top of the nickel--but it's not completely clear, it has a blue hue to it, hence the color differences.
Back in the day (30s) the nickel plating had to be buffed to be shiny, then the process was changed (biggest change, I've been told was to aerate the plating solution) so the nickel was shiny right out of the solution. This saved the buffing process between the nickel and chrome process. I suspect the thickness of the nickel layer was reduced when there was no need to polish, and it was covered by the chrome.
Since I'm not in the plating biz, only read & talked about it with those that are/were, I disavow any superior knowledge of the process!
The whole object gets submersed in the plating solutions so the back is coated the same as the front, its just not worked to a mirror finish.
Often the backs being not deemed important don't initially get cleaned properly so they deteriorate.
I haven't read these posts so if someone already said it then that is good!
The new way is using only the electroless nickel (Since about '74). It throws better but needs the copper strike, first, or it will peel if it gets much water on it. Think of all of the hot rod cheap valve covers from China after a couple of years. The OLD way is to copper coat or flash or strike the bare, clean, metal first. (Triple plate if doing chrome). The nickel on top of brass or copper is the OLD method and is really the ONLY way to go. Even with chrome use the copper first!!! A note here though__ anytime you plate the time in the solution IS important! Hydrogen imbrittlement within the part will happen. Heat treat is in order, really, to anneal the part or bleed off the trapped gasses within the part after plating.
Just my 2 cents.
I can vouch for Ken's bright nickel plating on smaller parts. The best I've ever had done for a most reasonable price and after several years, the parts he did, still have the mirror shine they arrived with. No dulling or oxidation.
Ken I sure hope you are still doing plating. I have more pieces to send you. As great as you are at it, I'd love to see you expand to doing larger pieces. Jim Patrick
Ken did a lot of parts for me and they look as good as they ever did.
Just in case anyone missed it in his above post, Ken Kopsky stated that he is out of the 'outside' plating business and only does it 'inhouse' for restoration jobs that he is contracted to do for customers. Those of us that were fortunate enough to get any plating done by him before he made this decision, are extremely fortunate. We won't probably ever find anyone to do a better plating job for any amount of money, much less at his rates.
I second Jim Patrick's comments regarding Ken's bright nickel plating. The parts Ken did for me are TOP NOTCH! Thanks again Ken!
Christensen Plating in downtown Los Angeles. They do museum work. They did the plating on my '25 at least 7 or 8 years ago, and all I have to do is wipe it off with a soft cotton rag once and a while. I do believe there is a correct way to do nickel plating and a non correct way. I've seen nickel that was done by chrome shops that turns dull in a month.
Thanks to Jim Patrick I found Ken Kopsky, he did a Great Job! on the parts I sent him, I doubt that anyone could have done a better job.
His work is flawless the parts I sent him looked like crap. After Ken worked on them he sent my parts back that are mirror slick....
Great work Ken, and once again Thank You.
It could be a cheapening of the process and/or chemicals in order to increase profits, as someone suggested, but it's more likely that the EPA is making things tough on platers, forcing them to switch to more "green" but less effective and way more expensive chemicals, like they have been doing to house paints over the last decade.
Clarification on the plating process is in order. While it is true that the parts are immersed in a solution, the solution is only sort of a "transfer medium". That is, the plating material, be it copper, nickel, or chrome has to travel from an anode of that material, (copper, nickel or chrome), to the part you want plated. The anode or several anodes are positioned around the piece you want plated so that they are pretty much in a direct line of sight to the area you want plated. For example, if you are plating a bumper, the anode would be on the side that will show when installed on the vehicle. The plater might not put an anode on the back side, because it won't show. Some of the solution will carry some material to the back side, but it will definitely be thinner back there. I think that explains why an earlier post talked about on thin material you paint the back side to add a layer of protection.
On complicated pieces, platers will bend annodes to surround the piece to produce an even coating. I had a long visit, not too long ago, with a company who was trying to chrome plate aluminum wheels for semi tractors and big motorhomes. Big market for that sort of thing, if they could make it work. They were experimenting with different shaped anodes to be sure they got an even coating on all the somewhat convoluted surfaces of a large wheel like that.
Hope this sheds some light on this somewhat mysterious subject.
Michael - So,.....maybe there "IS" some truth to my long gone old chrome plater friends theory of painting the back side for extra protection and a long-lasting plating job,.....thanx,......harold
sorta drifting here, but back in the 80's i drove a delivery truck and a large plater was my first stop every morning. at that time, the EPA had forced them into buying a gigantic filter system for water leaving the plant. it was half a million bucks, and about as big as a 2 car garage. it sat in the corner of the warehouse un-hooked up for years because the cost of running it was more than the fine they paid for not having it hooked up!