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Plating at home 06 Jan 2021 09:11 #841232

  • Kaylinator
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I'm wondering if anybody here has tried using something like the Caswell Plating kit on their nuts and bolts, and if the cost is worth it versus just sending them in to get plated? My nearest plating shop is 3 hours away, so I couldn't just bring them bits at a time to do.

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Plating at home 06 Jan 2021 09:26 #841233

  • hardrockminer
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I first tried using home made setups. They didn't work well so I tried Caswell, using their chemicals and power supply. I was pleased at times with the results but they were inconsistent. Some excellent and some not so good. Eventually I realized that good results require more preparation than I was able to undertake, including de-plating old zinc and thorough cleaning with a blaster. I intend to get back at it but need to buy a micro blaster first.

Is it cheaper? Doubtful, but I don't want to be just a nut and bolt replacer. I want to be a restorer.
I have a couple of Z1B's restored, an '80 KZ1000LTD restored, a 1981 KZ550 restored and a 2008 KLR 650 for off road fun. My wife has a 2019 Suzuki DR 650 for on and off road.
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Plating at home 06 Jan 2021 09:42 #841234

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Subscribing as I am also very interested. I did try with home setup (nickel-plating) but didn't succeed. Wasn't good.
I do read and hear about Caswell kit a lot and thinking about trying again. I am too, wanting to do everything myself. However, I realize there is following pros and cons:

1. Will cost more for bike worth of parts (vs taking it to plater)
2. Will take a lot of space in garage. All those buckets, fumes. And then it's not something you can just store back in a basement, need to figure out what to do with solutions (storage).
3. If you restore a lot (not just bike part time after work) - it make sense because of convenience. You can work in small batches when you need it.
4. With plater - you need to carefully prepare whole batch. If one bolt missing - it sux! You will need to go there again.
5. Plating - not sure how your local shops work but place I used locally does chrome. Not all hardware need to be chrome if you want it to look "original"
6. Local plater takes at least couple of weeks to get stuff done.
7. While browsing part sites, etc - I found that probably good 70% of hardware can be purchased new and probably wouldn't be more expensive than kit/plater.

So, #2 is my biggest problem. I am not worrying so much about economical part because I like to DIY as much as I can. But I am running out of space and try to have things portable/storable. If it's going to take me 6+ month to restore bikes - I don't want to have those buckets with solutions sitting around all that time.

I already got blast cabinet, that was huge decision because of space availability. But at least it's "dry" and can be safely sitting.

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Plating at home 06 Jan 2021 12:57 #841239

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I do a fair bit of zinc plating using a Caswell's kit purchased a number of years ago. It's super handy being able to do the plating yourself because it seems there is always something that needs cleaning up. I bought the kit but in truth, there are several things in the kit you don't need. The things that are must haves is a good bucket that's resealable, the electrolyte chemicals, zinc brightener, yellow chromate dip, zinc anodes (I buy boat anodes from Amazon), and a power source (there are various methods that will work but a $50 power supply from Amazon or ebay saves time.) Good fun.
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Plating at home 06 Jan 2021 13:18 #841240

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I do a fair bit of zinc plating using a Caswell's kit purchased a number of years ago. It's super handy being able to do the plating yourself because it seems there is always something that needs cleaning up. I bought the kit but in truth, there are several things in the kit you don't need. The things that are must haves is a good bucket that's resealable, the electrolyte chemicals, zinc brightener, yellow chromate dip, zinc anodes (I buy boat anodes from Amazon), and a power source (there are various methods that will work but a $50 power supply from Amazon or ebay saves time.) Good fun.


From what I understand - using their kit is pretty much guarantees success if you do correct prep (it's one thing) and follow their instructions with their supplies.

Without using a kit - no instructions. I think if you shared your process along with all of the links for supplies needed - there is many people here who would appreciate it. I will buy you a beer :)

I understand once you use it for a while you find replacements (zync source), better bucket, etc. But you already have baseline. We don't, thats why kit looks like a way to go but expensive.

