Sunday, September 27, 2009

Electroless Nickel Plating

Recently I purchased a Caswell Electroless Nickel Plating Kit. Electroless plating differs from traditional plating by eliminating the electrical current that is used in traditional plating techniques. With electroless plating you are basically mixing two chemicals and heating them to 180 degrees F, and then immersing your parts for about a half hour. All the parts I've plated have been bead blasted first, and then cleaned of any oil or contaminates. When you have depleted your plating solution, a neutralizing chemical is used to make the solution inert for proper disposal. I'm real impressed with how easy a process this is. I wish I had started using this earlier in my restoration because now I've been going back redoing parts that I had originally painted. Caswell sells a large variety of electroless and traditional plating products as well as powder coating, paints, coatings, buffing and polishing supplies on their website.

I have a bunch of different shape containers I use for plating. Ideally you want to use as little plating solution as possible. I prefer glass containers because you are heating the solution to near boiling, but I have a few plastic ones I use. I also have an assortment of silicone caps and plugs as well as hi-temp (powder coating) tape that I use for masking off areas I do not want to plate.

Isetta steering knuckle grease caps, bolts, lugnuts, and axle nut electroless nickel plated

Parts of the Isetta pedal assemblies electroless nickel plated

Clips on Isetta air filter box electroless nickel plated

Original Isetta Hazet tools electroless nickel plated

Original Bosch horn nickel plated

Misc. electroless nickel plated Isetta parts


  1. First off, you do absolutely magnificent work. I was just wondering what size kit would be enough to redo a complete Isetta restoration? I was thinking 2.5 gallons, let me know if that isn't enough.

    Thank you!

  2. Thanks for your comment. I didn't really keep track of how much plating solutions I used on my Isetta, but the 2.5 gallon kit would plate a lot of small hardware. If it's not enough, you can always buy additional replenishment chemicals by the quart.

  3. Just wanted to say thanks for posting all your work. What a help as I get started on my first Isetta restoration. I had a couple of questions if you don't mind. The nickel plating looks great, were the parts you plated originally nickel? Did you also nickel plate the bolts that hold two piece wheels together?

    1. Thanks for your comment. I used new stainless steel bolts to hold the wheel halves together. I would say most of the parts I plated were black oxide bolts or parts that were painted like the emergency brake handle and cover and door lock mechanism which were originally painted silver.

  4. Great work. I'm curious. On the Hazet tools, what method did you use to strip the original plating before re-plating?

  5. The original Isetta Hazet tools I had were kind of a dull rusty matte finish. I just bead blasted them and then did the nickel plating.