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Cleaning and tinning mild steel tube Answered

I've bought and cut some lengths of mild steel tube to make chimes for a doorbell. Mild steel has a nice ring to it, which is why I bought it instead of aluminium, but it has already started rusting, so I was thinking of tinning the tube before I build the whole thing.

My question is mainly how to clean it properly before I tin it. The outside I can do with wire wool but not the inside. I was thinking of just using vinegar to etch away the rust and then give it a good wash before putting it in the tinning solution. Is this likely to work ok?

Also any tips on the actual tinning process would be useful. As far as I know you just make up the solution and then put the tube in it for a set amount of time, but I've never done it before, so it would be good to hear from someone who's tried this.

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steveastroukBest Answer (author)2010-11-19

The process you want is either "plating" or "galvanising". I'd advise you to look up "electroplaters" in the phone book, and get them zinc plated.

Steve

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ganglion (author)steveastrouk2010-11-19

What's wrong with using tinning solution?

E.g.:
http://www.rapidonline.com/Tools-Fasteners-Production-Equipment/PCB-Equipment/Etching/Tin-plating-crystals/29475/kw/tin+plating

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steveastrouk (author)ganglion2010-11-19

Its designed to plate on copper, not steel !

Steve

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mildsteel (author)2011-07-12

Electroless nickel will be a good choice, because it will coat well INSIDE the tube, where ordinary plating will not reach.

http://www.metal-supplies.com/12201/index.html

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ganglion (author)2010-11-20

P.S. I've decided to take steveastrouk's advice and get them plated by a professional company. Probably looking at using electroless nickel plating, but have asked a company for advice and a quote on the best method for this job.

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steveastrouk (author)ganglion2010-11-20

Electroless nickel will be a good choice, because it will coat well INSIDE the tube, where ordinary plating will not reach.

Steve

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ganglion (author)steveastrouk2010-11-20

OK, thanks, that's good to know. :)

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seandogue (author)2010-11-19

You might consider having the tubes electroplated with brass or nickel . Otherwise I'd consider what Burf said. tinning mild steel isn't a very solid idea.

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caarntedd (author)2010-11-19

What about cold blueing? Rub off the rust with steel wool. Thoroughly clean the surface with general purpose thinners (or white spirit or solvent of some kind). Apply cold blueing solution (available at gun stores if unavailable elsewhere) following instructions on the bottle. Apply a light coat of lube such as lanolin or silicone spray. Hang up your nice gun metal coloured chime.

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Burf (author)2010-11-19

Just a suggestion but you could leave them as is. I have a wind chime that I made using some flat steel bars and I just let them oxidize naturally. I think it adds a rustic look to the pieces and the contrast where the clanger (clapper, hammer, whatever) strikes the pieces and wears off the rust adds character.

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aeray (author)2010-11-19

To clean the inside, just push a ball of steel wool back and forth inside of it, kind of like cleaning a gun. Vinegar wouldn't hurt, either. I would also recommend a few coats of Deft spray lacquer instead of galvanizing or tinning. Fast, cheap, and fairly durable. I use it for many of my bare steel tools, but it has to be touched up every year or two do to use.

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