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May 19, 2022 - 5:48:19 PM

banjonz

New Zealand

11447 posts since 6/29/2003

I posted earlier about home nickel plating. A question arose in my mind about the differences in appearance of nickel plating over time. Apart from patina affecting the appearance of metal, having worked on a lot of old and new banjos over the decades, I have noticed the differing 'colour' of nickel. What could this be down to and can one duplicate the look of older plating in restoring instruments? Would this be down to the actual nickel used, the plating process or both?

Edited by - banjonz on 05/19/2022 17:49:11

May 19, 2022 - 6:10:22 PM

beegee

USA

22964 posts since 7/6/2005

May 19, 2022 - 6:15:39 PM

rmcdow

USA

1121 posts since 11/8/2014

There are several different chemistries used for nickel plating, both for electroplating and for electroless plating. There are slight differences in the color of the nickel that is dependent on the chemistry and brighteners used. Wikipedia explores this pretty well for electroplating nickel:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nickel_e...roplating

I have some old Gibson tension hoops that appear to me to have been plated using a sulfate-chloride bath, which is used for thick coatings of nickel. This nickel bath usually deposits nickel without brighteners. Many of the modern tension hoops I have seen are likely to have been plated with a sulfamate bath, as the nickel can be left as is or followed by a chrome bath.

I've run three type of chemistries for nickel, and each looked different, most of which I believe was due to the brighteners used.

May 19, 2022 - 6:40:28 PM

roydsjr

USA

802 posts since 5/17/2007

I know that the nickel plating on a 1926 TB-2 had some great plating which was about as good as chrome since it didn't tarnish as bad as some of the plating of today! I wished I had kept that banjo even though it wasn't a Mastertone. It had the 1/2 tube tone ring and with a good setup it sounded very good to me. I was impressed with the plating on it. It had the diamond plate flange with the shoes. I made a 5 string neck for it, but had some debts to pay off, so I sold it.

May 19, 2022 - 7:37:50 PM

296 posts since 11/16/2011

Pick your nickel plating preferences Advanced Plating Technologies.  Supposedly Gibson used Watts nickel plating without brighteners over a copper flash (strike?) for the prewar rings.   The nickel plating was buffed on the skirt over the crown.  At least prior to the top tension rings.  It appears the same was done for the one piece armrests.   Sulfamate nickel plating without brighteners can give a look similar to Watts.  Brighteners, levelers, plating base and length of time in the bath in general may also affect the look of the plating.

As an aside, Advanced Plating Technologies purchased Artistic Plating in 2018 which was a family business established in Milwaukee in 1948.  Artistic Plating did a lot of plating for Harley Davidson.  I think they also mentioned Kohler as on of their customers.

May 19, 2022 - 9:08:01 PM

banjonz

New Zealand

11447 posts since 6/29/2003

quote:
Originally posted by 550Spyder

Pick your nickel plating preferences Advanced Plating Technologies.  Supposedly Gibson used Watts nickel plating without brighteners over a copper flash (strike?) for the prewar rings.   The nickel plating was buffed on the skirt over the crown.  At least prior to the top tension rings.  It appears the same was done for the one piece armrests.   Sulfamate nickel plating without brighteners can give a look similar to Watts.  Brighteners, levelers, plating base and length of time in the bath in general may also affect the look of the plating.

As an aside, Advanced Plating Technologies purchased Artistic Plating in 2018 which was a family business established in Milwaukee in 1948.  Artistic Plating did a lot of plating for Harley Davidson.  I think they also mentioned Kohler as on of their customers.


I don't live in the US!

May 20, 2022 - 5:47:44 AM

14604 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by rmcdow

There are several different chemistries used for nickel plating, both for electroplating and for electroless plating. There are slight differences in the color of the nickel that is dependent on the chemistry and brighteners used. Wikipedia explores this pretty well for electroplating nickel:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nickel_e...roplating

I have some old Gibson tension hoops that appear to me to have been plated using a sulfate-chloride bath, which is used for thick coatings of nickel. This nickel bath usually deposits nickel without brighteners. Many of the modern tension hoops I have seen are likely to have been plated with a sulfamate bath, as the nickel can be left as is or followed by a chrome bath.

I've run three type of chemistries for nickel, and each looked different, most of which I believe was due to the brighteners used.


Thanks for the explanation, Rives, I never knew that.

Whenever I have used nickel silver for bracket bands, armrests, tailpieces, etc, the 18% alloy I used has matched existing nickel plating  pretty well, but there is always some slight difference between, hooks, nuts, shoes, and tension hoops.

May 23, 2022 - 4:51:50 AM

15074 posts since 2/7/2003

Its important to rmember as well the plating processes of a hundrd years ago are illegal now due to pollution concerns

May 23, 2022 - 8:21:04 AM

rmcdow

USA

1121 posts since 11/8/2014

quote:
Originally posted by desert rose

Its important to rmember as well the plating processes of a hundrd years ago are illegal now due to pollution concerns


The processes are not illegal, there are just environmental laws that need to be followed in regards to the rinse water and disposal of the solutions.  The plating solutions are considered hazardous waste, and have to be disposed of through channels that treat them so that they don't enter the environment.  There are many plating shops that are grandfathered in when it comes to the plating processes they employ, and operate plating baths that today would be difficult, if not impossible to set up because of the cost associated with the environmental restrictions for the treatment and disposal of the rinse water.  

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