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Electroplating Cases

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by squarepants33889, Feb 7, 2012.

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  1. squarepants33889

    squarepants33889 Member

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    Howdy all. I have been doing some experimenting with copper plating cartridge cases. I have been the doing the plating myself with a little home made rig.

    I don't have any real use for these cases, I just thought they sure looked neat. Especially the annealed one.

    Any thoughts or concerns about firing these cool looking little buggers?
     

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  2. Striker Fired

    Striker Fired Member

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    I wouldn't think there's any issues with firing them.The base metal should be the same as long as the copper was going to the cases(case-,copperanode+) and not something else going the other way,(part + anode-).
    The center two are the plated ones by the looks of it . It doesn't look like they are plated with very much.
     
  3. squarepants33889

    squarepants33889 Member

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    They were plated for about 3 hours. I thought it was thicker than it turned out to be. When I polished the mouth, the plating wore off fairly quickly.
    To be honest, I wasn't sure what was an appropriate length of time. It was also tough to tell the "depth" of the finish because it looked rough and almost oxidized until buffed with a cloth.
     
  4. brickeyee

    brickeyee Member

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    Except some dimensional changes, and the possibility of the plating solution damaging the brass (depending on what is in it).

    Steel cases are sometimes copper plated to reduce rusting issue, but brass is already pretty good.
    Steel cases for military use are not reloaded anyway.
     
  5. NeuseRvrRat

    NeuseRvrRat Member

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    does the plating process get the cases hot enough to anneal them? that's the only danger i can think of, but i'm not familiar enough with plating to know if heat is used.
     
  6. medalguy

    medalguy Member

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    Increase the current you're using. Plating thickness (speed of deposition) is a function of current.
     
  7. squarepants33889

    squarepants33889 Member

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    The process I used uses 4.5v and 400 mA. There is no heat generated whatsoever. The copper bearing solution is simple 5% vinegar. I'm not completely clueless regarding metallurgy, but certainly claim to be no expert. I don't think vinegar would leach any of the brass alloys component metals, but have no serious way to be sure. On another forum, a poster suggested there was the possibility of embrittlement if the pH of the solution was too low, or high temperature is achieved. I have been playing with voltage and have found that 8-12 volts works great as long as the solution is stirred. Otherwise, a "powdery" film develops on the surface. As far as i can tell so far, case thickness change is nominal. After cutting a plated case in half, no copper thickness was even visible. Thanks for all the input. I'm curious to ask other fellow reloaders; do you guys think they look interesting? I'm not sure why, but I'm just fascinated with the look.
     
  8. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

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    They are bedazzling!
     
  9. squarepants33889

    squarepants33889 Member

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    Thx C.D. They are bedazzling
     
  10. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

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  11. P-32

    P-32 Member

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    Wouldn't it easier to just tumble the brass? :rolleyes:
     
  12. Salmoneye

    Salmoneye Member

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    I do the same type of plating on bulk brass spoons for trolling Salmon...

    I like the color, and so do the fish...
     
  13. CMV

    CMV Member

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    If I have too much lemishine in my US cleaner solution or use my standard amount with Speer brass, they turn pinkish. & that's after 24 min in an acidic solution. 3 hrs in vinegar - wouldn't that do the same thing? Make copper leach out of the brass? Or does already having a certain amount in solution prevent it?
     
  14. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

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    I have a bunch of very old 38 spcl. Peter's brass that is very pink looking. It always looked much different than other brass, but it turned pink after having been tumbled for about 24 hrs.?
     
