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  1. #1
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    Default Caswell plating kit experience

    My question of "How far do I want to take it?" was answered on Saturday when the nickel plating process took much longer than I wanted. I found that it worked very well over existing, albeit worn down, nickel, using sulfuric acid as activator - no issues with adherence.

    What I did find, though, is that I could not re-use the green solution for more than 3-4 keys without starting to see the black streaks. I also found that the famous plating "wand" started to disintegrate and I had to snip parts of it off. The manual warned about oxidation and removing it with a file or wire brush. They weren't kidding. I'll be making myself a new wand soon. I did rinse each piece in distilled water after the acid dip before plating.

    As a result, I ran out of the solution 1/2 way through the process, so I'll order another 8oz. I basically just re-plated the keys that really needed it and left others alone. And forget the posts, I'm not touching those. Too much work cleaning up, and they don't see any finger traffic anyway.

    Overall, it's definitely an improvement over what I started with. When working with fresh solution, the result looks exactly how I wanted it to look. Thanks again to John for the tip on the ultrasonic cleaner - I picked one up in Harbor Freight for 30 bucks.

    George

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    What you are describing is very close to my own experience with the nickel plating. The folks as Caswell told me that the black streaks were caused by somehow "contaminating" the plating solution. After I followed all of their other advice---sulphuric acid, distilled water, water sheeting test, etc. my conclusion was that their "wand" was somehow contaminating the solution. I was going to try a stainless steel bolt from the hardware store, but never got that far as I had ordered several extra "wands" at that point and replaced the one I was using when it started to look bad.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jbtsax View Post
    What you are describing is very close to my own experience with the nickel plating. The folks as Caswell told me that the black streaks were caused by somehow "contaminating" the plating solution. After I followed all of their other advice---sulphuric acid, distilled water, water sheeting test, etc. my conclusion was that their "wand" was somehow contaminating the solution. I was going to try a stainless steel bolt from the hardware store, but never got that far as I had ordered several extra "wands" at that point and replaced the one I was using when it started to look bad.
    Same here - I'm convinced that the wand itself is the culprit. It took 3 or 4 10-15 minute sessions for the wand to start to look bad.

    I'll go for the steel bolt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jbtsax View Post
    What you are describing is very close to my own experience with the nickel plating. The folks as Caswell told me that the black streaks were caused by somehow "contaminating" the plating solution. After I followed all of their other advice---sulphuric acid, distilled water, water sheeting test, etc. my conclusion was that their "wand" was somehow contaminating the solution. I was going to try a stainless steel bolt from the hardware store, but never got that far as I had ordered several extra "wands" at that point and replaced the one I was using when it started to look bad.
    I just chatted with Caswell's tech support, and they confirmed that it's normal for the wand to disintegrate using this method. They suggested I use a nickel anode. Looks like amazon sells 1x6" pure nickel anodes for 8 bucks with free shipping.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gheorghe View Post
    I just chatted with Caswell's tech support, and they confirmed that it's normal for the wand to disintegrate using this method. They suggested I use a nickel anode. Looks like amazon sells 1x6" pure nickel anodes for 8 bucks with free shipping.
    That's good to know. I'm sure silver anodes are at least 4 times that amount.

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    So after all this work, I talked with my mom yesterday, and she mentioned that they could have easily nickel plated all my keys at her work. She is part owner of an R&D company (electronics) and they nickel plate on a professional level all the time

    George

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    Well you'll know for next time.
    Kev

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    Quote Originally Posted by kevgermany View Post
    Well you'll know for next time.
    It will be a while before I'll have the desire to take everything apart again I still gotta play the thing once in a while.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gheorghe View Post
    So after all this work, I talked with my mom yesterday, and she mentioned that they could have easily nickel plated all my keys at her work. She is part owner of an R&D company (electronics) and they nickel plate on a professional level all the time
    I guess this means you should call your mom and talk to her more often.

    By the way, could you send me her name and phone number?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jbtsax View Post
    I guess this means you should call your mom and talk to her more often.

    By the way, could you send me her name and phone number?
    Nah, I want to enjoy exclusive nickel plating privileges myself

    I don't know why it hadn't occurred to me earlier - I remember them plating components in the lab when I was a teenager - I worked in the same company as a software developer back then.

    Ironically, my nickel anodes should be here in a few days. I plan on making a more comfortable thumb rest, so there will be more plating opportunities. Plus the original thumb rest screws go right through the wall of the instrument, so I sealed them with CA glue and ebony dust. I'm thinking I'll orient the new holes laterally instead, it makes more sense to me.

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    Let me know how the nickle anodes work out. Even though you can now get your plating professionally done, I bet you had fun and learned a lot doing it yourself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jbtsax View Post
    Let me know how the nickle anodes work out. Even though you can now get your plating professionally done, I bet you had fun and learned a lot doing it yourself.
    The nickel anode worked out great. I plated 5 more parts, used the same solution, the parts came out spotless, and the solution is still clean. I plan on re-using it again next time.

    Instead of the microwave route, I keep the container on a warm plate while plating now - not too hot, and I put some wooden spacers between the plate and the glass. I don't know how much it speeds up the process, but I give each part about 10 minutes.

    George

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    Thanks for sharing that useful information. Since the nickel drawn from the solution is replaced by nicked from the anode, the solution should last a long, long time if kept "clean".

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    Quote Originally Posted by jbtsax View Post
    Thanks for sharing that useful information. Since the nickel drawn from the solution is replaced by nicked from the anode, the solution should last a long, long time if kept "clean".
    I played it safe and degreased the anode as well.

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    Default Update on the look of keys

    So it's been a while since I actually played my taragot. I opened the case the other day after a few months of the instrument just sitting idle in it. The keys that looked nice an shiny thanks to the Caswell plating I did now look gray and dull. It's not wear and tear, the instrument just sat in its case. The only factor was time.

    So I came to the conclusion that was already suggested here - it's not worth the effort.

    George

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