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Forum Contributor 2007-2012, Distinguished SOTW Te
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Discussion Starter #1
Perhaps some of you guys who have a bit of experience with brush plating (specifically the Caswell kit, which I am contemplating) could help me here.

I want to start touching up plating- and I want to start with silver, and I want to start with my own horns. I have a '38 Keilwerth that I own and a similar vintage Conn on the way that could both use some touching up to their plating.

Assuming no body damage, no red rot, no pitting, etc, what can I expect if I hand polish the part I want to touch up, and use the Caswell kit?

I want it to blend perfectly- otherwise there isn't much point. Are all silvers created equal? Will the silver match colorwise? Will they tarnish the same? What sort of results have you guys had with touching up plating?

Any info would be greatly appreciated before I make the jump and start applying metal to one of my horns, and eventually customer horns when/if I get proficient.
 

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I've used the Caswell plater quite a bit. For one thing, you can use more than one application to get a thicker coat. You can't plate the 'brush' finish as on the 2 finishes Conn (shiny and brush/or 'sand blasted looking'). I use a lacquer touch up after to preserve the finish. (The palm keys get a lot of wear). I buff the areas that I'm plating very smooth as all scratches show. Degrease/plate. I'm quite happy with the results so far. As I said, get everything very smooth and clean and it should work well for you. Colour match is good. I can't speak for the tarnish aspect as I spot lacquer the surface.
Hans
 

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You probably know this but, FWIW, I did some plating (not brush) years ago as part of a non-musical research project and the one thing I learned was that surface preparation and absolute cleanliness was the secret for good plating.
 

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I got the Caswell kit a while ago. The thing the kit did for me was get me started, now I mainly use parts from Radio shack and a couple of silver anodes. My Radio Shack adjustable DC converter gives me a lot more freedom than one in the Kit.

The question I am trying to solve is where to get the best solution. I've tried a bunch and some I have had no success with others vary. Right now I'm using something called "Clean Earth" for my silver and it's working well, much better than the Cawell. I have had no success with the "Clean Earth" Gold yet. The Caswell "fast gold" is outstanding for brush plating. You can darken a gold washed bell with it.

I have a small set up for my plating that has made things easier. I picked up 2 table top burners. One for the Electro clean solution and one for the plating solution. I warm up my "tanks" clean and plate.

My brush plater is the same power supply with a piece of cloth wrapped around the anode.

Good luck with this, Matt. Drop me a line at the shop if there is anything I can do to help.
 

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Curt, do you use an adjustable power supply with the Caswell kit? I assumed the two plug in adaptors they sent (one for silver, another for gold-I think) were the optimum voltages to use for each solution. Are you experimenting with other voltages on these? It would be informative to know any results you come up with if you are. Thanks
Hans
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I've got the Caswell kit on the way, and I will probably buy the Clean Earth solution as well. Looks like if I got an adjustable DC converter, I could use the same brush and clips from the Caswell kit to do gold as well as silver.

Any hints from anyone on getting the surface REALLY clean?
 

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Thanks for the info Curt. "Clean Earth" is stocked locally, so it is good info for me.
 

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I have brass register tube on my bass clarinet and the person who built it recommended to plate them and recommended the Caswell (silver) plating brush kit. He used it and it worked. He also said maybe even better to buy just the solution and use a transformator and stainless steel piece you have. He also said "...then brush until you're bored!" So I assume it is very slow, but should work. I was close to ordering but the shipping was really expensive (about the same price as the kit). I will try it eventually.
 

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Clarnibass, locate and try your supplier to the local silversmithing and jewellers trade.
 

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hansmartini said:
Curt, do you use an adjustable power supply with the Caswell kit? I assumed the two plug in adaptors they sent (one for silver, another for gold-I think) were the optimum voltages to use for each solution. Are you experimenting with other voltages on these? It would be informative to know any results you come up with if you are. Thanks
Hans
Hans! The Caswell kit I have is just a power supply and an anode with solution. I use my own (adjustable) power supply and my own Anodes that I made. I guess I experiment with voltage. That is, I change the voltage as needed when I plate.
 

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Does anyone know if I can use the caswell kit (silver to replate my faded keys, without have to strip the original silver off of them?
I was also curious about my stain silver. Im trying to hear what methods others use, and I have a few tiny scratches (they appear shiny,), and I was curious what I could use to get those out as well. Thankyou!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Got my Caswell kit the other day- and boy is it simple. Just a transformer, some alligator clips, the plating wand, and some solution. I think I will follow Curt on this one and make my own from now on.

I have a 1938 Keilwerth "Modell 3" (pretty much the same as a New King series I) that had some plating damage on the neck. It is my horn, and I don't have any plans to sell it, so I decided to go for it. Worst case scenario I could buff it off and do it over- nice thick and tough brass on this neck.

For this I used just the caswell stuff. I have some Clean Earth solution on the way, but I was too curious to wait.

Before:


After:


Not horrible. I think next time I will take more time prepping the surface- I would probably have fared better to lightly buff it prior to plating this time (and redo that bad solder job), but I just hand polished it. So the finish ended up being fuzzy looking, but at least it is all silver now! Makes a huge difference when looking at the sax, actually, since this was the worst and most visible plating wear on the horn.
 

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If there are small pitting holes in the surface, posibly from galvanic corrosion between the silver and the brass, then the only way to finish up with a really good looking finish is to buff the metal away right down to the bottom of the pits. That can be a lot of buffing, and according to some people, may wreck the tone. But I wonder it to other people, it might improve the tone. :) Or perhaps it does nothing to the tone, and the player imagines something.

But my main point is that plating will never cover blemishes.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
More what I meant was making a pass or two with red rouge to improve the look, but as Gordon said it wouldn't have been a mirror shine without having to overbuff.
 

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Matt,

That looks real nice. How did you clean the surface prior to plating? How many "passes", minutes, hours, etc. did it take to get the plating to a thickness to look that good with the Caswell set up?

John
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
I took the microtuner + cork and octave key off of the neck, then I polished it for about two minutes with silver cloth and Hagerty's. Then I used ZEP degreaser and hot water, repeating this process about 5 times. Then I dried it with a plain paper towel. I used the Caswell kit pretty much exactly as they instruct you to- I used the wand and a cap to another bottle to hold the silver solution, and kept the wand pretty soaked in solution. I plated for about 5 minutes, and by moving the wand quickly I found I could keep it from getting smutty. Then I polished using Hagerty's and a plain paper towel, degreased again, and repeated the whole process one more time. So about 10 minutes total of plating to get what I feel like what is a pretty heavy coat on both sides of the neck.
 
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