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Has anyone had any experiances with these "plating kits"?
I would like to nickel plate a bezel, but haven't the slightest idea about plating. I'm sure that in the short run it would be easier and cheaper to have it done professionally, but...
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Not sure by now if you've had any luck with a nickel plating kit, or not. If you live anywhere near an industrialized area there are usually plating shops in the yellow pages. In the new age of the internet, you may even surf and find a place that will do it mail order. They will charge a premium for a small job, but you'll get the job done.
I've been watching this item since you posted it to see if there were some experts out there on this topic, as I am relatively new to this. I am a retired metallurgical engineer, however, and have had some experience with plating, in general. I also have a jeweler friend, who I approached to get the necessary equipment and advice to "silver" plate where brass was showing on an old pocket watch. His advice to me was to "forget it". The reasons have to do with uniformity of the sub-surface. In the case I had there were bare spots and plated spots. In order to get things uniform, the old plating would have to have been removed. This can theoretically be done, but his results (and his fellow jewelers) have not had good results. Even if he were to buff the surface, he still got not acceptable results. As far as using some of these instant plating soutions that are available, I have no direct experience, but based on the basics of plating, I would not expect to see a very good result. The suggestion that you contact a professional plating company is a good one. They would know what is possible; but again, it is a really complex matter - involving plating of substrates before the final plating. Let me know how you fair on this, and good luck.
I also saw this post neglected for long time and waited for a rise of interest just to say few words about plating in horology.
Jewelers are more used to deal with chemicals than watchmakers do and despite the contiguity of these fine arts it seems that there is no flow of informations.
This get worse if you ask for informations to professionals who will make even harder to make you understand how plating works and how you may do it for the small needs you have in your day-to-day work.
They could be such as replating a case, replating the plates of a mvmt or just change color to hands.
Useless to say that no professionals would give you full thrust and satisfation when it comes to these uncommon works on watches which value is only known to yourself and you dare to give in the hands of somebodyelse.
This is when you would love the apply yourself but you do not know where to start from.
Instead of scaring or bothering with technicalities let say that you need 0 to 5 Volts DC power supply with continous regulation, (better if with Volt and Amp meters), wires and some thick small glass containers such the ones used for foods.
These will be used to contain and store safely the liquids (baths) that are used to nickel plate, rodhium plate and gold plate the items of your interest.
The liquids are available at your jeweler/watch supply shop and will be delivered to you with general instructions how-to-use and health safety instructions even if you will only need to use them in small quantities.
The shop will also suggest what kind of ANODE to use for each of the liquids to acheive the required plating.
The shop will also tell you at what temperature to use each of the liquids and which additional liquid to buy to degrease electrochemically the item (lets call it BASE from now on)
Cleaness is mandatory and the greases/oil/patina absence is of outmost importance for the deposit successfully of any electrochemical layer on any base.
Basically now you know most of everything and you only need to practice by trial and to collect results because for the amateur that is the only way to learn.
Infact plating consists in the migration and deposit of diluted tiny metal parts in the bath toward the BASE which is connected to the cathode (-) by means of a wire connected to negative of your power supply and submerged in the liquid, that in a easy concept.
The anode (+) which consists in a bar ( nickel, platinum or gold depending if you are nickel/rodhium/gold plating ) that is submerged also in the liquid and connected by wire to the positive of your power supply and it serves to restore in the liquid the amount of metal parts that deposits on the Base.
The voltage required to do so is in the range of 1 to 2 volts and it clearly depends to the area of the base. The area of the anode also somehow is functional to the result of good deposit on the BASE as the area of the anode must be almost equal to the area of the cathode.
In order to make the first attempts you can start with a half square inch of brass, shine polished, well degreased and dried and a nickel anode in a nickel bath and do the first attempts.
At the beginning after few minutes you may get gray, powderlike or burnt deposits which are due either to too low or too high voltage but surely you will find the best conditions , temperature of the bath included, to reach a shining nickel deposit which will increase in thickness after time.
Every new attempt would need a new piece of brass prepared as above as it is impossible to correct wrong deposits once they arw made.
There are some publications for the plating amateur and possibly something basic is also available on the net.
Hope that the above will be helpful to you to just think about to start trying....
Your comments are most welcome.
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