Hi JNC Folks:
I noticed a few postings concerning the restoration of cad (cadmium) plated parts in the forum. They addressed the use of painting methods (like Eastwood’s finishes) or sending out parts to a plating specialist. Since my project is proceeding slowly, and I only need to plate a few pieces of hardware at a time, I decided to look into a home-plating set up.
First-off, the project is my 1982 Civic. I purchased this car brand new on my 18th birthday, and have owned it ever since. The picture below is after extensive welding and metal work, and represents a huge milestone for me. Of course, there’s still a long way to go.
Back to plating: As I slowly work through the restoration, I didn’t like returning crappy-looking hardware and parts to their places. And we all know how hard it is to find matching JIS cad-plated fasteners out there. The good-looking plated surface on our parts is actually sacrificial, and meant to go away, protecting the underlying steel. After multiple decades (or sooner depending on where you live), the original finish will be gone and the steel starts to rust. Although my car and I have lived in semi-arid Colorado for the past 17 years, we spent 10 years together on the east coast. Plus, the Honda was my daily driver until two years ago. Plated stuff is looking shabby.
I purchased Caswell’s ( www.caswellplating.com ) 2-1/2 gallon Copy Cad kit, a 5 amp power supply, and a vibratory parts tumbler. The Copy Cad set-up plates the part with zinc. The finish can be very dull or very shiny silver color depending on how much Brightener is added to your solution. The gold finish comes by dipping the plated part into Yellow Chromate for about 30 seconds. The Chromate is a passivate that helps slow the zinc’s reaction to the atmosphere (at least through the warrantee period for OEM stuff). Below is my initial set-up prior to adding chemicals. iPod is optional but recommended.
I begin by doing a thorough prep of the parts. I toss them in my Harbor Freight tumbler for a couple of hours, and then soak them in Eastwood’s Oxi-Solve overnight (Oxi-Solve has been replaced by their Rust Dissolver product). When removed from the soak, I work them over with the brass wire wheel on my bench grinder. Then I do the degreasing and plating process. I’ve been more than happy with the results, and have attached some photos below.
This was my first try. I cleaned and plated an old fastener from my Montero (left), trying to match a factory-fresh fastener (right). The result was close enough for me.
This photo shows the Civic’s hatch striker plates. On the left is how they looked as removed from the car. The right is after my cleaning process.
And here are the finished parts. Zinc plated with yellow chromate. They have the familiar iridescent tint, and are ready to bolt in place.
Now, let’s see what else I need to plate…