Author Topic: Copper Plating  (Read 4396 times)

Offline dencins

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Copper Plating
« on: March 19, 2011, 10:27:36 PM »
I have been looking for a low cost way to copper plate transmitter faceplates.  I tried Plating forums but they seem to be mostly for full scale (not hobby) plating and spent most of the answers explaining why the work should be done by "professionals" rather than helping.  I stumbled across a forum for gun hobbyists who make their own bullets.  I did not know but many states do not allow lead bullets at indoor ranges so they copper plate them.

The most difficult (and expensive) part of plating is the solution.  My goal was to make a solution from easily (and cheaply) obtained ingredients.  I tried a variation of one suggested for bullets.

I have attached a photo of the results.  On the left is a polished face plate before copper plating and the right is straight out of the plating bath.  The copper plate covers the ends of the rivets on the 2XX face plate so nickel plate can be done over it.  It also fills in deeper scratches or grooves that are difficult to polish out.  I have taken the banana tags off the faceplate per suggestions - it makes it easier to polish.  Also I have found nickel plating under the banana tags which means the faceplates were plated before putting on the banana tags.

The formula for the plating solution:

3 quarts distilled water
2 1/2 cups sulfuric acid (35% concentrate battery acid from an auto parts store)
1 pound copper sulfate (root killer from a hardware store is 99% copper sulfate crystals)
1 pinch sodium chloride (table salt from the kitchen)

I added them in the sequence listed.  I heated the solution to about 100 degrees F to help dissolve the crystals.  Since the only thing I needed to buy was the root killer, my total out of pocket cost was $8.00.

The plating anode is 4 inch piece of copper pipe that was cut lengthwise, flattened and cleaned.

I usually use two D cells batteries in series for a power source but this time I used an old Creative Zen power source that I found in the basement.  The output is rated 5 VDC and 2.4 amps.

Dennis
« Last Edit: March 19, 2011, 10:34:04 PM by dencins »

Offline JorgeAmely

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Re: Copper Plating
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2011, 10:33:46 PM »
Dennis, very interesting ...
Jorge

Offline Sargeguy

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Re: Copper Plating
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2011, 10:43:58 PM »
Very nice.  What do you use for the nickel plating?  Did you end up with the Caswell kit or did you devise your own system?
Greg Sargeant
Providence, RI
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Offline cihensley@aol.com

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Re: Copper Plating
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2011, 10:53:29 PM »
Dennis:

Very innovative, and the end product looks well done.

Chuck

Offline dencins

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Re: Copper Plating
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2011, 10:54:07 PM »
Very nice.  What do you use for the nickel plating?  Did you end up with the Caswell kit or did you devise your own system?
I use Krohn's Nickel Acid Base for the solution and I buy the anodes (I have not been able to find anything made from high purity nickel).  I get it in East Providence at Contenti's.  It does not show up on Contenti's web site but Contenti runs the Progress Tool web site so they actually carry it.  They are located near the old Narragansett Race Track.

Dennis

Offline Sargeguy

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Re: Copper Plating
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2011, 09:24:21 AM »
Apparently my wife already has an account with them from her jewelry business.  I'll just have her order me up some next time she goes. 
Greg Sargeant
Providence, RI
TCI /ATCA #4409

Offline Dennis Markham

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Re: Copper Plating
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2011, 01:12:36 PM »
Very interesting, Dennis.  The result looks fantastic.  What type of container do you use for the ingredients?

Offline dencins

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Re: Copper Plating
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2011, 01:27:43 PM »
If you mean the copper plating solution, I keep it in the one gallon plastic bottle that the distilled water came in.  Just in case, I keep the one gallon bottle in a two gallon stainless steel pot that I also use for stripping nickel.

The plating "tank" is a 6" x 6" x 7" polypropylene plastic storage box (Number 5 on bottom) by Sterlite.  It holds 3 quarts.

Dennis




Offline GG

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Re: Copper Plating
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2011, 06:55:49 PM »


Seems to me that you wouldn't want to do this indoors: sulfuric acid and copper etc., corrosive and toxic.  Where do you set up the system, and what do you use for heating the solution there?

Offline dencins

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Re: Copper Plating
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2011, 07:26:13 PM »
I do the plating on the kitchen table on newspaper.  Realize I only do small parts so it does not need much room.  My plating "tank" is 6" x 6" x 7".  When I am done I put the solution back in the one gallon plastic bottle, put the cover on the plating "tank" and put everything away until the next time. 

It is done at room temperature so no heating involved.  There is no odor, smell or whatever.  The ph of the solution is around 3.5 which is acid but it is about the same ph as an apple.  You have to be very careful when making the solution but once the sulfuric acid is diluted in 3 quarts of water, the acid level is not very strong.

Dennis

Offline Ed D

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Re: Copper Plating
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2011, 09:33:23 PM »
Dennis,

That is really nice work!  It brings back memories of when I was a kid and had my chemistry set.

I had Copper Sulfate crystals as part of that set, and made a saturated solution using New York City tap water which contained chlorine, and whatever else was in the water at the time.  I then took some of the 8-Penny common nails that my dad had in his workshop, and dipped them in the solution.  Lo and behold, it left a copper plating on the nails, and it happened pretty quickly too.  I did that to a lot of the nails.  (I was easily entertained as a child.)

I have no idea how thick the plating was, nor do I know how durable it was.  I later wondered if I could have plated something like nickel on top of the copper using a similar method, but never looked into it.

Anyway, the nails ultimately ended up being used in whatever projects that my dad did around the house, and he figured that we had the only house in New York with copper plated nails.   :D

Ed


Offline dencins

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Re: Copper Plating
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2011, 01:10:58 AM »
Just an update on plating nickel over copper.  I have been playing around putting copper on solid back transmitters nad then overplating with Watts nickel.  While this is pre-dial phones it may have some application for other parts on dial phones.  The face plate results are here:

https://picasaweb.google.com/dencins/Facelift#

This is the complete transmitter


Offline Phonesrfun

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Re: Copper Plating
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2011, 01:45:46 AM »
Once again, Dennis, you are doing wonderful and excellent work!

I am impressed.
-Bill G

Offline Doug Rose

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Re: Copper Plating
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2011, 12:46:17 PM »
Just an update on plating nickel over copper.  I have been playing around putting copper on solid back transmitters nad then overplating with Watts nickel.  While this is pre-dial phones it may have some application for other parts on dial phones.  The face plate results are here:

https://picasaweb.google.com/dencins/Facelift#

This is the complete transmitter


WOW Dennis....WOW!!! When are you going into business? Where does the line start?.....WOW....Doug
Kidphone

Offline Dennis Markham

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Re: Copper Plating
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2011, 01:09:19 PM »
That is fantastic.  I'm with Doug....where does the line form?