Nickel plating bike parts - FORKS

Jul 25, 2016
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I like shiny things, the more chrome the better. Since I can't afford to chrome all my bike stuff, I'm gonna try some nickel plating.
Follow along if you choose, I'll post up, the good, bad, and ugly, whether it works or not.

Using this electrolysis method, I've read a lot of tutorials, watts plating, hard nickel etc, this is the most straightforward for a test run
http://www.instructables.com/id/Hig...aring-Your-Object-to-be-Plated/?amp_page=true

1 gallon vinegar $2.50
1 teaspoon Epsom salt
1 nickel plate $10 ebay
Have some nickel99 weld rods coming too.

Kicked off the process tonight making nickel wash. Using a 19V laptop charger for this step.
20161205_192601.jpg
 
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Ive used electrolysis derusting before, worked well but have since moved to other methods.

Also messed with plating this summer using real nickels. they're mostly copper, the plating came out dull black on a couple bolts I did. Might revisit it, the coating adhered well.
 
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Ran it about 4 hours last night, unplugged over night for safety.

I added a nickel99 weld rod and the nickel plate today, starting to get a light green tint to the solution.

The tutorial suggested regular salt, I'm using Epsom salt because it eliminates the formation of chlorine gas.

Not sure if cold garage temp are effecting the process, if I'm just treating more solution than the tutorial, maybe nickel plates are too small, seems slow.

Reading up on zinc plating too.
 
Jul 25, 2016
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What about using the plating solutions?
Don't want to spend that much, Caswell is expensive. I've got time over the winter to mess with the process.
I've considered making hard nickel solution, it would be about $35 gallon for the chemicals. needs to be 140 degrees to work, so add a heater. the goal is to get a working process and enough solution to do bars and forks, about 4-5 gallons of solution.
First test run will be on 3 pc BMX cranks.

Also want to try zinc with a brightener, have a buffer, don't mind polishing after coating, just need a strong even bond, and good coating build.

Whatever I learn here will be carried over to auto resto, got a few cars torn apart, that's where I spend most of my hobby time, and $$$.
 
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Might want to be careful on mating parts like your BMX crank.
Years ago worked in a machine shop, we had a run of expensive transmission shafts which the bearing dia. were turned undersize. Decision was made to chrome plate them to save them. After plating I ground the bearing diameters to size - but the shafts were still scrapped because the plating added material to the splines and they were now oversize. :eek:
 
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Jul 25, 2016
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Horsefarmer, I follow what you're saying. The plating is largely line of sight, unless I stick an anode in the spline hole I don't think I'll get much plating build, we'll see. Full disclosure on this thread, if it goes to crap you guys will know.

Apparently, epsom salt wasn't the answer. My solution was not turning green, not electrolytic. Added a teaspoon of sea salt and within an hour it started turning green.

Found an old DC power supply, set it to 20V and letting the solution work, 20V it's 1.5 amp. Changed the anodes, both are Ni99 weld rod.

Haro 3 pc cranks. Hardware is in oxalic acid. Crank arms, sprocket are in aircraft stripper.
20161207_183257.jpg
 
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Full disclosure as promised, the first couple tries didn't work well. I wasn't getting any nickel build up on my steel parts. I thought it was the 40 degree temp in the garage. Got pissed put the lid on the container and moved on to zinc plating.
 
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Zinc. Used this thread as reference.
http://thefactoryfiveforum.com/showthread.php?14392-DIY-Zinc-Plating-for-Donor-Nuts-and-Bolts

Zinc roof strips $30 50 feet
3/4 gallon of 5% vinegar
Tbsp epsom salt
Tbsp sugar as a brightener

Wrapped the container with zinc strip, mixed up solution, ran it at 12V to let the solution saturate.

Zinc plated some of the crank parts at 2v. Things went well, good coating, that polished up OK. Added another tbsp of sugar and the coating smoothed out.
20161210_152934.jpg
20161210_152403.jpg

2 coats of zinc, scotchbrite in between, quick buff at the end.

The zinc is much more cost effective. I'm going to try different voltage settings and times to see if I can get it reasonably shiny. I can make up a lot of solution and still have plenty of materials left over from the $30 roof strip.
 
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So I threw this part back in the nickel plate. I remembered seeing some tutorials on prelating nickel with copper, so I figured maybe I just wasn't getting a good steel to nickel bond with my set up.

It worked, I can prelate with zinc and get the nickel to bond.

I can't get a good pic of it, this is nice and shiny, not chrome shiny, but I'm happy with the results.
20161210_152831.jpg


I think I'll do a copper solution as well, try this as a precoat for the crank arms before nickel.
Doing the hardware items with zinc, they're coming out well, no need to nickel coat these, zinc will give good protection.
 
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This bolt was very rusty black oxide off an different set of 3 pc cranks. Wire wheeled, etch in muratic acid (could have used oxalic if you want to wait). 2 quick dips in copper with scotch Brite in between (pic 1 after copper). 1.5V 2 min each.

1 nickel dip 2V 3 min, quick buffer polish.

Lot of work for a bolt, but once everything is set up it goes quick. If you have original hardware it would be worth it. I wanted to try the copper, it's working well as a pre plate for nickel.

20161211_072314.jpg

20161211_080637.jpg
 
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Spindle in zinc. second pic is out of plating, the roughness is an indication I need to add an aeration system to get smoother, brighted coatings. If I keep going with bright zinc I'll get a fish tank bubbler. the method I have now will work well for hardware.

Before
20161210_154914.jpg

Zinc plated
20161211_081817.jpg

Polished
20161211_082330.jpg
 
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Crank arm out of zinc
20161211_090350.jpg

Scotchbrite polish, pretty good finish, I wrapped a piece of zinc in a plastic onion bag so I could put it into the spline and pedal holes to get coverage, you can see it in the pic. onion bag prevents it from shorting out.
20161211_090942.jpg