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Nickel plating old gold clubs at home

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Q. Hello,
I have some old golf clubs I want to strip to bare metal and nickel plate. A couple videos I have watched of shops plating clubs they dip it in Hydrochloric Acid and put an Electric current through it to remove rust before dipping it in the nickel. As a hobbyist is this something y'all recommend trying to do? If not what other solution could I do for this step. If so how would I go about doing this as far as what my mixture should be and how much Volts and Amps to use?
Thank you for any help in this matter.

S Holly
Hobbyist - Shawnee Kansas
May 24, 2022

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A. Hi S. My suggestion would be that if the art & science of electroplating appeals to you as a very serious hobby you should proceed with trying to learn & practice that hobby; but if you're just looking to get some old clubs stripped and plated then you should send the clubs to a plating shop instead :-)

When there are people who spend their entire career in a field like nickel electroplating, and they're still going to seminars & training courses and consulting books, it should tell you that promises about how drop dead easy it is are empty. It's very possible that you will permanently ruin those clubs in the acid tank before you even get to the nickel plating step.

If you want to learn something you practice the individual steps, and on scrap, not on something important. Only after you have become successful in getting small steel plates and washers properly & repeatably nickel plated, is it time to think about the additional complications of the golf clubs.

You don't need electricity to remove rust. Practice wire brushing some rusty old steel then dipping in 20% hydrochloric acid until you have some feel for it. Once you do, and it might be 15 seconds for light rust, a minute for heavy rust, assess what your clubs will need and do not exceed it. Then rinse and go directly into the nickel plating which you will have already practiced and know how to do.

If you have any questions and problems as you try to do the practice nickel plating, we can help. Give us details on what solution you want to use or what you need to know, what power supply and other equipment you have or what you need to know, and so on and we'll be happy to try to help. But please think about the fact that if you chose to paint the clubs rather than plate them, you would go out and buy quality paint, you wouldn't try to formulate the paint yourself from kitchen ingredients. There are instructions on this site on how to formulate nickel plating solution but there are scientific reasons why plating is more difficult than painting, so unless you want to intensely study electrochemistry for many months, please buy your nickel plating solution rather than trying to formulate it.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
May 2022

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