Chrome/Cad Plating at home..anyone got experience?

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Mar 19, 2005
Good day to all!

I have played with the thought of gradually building off a few nuts and bolts at a time and re-doing the cadmium plating to make them look a bit better. Years of touching the things up with silver paint, has gotten to be a drag, and SS replacements are not only expensive, but the metal is much softer and I have not been convinced that is the way to go in at least some of the applications where some kind of structural strength is required.

Has anyone done this sort of thing? Built a small setup in the workshop to just do up nuts and bolts? Not talking about doing bigger items, which are naturally best left to the profis, but just a dressing up of small items that somehow ruin the appearance of the bike if they are corroded or rusty. Just take a look at a new Harley that has been sitting a bit in the rain in front of the dealers' will see what I mean. Makes that new bike look like trash in a couple of reason I wouldn't think about buying one. That alone makes them appear cheaply made. My machines' nuts and bolts look that way too...but mine isn't brand new...... :wink:

Perhaps the manufacturer is too cheap to invest an extra five dollars production cost in good screws, so they could charge the buyer an extra twenty for the bike. Or they have a hand in the aftermarket sales of SS screws.....:D
. Be interested to hear pros and cons...Thanks! Hewho
Gidday 'Hewho~zza'

Funny you should ask about this as I am in the same process as I am working on the T150 and need this techno..

I put into Google.. 'Electroplating" and got some ecellent results ~
Especially since here is a movemnet toward home kits and non tox kits..

I think U in the USA & UK are at an advantage as we are limited here in OZZie. ( Includes international sites.)
Thanks for the feedback.....liked the first site, well done and good info. I've been thinking a long time about doing this and even bought some books..just never got it up to give it a try...but maybe soon. Must say though...the price of a "Kit" is a killer. Must be a way to assemble what you need to get the job done for a bit less than that. An accurate list of the chemicals that one would have to assemble, would be a good start, the other items....should be not that difficult to find/jerryrig.
I will wait and see what the others have to say...surely there is one of us out there than actually has tried this stuff and can give us all the low down.... :wink:

Greetings from never never land.....

VERY disappointed

this is second hand but close friends, hard core restorers, bought this system and try as they might have been VERY disappointed in the results and this with just the easy CAD planting.. GOOD LUCK ! gather up all the nuts and bolts you can from all those boxes you been collecting thru the years and maybe from friends and take to your local plater, it's cheap!
Thanks...both of you.

That it could screw up...we all know. A lot of practice, experimentation would be likely in order before something could come out the way we would image/hope. And the point about taking all the bits to the "real" plater, and it not being so expensive...point taken.....but in my case, I'm not the typical "restorer". I have mine on the road too much to think about taking it all apart and giving all the bits to the plater.....(thats why it has never been properly sorted out/restored), I just want some method to do a few small bits at a time, screw em back on the bike and do more bits when I have the time. A small tank for nuts and bolts, and not that many at a time. Gradually, I could get most of the offensive nasty bits done up and avoid the old silver paint and little brush routine....reading the couple of websites, Cad might not be the way to go anyway...they will take less time than a Harley, to look crappy again.....but the NICAD thing, mentioned, looked a bit better. We are talking just nuts and bolts big fancy stuff like fenders, bars and rims, that belong at the profi platers anyway. We all know this. But...nuts and bolts, would indeed be nice...lets see what the evening brings on comments and suggestions, maybe we will all learn something interesting.. :wink:

The cadmium plating process is highly corrosive and toxic. I’ve never heard of a home-plating kit for cadmium; all the ones I’ve seen have been for zinc. So, if cad plating is what you’re after, you’ll have to have it done professionally.

Now, the zinc kits I’ve seen do a fairly good job, but quite a bit of work is required to prepare the fastener. Zinc plating, however, doesn’t have the same silvery luster of cad. But again, if that’s not important to you, then the zinc kit should produce reasonable results.

several people over on another forum have tried the DIY plating, using caswell's kits. They've had mixed results. Worked for some, didn't work for others. I'd guess meticulous prep work and following the instructions very carefully would give the best chance for success. Sounds like a PITA to me, and when you're done you have all those toxic chemicals to deal with.

I just had most of my hw replated (cad) by Quality Plating in Utah. $85 plus shipping, parts look great! Some of the stuff wasn't worth replating so I just bought new. (I know that doesn't help you much over there in Schnitzeland though...) At least with Commandos you have the option of buying new parts, although it's definitely not cheap.

Finding a good plating shop isn't easy in this country, particularly for cad. Most shops won't do it anymore because of the EPA regulations. Most shops will only do zinc, and some make you do *all* the prep work yourself. One local shop told me I had to remove all the old plating myself! They did not get my business!


An alternative you might look into is electroless nickel. I think it's doable in your garage. It can give you a really nice looking finish, and it is durable.
This is a gunsmithing supply business that carries plating supplies and kits of various types. They have extensive experience with plating, and they will send a booklet on the type of plating the potential customer is considering. Having some of the chemicals shipped to your area might not be possible, but they might be locally available. One thing to think about, you might end up with a sideline of plating small objects for others! ( just to help defray costs, you know) :)
look for "electroless nickel plating" in the catalog search form.
I have not personally done this, but it is under consideration ( lathe and other stuff first)
I have used zinc plating kit with bright passivation finish & results are pretty good, initial cleaning up done with rotary wire brush then pickle in 50% Hydrochloric acid. Watch out with high tensile fasteners for something called hydrogen embrittlement which could lead to breakages. The process to overcome this is to heat the part but I am not sure how hot or for how long. It may be 200 degrees for a couple of hours, but do look into this for safety.
According to the invoice, Quality Plating baked my parts for 8 hours at 375F.

