I DO NOT SUPPLY
Gramophone hardware tends to be plated in either chrome or nickel with nickel being used on the earlier models and the later chromed. Whilst chrome plating is something I have not attempted nickel plating does lie within the scope of most collectors. Large pieces such as turntables are best left to the professional but smaller parts are well within our capabilties. It is possible to purchase nickel plating salts ready mixed from Ebay. Before going any further though it is worth mentioning that there are health hazards connected with plating so do read the safety information supplied with the salts.
The Three Stages.
Ideally the parts need to be stripped of any rust and old plating and completely free from grease. In order to achieve this professional platers chemically strip and degrease components for an "as new" finish. However I find not only are the chemicals to do this unwelcome in my home but too perfect a finish looks unnatural on an item that is at the earliest 60 years old and displaying other indicators of a working life. My aim in my restorations is to produce a well cared for look to my gramophones. Rust has no place but neither does a pristene "just out of the shop" look.
A Dremel or similar comes in handy for wire brushing components, emery cloth, wet and dry paper etc all assist in getting components as rust free and clean as possible. I wear latex gloves for this stage simply to avoid adding grease from my hands. Finally a clean with acetone or other grease removing solvent finishes the job. A quick note - when it comes to screws, unless they are of a special type eg machine screws I usually plate new brass ones. Being new they are not going to be contaminated with grease and will have good heads unlike some of the ones they will be replacing.
The Basic Set Up - Shown on above and below in Photo 1 The kit is made up of containers from The 99p Shop, bits left over from my campervan days (240v to 12v rectifier , variable power supply, camping kettle) multimeter set to read temperature and some copper wire stripped from electrical cable left over from a DIY job.) As far as the electrics are concerned the aim is to get a variable voltage range between 5 and 7v DC.
For hanging components to be plated I used copper wire from bits of left over electrical cable. These however must not be used for suspending the nickel anodes. This is done using titanium wire. Both the nickel anodes and the titanium wire are available on Ebay.
I have wired 4 location points around the tank for suspending the anodes. This ensures all sides of a component are plated. This can be increased to 4 for difficult parts but generally I have found 2 to be enough.
Parts to be plated I have suspended from the lid of the tank. Care must be taken though not to allow the components to touch the anodes when in position in the tank.
The plating solution has a working temperature of between 50 and 70 deg. C. I do not use a heater but instead heat the salts in a small camping kettle. Once upto temperature ( 80 deg C to allow for some temperature drop in transferring to the tank) this is added to the plating tank which I have placed in an insulated container. This is just a lunchbox that is lined with 2" slabs of polystyrene. The insulated tank keeps the temperature workable for a good hour or so but I do adjust the time and the voltage used as the temperature of te plating solution decreases. A tip here - do any plating in times of the year when it is warm and fine. The good weather allows the temperature of the bath to be maintained and affords good ventilation as windows doors etc can be left open. Breathing fumes from the tank is not good for you and should be avoided.
Once plated the components have a dull appearance which is buffed away. I sometimes use a buffing wheel on my lathe but one can be fitted to a power drill at little cost or use a Dremel with a polishing head and compound. Finally I finish of with metal polish.
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