Nickel (not chrome) plating

(Some) older bicycle parts are referred to in the literature of the time as
Whenever I have asked the local plater guys about this, they say the chrome
in chrom-plate is so thin it only puts a different colour on the nickel
base, but they seem unwilling to just do nickel and skip the chrome step.
(Chrome on cycle parts has a mixed rep: it reduces rusting, but some say it
promotes cracks; presuambly nickel plating only would be more ductile and
not promote cracks.)
What sayest the group?
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I believe the very best chrome plating involves 1.) Copper 2.) Nickel 3.) Chrome in that order, with buffing in between. The main purpose of the copper is to build up the surface, filling scratches. I don't believe factory chromed parts get this fine treatment. A good plating shop could easily leave off the chrome.
IMHO, nickel is much more attractive than chrome, having a warm, slightly yellowish cast, as opposed to the hard, blue color of chrome.
The main quarrel I have with chrome, especially as it appears on tools, is that it often peels off, and looks worse than the bare metal would.
Reply to
Leo Lichtman
Find a new plater. Nickel is nickel, chrome is chrome. Two different things. Sounds like the guys you are talking to simply cannot do nickel. I personally find nickel warmer and more attractive.
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Reply to
jim rozen
||(Some) older bicycle parts are referred to in the literature of the time as ||"nickel-plated". || ||Whenever I have asked the local plater guys about this, they say the chrome ||in chrom-plate is so thin it only puts a different colour on the nickel ||base, but they seem unwilling to just do nickel and skip the chrome step. || ||(Chrome on cycle parts has a mixed rep: it reduces rusting, but some say it ||promotes cracks; presuambly nickel plating only would be more ductile and ||not promote cracks.) || ||What sayest the group?
Race car suspension parts are never chromed. Chroming makes parts brittle (Hydrogen embrittlement). Nickel is the preferred brightwork. Nickel plating is also much more friendly to the DIYer.
Texas Parts Guy
Reply to
Rex B
Hence the name "triple chrome plating" 1. copper (diffusion barrier? -- conditional on base metal e.g copper/brass/bronze could start w/ nickel), 2. nickel (the thickest of the three and the one who's surface texture/finish defines the final texture appearance, then 3. chromium (thin, hard, slightly cooler/bluer color than nickel).
Agree for many items nickel is prettier, 1940's to 1970's auto bumpers would not be one of these items but the same vintage bathroom fixtures (plumbing and lighting), towel racks, etc. may be.
Reply to
The Masked Marvel
Electroless Nickel in Santa Clara CA. Excellent work. Never any problem with work they have done for me.
Reply to
Normal plating practice is copper, then nickel, then chrome (triple plating). There's no way the chrome can chemically affect the base metal, because it is separated from it by the copper and nickel layers.
The real issue with electroplating is the electrified acid solution used to lay down the base copper strike. *That's* what causes hydrogen embrittlement of the base metal (hydrogen ions from the acid are driven into the steel by the current). So it doesn't matter what top coat you choose, the initial plating layer is where the steel is weakened.
Thus if you're going to plate at all, there's no reason to avoid the final chrome layer, unless you just don't like the look. But similarly, there's no reason for the plater to refuse to skip the final step and leave you with a nickel finish, if that's the look you want.
Reply to
Gary Coffman
more info at
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if you wish to dig deeper
Reply to
john johnson
Nickel is softer than chrome and will scratch easily. I get copper wire jewelry, made by children, nickel plated. They love it as it looks like silver and stops the copper jewelry making black marks on their fingers or arms.
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Chrome is used over the nickel because the nickel will oxidize eventully and look cloudy. The chrome is plated to a thickness of between 30 and 50 millionths. not much, but it's noble and doesnt oxidize.
Ed Angell
Reply to
Ed Angell
--Another good thing about electroless nickel plating is that the layer is pretty thin and, if done correctly, bonds very well with things like cast iron. I had the reversing links on a steam engine done this way and it's really cut down on maintenance tedium.
Reply to
AFAIK, the main reason for the copper is that copper plate, done properly, forms an impervious layer and thus prevents rust starting under the plating.
It is difficult to get Chrome to adhere well to many surfaces but Nickle is one to which it will adhere. Thus triple plating.
Garry claims that acid copper will cause hydrogen embrittlement. Perhaps that's why they used to use cyanide based copper strike solutions.
I agree with most posters re IMO, Nickle looks nicer than chrome so I go with Ni unless the hardness of chrome is necessary.
If you are interested in DIY, check out Caswell Plating for supplies.
Reply to
Ted Edwards
Actually it's like aluminum in that it oxidizes immediately, forming a resistant surface. That's why stainless is what it is the chrome in it comes to the surface and forms an oxide layer.
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Reply to
Tim Williams
Flash nickel (electroless or electroplate) before using acid copper, or apply alkaline copper directly to steel. You can easily do this in your own shop with supplies from
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I don't mess with chrome (nasty stuff) but the nickel and copper are benign, environmentally friendly, easy to use and produce excellent results if you just follow the simple directions. .
Reply to
Don Foreman
That, and it's much easier to get a high polish on copper than on either steel or nickel. The final finish will be no better than the underlying finish, but you can plate copper fairly thick and then buff it to a mirror finish. Then nickel for color.
Caswell has a product that claims to look very similar to chrome which is nickel with some cobalt added to brighten the color. I haven't tried it.
Reply to
Don Foreman
Regard>Nickel is softer than chrome and will scratch easily.
Are you sure nickel plating jewelry is wise?
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Cordially, Richard Kanarek
Reply to
Richard Kanarek
I am interested in doing some copper nickel plating in my shop , in fact I am interested in reproducing a beauthful finish I saw on a 1913 (?) Rolls Royce. They called it German silver. said it was nickel and copper. Anyone ever tried to produce this finish in a home shop ? is it safe enough, easy to do ?
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German silver is a generic name for a number of different alloys. It is possible to plate with an alloy, but it is not likely to be feasible in the home shop unless you have professional help. You might start at your local public library and see what they have on electroplating.
Reply to
Randal O'Brian
You are not likely to be able to plate a ternary alloy at home. Even binary alloy plating is tricky as the composition of the electrolyte is not necessarilly the same as the plated alloy. It is difficult to replenish the electrolyte during plating. Ternary alloys would be more difficult.
German silver varies in composition, the percentage of the three elements ranging approximately as follows: copper, from 50% to 61.6%; zinc, from 19% to 17.2%; nickel, from 30% to 21.1%. The proportions are always specified in commercial alloys.
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On Wed, 02 Jun 2004 01:36:06 -0400, Richard Kanarek vaguely proposed a theory ......and in reply I say!: remove ns from my header address to reply via email
nickel gives you lice?
Sometimes in a workplace you find snot on the wall of the toilet cubicles. You feel "What sort of twisted child would do this?"....the internet seems full of them. It's very sad
Reply to
Old Nick

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