Galvanized steel items are first dipped in acid to remove oxides and then
into molten zinc. The zinc bonds to the surface of the steel much like
solder sticks to a copper wire. Hot dipped galvanizing is a heavier coating
than you would see on an electropated zinc product. The wall literature we
have from a galvanizing shop in our area predicts a life of up to fifty
I think the actual specific "galvanizing" process was an electroplate
operation using a solution containing some form of zinc. No clue what
the solution would have beenn, but I imagine the specifics can be had
online if one is wanting them bad enough. I can't imagine it could be
very difficult. No more than with copper, at the very least.
Side note that drifts off to nowhere:
Plating with copper was easy when I did it back in high school. Gimme a
buck and a quarter, and I'd hand you back a copper-plated quarter if I
had a fresh batch ready. Otherwise, it took me a day or so to turn out a
new batch of nice thick-plated ones. Probably sold 300 of 'em before
the principal noticed I was "defacing currency" using school equipment
(A transformer/rectifier out of a defunct cassette tape playe from the
AV room's "broken" box, around 30-50 grams of copper sulphate nabbed
from the chem lab (with the chem instructor's approval, and assistance
in calculating the amount needed to make a useful solution), and a chunk
of copper pipe, hacksawed free from the busted sink in the dumpster) and
called the operation to a screeching halt. Didn't see the finer point
that has been established for years with the "penny presses" and
similar: It's only illegal to tinker with currency when there's intent
to defraud involved. Trying to pass those quarters off as anything but
what they were - curiousities - would have been plumb stupid. There was
no effort to alter face value, it was just done as a neat thing to
have/do. Then it got popular, and I made a few bucks selling 'em. So
what? It's exactly the same thing as the folks who bleach out or sticker
over George on a one dollar bill to replace him with Santa or Elvis or
similar - It's a novelty item. You'd get into some serious difficulty
about defacement/counterfeiting if, while you were at it, you... Oh...
Say added a couple of zeros behind the ones in the corners... Then tried
to spend it.
He was havin' *PRECISELY NONE* of that action! The operation WILL cease,
it will do so NOW, and you will report to my office IMMEDIATELY!
Another brilliant plan to take over the world by flooding the nation's
pockets with quarters counterfeited/defaced by being copper plated gets
shot down in flames. Truly, Pinky, it's depressing.
Right, Brain, but where are we gonna find rubber pants our size
at this time of night?
The roughly $300 I raised, less a little (I was never sure exactly how
much - under 30 bucks, I'd guess) went to the senior class "sober grads"
type fund as an "anonymous donation" as part of what might be considered
a plea bargain - grumble... Just like a high-school... Find a way to
turn a dollar worth of chem-lab supplies and some literal junk into
cash, and they want any proceeds...
Little did ol' George know, but the next afternoon, I had the operation
running out on the bench in the shop - At home, in much larger scale,
using basically the same junk, only scrounged around the house. Oh, and
a $3.50 cannister of copper sulphate (I want to say it was a two pound
container with a "sprinkle" top) from the feed/vet-supply store. The
"home-scrounged" one worked even better, since I used an electric train
transformer to power it. Sweet... :) Smokie's arcade noticed 'em in
their machines (Apparently, my customers had a penchant for forgetting
that they were the "nifty copper ones" and dropping them in the machines
there) and I overheard them noticing, and once we got to talking, they
ordered 500 of them to be used as "refund" coins. They'd pass them to a
customer who complained that a machine had eaten his quarter, and they
had a way to keep track of how many refunds were needing to go out
without having to sit there and nail-polish them. I think I ran off a
good 1500 more of 'em for a couple other arcades in the area before the
market and/or my interest in the project dried up. Heh... Take that, Mr.
(Told ya it was a side note that went to nowhere, didn't I?)
I don't know of an electroless zinc, but electroplating zinc is quite
easy and takes very little electricity -- about 0.02 amps per square
inch of workpiece. The voltage is about 3 volts DC. Ammonium
chloride will work as an electrolyte. Commercial solutions have
"brighteners" but straight ammonium chloride will work; you just have
to buff it up a little if you want it bright.
Back in the good ol days we used to often specificy electroless zinc
plated chain to avoid the potential of hydrogen embrittlement. I
haven't done/seen it in a long time as the electroplating process
appears to be better controlled (digital current control and such?) than
it was 25 years ago.
Anyway, going by the ancient days it was possible but I have no clue as
to the chemicals or pre-treat needed.