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Nickel Plating Steel Sheet

(-----) 2007

Hello, I am a hobby machinist, and make miniature internal combustion engines. I have been copper plating for a short time, getting pretty good results, except on steel. I make valve covers and oil pans out of sheet steel, using homemade dies and a hydraulic press. Since these parts often see moderately high temperatures, painting is not usually an option, and on top of that, it just doesn't look as good.

I have experimented with nickel plating, using the following solution:

1 gallon distilled water
30oz nickel sulfate
8oz nickel chloride
1 oz. boric acid

I at first used canadian quarters (1968-1999), with a hole drilled in them and suspended in the solution, as anodes. This worked very well, but I'm not big into destroying currency. I am wondering if I can use a commercial purity nickel rod, Alloy 200 from Mcmaster-Carr, as anode material. It is 99.4% purity. I have also experimented with several brighteners, Saccharin, Coumarin, and Formaldehyde, all of which are readily available, if not inexpensive. since I started using canadian nickels, I have had pleasing results, but the nickel rod anodes would be much much better from a financial point of view.

Essentially, I'm asking what level of purity is required for nickel plating anodes. Any help would be appreciated. Yes, I am disposing of my solutions in accordance with local laws. (my university handles the leftover solution, in exchange for my work in the chem lab machine shop)

Jake Thomas
hobbyist - Bowling Green, Kentucky, USA


99.97% purity is the norm for nickel sulfate solutions. With a very small operation have you considered nickel hull cell anodes? You can get them at lab supply houses in your area.

Mark Baker
Process Engineer - Syracuse, New York


Ask Ted for my Email address. I have a couple of nickel "swords" of rolled depolarized nickel anodes that should work quite well for you. You should use anode bags on these. Fine dacron will work OK and use poly thread. You should also have a filter pump on your system for good work. The anodes are free, but you have to pre pay for shipping and handling.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

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