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topic 059

Nickel plating of antique marine hardware


(1995)

Q. I am building a new "Classic Style" boat. I wish to have the interior hardware and fittings have an antique "nickel plated" look. External and structural hardware will be stainless steel. Interior hardware will be brass which is a maintenance headache therefore needing a protective plated finish.   Two platers with whom I have spoken, tell me that nickel plating will yellow very quickly and is not a decorative finish.   What is the dull chrome looking finish that is seen on brass items from the 1920's? Is it nickel or a type of chrome? How can it be achieved on new brass items?   Any advice or comment will be greatly appreciated. 

Paul Bremer


Lanterns that Lit our World

A. I think the 1920's finish you are thinking of is in fact nickel, which was commonly applied in those days. True, nickel tarnishes, turning yellowish--but only slightly yellowish. It is certainly a decorative finish, very "in" again, and maybe exactly what you are looking for.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

(2000)

Q. We are currently fabricating a considerable number of pieces for a bathroom and residence in Manhattan, all stainless, and all to be antique nickel plated. While I have seen the finish a number of times, I am still wondering what the process is exactly and why it rusts (as opposed to copper dipped nickel which will last for half a century).

kurt l [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Brooklyn New York


(2000)

A. You have me at a disadvantage here because I haven't seen what you are talking about. I'm a little confused about whether the rusting you mention is a beneficial part of the antiquing process you are seeking or if you are looking for a process that won't rust.

Since we're on a different wavelength I'll guess what you're talking about, which may risk further confusion, but . . .

The fact is, copper does not delay rust more effectively than nickel. Look at automobiles from the fifties and sixties, whose chrome bumpers were copper-nickel-chrome plated, and which rusted very quickly anyway. Contrast them to today's chrome bumpers (mostly used on pickup trucks and SUVs) which are usually nickel-chrome plated and contain no copper at all and remain rust-free many times longer than the older stuff. Copper plating doesn't hurt, but it doesn't help the corrosion resistance either.

Again, I don't know what "antique nickel" is supposed to look like, but I'll guess you're talking about some blackening process, perhaps relieved in places like some embossed high school rings? Drop us a picture of it if you get a chance.

Even stainless steel--some grades at least--can rust. Brass cannot rust because it contains no iron.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


(2000)

thumbs up signThanks for answering the question... You put the pieces together well, thank you.

kurt l [returning]
Brooklyn New York



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