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Champ54

Diy Electroplating

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Hi Fellow Z Car owners,

 

I am new to the AUSZCAR forum and this is my first attempt at posting a topic so I hope I get it right. 

 

Has anyone here tried to do DIY electroplating. I am currently fully restoring a 1974 260Z 2+2 that is a full rotisserie restoration and I have been restoring all of the zinc fittings, nuts and bolts. What I am also trying to do is re-chrome the plastic tail light garnishes. 

 

I have had excellent success with a Caswell DIY electroplating kit with the zinc plating as well as copper, nickel, and chrome plating metal parts but have had some difficulty getting the system to work like they claim with chrome plating the plastic parts. The Caswell Copper Conductive Paint does not work well at all as it has almost no adhesive qualities even when I tried it with an adhesion promoter and I have tried some other alternatives with some moderate success but still not good enough. The Caswell Silvaspray is far too expensive at around $475 for 250 mls to use as the conductive coat on the plastic so I am looking for anyone that may have tried a cheaper alternative with success. I don't want to try the Caswell Silvaspray because their Copper Conductive Paint did not work well at all and it was around $80 for about 250 mls and I have doubts as to weather the Silvaspray will work as well they claim. 

 

The Caswell Zinc kits work extremely well as does their Blue Chromate but their EcoPas Yellow chromate does not work at all and only produces an iridescent blue finish. I have also tried the Janes Bright Gold Chromate and it also works very well. I also have a recipe I found on the internet for Sodium Di-Chromate and can perfectly duplicate the original yellow chromate finish on parts like bonnet catch and many other parts.

 

I am interested to find any other forum members that might have tried to do the DIY Chrome as the professional chrome platers quoted $280.00 each + GST just to re-chrome the tail light garnishes. (ouch)

 

Thanks,

Barry

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I have considered the spray chrome. There is a spray shop in Toowoomba uses the Hydrographics system. I contacted him and he wanted around $250 to spray the tail light garnishes but he said it was a polyurethane paint and would only give the appearance of about 95% chrome.

 

There are several places that sell the system and if you have the necessary skill and equipment to spray it you can do it yourself but it will still cost around $250. However, this system does look good.

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Hey Champ!

I looked into a lot of this, chromate plating and was told by another member that the hassle, time and money invested made it not worth it. It was better to outsource to specialists, since it's the kind of operation that works better at scale.

 

West Sydney. (member Specialp3 did plastic chrome work here).

http://www.chrometech.com.au/

 

South Australia. (Recommended by Ledge in South Australia)

http://www.aclassmetal.com.au/

 

and Victoria. (Vinnies, I used them to re-chrome my rear bumper, but still haven't seen it in person yet!)

http://www.vinneys.com.au/

 

I was reading quite a few topics on the DIY plastic chrome kits but I can't find the 1 I was reading the other day. This thread seems a bit more positive but I haven't read it in detail yet.

 

http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/threads/diy-spray-on-chrome.674441/

 

My concerns are:

 - How good is the finish?

 - How durable is it?

 - How expensive is it?

 

Since you mentioned the tail light trims, I considered the DIY approach but after looking at it realised that buying aftermarket reproduction ones was going to be a lot cheaper and easier. However as for the quality? Only time will tell..

 

I am curious if you can share details on the kit you used for the yellow chromate finish that looks as good as OEM? Can you tell me what product / kit and process you followed? A tutorial would be wonderful.

 

I have all my bolts organised and was told by Vinnies above that I'd have to put them all in a bucket and send them in and then get them done and later re-organise them. The main reason was that they couldn't do small batches at a time as it could burn the parts. But I'm not sure if that's because of the size of vat and voltage / amperage they use? Could be different for stuff done at home?

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I am looking to get some bolts etc plated in the near future and have made some enquiries locally. Found these guys and the price good. $60 min charge and for that was told I could get about 40kg done???? Saw a sample and it looked fine. http://www.acegatehardware.com/. I am going to get together some pieces and do a trial run soon. There was a size restriction but can't be sure, thought it was 600mm? No problem really.

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I decided to do it myself because I could be in control of the final result. Also, I have had pars lost by the professional platers in the past. In the case of the 1974 260Z if they loose a part it could be very difficult to replace it.

 

The Yellow Chromate was as follows:

200 grams Sodium Di-Chromate crystals (purchased on ebay $20.00)

2.6 litres de-ionized water (super cheap auto)

15 mls sulphuric acid.(local battery supplier)

 

After zinc plating dip the item in the chromate for about 10 seconds then a quick dip in de-ionized water as a rinse.(just a quick dip - don't slosh it around or you will wash off the chromate)

If you want a darker or richer yellow colour give it another quick dip in chromate  (5 -10 seconds) then in the rinse again. 

