Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Got My Plating Kit!

WHOO-HOO! My "Brush Plating" kit came today. If you're not familiar with it, "Brush Plating" is a process used for plating small areas with the metal of your choice. They use a "wand" made of the metal you want to plate with, a "sock" over the wand to hold the plating solution, a bottle of plating solution, and a small power supply. You connect one end of the power supply to the work piece, and the other end to the wand. You slip the wand into the sock (yeah, sounds kinky!), dip it into the plating solution, and wipe it on the work piece. If everything goes well, and the workpiece is scrupulously clean, you'll wind up with a real electroplated coating of metal on your workpiece.
Why am I doing this? Well, when R.L. Drake Company originally made my equipment, they used a copper-plated steel chassis for improved electrical conductivity. It looks really cool, too! After the chassis were plated, they were coated with a clear lacquer to protect the copper, and then silk-screened with various component designators. Over time, the lacquer would break down exposing the copper, and it would tarnish badly. If it got damaged by moisture, the steel underneath would rust, leaving unsightly globs of rust. Like most Drake's of this age, mine has some nasty spots on the chassis that I want to restore. Short of stripping it down to a bare chassis, a LOT of work, and having it "properly" replated, I started looking for ways to "spot plate" small areas. I remembered reading about Brush Plating years ago, and Google to the rescue! So now I have to get out my Dremel, remove the corroded spots, nickel "strike" plate the bare steel, and then put the layer of copper on. After that, I'll coat it with clear lacquer again, and hopefully it will look much nicer than it does now.
Heathkit used to do the same thing before aluminum chassis became popular, and on their "Big Iron" radios, they also copper-plated the cabinet before painting them. "QST" magazine had an article a couple of years ago about a Ham who restored a Heathkit DX-100 transmitter. After try to clean the chassis with everything still connected to it, he finally bit the bullet, stripped it down to the bare metal, and sent it out to be plated. It looked beautiful, but it would probably take me a year to strip this one down that far and do what he did.
No thanks!
Anywhoo....if you're interested in "Brush Plating", go to the Caswell Plating website and check it out. They can supply kits for almost any metal you might want to plate.

And if you're interested in what my Drake gear looks like, you can go here for a virtual tour.
Look under "DRAKE 4 line" in the left column, and select the "4-B line".


  1. Pictures? Please? I remember the old Heathkits, etc. But mine are long gone... sigh...

  2. I'll do some "before" and "after" shots.
    If you're just interested in what my Drake gear looks like, you can go here for a virtual tour.
    Look under "DRAKE 4 line" in the left column, and select the "4-B line".


Keep it civil, please....