electro plating cast bulets. who has done it?


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par0thead151
March 20, 2008, 10:49 AM
I am very eager to hear of the success or failures of electro plating cast bullets. I figure i can spend the 200$ that i would spend on a lubeing due and put that towards the tank setup for electro plating, and then not worry about lube at all as cast bullets dont require lube.
My buddy who works in a chem lab says it should not be all that hard or expensive to set up, just need a steady supply of clean copper for the plating process.
Personally i think this would be really neat to be able to create a plated bullet from the rounds i cast. the only drawback i could see would be time required to prep the rounds, i believe they would need to be resized twice, once before plating, and once after.
anyone ever try their hand at electro plating before?
surely there are science buffs among us hand loaders

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357mag357
March 20, 2008, 12:53 PM
Just saw this post, might be helpful.

http://www.caswellplating.com/kits/flashcopper.html

par0thead151
March 20, 2008, 01:21 PM
yup, i was looking at that site, i just would really like first hand experience people to chime in as i would hate to spend 200-300$ on the stuff and it not work too well or be a incredibly time or money intensive process. by incredible i would mean adding more than 2-3 hours per 1K to the initial casting and reloading time.

snuffy
March 20, 2008, 03:28 PM
Just off the top of my head, you nailed it on time expended doing any home plating. The power required is DC, ya know? And a LOT of it.

Second plating does not do well when a lot of nooks and crannies are present on the item to be plated. Meaning the lube grooves and the sharp corners will not look right.

Third. you'll need a special mold that will cast smaller by the amount you plan to plate. If you want a .357 bullet, you'd need a .351 size to allow for .003 thickness of plating. As long as you will be needing a new mold, it may as well be smooth sided so as to eliminate the sharp corners at the bottom of the lube grooves.

I'm perfectly happy to buy my plated bullets from extreme or berry's. Yours would be no better and cost a lot more.

par0thead151
March 20, 2008, 04:10 PM
how would they cost a lot more? just curious.
i have no idea how expensive a custom mold would cost, however i have no molds or other casting tools, so tooling up for plating would be anon issue as i need to buy the molds anyways.
I was under the impression that the power consumption for plating was relatively low. again, i probably am wrong about that as i am just beginning my research into this option.
please keep the advice and or criticism to my idea coming as i am gathering as much intel as i can right now.
thanks

Bruce H.
March 20, 2008, 07:45 PM
I spent a lot of years electroplating printed circuit boards. They are all made in China now, so I don't do that anymore. I have never plated lead with copper, but have done a lot of copper plating onto circuit boards. You would need cleaning tanks to prepare the lead surface before plating. You would also need numerous rinse tanks between each cleaning step. You would need to have a barrel plating setup to do the cleaning and plating of the bullets. Yes you would use low voltage DC current to plate, but would need quite a bit of amps. The worst part would be the waste treatment. This would entail treating all of your waste rinse water and any tank dumps to make sure that you do not discharge metals to the sewer in excess of the EPA, state and local regulations. You would also have to adjust the pH of the water you discharge to the sewer to meet those same regulations. You would need to get a city permit to do all of this work. If you didn't obey the laws you could end up in jail for a long time. The Feds really go after polluters. I recommend that you do what I do: buy Berrys or Rainier bullets and save yourself a lot of money and potential problems.

Travis Two
March 20, 2008, 09:02 PM
There was a company whose name escapes me right now ( someone else might remember) that had a setup in which you put the bullets into tubes and there were several tubes to the set up. It never made big inroads into the reloading/ bullet making fraternity as it were probably due to inconsistencies in the process.
The molds are available from NEI without lube grooves and undersize but the plating process if not done correctly can result in uneveness of the plating.
Part of the reason the plated bullets are restruck (meaning some were swaged first then plated while others were cast then plated) meant the bullets had to be sized thru special carbide sizers on machines that had the force necessary to drive the bullets with the plating on them thru the dies to insure a uniform size of the finished product. Both Berrys and Ranier had some growing pains as they sorted out the problems in the beggining.

After all was said and done the plated bullets could not be driven past about 1250 fps without there being other problems with the plating stripping away. If the process was more sorted out for home use I think we would have seen wider use of the system but alas that is not the case.
Continue your research before you put down any hard cash.

par0thead151
March 20, 2008, 10:17 PM
bruce, just curious, but how often would i need to change out these sollution tanks?
i contacted a seller of the chems needed to plate and they said that the main tank would not need to be changed out ever. the cleaning tanks i assume would need to have some sort of testing or timetable to be changed after being contaminated to a certain extent.

scrat
March 21, 2008, 01:31 AM
ok i have a couple of pennies to add to this.

On the black powder forum. One of the members removed the bluing on the backstrap on his revolver. He then nickel plated it. I am too considering doing the same thing. They sell kits on ebay to do this. Thats where he bought his. When you go to ebay type in nickel plating, plating and copper plating. see what you get. there are some kits at 59.99. for that price its worth a shot.

