I slept in until 10 am this morning! Two cups of coffee and the enthusiasm generated by seeing all the nice SS’s on the market I’ve written about this week saw me rushing out the door by 11am to work on the SS. I figured out everything I needed to make the plating kit work and wanted to get it all together, set it up and run some tests.
I bought 5 gallons of distilled water, a bunch of wire end alligator clips, a candy thermometer, a measuring spoon set, a spray bottle and a surge protector. I decided for my first attempt I’d use a 6 volt, 500 mA motorcycle battery charger I had laying around from who knows when. The day went like this:
The finished product first as usual. Plated engine lift bracket, head nuts and washers. I could probably have paid to plate every part on this car for what I am into my kit but this way I wont lose anything, I wont be driving back and forth to a plating shop and I can say: I did that!
This is the kit. You get a bunch of stuff and instructions, like a model train set or DIY doll house. I read and read and read again until I had a pretty good idea what to do. I had a few false starts where I thought I was ready to set it up but this morning I actually was ready, having sourced my power supply.
Step one for me was setting up the degreaser bucket. You mix 1 pound of powder seen here being weighed on a postage scale with 2 gallons of distilled water. The kit comes with a heater and they recommend 140 degrees F for degreasing parts. You just leave the parts submerged for 5 minutes and they are ready to go. This is not meant to remove any significant oil or grease, just the residues from your hands and stuff after having bead blasted or wire wheeled the parts.
Degreasing tank in action. You just wire up your parts for plating then hang them in the degreaser. I bought a candy thermometer to monitor the temp. At one point it got over 160 F, pretty good for a fish tank heater. When you pull the parts out of here you spray them down with distilled water. I used a hand pump spray bottle intended for watering plants from the hardware store and sprayed over the tank so the spray would replace water lost to steam and the degreaser solution would be captured.
This looks pretty serious but once I got into it everything came together pretty fast. The tank is 1.5 gallons of distilled water, about a pound of ammonium chloride (I think) and about a pint of some other stuff that was kind of yellow. This tank has to be at 110 F so it uses a fish tank heater with feedback control. There is a pump/filter in the tank to agitate the solution. The positive on the power supply goes to the zinc plates and the negative goes to the part. Simple as that.
You have to admit this is intimidating looking. Once this was all set up I had to figure out the plating power. The book says 140 mA per square inch for 20 minutes. I was using a 500 mA power supply so I had to figure out how many parts would be about 3 square inches.
I decided a test run of a few little parts would tell me how important the accuracy the square inches to milliamps ratio was. Also, the kit comes with brightener and I wasn’t sure how the parts would look with out it. This here was the test run, a pulley timing mark pointer and a sway bar rubber mount bracket bolt. They came out pretty good but the finish was not very shiny so I added the brightener.
The finished product. Here is the sway bar mount bracket with the freshly plated bolt and washer. I get to reuse the original hardware and when you are laying on your back trying to look up into the engine compartment from below you will see this. Looks pretty good.
The biggest thing I tried was this olio fill cap. Part on the left is after a light polish, part on the right is unpolished. Looks pretty good. When things exceed the amps to square inches ratio I just partially submerged the part then reattached it and did the other portion -essentially a two step operation. Polishing seems to even out the finish.
All of the plating operations above took about 5 hours all told and most of that time was leaving the parts alone as the plating tank did its job. During this down time I worked on the body. Here is one of the awesome mid-forearm length welding gloves I bought to protect myself from the wire wheel. No sense injuring yourself by not wearing protective equipment -I also wore safety glasses, a respirator, ear protection and a hood pulled up. When the wire wheel is turning lots of crap is flying around.
There are areas the big grinder with wire wheel can’t get into and for these I used a little wire wheel on the dremel. Worked great cleaning up around the coil and fuel regulator mounts and in the depressions and irregularities like those above. Down side is they cost $3.50 each and don’t last long.
Here is the inside of the drivers side wheel well. I have maybe another hour to spend in here then I can move to the rust encapsulating and preventing chemicals followed by chassis paint. Progress indeed.
More wire-wheeling has been done here in passenger side fender sub structure. I don’t know how much I have to remove so I guess I’ll remove it all to shiny metal. Goal is to have both front fender insides and lower engine compartment painted by the end of the week.
All this progress has me feeling pretty encouraged. I can do this restoration, I just need to do the time. 5 hours done today and 1 yesterday gets me down to 881 hours to go. Lots to paint, lots to plate and lots to clean up. Did I mention the box with the 4 Koni reds showed up Thursday and the box with the chassis paints from Eastwood showed up today? I just did. First set of new shocks I ever bought!
More to come -stay tuned.