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topic 10585

Another Forum for questions and help


I would like to offer up another question/answer forum for folks to post in to try and get answers to their questions. I am in no way trying to invade on FINISHING.Com forum as I use it also and have been helped a great deal by it. I am only trying to help others get answers. It can be found at........

I hope this helps some who have unanswered questions!


Tom Haltmeyer
- Peoria, Arizona, USA


I disagree with some things you say on that forum and on your website, Tom (for example, how you talk about people in the industry being secretive). We've answered that shot dozens of times here. But you are welcome to keep saying it here or there if you believe it :-)

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



I speak from personal experience on this one and also from talking to others trying to gather information. For instance........Would anyone post the correct chemicals and what amounts to use in a WATTS nickel BATH for brighteners/LEVELERS/WETTERS? I know it will vary because of the basic bath make up, but let us work with it. All of my responses to this question have been answered with........(many people have spent years of research and a lot of money to figure these things out. You should just buy them.) Sounds like a secret to me? Yes I could buy them, and remain ignorant as to how a component works in a bath. Or someone could help out and I could learn. Maybe even come up with something better?! Don't underestimate fresh thinking. I've called plating shops in my city and no one but no one will help. Does anyone here care to post this information? I have asked this question before here. I'm not trying to get on anyone or be irritating just explain why that statement is on my web page. Most of the time hobby platers are treated as a bunch of hicks that are dumping their sludge in the neighbor's yard and digging around in the baths with their bare hands. THAT is the reason why I created that site to HELP others who want to get involved to do it right. So the more questions I get answered the more I can help others. See the cycle?

Thanks for your time and for posting the preceding post about in your forum.

Tom H. :)

P.S. Thanks for checking out the web page. If you find any discrepancies PLEASE point them out.

Tom Haltmeyer
- Peoria, Arizona


Hi, Tom. If you asked a surgeon to post what thread size he would use for stitches under such and such condition he would probably answer you. If you asked him how to perform an appendectomy, he could not answer -- the question is just too broad.

We face a similar problem; post a narrow, detailed question and you'll almost always get an answer; there are thousands on this site. But ask for general info that fills a chapter in a book and more, and people can't answer you. You will find the composition of a Watt's Nickel Bath in virtually any plating book including the Metal Finishing Guidebook: the concentration of nickel sulphate, concentration of nickel chloride, concentration of boric acid, the recommended pH, the operating temperature, filtration recommendations, agitation recommendations, suggested current density, anode to cathode ratio, etc.. You will find how to maintain the surface tension with wetting agents -- to what value, and how to measure it. You'll also find out in such books that pretreatment is 90% of the problem, such that even if we tried to explain every detail of nickel plating in response to general question, we'd be misleading you by withholding the 90%. Again, people are delighted to answer specific questions, but simply cannot answer broad questions that require a chapter or a whole book.

As for "brighteners/levels/wetters": in ASM's Metals Handbook, Vol. 5, you will find a very thorough explanation of how brighteners, secondary brighteners, carriers, wetters, etc. work -- and the names of generic chemicals you can use for the purpose like formaldelhyde, coumarin, saccharin, etc.

But here's the thing, Tom: modern additives aren't "mixed" from ingredients that you can buy; rather, they are synthesized from precursors; and synthesis of chemicals is beyond what a hobbyist can do. You can't synthesize gasoline or polypropylene yourself, and you can't synthesize modern additives.

You are right that no company is going to post on the internet its most closely guarded trade secrets --gained through decades of trial and error, at a cost of millions of dollars. Try getting manufacturing blueprints from Lexus -- it's the same thing. The companies are not afraid that a hobbyist will build a Lexus or synthesize a nickel brightener, but they are concerned that their billion-dollar competitors will use the information.

Do you call your mechanic and ask him how to rebuild your carburetor, or call your pharmacist and ask him how to make your own antibiotics? Yet you are offended that you call plating shops and they won't tell you how to electroplate?

Just like hobby platers, industrial platers were treated "as a bunch of hicks that are dumping their sludge in the neighbors yard and digging around in the baths with their bare hands". But then every plating shop was compelled to get wheelbarrows full of permits, and submit to inspections and fines from their sewer authority, the city, the state, EPA, OSHA, etc. We can be confident that they are not dumping and that they are practicing safety because they cannot get away with it; the same cannot be said for hobby platers. It's very reasonable for plating shops to say "I don't want you competing with me without inspections or permits when I am inspected 3 times a month and need fifty permits" :-)

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


About the tenth time a hobby plater/anodizer calls you and chews you out because you charge too much or you will not give him/her an hour of your time, FREE, you start getting real short, sharp, testy and cranky when one calls.

If you have spent thousands of dollars on books and hundreds of hours troubleshooting failures, Why should you expect me to give it to you for nothing.

All of that said, after I retired, I have helped several home platers and anodizers perfect their processes, All of them thru BUT, I only did this after they had a waste disposal number.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida


Thanks Ted!

Now I have a direction to find information from. Its appreciated.

Tom H (still learning!)

P.S. Actually I do call the mechanic when I get as to making medicine...I don't think I will go there! :)

Tom Haltmeyer
- Peoria, Arizona

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