If you try that at home, the missus might not be too happy! :wink:

CAD Plating

Look on the Greater Atlanta British Motorcycle Association (GABMA)
resource link page, there is a CAD Plating kit for $88.00 from a Birtish firm. For what it's worth, PG
High strength fasteners - such as socket head cap screws - are more susceptible to hydrogen embrittlement when plated with zinc than garden-variety grade 3 fasteners. In fact, the ACE hardware stores in my area will not sell socket head cap screws with zinc coating for fear of litigation, owing to hydrogen embrittlement induced failure.

So, I recommend you don’t plate socket head cap screws, or other high strength fasteners, without performing a thorough hydrogen bake-out procedure. However, you can probably plate lesser strength fasteners without doing a bake-out.

While i have no experience with home plating kits i have had lots to do with professional plating as a Quality Assurance Inspector

You face many challenges by sending out your hardware

1) fact : small pieces get lost

2) minimum charge by plater so you might as well do it all at once

3) service level of plating will most likely only be as good as the original plating. If your plater increases the service level then you may encounter intereference fit on parts that previously fit .

4) hydrogen embrittlement ?? possible . You'll be lucky if you find your problem during installation. If you do have any problems then the whole batch becomes suspect. Solution : complete strip, replate and bake

Trying to get the plater to buy into the idea that this was their fault will be another issue

For my 2 cents i would replace all standard nuts, bolts ,washers with new stock . For the rest of your stuff you can price out new and compare to the cost of replating.

Good luck with your endeavor
Good Call Ron

I too will replacing straight up a lot of the small stuff on my current project.

I noticed there was several comments regarding the insidious elements / risk of doing this stuff in the garage.. but I feel some have missed the point here.
Most of these kits are projecting .. NO Cynadies or such ..

I am sure that these have been extensively road tested and as there is a high degree of credibility involved and it is a naive pedlar that sells bodgey stuff on the web these days.

Word travels bloody fast and as can be seen on Ebay for example, a rip off merchant has a limited market.

(Although in saying that . I been warned through contacts of another bike site, Chicago is a place of one dealer that keeps changing his details ~ )

I feel also that some platers simply dump the lot in and time is then spent simply getting parts to fit or thread up again.. so that has to be another positive for the home kitter..

That started a can full of cad plated worms! After reading all the comments that had piled up since I got a chance to look in on the forum...I must say I'm more than a bit confused as to whether this is worth following up on. The main thing that disturbs me is this brittleness thing. One reason I wasn't so tickled about going the SS route was that I'm fully convinced the SS screrws aren't as strong and plain old as safe as the original old rusty ones. Naturally the other factor is cost, but even cost could perhaps be overcome, if I TRUSTED the fool things to do what they should do and hold the bike together. MY experience is naturally limited with SS screws, because the second small batch I tried to trade out years ago, included the two blots that adjust the chain/axle and after building out the stuff to get the SS ones installed, I found that they just plain bent and kind of "Walked" off the high point of the axle when you tried to use them to effect some kind of adjust on the chain. They are still in there, because it plain is a PITA to pull them out again, but having them just bend and make it hard to get the axle straight, reminds me every time, how much I DON'T want to put more weak, bendable bolts on my bike. The thought of an axle, or some other carrying part out of SS gives me the heebeegeebees. So......what do we do? Risk plating and having something break because of brittleness? Replace with SS? Buy all new parts? Leave it rusty but safe? Lord knows....cause I don't. :wink:

The most sensible solution is what Ron has said....some new parts and farm some stuff out.....only hang is that if you get new Cad plated parts...after a couple of rain storms....she will look like a Harley again....

Going to keep thinking about about this home-plating thing.......must be some way to stem the tide of creeping Harleyitis out there in the garage.

I have been using stainless fasteners of all types on my bikes for years and never had a problem, possibly not the best stuff to use for axles etc. though.
I'll figure out what I need to do on the mean time, got to deal with some other nice things in life, like having the boss call me up, and tell me he can't pay me any more. Cool stuff. Kind of puts the damper on the old bike repairs for now. Even had to call the guy who was doing up my seat cover on the solo seat I built, and have him put it on hold...but it will all come out in the wash.....never say die!!!

PS.....Anybody need a piper for their wedding...let me know! :wink:
I recently completed a restoration on my T120R. Had all the fastners replated in satin chrome. The finish closely resembles the colour of the original cad finish, but should give a much longer life. A bit more expensive than zinc plating.


Sentiments mate.. but hey one door closes another opens.

I plan on persisting with this too ~ For example my current project ~ the T150V ~

How do you send rocker shafts to a plater with the understanding that 'he' is to plate ONLY the very end of the shaft !

Seems to me that if you have your own set up you can afford to tinker and spend time getting the coat just right . just where you want it !

I plan on starting at the very basics and build the skills after all there is plenty of advice available out there ~
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