  15. squarepants33889

    squarepants33889 Member

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    I've been refining the process and will try to update the info to match the current technique and address any topics brought up.
    I have always used brass that was tumbled after sizing for about 4 hours. I use treated corn cob for my brass because of I like the particular colour it leaves the cases. The problem with the treated media is that is requires much wiping to remove the oil before plating. Dry corn cob doesn't get rid of the "yellow" brass look the way I like, but it makes it very shiny, perfect for plating.
    Immersion in the copper solution has been reduced to two 10 second dunks from the 3 minutes. Over plating leaves a nice thick plate, but affects the neck thickness on some cases. It also requires a ton of hand rubber to create a shine from the dull satin electroplating.
    The result is very shiny copper finish.
    I still have no way of knowing if alloy integrity is compromised, but 20 seconds in vinegar seems safe enough. fyi; I was worried about zinc leaching rather than copper. I put the case into the solution "hot", so it is receiving molecules of copper from the instant it is immersed. That long winded explanation brings me to your other posts about pink brass. Brass is composed of both zinc and copper, so maybe its just a higher percent copper alloy they used. Anyway, hope to post pics of newest product tomorrow. Forgot the camera at home.
     
  16. joneb

    joneb Member

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    Why ?

    Will this process improve the integrity of the brass or just make it look different ?
     
  17. T Bran

    T Bran Member

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    You may want to do a search on electroplating bullets. I beleive edwin41 was the origional poster. He was doing much the same thing as you are but the solution was different. Pretty interesting read anyway. Please keep us updated on your progress. Very cool results so far.
    T
     
  18. Salmoneye

    Salmoneye Member

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    I simply use salt in water, two wires, and a piece of soft copper pipe for the 'positive' connection...Connect the receiving metal to the negative, and immerse in the solution...

    I made a 'frame' of wire so I could do a half dozen items at one time...

    They come out black...Rubbing with a clean cloth and a bit of toothepaste reveals the plating...

    [​IMG]
     
  19. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

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    Bullet Bling.:D I think that they look cool but the extra work would be what I consider excessive for my needs. You might tape stripes on the casing and then plate them causing striped brass. Really easy to ID your brass at the range.:cool: Have fun and do keep us posted with this.
     
  20. squarepants33889

    squarepants33889 Member

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    The process is purely for aesthetics. In fact, since the oxidation rate of copper is faster than brass, the plating reduces corrosion and tarnish resistance. I just think it looks really cool. And feels cool. Very smooth.
    After a clothe buff, like salmoneye said, the case feels amazingly slick.
    The extra work is excessive, but worthwhile as a niche hobby of its own.
    Its is amazingly rewarding.
    Thanks for suggesting Edwin for info. Its a funny coincidence that i read that very forum discussion about two days before trying it.
     
  21. edwin41

    edwin41 Member

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    what a great idea !
    looks good to , especialy the second case from the left..
    when i read this article i immediatly wanted to try it and grabbed an .303 case
    cleaned it of a little with some scotchbrite and then some aceton.
    i hung it in my plating setup , as you saw on "copperplating ", and used the very same 1.5 volt penlight battery.
    the result you see is straight out of the bath , with no polishing .
    i can do better then this , but the layer of copper you see is very hard to get of so polishing would be easy in a tumbler..
    by the way , the case hung about 2 minutes in the bath...
    the whole process of cleaning and plating didnt take more than 4 minutes.
    but .... what a great idea !
     

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  22. edwin41

    edwin41 Member

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    saw the fotos , in reality this is a very nice casing , it looks somewhat poor on foto though....
     
  23. edwin41

    edwin41 Member

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    im gonna make another some time soon , and will put a little more effort in it.
    the pictures of the results i will post here....

    damn , what a good idea.
     
  24. squarepants33889

    squarepants33889 Member

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    Careful edwin, it's addicting! Pretty soon you'll have a 2 dozen copper cases.
    Those lures are so damn good lookin' I'd swallow one.
    I keep playing around have good luck adjusting finishing techniques. fyi; 0000 steel wool is your friend. Between "coats".
    That rimmed cartridge looks good in copper.
    Try a pre-soak in an acid of some type immediately prior to plating, seems to help, not sure why.
    I've attached a few of my latest attempts.
     
  25. squarepants33889

    squarepants33889 Member

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    Here's the pic. I messed up the first try.
     

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