Zinc Plating at Home

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ABQTBird
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Zinc Plating at Home

Post by ABQTBird » Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:02 am

I have written up a procedure for zinc plating at home. It is a rather lengthy demonstration, but I will show the plating of three parts. One of them was the distributor hold down plate as shown below.

From this:
Image

To this:
Image

http://www.southsandia.com/forum/websit ... ating.html

Happy plating!
Last edited by ABQTBird on Fri May 11, 2012 11:28 am, edited 2 times in total.
Tom in Albuquerque
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dales65
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Post by dales65 » Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:59 am

Excellent article Tom, thanks for sharing, On the other hand you keep creating more work for me! lol.

Cheers
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Alan H. Tast
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Post by Alan H. Tast » Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:18 pm

Tom, this is wonderful - can we use this and the black phosphating articles you worked up and run them in the Scoop? We need tech articles and people have been complaining that we don't have much in print anymore vs online.
Alan H. Tast, AIA
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Post by TsNStangs » Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:28 pm

Good stuff, Tom - thanks for sharing!
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Chromate Conversion Coating

Post by ABQTBird » Sun May 20, 2012 4:02 am

I was finally able to get my chromate conversion process on zinc plating to work. It still may need some refinement, but the preliminary results are pretty good. The coating is a little heavy, but I got some real nice iridescent colors on my test piece.
Image

The technique is called the Cronak Process. After zinc plating, the part is dipped into a solution of sodium dichromate acidified with sulfuric acid. Sodium dichromate contains hexavalent chromium, which is getting harder to find in industry because it is highly toxic, however, not surprisingly, I found a pound of it on Ebay for about $20 including shipping. I'm still trying to figure out the difference between parts that are actually cadmium plated and those that are chromated, although cadmium plated parts can also be chromated. You can read about chromate conversion here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromate_c ... on_coating. My next piece will be the hood latch on my 62 which was probably orginally cad plated or chromated. I will document the process and put it on my web page if anyone is interested. Does anyone ever look in this tech area? It doesn't seem to have much traffic.
Tom in Albuquerque
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Post by Joe Johnston » Sun May 20, 2012 9:31 am

Does anyone ever look in this tech area?
I do and would like to get involved in similar plating projects, but have too many other irons in the fire right now. I read and bookmark a lot of things I find online in the evenings - if I ever get half done what I want to do I will be lucky!!
Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. J F K

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Post by 60fore » Sun May 20, 2012 11:42 am

Does anyone ever look in this tech area?
Tom, when Daniel (TsNStangs) and I were cooking up the idea for this section of the forum we wanted it to just be about solutions for common T-Bird problems ie. "How do I bleed my brakes" or "How do I troubleshoot my sequential turn signals". So as far as I'm concerned the how-to articles from people like redstangbob, tbird (Jim Mills) and yourself fit the bill perfectly.

If there is less traffic here than in other areas of the forum, so be it. At least a person can come here and quickly find answers to common questions.
Currently Birdless....we'll see how long that lasts!

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Post by tbird » Sun May 20, 2012 11:59 pm

Tom
Your trip into plating is very interesting I have done a lot of my own plating firstly using the stuff sold by Eastwood then moving up to the Caswell equipment which is much better and offers many finishes including chrome but for the amateur who only uses it occasionally it takes up a lot of time and effort. Keep the info coming but remember that a lot of use do not have the background in this that you have if you can do some detailed info on the chemical mix's and methods we would sure appreciate it.
Jim Mills
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Post by ABQTBird » Mon May 21, 2012 9:18 am

then moving up to the Caswell equipment
It looks like Caswell sells good stuff. That's what inspired me try the chromating. I'd like to try their CopyCad system for zinc plating to see if it gives brighter results, but it's $160 plus shipping plus another $40 for the chromating solution. I'd rather spend the money on T-Bird parts. What was your experience with Caswell? My goal is to re-chromate the throttle linkage, which is a very awkward part. The other parts that look chromated would be the hood catches where the pins go and the hood hinges. I don't really see anythng else that was cad plated/chromated.
Tom in Albuquerque
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Post by tbird » Wed May 23, 2012 11:23 pm

