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 Post subject: Engine Cast Steel Coating Options
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:05 am 
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Location: Northeast Ohio, USA
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My Toledo has come inside for the winter and while I'm working on it I thought I'd take the opportunity to paint it. So from the Factory it would have come in aBlack Color, and well I'm not thrilled with that color. Nor am I especially thrilled with the green it is now.

1) Is there a reason you can't chrome or nickel coat the main body of a cast steel/iron engine from 1902?
2) Is it possible to do this only on the exterior surface?

Obvious anything with Zinc would a no-no for steam, but chrome or nickel?

-CB

P.S. Some may cringe at this from the point of historical preservation, and I get that, I just don't care in this case.

P.P.S. I really don't want to experiment on it, this has to be something that doesn't harm the engine and coats well.


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 Post subject: Re: Engine Cast Steel Coating Options
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 2:17 am 
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Probably peel off after moisture and oil got under the coating in the transitional areas like the uncoated wear areas of the crosshead and the coated areas of the frame.

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 Post subject: Re: Engine Cast Steel Coating Options
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 2:57 am 
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I was just looking at Thermachromaic paints. That would be fancy. They have a Black->Pink that changes at 100F. It's close to the temp range - it says max 320F.

-CB

CB Replies:

TahoeSteam wrote:
Probably peel off after moisture and oil got under the coating in the transitional areas like the uncoated wear areas of the crosshead and the coated areas of the frame.

Why doesn't the paint on it have this issue?

Lionel Connell wrote:
Because electroless nickel goes on in an even layer, very thick layers can be used typically 10 times thicker than electroplated chrome. Unlike chrome, electroless nickel can be scrubbed with scotchbrite or steel wool and pained over achieving good adhesion using etch primer where paint just falls off chrome.

I'm confused by the underlined, but this sounds very interesting. How does this electroless nickel work? Can it be done at home or is there a name for this standard of finish that a proper shop could do?

Whatever paint was put on this Toledo 6Hp 5 decades+ ago is quite good. It's been out at least a year straight in the rain and a season on Chautauqua.
I'm going to be taking it apart to give it a tune up anyways, so I thought I'd start looking at coating options because I'd rather only take it apart once.

I'm also tempted to get the castings laser scanned if that is possible. If there would be any interest in casting copies at Cattail Foundry from some sort of molds I could make? Maybe I could pour a latex mold of the castings? Probably not enough interest to make it worth it just being honest...

DetroiTug wrote:
I have an electroplating setup for Nickle. Even though it has a very attractive smooth looking surface, Electroless and Electroplated Nickle yields a porous coating as Lionel points out above and must be waxed occasionally to keep rust from forming, if it's Nickle only over steel. Nickle over steel should be copper plated first. Some steels like "leaded" materials repel the adhesion of Nickle. The type of cast iron and what it's made of are important.
...
DetroiTug wrote:
I
The level of Luster is dependent on the surface preparation. Nickle Plating isn't a filler for a bad surface finish, rather a visual amplifier of the surface, tiny hazy scratches will show up, if a mirror finish is sought, then the part must be buffed to a mirror like finish prior to plating. If it's porous cast iron, it will likely be a cloudy surface.

Interesting. Can I build it up with a lot of copper, buff that, then do the Nickle?

DetroiTug wrote:
Quote: "Can I build it up with a lot of copper, buff that, then do the Nickle?"

That is the standard method of plating Nickle over steel. I've done quite a bit of it without the copper and it appears as long as the the nickle plating process is maintained to a higher thickness, good results are had.

Plating is fraught with issues, and not knowing the metallurgy of the cast iron, it would be a hit an miss thing, and might wind up with a horrible looking finish that won't hold paint.

Hmm. May want to skip it for the Toledo otherwise it'll be like Jimis boiler - he comments on a youtube video about the green flames are probably copper burning off.

11/9
DetroiTug wrote:
I use "engine enamel" spray paints on my steam engines and it holds up very well. On the car with super heat, one cylinder did get cooked off in the mid-section. But it's under the brass cylinder wrap, so no biggie.

A cylinder wrap would be a nice idea for the Toledo - although it would change the look.

I ordered some of this thermochromatic paint to test. Black->Pink at 100F. The exterior of the cylinder wrap shouldn't be seeing above 320F if I have insulation... That way it would look respectable black normally.

I don't have a super heater/economizer coil at this point, but that is something along with the removal of the rubber steam king hose -> fixed+some flex would increase the heat in the cylinders.

Hmm It's like archeology, I used a pressure washer on the engine exterior and now I can see layers.

-CB


Last edited by cyberbadger on Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:37 am, edited 5 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Engine Cast Steel Coating Options
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:45 am 
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It will eventually. May only take a couple years or last even decades... all about the prep... and in the chrome or nickel plating world, cubic dollars. You get what you pay for.

The marine environment wouldn't help your cause. How many chrome bumpers that were completely coated in chrome when new (front and back) are now just rust with chrome flakes holding them together?

