Nickel plating my old zoomy pipes for the Little Demon

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doc1955

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I been wanting to try nickel and copper plating. So I decided to practice on the old zoomy pipes I made for the Little Demon engine (I since made headers). The big thing I see with the plating is you need to clean the pieces really good and warm your solution up (warming helps speed it up) Anyway here are some photos of the pipes.
 

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rmalsen

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what tube did you use fore the headers to start with , Thanks
 

doc1955

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Brass tube is what I used but you could use copper tube and then nickel plate and it would look the same. If I were to make them again I would go with copper I think that maybe a little easier to work with and like I said if you nickel plate them they would look the same.
 

Piston_Broke

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I tried to do some nickel plating at home and did not have good results. I had good interaction with the supplier, they were very supportive but I couldn't make it work for me. Like many skills, some folks get it and some don't. Excellent work! Maybe I'll try it again sometime, Cheers!
 

doc1955

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I purchased the nickel on ebay and made my own solution. The real secret is everything you are plating needs to be super cleaned and then don't touch it at all before you plate it. The solution is super easy to make lots of videos out there I used the vinegar type solution.(made with vinegar) The first one was making the solution. I should also mention the plating goes faster if the solution is warm I set the jar with the solution into a small bucket of boiling water it speeds it up a lot.

I know how my videos are looked upon on this sight but I'll post a link to nickel plating anyway.
 

Peter Twissell

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I have done some nickel plating on motorcycle parts. I used a kit supplied by Caswell.
As mentioned above, parts need to be properly clean before plating. I hung the parts on wire, boiled them in a solution of dishwashing detergent, then transfer them directly to boiling clean water to rinse and then straight into the plating solution at 90 degrees C.
My wife was not at home that day and all evidence was removed from the kitchen before she came back. :)
All my plated parts are steel. I used the electroless method. If my understanding is correct, the electroless method needs some kind of trigger to start it depositing on copper or other non ferrous metals, like touching a steel nail etc. on to the copper in the solution.
 

awake

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Doc, I don't know how your videos are looked upon on this site, but I watched the two on nickel plating - I had no idea it was that simple to do. Thanks!
 
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rmalsen

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I have tried Brass tube but are having no luck bending it , just kinking it , I have tried the spring on the outside and tried a bender , any ideas please
Brass tube is what I used but you could use copper tube and then nickel plate and it would look the same. If I were to make them again I would go with copper I think that maybe a little easier to work with and like I said if you nickel plate them they would look the same.
 

mfrick

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So I bent all the tube for my Snow Engine by filling the tubs with lead worked great, you need to make a set of bending dies once the tube was bent heat to melt the lead out. With out the lead I too had nothing but kinks. Years ago we used fine sand packed into copper tube to bend it for use in water heaters on industrial dish washers. So you plug with wood plug pack with sand then plug the open end and your ready to go.

Mike
 

dnalot

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Anneal the tubing. Like mfrick said, fill the tube with something like lead or fine sand. Make the bend in one smooth motion, The tubing will work harden as you go.

Mark T
 

Peter Twissell

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If you're interested, there's something called Woods Metal, which is a very low melting point alloy for exactly this purpose (filling tubes while bending).
It melts at about 80C.
 

karlw144

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Can also use a product called cerrobend. It’s often used by gunsmiths and can be purchased at most gunsmith supply companies. Nice thing is that like the lead you can just keep reusing it and no adverse side affects. Melts out of your tubes in boiling or just hot water, much lower temp than needed to melt the lead.
 

William May

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I used Cerrobend on all the brass water tubes that I bent for the "Buckmobile" antique car. I think if you google it, you can find a video that shows the engine compartment opened so you can see the water tubing installed. You melt it in a double boiler, While the Cerrobend is melting, you run NON-DETERGENT MOTOR OIL through the tube, to allow the Cerrobend to flow during bending. Then you plug the end of the tube, pour in the Cerrobend, and you can place the filled tube in water to cool it. They actually want you to reheat the tube and alloy to about 105 degrees F. and then do the bend. It works wonderfully! I never had a kink or a problem. (Anneal the tubing before bending. Brass tube is very stiff because it is work hardened during the forming process, so it's bendability is VERY low.) After the bend, you put it in hot water, or if it won't fit in a tube with hot water, then GENTLY apply a propane torch to the tube, and the Cerrobend will pour right out into a bucket. I let it pour into ice cube trays that are shaped like tiny ice cubes, about 1/2" square. (Plastic ice cube trays work fine. I've been using mine for over 30 years with no damage to the trays at all.) That way I can melt the small amount I need for small tubes, without having to melt a huge block of Cerrobend every time. I keep the little cubes of Cerrobend in a coffee can. You can run a cloth rag through the tubing after draining, to remove any residue of oil or Cerrobend.
 