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Plating at home 06 Jan 2021 14:58 #841245

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I had a go at plating with a DIY setup and a good few hours watching youtube videos. I wanted to try it first before investing in a Caswel kit. The kits seemed to include stuff that I could buy locally and a lot cheaper.
I have to say it worked out well.I couldn't get a shiny finish no matter how well I prepared the pieces. I think the Caswel chemicals are needed for that . I got a matt grey finish.Not unpleasant. I did a handful of fasteners and the chain adjusters on my XT .They've been on the bike outside all year. and haven't rusted yet.
I used white vinegar(I think), A zinc anode from a boat supply shop, an old mobile phone charger and a couple of crocodile clips. I still have the stuff in a box downstairs.Takes up no space.
Like I said, Youtube . Lots of good info there,without spending a penny/dime.
www.kzrider.com/forum/11-projects/594313-csr1000-project-build
CB550
(CB500/4)
(CBX750)
GSF600
KZ1000CSR
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Plating at home 06 Jan 2021 15:14 #841246

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Getting a shinny finish straight out of the bath is sometimes a challenge. I've noticed that after the electrolyte gets old it gets harder but I don't know why. What I do know is that a sediment builds up on the bottom of the bucket so I syphon off the clean fluid after a while and dump the sludge. If the part looks dull it can be polished to a bright finish. I've use metal polish sometimes or even simpler, a small stainless steel brush on a dremel. This works great to clean before plating too.

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Plating at home 06 Jan 2021 15:21 #841248

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Getting a shinny finish straight out of the bath is sometimes a challenge.


Don't they say to add 1/2 teaspoon of "Bright agent" when it starts to get dull?

Ordered kit + yellow chromate. Will see how it works. Afterall I figured it's only really one bucket that need to be stored with liquid, other stuff can be thrown away if long storage needed.

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Plating at home 06 Jan 2021 16:00 #841250

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Getting a shinny finish straight out of the bath is sometimes a challenge.


Don't they say to add 1/2 teaspoon of "Bright agent" when it starts to get dull?

Ordered kit + yellow chromate. Will see how it works. Afterall I figured it's only really one bucket that need to be stored with liquid, other stuff can be thrown away if long storage needed.


Yes, add brightener. Only after a while it doesn't work anymore.

Which kit did you get? Are you going to buy a power supply?

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Plating at home 06 Jan 2021 16:06 #841251

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Getting a shinny finish straight out of the bath is sometimes a challenge.


Don't they say to add 1/2 teaspoon of "Bright agent" when it starts to get dull?

Ordered kit + yellow chromate. Will see how it works. Afterall I figured it's only really one bucket that need to be stored with liquid, other stuff can be thrown away if long storage needed.


Yes, add brightener. Only after a while it doesn't work anymore.

Which kit did you get? Are you going to buy a power supply?


I bought cheapest Copy Cad kit for $220-sh (1.5 gallon) + yellow chromate ($30sh)

I already have (from previous unsuccessful nickel-plating experiments) nice regulated PS (which I found multiple uses for)
30V 5A/10A DC Power Supply Precision Variable Digital Adjustable Lab Grade 110V
Buy It Now

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Plating at home 06 Jan 2021 18:08 #841253

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Call me crazy but........when I see a bit of rust on a fastener, I remove it with a bit of work with a wire brush and coat it with a little clear nail polish. Stops future rust. YMMV. Cheers.
‘99 ZRX1100, ‘05 DRZ400S, ‘78 KZ1000LTD, ‘12 F150 (Ford)

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Plating at home 06 Jan 2021 18:24 #841254

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I bought cheapest Copy Cad kit for $220-sh (1.5 gallon) + yellow chromate ($30sh)

I already have (from previous unsuccessful nickel-plating experiments) nice regulated PS (which I found multiple uses for)
30V 5A/10A DC Power Supply Precision Variable Digital Adjustable Lab Grade 110V
Buy It Now


Wow! $30??? Sweet! That will work perfect.

Turn up the current until you get some effervescent fizz off the parts. The fizz will be greater when you first start the plating process and then it will diminish.

You can strip off the existing plating using a mild HCl solution. You don't necessarily have to strip, but sometimes it's easier that way. What you need is an absolutely clean surface to plate on. Run the part under clean water and if the water beads off the part it's not ready. You want to see the water spread out almost like paint over the part. Use distilled water to make your electrolyte. And repeating myself, wire wheels work great to clean the parts. If you use one to to rough prep don't use the same wheel to do final prep. The final prep needs to be spotlessly clean.

Good luck and good choice.

Edit: Glass pickle jars is what I use to hold the chromate and HCl solution. Put the lids back on when done using them and save for next time. Scrub the parts using a scotchbrite pad and Simple Green or similar (large parts where appearance is important.) The key is to smooth the metal and remove all grease and other contaminates before plating.

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