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If you want to dress up your ride and protect your parts, but do not have a lot of money to spend having all your bits-n-pieces chrome plated, this might just be the solution you have been looking for.. For about $70 bucks, you can spend all the time you want putting a shine on every bracket, nut, bolt and washer. Or, you can use it as a rust resistant coating surface prep and apply your paint finish over it.
The zinc electroplating kit from Eastwood will give you everything you need to become completely operational. All you have to add is the parts to be plated.
While discussing this process with friends the other night, we referred to it as Old School and knew we hit the nail on the head. Old School really fits the end look and feel of the finish. When comparing zinc plating to chrome plating the best I can do is define typical chrome as a blue mirror shine, where as the zinc plating is a white, rather aluminium like shine or luster, depending on the polishing done. The fact is, you all see examples of zinc plating every day. Just check out the finish on the tin can you open to get your soup, dog food or what ever from. That is zinc plating, and that is the colour. When it comes to the shine and finish, this is very much something you define with your prep work, and the polishing you perform at the end of the plating process. There is nothing dictating you must perform either step if you do not wish to as long as you thoroughly clean items before plating.
As you may be familiar, I like to use reseal able snap lid plastic containers for these dipping processes. This way you maximize the mileage you are going to get from your solution by minimizing the evaporation. Also, if you have a dedicated tank you wont have to pour the solution back and forth to the container eliminating spilling and splashing.
Being that I do a lot of small items, I have set up hardware to go with the tank to make the process similar to a professional plating operation, all be it a much smaller scale. I have taken a couple lengths of copper tubing, flattened the ends, and bent them so they hook over the ends of the tank. These tubes will be connected to the negative side of the system.
Get hold of some solid copper wire and cut it into roughly 3 or 4 inch lengths dependant on your tank configuration. I had a few lengths of old house hold 14/2 wire kicking around, which fits the need perfectly if you strip off the insulation. Bend one end so that it can hang over the tubes, the other end you bend into hooks to go through holes in the items you want to hang into the solution, or, with some extra length, you can wrap, twist or otherwise connect to the items you want to plate so that when hanging from the tubes, they are completely immersed in the solution.
If you read the review on Rust Dissolver, you will be familiar with the rusted headlight adjusters. So, I will use these as an example of the results with out any preparation polishing. Here is an adjustor, freshly cleaned, but no other prep work.
The length of time you leave items in the solution depends on the size of the item or the combined surface area of the items being plated. DO NOT WORRY, it is not complicated, and it is very forgiving. In fact, just put it in for a minute or two, then take a look. The longer you leave items in, the more transfer material builds up on the surface. The larger the item, the more time required. If you get a little carried away, the surface starts to become course looking for lack of a better term. If this happens, simply reverse the +/- polarity, and the system will remove material. How much simpler can that get.
With these brackets, I tossed them in the tumbler with some hardwood polishing media, to bring up the shine a bit.
Here are a few other items done, again with no preparation of the material other than cleaning, but, I have done some polishing to impart a more chrome like finish. It’s difficult to photograph chrome like finishes, so these images don’t do the results justice. Once I have a chance, I’ll do up a few items to show you just how good things can be with minimal effort.
While the Eastwood kit comes set up for a couple D cell batteries, once you get going, temptation gets the better of you and you want to try bigger items. The batteries can only handle so much.. Nuts bolts, small brackets. Past that, you might want to consider a power supply. An adjustible power supply can be found for anywhere from $60 and up, depending on output. It can be a little confusing as when refering to these in relation to electroplating, they are caqlled rectifiers. Same darn thing, different name. None the less, this power supply will shorten the plating time, and allow for larger items (surface area). Here’s one I grabbed for about $100.
Last Update: April 23, 2012