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Location: Chicago, IL
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Barber Chair Restoration - Nickel Re-Plating in Chicago

12/13/2010 5:14 PM

Can someone explain the process of re-plating (Nickel) of these barber chair parts from the 1920s?

Is it best to "de-plate" first? What cleaning needs to be done? There are several plating techniques, which one is best for a restoration?

I know of one place in the Chicagoland area that can do the re-plating (www.albarwilmette.com) but I am looking for others to get a competitive quote.

Thanks for any help.

~ Mike

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#1

Re: Barber Chair Restoration - Nickel Re-Plating in Chicago

12/14/2010 5:10 PM

I cannot explain the process (not familiar with it) but here are some links to a forum and a local shop.

Here is a Chicago firm: http://www.gattoplaters.com/

I found these on Google by searching "Nickel Re-Plating in Chicago", give it a try, there are a few more local shops listed and a large amount of other sites with info that should explain (or provide resources to) the re-plating process.

Based on the pictures you posted, it looks like your going to have a beauty there when your done.

It would be nice if you posted some before/after photos when you complete your project.

Good Luck

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#2

Re: Barber Chair Restoration - Nickel Re-Plating in Chicago

12/14/2010 7:32 PM

Maybe some of these could help: http://www.google.com/search?q=nickel+replating+chicago&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=

You could call a few of these, direct them here to see the pictures, and ask for a quotation with a description of the procedure they would recommend.

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#3

Re: Barber Chair Restoration - Nickel Re-Plating in Chicago

12/14/2010 11:43 PM

Talk to people who restore antique cars. They usually have plating to be done, and cars older than about 1927 would have been nickel. There was an AACA Chapter in the Chicago area when I left there circa 1970.

Also talk to the plater to see what needs to be done. Be sure to ask what you can do yourself to cut the cost and so you can take greater care with the parts--they might polish important features off. I'm guessing that your present plating will have to be removed--but be sure you know your substrate metals! I have heard a story about a steel fire engine pressure chamber with a bronze flange for attaching to the pump--the flange "went away" during the stripping process.

I think the process is to polish the substrate, because every flaw will show thru. Then copper plate followed by the nickel plate. They will have "fun" getting adequate plating in depressions, grooves, penetrations, etc. I think I have heard the term "hard nickel" used for a plate that doesn't tarnish as easily.

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#4

Re: Barber Chair Restoration - Nickel Re-Plating in Chicago

12/15/2010 8:04 AM

Many years ago when I was young we plated chrome this way.

A copper flash was plated first on clean parts, then a nickel plate was added and the parts were buffed and cleaned, and finally chrome was added.

This provided a very bright clear chrome finish.

The most important thing to consider when re-chroming is to get the parts perfectly clean. No rust dirt or pits can be present or the re-chromed finish will look like a cheese grater and the parts will be ruined.

As mentioned earlier people who restore cars will most certainly know where reputable chrome platers are located.

Good Luck

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#5

Re: Barber Chair Restoration - Nickel Re-Plating in Chicago

12/15/2010 8:50 AM

Got a Harley dealer nearby...or, better yet, an independent shop who services Harleys?

As noted previously, the surface prep is everything is this activity. The stripped components need to be painstakingly cleaned and polished before the copper and nickel immersions are done. If it were me, I would have all of the surface prep done by the plater...but I would certainly soeak with them in advance about your concerns / expectations for the surface prep work to be done. Otherwise then might just go directly from stripping to cleaning / plating with no visual inspection / polishing done.

Although there are not as many platers around as there were 30 years ago, there are still companies in the Chicago market who do this type of barrel plating...Let your fingers do the walking...

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#6

Re: Barber Chair Restoration - Nickel Re-Plating in Chicago

12/15/2010 9:30 AM

Michael,

I'm a plating engineer with a DOD prime contractor, and I've had the, um, pleasure of having to re-plate parts that had a poor initial plating.

Stripping off the old plating is an important step. This is best accomplished with nitric acid. If dimensional tolerance is critical, the plater should use a dilute acid and mechanical cleaning. If the parts can tolerate a slight dimensional change, a stronger acid will be faster.

Next, the parts should be rinsed, then cleaned in an alkaline cleaner. The parts were probably electroplated originally. This would require the parts to be on a conductive rack. If you use an electroless nickel for the re-plate, the parts could go into a tumbler. Two considerations come in to play on this decision.

  1. Do you need to mask the holes? If so, an electroplating rack could double as the mask for the holes. Masking can also be done for electroless plating if you choose to go that rout.
  2. Are the parts cast iron or steel? If the parts are cast iron and subsequently porous, you have to put a cyanide copper flash under the electrolytic nickel. Alternatively, electroless nickel might fill in the pores and still give a smooth surface. If the electroless option is desirable to you and the parts are cast iron, ask your plater about its ability to handle the porosity of the parts without a copper underlayer. If the parts are a low-porosity steel, the copper flash would be unnecessary in either case.

The electroless nickel option would likely be a bit more expensive from a nickel standpoint, but there would be no need to consider racking. Since racking inevitably leads to some degree of masking, I prefer to avoid it when I can. Electroless nickel also might eliminate the need for a copper flash if you are dealng with cast iron. Electrolytic nickel is probably a little cheaper. Either should give good aesthetics and corrosion resistance.

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#7

Re: Barber Chair Restoration - Nickel Re-Plating in Chicago

12/17/2010 1:50 AM

I've had some some auto related parts rechromed. It is like going on a date: sometimes things work out other times it's a disaster. The auto guy's are the best bet as they do this all the time.

The normal idea is to strip to bare metal, do what ever repairs are needed then copper plate and buff. at this time any imperfections, pits, scratches, etc. are examined and if necessary re copper plate and buff, until the copper is as nice as can be (or as nice as you can afford). The nickle plate is the show stuff and in the early days it was left as nickle, buffed and constantly polished to keep the shine. Today the nickle is "flash chromed" which is what you see on show cars. It is reasonably durable with little polish and rework needed, but is very thin to allow the nickle to show thru and will abrade with foot traffic, gritty abuse, over aggressive polish etc.

Good luck in your project.

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