Monthly Archives: March 2015

I’m having way too much fun!

I did in fact develop four of the six rolls of film I shot a few weeks ago. The negatives look great, but I’ve been having such a blast working on my view camera project that I haven’t gotten them onto the scanner yet!

Soon, very soon…

I have successfully obtained the mini-lathe I mentioned before. And I’ve been perfecting my knob-making technique. It’s not as simple as it might seem to produce a set of knobs that feel good in the hand, look good on the camera, meet the dimensions required and all appear to be part of a matched set (my camera requires ten knobs all told – twelve if you want to be nit-picky). I’m closing in on it rapidly though! The final units will look truly splendid!

Here is an early version, the final ones will look very similar but with much better knurling and a bit sleeker profile:

  

I have also been dabbling in electrochemistry once again! My anodizing process is well sorted, but I just had to come up with a solution for all the unsightly brass speckling my lovely creation. I was planning to take a whole heap if little metal doo-dads to a professional metal finisher to have them done up with a matte chrome look. But – being me – I ended up doing it myself…

Turns out that NICKEL plating can be done quite easily at home. I watched a few YouTube videos on the subject which were helpful, but once I ran across a write-up on Instructables.com detailing the whole process I knew I had a winner. 

As an added bonus, no special or expensive equipment or chemicals are required. 

I made a nickel acetate solution out of vinegar, some strips of pure nickel I got off eBay for a few dollars, a pinch of salt and some electricity provided by the same car-battery charger I use for anodizing amuninum. 

  

Dissolving the nickel metal requires a bit more juice than does anodizing, so I shifted the charger into high-gear (12V – 12Amps) and let things percolate for a few hours. 

  

As you can see, the strips of nickel at the positive terminal are beginning to dissolve, producing a nice green nickel acetate solution. 

Once you have a suitable solution of nickel salt, the plating is really simple. Everywhere I read I was told that the key to a nice, shiny and durable nickel plate is LOW voltage and LOW amps. In fact, the recommended power source is two D-cell batteries in series producing 3V and just a few amps. 

  

In the above picture I’m plating the bail I made to aid in loading film. It is bent up from 1/8″ steel rod. I had to plate it in three sections since I can’t fit the whole thing into my plating bath. 

It takes 15-30 minutes to get each part plated (depending on the size) and this slow, gentle approach seems to work fantastically! And my total investment is around ten dollars!

   

 

I think these pictures make the finished parts look like they are still a little “brassy”. They aren’t. They have a very nice pewter-like appearance in person. 

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