mayhugh1

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I purchased the nickel on ebay and made my own solution. The real secret is everything you are plating needs to be super cleaned and then don't touch it at all before you plate it. The solution is super easy to make lots of videos out there I used the vinegar type solution.(made with vinegar) The first one was making the solution. I should also mention the plating goes faster if the solution is warm I set the jar with the solution into a small bucket of boiling water it speeds it up a lot.

I know how my videos are looked upon on this sight but I'll post a link to nickel plating anyway.
Doc,
I enjoy your videos and have learned a lot from them. I'm especially interested in your latest two on nickel plating. You've got me excited about trying it out for myself on the water outlet pipe on my Offy. I'm wondering what you used to solder your pipe assemblies and if and how well the nickel plated over it? - Terry
 

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Some (old) ideas:
  1. Tightly roll newspaper to the best sliding fit you can get in the pipe before bending. It can be a pain to remove afterwards though. - burn out with the air-line blowing through when bending completed. Not the best, but may suit some jobs.
  2. Use candle wax. Ok for some jobs - a single bend? You can remake the candles afterwards! I keep candle stubs and use or remake the candles.
  3. Use lead or other solder, plumbers lead-free is a lower melting point. But it will tin the inside of many metals. Unless oxidised from annealing.
  4. Seal 1 end - eg. With a soldered plug or crimp spare end length with Mole grips/vice. Fill completely with water. From the tap will do. Crimp spare length of the second end. Make bends. Cut off crimps. With properly annealed pipe and good bend formers this should work well. A professional coppersmith showed me at Reyrolles when I worked there in 1980s. He was working on 3" OD Copper tubes.
  5. Fill and tamp with fine sand. Crimp ends as with water. Good if multi-bending and you need to repeat the annealing. Steel pipes for motorcycle exhausts have been bent this way - using a proper hydraulic 3-head bender. I have heard of someone using soft clay... as he had a garden full of it! But picking it out of the pipe afterwards took ages with a long bit of wire.
Any professional benders got any other comments?
 

WOB

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Can also use a product called cerrobend. It’s often used by gunsmiths and can be purchased at most gunsmith supply companies. Nice thing is that like the lead you can just keep reusing it and no adverse side affects. Melts out of your tubes in boiling or just hot water, much lower temp than needed to melt the lead.
This is incorrect. Gunsmiths use Cerrosafe for chamber casting. It is not the same material as Cerrobend. Cerrosafe is not suitable for bending as it does not expand sufficiently on cooling to grip the ID of the tube. Cerrobend does expand and makes bending easy on annealed brass and aluminum tubing. The characteristics of the different alloys are listed here: CS Alloys - Cerro Alloys Casting At Home
In the chart, "Safe" is Cerrosafe "Bend" is Cerrobend.

WOB
 

doc1955

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Doc,
I enjoy your videos and have learned a lot from them. I'm especially interested in your latest two on nickel plating. You've got me excited about trying it out for myself on the water outlet pipe on my Offy. I'm wondering what you used to solder your pipe assemblies and if and how well the nickel plated over it? - Terry
I silver soldered them and after nickle plate you cannot see the solder at all. But I stress polish what you plan on plating and clean well before as even finger touches will show up. I found that the grease cleaner that Menards sells works the best even over Acetone. Your work amazes me your engines look so nice!
 

karlw144

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Thanks for the correction, I’ve got both and didn’t remember the differences. Haven’t used either for a few years. I also use the cerrosafe to check internal shank tapers on doubler mouthpieces that I occasionally construct.
 
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