Bruce H.
March 21, 2008, 01:40 AM
The cleaning tanks would need to be changed out based upon the throughput. The more you process product through the cleaning tanks the more often you would have to dump and makeup a new solution. The copper plating tank itself should be good indefinitely, as long as it doesn't become contaminated. If it becomes contaminated the only things that you can do are dummy plate to remove metallic contamination or carbon treat to remove organic contamination. The problem is that the only way to plate bullets in bulk and to achieve a uniform plating thickness over the entire surface of the bullet is to barrel plate them. Barrel plating is where you use a continuously rotating polypropylene barrel filled with the materials you are plating, here we are talking about bullets, to plate. When you remove this barrel from a tank solution literally pours out of the holes in the barrel. It is much different than when your are plating using a rack. When you barrel plate there is a lot of dragout. Dragout is when you drag solution in the barrel into the next tank. Therefore, thorough rinsing is very critical and cross-contamination is a very real possibility. I would not recommend that someone with no plating experience attempt this.
All of the process tanks would need to be analyzed on a routine basis to produce good product. The copper plating tank would also need routine analysis and chemical adds. Companies that do this type of work have degreed Chemists, expensive analytical equipment and experienced personnel on their staff.
Like I said before, you would have to be very careful about how you would dispose of any of these chemicals. The water treatment people in your city would be able to tell if chemicals were dumped down a drain or a toilet and they have ways to trace the chemicals back to the source. This is not something that law enforcement would take lightly.

par0thead151
March 21, 2008, 02:01 AM
well hmmm this is making the lube method appear very attractive then.
too bad as i was looking forward to having a professional type setup to create quality plated bullets, but if the hastle and liability(pollution) are that high, maybe it is best if i dont do it.

so the barrel plating method is basicaly a barrel that has the bullets tumbling inside of it?could the same thing be achieved on say a carosel type platter that spins in the tank?

Sunray
March 21, 2008, 03:01 AM
"...just need a steady supply of clean copper for the plating process..." Therein lies the problem. Rumour has it that copper is expensive these days. Not that I know for sure. My security clearance is to rumour only.
Melting pennies isn't likely an option. It melts at 1,084.6 C.

Bruce H.
March 21, 2008, 10:54 AM
I am not familiar with carosel plating. The barrel that I referred to is plastic so that it doesn't plate up, so any type of carosel plater would have to also be constructed of plastic so that it would not plate up with copper. If you used a metal carosel you would have to strip the copper plating from it periodically with nitric acid. Nitric acid produces very nasty fumes when dissolving copper. Not something you would want to do without proper ventilation. Also, any motor or vibrator assembly would have to be out of solution. Most plating solutions are very corrosive too.
Barrel plating is the process that is used to plate nut, bolts and screws.

par0thead151
March 21, 2008, 11:34 AM
im amazed that no one else has tried this before, as they sell the solutions on ebay for around 60$
the only real question i have left right now is, would the lube groves on cast bullets be a problem for plating as the plated bullets i have seen did not have groves, instead were flat walled like a FMJ.
i wonder if i could get away with buying a lee 6 cav mold and just resize the bullets down to .002" smaller than they should be, plate them, and then size them for the proper reloading size.
that way i can use lube or plating, if i decide plating is more of a pain in the ass than it is worth

Eric F
March 21, 2008, 12:02 PM
OK folks hold on a minute, I have done this several times in the past I do not know how it will work on lead bullets but you need to acount for bullet diameter some times the plating will build up on areas faster than others. I have plated parts for my car at home. I get some really good stuff but once in a while it does not do too well. I would look at Eastwood for kits they were much cheaper that this stuff.

par0thead151
March 21, 2008, 12:10 PM
im not looking for precision bullets, just plinking at 25-50M with a sig 220 and 226, as well as a 9 mm AK (2XTM build that takes suomi 71 rd. drums)

snuffy
March 21, 2008, 01:37 PM
i wonder if i could get away with buying a lee 6 cav mold and just resize the bullets down to .002" smaller than they should be, plate them, and then size them for the proper reloading size.

Doing it your way would result in a copper coating of .001! Not much more than a copper wash, you could almost "see" through it. The rifling would cut through it resulting in the leading you seek to avoid.

If you plated them to .004 on a side, resulting in an net gain of .006, then sized them back down to nominal bore diameter, I would think that would damage the plating too much. Cracking or peeling would occur.

Ranier, berry's and extreme bullets are pure lead swagged to start with. They are undersize the amount they will be plated to arrive at near the final dimension. Extreme sizes ALL their bullets after plating, berrys does some of theirs, not sure if ranier does any.

GaryL
March 21, 2008, 01:53 PM
Like I said before, you would have to be very careful about how you would dispose of any of these chemicals. The water treatment people in your city would be able to tell if chemicals were dumped down a drain or a toilet and they have ways to trace the chemicals back to the source. This is not something that law enforcement would take lightly.
This is very true. Many moons ago I did some controls work for several wastewater plants. Back then they had sensors and sample collection sites in the sewer lines that allowed them to trace chemical dumps back to the source. I remember one particular episode at a plant where the computer control system had tracked in a hazardous chemical spill, but the 'samples' mysteriously disappeared. The dump occurred during the early morning hours. The plant had a pretty good idea who did the dump, but without the samples they couldn't prosecute the offender. The chemical dumped killed off the bacteria in the treatment process, and it took them about 2 weeks to get the process back to fully operational, and during that time minimally treated sewage was dumped into the river. There was nothing the plant could do about it.

At the time they didn't know who had been bought off, but they were looking into it. I suspect it would be a lot harder today to pull it off.

par0thead151
March 21, 2008, 01:55 PM
thanks for the info, i read that i need .002"-.004" for a successful plating to hold up when fired. i will opt for the thicker of the spectrum. anyone know the wattage that a power source required for plating say a 5-6 gal tank would take? also, with the barrel plating system,i assume that the barrel has the positive or negative leads attached to it and the other has the copper media attached to it in the tank?
i am going to be talking this over and researching more this afternoon with my chemist friend and he can advise me of what i should need, what he can get, and all the more in depth details.

marsofold
March 21, 2008, 03:50 PM
You can use a battery trickle charger to do this. And the thickness can be calculated from the AMP-Hours to a very exact value. Just be sure to undersize the bullets before plating.

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