How to Tin Zinc Plate Hardware at Home

Posted: January 21, 2019 By: MattM
Eastwood has been offering automotive restoration supplies and solutions since 1978 and one if you’ve been getting our catalog for a number of years you’ve seen our Tin Zinc Plating kit. This is one of those products and we get questions about but really doesn’t get shown in use or what it does very often. It’s a pretty simple kit but it can give some really great results if you take the time to set it all up.
First lets give you a quick rundown of what comes in the kit. First there’s a solution that an electrical current will be run through here and what actually helps transfer the electrical current to the part. The kit also includes a funnel and safety goggles keep our eyes protected. There’s also a container that you can put the solution in and actually plate the parts in. If you want to do batches of parts you can get multiple kits and do small batches at the same time.
For the business end there’s a tin zinc anode that’s that’s sacrificial and the  little battery control pack. We suggest putting two size D batteries in here that are going to be 1.5 volts each giving us the 3 volts we need to plate parts.
Finally the kit comes with a Autosol for polishing the parts when done and a little brush that has some of the anode attached to it here with a heat shrink. What that’s for is to touch up areas that might have missed plating or where the wire was touching that was hanging the part in the solution.
Start by dumping the solution in your container you’ll be plating in and wrapping wire around the parts to be coated. You can hang the wire over the edge of the container to make it easier to retrieve them when done. One wire on the battery pack is hooked to the negative side of one of the batteries and can be hooked to the part being coated or metal wire the part is hanging off of. The other wire to the positive side of the other battery is hooked to the anode. I like to bend the anode and hang it over the edge of the container so most of it is hanging in the solution with the rest hanging outside the container with the positive clip attached.
For larger parts like this spark plug cover we suggest leaving the parts in for 20-25 minutes to get fully coated. Smaller parts could take half that time. What happens is that the tin zinc anode releases onto the charged part and actually plates the part with the anode. If you don’t leave the part in long enough the coating might be too thin and will easily wear off. You want a good coating on engine and exterior parts and hardware; with interior or low-wear parts not needing as much of a coating.
A properly coated part will come out in a dull gray color and will need to be polished. If you started with a polished or extremely smooth part it can be polished up to high luster with Autosol and a light touch on a buffing wheel. If you’re part was a rough finish going in it won’t polish up nearly as nice. This is the same idea as chrome plating. You will need to polish the part well for the final plating to come up shiny as well.
So that’s the basics for plating parts at home using the Eastwood Tin Zinc Plating Kit. This kit works well for the home hobbyist restoring original hardware or parts. In the end you will save money and time from paying a plating company to do your small runs of parts.

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