Hi Tom
Sorry for the delay in replying, the Caswell stuff I think is pretty good but as I said before the fact that it is very critical how some of the chemicals are handled or maybe I should say treated takes up a lot of time when you just use it now and then. You would likely find that a lot of the issues are no brainers for you when everything is right you can get a real quality job but details on acid pickles and rinses when you go from plating to chromate are critical. I am on my second batch of black chromate now and have a spare batch ready in case I need to mix it up, the first one failed shortly after I got set up because of lack of instructions from Caswell apparently you must rinse real good when you go from zinc plate to pickle to black chromate or the silver in the chromate falls out and settles to the bottom then you start to get a yellow finish. They have a great forum that you can get to from their website with lots of knowledgeable guys on it that plate everyday. To get set up properly you need to spend a fair amount of money I had a 50amp DC power source so to start with I just ordered their 1 1/2 gallon zinc kit and gold chromate and black chromate the plating tanks that they supply are junk they are just plastic pails with one time lids so how do you store the stuff. I ended up buying their electronic power source and tanks that could be sealed for storage from a restaurant supplier and then also added blue chromate which is actually clear it keeps the zinc finish from developing white rust I probably have more than 600 bucks in it now.
Jim Mills
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Post by ABQTBird » Thu May 24, 2012 12:10 am

I am finding that having a good power source is probably critical to good plating. The recommendation is about 140mA/sq. in. I think I am clobbering my small parts with too much current from my power supply or battery charger, giving me too rough of a surface. When I go to clean, I am taking off too much zinc and re-exposing the steel, which of course, won't chromate. I have become overly obsessed with this and have spent hours and hours on it. I have acids, bases and other chemicals all over the place and I think I have contaminated my garage with hexavalent chromium. So if I die soon, it was in the name of Thunderbird science :lol: There are also at least four different electrolyte chemistries that I have come across. I want to compare the results of each. Yes, the cost adds up fast and I've hardly produced anything but test pieces and my car is hardly concours. But, I am having a lot of fun doing it. Definetly not for anyone without a lot of patience.
Last edited by ABQTBird on Fri May 25, 2012 12:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
Tom in Albuquerque
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Post by TsNStangs » Thu May 24, 2012 5:50 pm

Tom, that dichrome job looks every bit as good as the professional job I have done on many of the screws I sell. Unlike my situation, I doubt the thickness should be too much of a concern on the parts you'd typically be doing! (My parts have to held to a consistent .0002 - .0003 thickness!) Nice job.
~ Daniel
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Post by tbird » Thu May 24, 2012 11:57 pm

Tom
My power source is Caswell's 25 amp job which is overkill for zinc but the next size down is only 5 amp which could be border line for larger parts and it doesn't offer the same control, so I went for the big guy in case I wanted to do chrome or aluminium anodizing. You need about .001 zinc plate to do the chromate your gold looks pretty good, go and take a look on their forum lots of knowledge there.
Jim Mills
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Post by ABQTBird » Fri May 25, 2012 12:40 am

go and take a look on their forum lots of knowledge there.
Yes, I registered with the forum about a week ago. I don't know if I want to ask any questions because I don't have their products, but I have found a lot of good info.

If you ever want to try anodizing let me know. I have been looking into that. It takes a lot of sulfuric acid. Most people seem to be buying battery acid. I've seen some great results on Youtube, with most people dying it. I'd like to try reanodizing my center console.
Tom in Albuquerque
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Post by ABQTBird » Sat Jun 16, 2012 3:03 pm

I zinc plated and chromated the hood latch today. I'm not sure if this is what it should look like or not. However, I think the iridescent colors look pretty cool. The thing about this procedure is that if you don't like the results, you can dip it in a bath of hydrochloric acid to strip the zinc off and start all over again. I found an obscure paper on the internet comparing non-proprietary brighteners and they found that vanillan, or artificial vanilla, was the best brightener. It worked pretty well. I did get some streaking in the zinc due to the high current I was running to get inside the fold in the back due to current shadowing. This was a difficult piece to plate.
You need about .001 zinc plate to do the chromate
Yes, you were right about that. That is a thick plate, which explains why I have had trouble with chromating. It also has to be very bright, which I think I have fixed with the vanilla.

Image

Image

I realize this is pretty esoteric, but I like to explain the why as well as the how. So what causes all of these wild colors? It's called thin film interference. It's the same phenomenon that you see in an oil drop on the surface of water or in a soap bubble. If you are interested you can read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thin-film_interference.
Tom in Albuquerque
61-63 Forum Moderator
1962 Corinthian White Hardtop, Medium Chestnut Metallic #89 Leather, A/C, P/W
2003 Premium Torch Red/Performance White HT, Partial Accent Interior, 1 of 47.
Past T-Bird: 1960 Convertible, 1974-1978

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