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 Post subject: Re: Engine Cast Steel Coating Options
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 6:38 am 
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The 6A that I am building with have the cylinder block nickel plated inside and out using Electroless Nickel, a completely chemical process that requires no electricity at all.

Electroplating does not completely seal the surface. The flow of electrons is always attracted to the highest spot on the surface and therefore there are many low spots that do not get coated, eventually water gets under the plated layer. But you will see excavators working by the sea all of their lives and the hard chromed piston rods on the hydraulic cylinders stay perfect for decades. This is not due to the electroplated hard chrome, it is because prior to hard chroming the piston rod is plated with electroless Nickel. The electroless process does not suffer all of the problems of uneven coating that electro plating does. Electroless plating will provide an even coating, even down holes in the part where electroplating can not go. Electroless nickel can be further overcoated with Nickel Boride which provides a surface hardness of 60HRC and extremely low co-efficient of friction. This coating, like Nicosil is used on production high performance motorbike engines with great success under extreme conditions. Because electroless nickel goes on in an even layer, very thick layers can be used typically 10 times thicker than electroplated chrome. Unlike chrome, electroless nickel can be scrubbed with scotchbrite or steel wool and pained over achieving good adhesion using etch primer where paint just falls off chrome.


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 Post subject: Re: Engine Cast Steel Coating Options
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 2:47 pm 
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I have an electroplating setup for Nickle. Even though it has a very attractive smooth looking surface, Electroless and Electroplated Nickle yields a porous coating as Lionel points out above and must be waxed occasionally to keep rust from forming, if it's Nickle only over steel. Nickle over steel should be copper plated first. Some steels like "leaded" materials repel the adhesion of Nickle. The type of cast iron and what it's made of are important.

Caswell Plating has these and other systems on line for purchase. I've dealt with them and as long as one follows the instruction manual precisely, they will have good results. And too, any issue arrives, they provide excellent support. My parts started coming out cloudy and a quick call to them let me know it was the degreaser that had went bad. Changed that and it went right back to perfect again. The level of Luster is dependent on the surface preparation. Nickle Plating isn't a filler for a bad surface finish, rather a visual amplifier of the surface, tiny hazy scratches will show up, if a mirror finish is sought, then the part must be buffed to a mirror like finish prior to plating. If it's porous cast iron, it will likely be a cloudy surface.

The disadvantage with the electroless Nickle is the chemicals cannot be stored very long and they are expensive to replace. So, if it's something you plan on using every 6 months or so like I do, it's not such a good route. The Electroplating setup, it can set sealed up for a year and the only thing that goes bad is the degreaser which is very cheap to replace.

There are some DIY solutions for electroplating of Nickle that involve discarded computer power supplies etc. The current and voltage needs to be controlled precisely for thickness and surface area of the part. The power supply that Caswell sells works really well continually tuning itself to the job all the way through.

It was a relief to do this process myself as sending small parts to a plater is very expensive, the kit paid for itself over and over. For antique parts the Nickle looks so much better than chrome.

-Ron


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 Post subject: Re: Engine Cast Steel Coating Options
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:35 pm 
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Quote: "Can I build it up with a lot of copper, buff that, then do the Nickle?"

That is the standard method of plating Nickle over steel. I've done quite a bit of it without the copper and it appears as long as the the nickle plating process is maintained to a higher thickness, good results are had.

Plating is fraught with issues, and not knowing the metallurgy of the cast iron, it would be a hit an miss thing, and might wind up with a horrible looking finish that won't hold paint. I use "engine enamel" spray paints on my steam engines and it holds up very well. On the car with super heat, one cylinder did get cooked off in the mid-section. But it's under the brass cylinder wrap, so no biggie.



-Ron


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 Post subject: Re: Engine Cast Steel Coating Options
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:47 am 
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Powdered graphite mixed into linseed oil that's been cut about 50/50with mineral spirits until its the consistency of maple syrup then painted on polishes up to a "black grey" that shines while looking impossibly dark when put on bare iron. Try it on a rusty piece of scrap, a couple thin coats then buff it a couple days latter after it has cured. You might like black after all. (Powdered graphite sold as dry machinery lubricant throughout the most farm stores or implement dealers)

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 Post subject: Re: Engine Cast Steel Coating Options
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:53 am 
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Sounds similar to stove paste. It works alright on steel sched80 pipe and forged and malleable fittings. It lasts, but I'd say rustoleum is better. If we are taking the same thing maybe you have to apply it yearly...

-CB


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 Post subject: Re: Engine Cast Steel Coating Options
PostPosted: Sat Nov 11, 2017 7:39 pm 
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Looks like a variation on smokebox paint

If you really want a tough black coating Japan black adheres to steel & iron well and is flexible to resist cracking on items with thermal expansion & contraction.

Japan black consists mostly of an asphaltic base dissolved in naphtha or turpentine, sometimes with other varnish ingredients, such as linseed oil. It is applied directly to metal parts, and then baked at about 200°C (400°F) for up to an hour

A common asphaltic base would be Gilsonite which is available for art supply vendors.

Cheers

Ken


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