Hang it up and let it dry. Don't touch it until it is completely dry. Best to leave it for 24 hours.

 

I have re-plated parts such as the fuel cap, fuel filler pipe, bonnet catch, door locks, door lock striker plates, most of the specialized bolts, nuts, and washers, hand brake mechanism, under bonnet brake and clutch pipes, and dozens of small brackets and fittings. I also stripped all the metal parts off the internal heater/air con system and re-plated them. Some are yellow chromate and some are silver zinc finish.

 

I am using a Caswell Zinc plating kit but the Janes is probably just as good and cheaper. I have some of the Janes zinc anodes and they are cheaper than the Caswell anodes.

 

In my case I am re-plating everything that was originally plated. Some parts are yellow chromate and some (like the door locks) are silver zinc. Janes and Caswell have a blue chromate solution that also works very well and produces an excellent silver finish with a very slight blue colour in it. The Janes is much cheaper and makes a greater quantity.( If I could work out how to attach pics to this thread I would post some.) 

 

You need the chromate dip on the zinc as it is the protective coating for the zinc.

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From my experience the problem with re chrome plating plastic parts is removing all the old plating so that the plastic surface can be polished and prepared for replating. If you think about it a rough surface will result in a rough finish which is what happened in my case.

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True, I found using a solution of household bleach and about 20% hydrochloric acid worked very well. Took about a week soaking in it to totally clean the tail light garnishes back to the original clean shiny plastic factory finish. Bleach on it's own showed some signs of removing to old chrome and the copper underneath it but would not totally clean it. Adding the acid solved the problem. 

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Barry I'd love to see photos, you may need to use the "More Reply Options" button at the bottom, instead of just using the quick reply post.

 

Also if you're using Chrome web browser, they recently started to disable Flash ahhhhhh!. So you need to right click on the area where the choose files... button usually is and enable it.

 

I've attached some screenshots of how to do it.

 

Side Note: I will need to update the forum software shortly to the latest version. I hope they have resolved it and rely on HTML5 instead of flash for the new uploader. I didn't upgrade sooner because the new version was in beta and I wanted them to iron out all the teething issues before attempting the migration.

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 11.19.25 AM.png

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 11.20.26 AM.png

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 11.21.25 AM.png

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True, I found using a solution of household bleach and about 20% hydrochloric acid worked very well. Took about a week soaking in it to totally clean the tail light garnishes back to the original clean shiny plastic factory finish. Bleach on it's own showed some signs of removing to old chrome and the copper underneath it but would not totally clean it. Adding the acid solved the problem. 

The other reason I haven't re-done my tail light trims (which 240z/260z are different) is that no matter how hard I try not to, I break the pins on the rear removing them from the housing on 240z tail lights. They are just frail and old and the push nuts are really difficult to remove. If I could use some kind of plastic adhesive to fix the posts I'd retain the originals (and in fact I have the originals still just in case!).

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Hi Everyone,

 

Here is a few samples of the Chrome on steel, silver zinc and yellow zinc. Unfortunately I don't have before photos of most bits. The sun visor stems are my first attempt at chrome plating. They were very rusted before I started.They were sandblasted, wire brushed, then buffed before being plated. I'm very happy with the result although I think I can improve on it.

 

I think I have the zinc plating well under control. I have also had good success with the Copper, nickel, and chrome on steel. I cannot get an acceptable quality level with the chrome on plastic although Caswell maintain it can be done. I find their copper conductive paint has almost no adhesion qualities even when I used a good quality adhesion promoter. After plating it peels off. I have tried a couple of other conductive coating that worked slightly better but still not good enough.

 

Barry

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Edited by Champ54

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Before I sold my engineering business 4 1/2 years ago we used to get large quantities of bits zinc plated in Brisbane. They would only do silver zinc. Excellent work but on occasions they did loose parts. In some cases I think they left them in the acid wash too long and they dissolved. I have actually fitted 3 45mm DCOE Webbers to my vehicle but I am rebuilding the Hitachi's just for the experience of doing the zinc plating. I'll probably offer them up for sale when they are done.

post-104073-0-18990100-1471588083_thumb.jpg

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Hey champs.

Your looking after your health re using trivalent Chrome not hexavalent?

Not that you need to be rohs compliant but just for your own safety.

Your results look really good.

I can advise of our local chem suppliers for chemical and supply needs, they are adelaide based but i think have other branches interstate, will have to check.

