My 1st electroplating step


Good evening...
I have been copper leafing my bipeds and liking what happens.
As I build my automata I use some metal things that are shiny silver color...and I don't like that.  I decided to experiment with copper plating those shiny silver things.
I've attached two images: 
  • The first image shows my setup:
    • Glass jar with electrolyte.
    • Wood stirring stick.
    • Copper hanging wires.
    • 2 1" copper couplings (pipe fittings).
    • The power supply that I jury rigged from a USB charger.
  • The second image shows some results.  What you are looking at is one brass tube, one stainless steel precision shaft, 7 shaft collars (2 of which have not been plated...they are in the photo for comparison purposes).
The very first thing that I tried to plate would not plate.  It remained silver.  So I tried plating a nickel...which took the copper almost immediately.  Then I plated the stainless steel precision shaft (which I had read would not copper plate) and it plated beautifully...with the shaft diameter not changing...the ball bearing assemblies still slip on easily.  Then the brass tube...just to see what happens. And then the little collars (3/16" id.)  I created the electrolyte using baking soda.

This certainly does not make me an expert.  I consider myself to know virtually nothing about electroplating.  But I now know enough to not be afraid...and I now know enough to do what I wanted to do.  As time flows I will learn how to do more.  As time flows I will learn how to do it better.

Regarding the little power's just a USB charger.  It puts out 5vdc, and when making the electrolyte 1.2 amperes.  I've not measured the amperage when plating.
-Jim Coffee-
one of the Automata Group Moderators
I create automata near San Diego, California


Jim, I find your process very interesting and one that I would not have thought up on my own. Copper plating adds a certain old world charm to the piece. Thanks for sharing the process with us.