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Discussion Starter #21
Zinc Plating bath recipe

Others have asked this question before and although it's buried in this or one of the referenced threads on the topic, I thought I'd simply post the recipe I use for the electrolyte.

Dissolve 1/4 lb of Epsom salts and 1/4 lb of white sugar into a quart of white vinegar.

regards,
Rob
 

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Others have asked this question before and although it's buried in this or one of the referenced threads on the topic, I thought I'd simply post the recipe I use for the electrolyte.

Dissolve 1/4 lb of Epsom salts and 1/4 lb of white sugar into a quart of white vinegar.

regards,
Rob
Nice... and, simple enough for me.
Thanks.
-- alonzo
 

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Used this recipe off the Honda 305 forum and thanks to Snakeoil and others contribution over there have been the mad plater lately, this works really well top stuff posting this over here mate.

Ruger001.
 

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Discussion Starter #24
I did some searching on the web and found other DIY home plating process for doing zinc. They involve pickling the parts in strong acids, rinsing in distilled water, etc. I'm sure they do a better job and the end product is more durable. But when you considering the precautions you have to take with some of those chemicals and with the process I've been using you can do it in your basement with zero protective gear or risk, I can live with the reduced durability.

regards,
Rob
 

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I did some searching on the web and found other DIY home plating process for doing zinc. They involve pickling the parts in strong acids, rinsing in distilled water, etc. I'm sure they do a better job and the end product is more durable. But when you considering the precautions you have to take with some of those chemicals and with the process I've been using you can do it in your basement with zero protective gear or risk, I can live with the reduced durability.

regards,
Rob
Rob --
I've just started plating a few parts using your info and I must say that I'm impressed! Brought some crappy nuts and bolts back from the dead (appearance.)
Thanks for your contribution on this.

-- alonzo
 

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Discussion Starter #26
Glad you like how the process works. I have to admit, I'm a skeptic for anything that seems too good, too cheap or too easy to be true. But this zinc plating process is way easy and the results are excellent. I've even had situations where I had a wrench slip or Phillips screwdriver do its thing and rather than kicking the anvil, I simply cleaned up the buggered fastener and replated it.

This means that all the old fasteners on our bikes can all be made to look almost like new. Big savings. Plus, it is also great for special items you make and want to protect from the elements.

regards,
Rob
 

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A great thread. It should be made a sticky on the Tech Tips side.

I did loads of fastenings on my last bike and have just got the kit out again.

I am sure this point has been made before, but If you drain off the elecrolyte it seems to keep well in the bottle, left in the bath ,with the zincs, I have found it goes off. My last lot has remained usable for over a year.
 

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Discussion Starter #28
You are right, Doug. First left in the bucket it will continue to eat away your zinc. It also will fill with what appears to be some form of smut, probably a type of zinc corrosion product. Or it could be the impurities in the zinc with is no 100% pure.

I made a funnel out of a soda bottle that fits snugly into the gallon vinegar jug. When I'm done plating, I simple pour the bath back into the jug and pop the cap back on.

What you will find is with time the bath starts to get dark. That's a sign it's time to make a new bath.

Save all the remnants of your intial zinc plates. My first set of plates looked like lace curtains after doing my 305 hardware. Cut those bits up and drop them into your new bath while it is still in the jug and let it sit overnight. They will be gone in the morning and your bath will be nicely charged with zinc ions. This will slow down the destruction of your actual zinc electrodes. I learned this the hard way. First bath was made and put into the bucket with the new zinc electrodes. Within a short period of time, they were the above described lace curtains and the thickness of tissue paper. I made new electrodes and they lasted well over a year. The point is to pre-charge your new bath with zinc before you start plating. Overnight is usually enough time. If all you have is one big chunk of zinc, then just leave the bath overnight in the bucket for the same result.

regards,
Rob
 

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Informative thread.

I use a different bath formula, but I did some experiments to try to get at film thickness. By weighing a piece of known area before and after plating, I calculated thickness by using the density of zinc.

I was able to repeatably get 1 mil (0.001") thicknesses. This is considered a fairly heavy plating layer for zinc. If I tried to go too much beyond this, the finish got rough.

Theoretically, for a fully charged bath, zinc should plate at the rate of 1.22 grams per amp-hour. This is equivalent to 1 mil over a square foot for every 14.3 amp-hours.

Also, I use gelatin as a an additive. It doesn't brighten much, but is supposed to give a finer "grain".
 

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Discussion Starter #31
I believe when they use the term "brightener" it means the same as providing a finer grain to the zinc plate.

Yes, Alonzo, I've measured the thickness. I've measured the diameter of shafts before and after. I've been able to put quite a bit of zinc on a shaft. On axels, I've had to put the axel in my lathe and polish down the plate for the axel to slide into the wheel bearing.

I also built up a zamak casting on an ignition switch so that the worn threads worked again. That took lots of trips thru the bath. But it worked.

Never used molasses. To me, sugar is sugar.

regards,
Rob
 

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Rob--

I think commercial platers get shiny plates right out of the tank, and I assume this is due to their proprietary brighteners. It's not hard to find the chemical names for some of these, but finding a source and actually buying them as a home plater is a different story.

My bath produces, as I think you said yours does, a matte grey finish that is easily brought to a very nice shine with little effort, so the drawback isn't a big one for small operations like ours.

I once had a plater slip me a little bottle of a proprietary copper plating additive called "Copper Brite". I don't know what is in it, but including just a tiny amount of it to a copper bath produced amazing results.

Ed
 

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Thank you

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Rob, and all that have contributed to this thread, thanks very much for this info on zinc plating. I'm finding it to work very well and have rescued several parts that would have cost me $$'s to replace (e.g., Chain adjusters at ~$25+ each.) Even a 5/16" x 2" bolt costs a couple of bucks anymore. I just wish that the Phillips heads on the case screws weren't so buggered or I'd be plating them too. I saw a post here somewhere that was saying that beginning (or after) 1968 Triumph hardware was zinc plated and not cadmium. Maybe that's why some of the less rusted (but still grungy) stuff zinc plates out so nice..

Anyway, I'm having fun with this (my shop is starting to look like Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory.) And, I love the fact that great results can be had with ordinary household chemicals rather than fancy proprietary stuff.

-- alonzo

BTW: I'm starting to experiment with "rust removal" with electrolysis. http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/andyspatch/rust.htm
 

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Discussion Starter #35
Alonzo,

Glad you like the process. I'm a bonafide zincaholic if there ever was one.

Regarding Phillips head screws, many can be saved with a little hammer finesse. Carefully hammer the upset metal back to where it belongs. You have to make sure you hammer it in the correct direction to restore the screwhead. Once you have the metal moved back to where it belongs, file and sand the head to remove any latent burrs. If you have a bead blast cabinet, blast it for a uniform surface and then plate it. You will be amazed at how well you can restore old buggered screws.

When you install them, use a well fitting screwdriver bit in an impact driver. The key is getting a correctly fitting bit. I'm always looking for Phillips bits whenever I'm in tool stores, fasterner distributors, etc.

regards,
Rob
 
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