Just shoot me a pm.

Cheers nat0

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Thanks, I tried them. They quoted $200 + GST each to do the tail light surrounds. I have found several other places that will chrome plate plastic but the costs are off the planet. I have been quoted $280 + GST each by 2 other different places to re-chrome the tail light surrounds. When you take into consideration the bumper services generally only charge around $450.00 to re-chrome a whole bumper bar the prices quoted to re-chrome the small plastic surrounds for the 260Z tail lights is way over the top.

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There is another process that I looked at for the tail light trims ( 240Z ) which is vacuum metallising.  I spoke to them and they seemed keen to help but like Gav I decided to buy the repro ones from the US. I also spoke to them about doing my right side mirror stem and that seemed to be possible... the down side is that it isn't suitable for exposure to the elements ( outside the car)   and they suggested a coat of two pack clear would fix that ...we didn't discuss cost.

 

http://www.hyqual.com/home

 

http://www.hyqual.com/services/vacuummetallising

Edited by PeterH

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There is another process that I looked at for the tail light trims ( 240Z ) which is vacuum metallising.  I spoke to them and they seemed keen to help but like Gav I decided to buy the repro ones from the US. I also spoke to them about doing my right side mirror stem and that seemed to be possible... the down side is that it isn't suitable for exposure to the elements ( outside the car)   and they suggested a coat of two pack clear would fix that ...we didn't discuss cost.

 

http://www.hyqual.com/home

 

http://www.hyqual.com/services/vacuummetallising

Thanks Peter,

Do you have a URL for the repro tail light surrounds?

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Ive used precision at eliz.

Had mixed results.

But speak to jason 8287 5555.

I use aclass regilarly.for hi spec defence.work and the certainly charge accordingly.

My machine shops get all zinc and chrome plating in Melbourne. Done for half the price including freight

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they cost me about 200 with a badge delivered. Unfortunately that's the price u have to pay. I had some bumpers done on the cheap side of things, these bumpers now reside in the scrap metal bin and i had to find 2 more to replace them.

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Thanks for the suggestions and I have been in touch with most of these companies regarding the Chrome Plating of plastic parts. The costs are so high which is why I started investigating a DIY system.

Actually, the original theme of my post was to see if anybody had tried DIY chrome plating on plastic. I can get excellent results on metal parts but as yet I cannot duplicate these results on plastic parts. The main thing is to get a good quality binding conductive base followed by copper plating, then, nickel, then the chrome. Caswell have their Copy Chrome (which is what I am using) that is primarily cobalt, but they do have a triple chrome system as well. The main problem is that the base coats they offer, copper conductive paint, and Silvaspray are extremely expensive. Would be OK if they worked but the copper is about $80 for 250 mls and the Silvaspray is about $475 for 250 mls so either way it cost big dollars to re-chrome the tail light surrounds. I have tried the copper conductive paint but I found that it has almost no adhesion qualities and when you plate the copper over the paint it just peels off so it does not work in the way they claim. The Silvaspray might work but it is just too expensive to take the chance.

What I was hoping to find was someone that had tried this and found a cheaper conductive base coat that works.

 

I am getting excellent results with the zinc plating. See the attached photo of the Hitachi carburettors. I did these just as a trial as I am actually using Webbers on my car but I wanted to see what sort of results I could get from the zinc.

 

Barry

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Hi Barry,

I've been meaning to respond to this thread for a couple of weeks. I hope you won't take this the wrong way or as criticism, but it looks to me like the DIY kit doesn't quite give you that nice sheen and chameleon colour finish you get from the professional outfits.

 

For example:

 

HS30 00019 rebuild thread:

 

http://www.viczcar.com/forum/topic/11477-hs30-00019/?p=153978

 

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I also came across this business in SA - which looks like it might be a small 1 man shop, but what I like about it is the fact that he does 1 job at a time and specialises in small items. Which is 1 of the reasons many of us may be shy of a plater.

http://www.viczcar.com/forum/topic/15320-yellow-chromate-plating/

 

Here is an Oscillator box I had done (in the US) by a professional plater. Again it had that sheen / colour changing finish.

post-1-0-98040200-1465270750.jpeg

 

So I guess my point is that I'm impressed with what can be done using the DIY kits, but I'm not sure the finish is quite at the level I'd like for my own restoration projects, but perhaps it's a case of perfecting the technique to get the same level of finish and experimenting further?

 

I may end up taking the large items with my car to a large plater, and then bag and tag the smaller items for a specialist like the 1 mentioned above who is less likely to misplace those small items.

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