plating, anodizing, & finishing Q&As since 1989
Protecting Metal Bird sculptures in the Tropics
February 1, 2008
My name is Roger Jessop and I live in Kenya. I am an artist and my main interest is in metal work, making birds, etc. As we live right on the coast we have a dreadful problem with rust and as I paint all my creations and spend a lot of time doing it, it is vital that the metal is prepared by zinc electroplating first. There is a small shop in Mombasa who actually do all my electroplating at the moment, but they are always threatening to close. What I need to know is the solution in the electroplating tank. Most of our stuff can be done in a 44 gallon drum.Roger Jessop
Artist - Mombasa, Kenya
February 1, 2008
A. Electroplating isn't a one-step process, Roger. The thing is, electroplating electrochemically bonds the zinc to the steel and, for it to do so, the surface must be exceptionally clean and then acid activated. And after the plating, a chromate conversion process is required. So I would suggest that you might try "Cold Galvanizing Compound / Zinc Rich Paint" instead (spray painting the work with a zinc-rich paint).
But if you decide to electroplate, for small volume artwork the cleaning can be done by careful scrub brushing with Pumice [affil link] in water (a little detergent won't hurt). The acid dipping can be done with diluted Muriatic Acid [affil link] (about 10 percent HCl).
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
April 22, 2022
I have an early ostrich light from you which traveled around the world.
Purchased it when I stayed with Aussie P years and years ago. I also taught at Mombasa Academy ... your metal craft light is much admired.
A Friend - England