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How to coat a 20" flywheel with brass or such to look like shiny brass, not the crappy red colour of bronzed babyShoes? Answered


Well, first of all, there's a VERY easy, fast way to at least COPPER plate it -- a copper sulfate solution. Which, btw, is pretty magical. You just dip an (cleaned) iron or steel item in it, or even brush it on -- and whammo - you've got a copper coating.

Here in the US, they sell copper sulfate at hardware/home & garden stores everywhere (EXCEPT the San Francisco Bay Area, where I live) - I'd imagine it's easy to find in SA. (If not, it's easy to make: search for "NurdRage" and "Copper Sulfate" on YouTube. I have a batch right now - made with a copper pot scrubber, some hydrogen peroxide, and some drain cleaner.)

Safety warnings: it'll eat little (or big) holes in your clothes, which you may not notice until long afterwards. (Don't ask me how I know this.) It's not super-corrosive to flesh, but you do NOT want to get it anywhere near a steel sink, or anything else you don't want to be copper, instantly.

You could just copper-plate the wheel, then put a serious coating of protective clear polyurethane spray on it to keep it from going blue-patina. The copper (or even brass) is not going to stay on the wear surfaces no matter what you do. Previous authors are right - it's often best to strike a copper base plating first, then plate onto the copper (nickel - which wears much better! - or brass, etc.)

Check out caswellplating.com for more info.

Whoops - one more thought:

Don't even think about electroplating it. Something that big, and massive (two separate issues, actually), would be a huge headache to electroplate yourself. You'd need lots of nasty chemicals and a pretty serious power supply, to start with.

Then - you've got a complex form to deal with, and electroplating is kind of like spray-painting: the metal ions go from the plating electrode straight to the side of the part they can "see" in a straight line. You'd have to set up a 'chamber' (which has to be plastic), with electrodes all around the flywheel, and wire THOSE up, with (again) a LOT of power -- and you still probably wouldn't get a good coating on the nooks and crannies.

The search term you want is "electroless plating". Which is what CuSO4 does. I'm pretty sure they make electroless brass plating solutions as well. (Personally, I'd do a copper strike layer and then electroless nickel plate it -- brass is soft and it tarnishes. And I love the sheen of bright nickel -- it's a little more 'blue' than stainless steel - and it's tough and tarnish-free.)

What is the flywheel made of?

Search 'electroplating' 
It may take several coats of various metals to make brass stick - often copper and nickel first, because copper sticks to everything, and nickel sticks to copper.

It is made out of cast iron. It is part of an old hand cranked, self feeding 'press drill'. Part of the self feeding arm was broken. Since I don't have a press drill and  need one I thought that I'd put on a motor, modern chuck, modify the gears and bearings (doesn’t have any) make it look nice and (wait for it…..) SHINY! Then use it. My Grandfather used to use it, seems a shame to change it, but all it's been doing is gathering dust in a corner of the shed. Oddly enough my Grandfather in law just gave me another one - different model though. He used to use it , however it doesn’t have a flywheel, but the height adjustment wheel on the top is very big and it’s elliptical self feeding system is still intact.


Honestly, I'd just sand/bead blast it and grease/oil the hell out of it. The brass color might look cool, but if this is going to be a working item, you'll probably be better served by cleaning and lube, rather than a cosmetic treatment.

My Grand Father in Law's old hand cranked press drill

The arm (in blue) runs on an eliptical track (in red), causing the ratchet thingie at the top ringed in red to push the ring around thus feeding the bit


I don't think you can electro-plate brass, as it is an alloy.


You can certainly Nickel plate it, and from there put anything else on.


But brass? You'd find that hard wouldn't you? A flash of gold perhaps.


technically you'd rip the brass apart into its constituents and it would recombine at the other end...

Still not sure if you can push brass through electrolyte.  Neat question.

Yes you can plate brass. give the outernet a whirl... I've seen a ton of brass plated items.  steel --> copper --> brass...nice shiny golden brass.

You can plate alloys, but the chemicals and controls get complicated.  You have to simultaneously plate two (or more) metals at the same time and with controlled deposition-for instance, you might need to plate the copper three times as fast as the tin or zinc to get the right combination.

Another possibility would be the "golden penny" experiment, where you plate two different metals separately, then get them to fuse with heat.

Simplest way would be to make the flywheel out of brass to start with.

Ah, I'm, going the other way, You're right you can only generally plate pure metals.

there are several spray paints available that leave a shiny metallic surface. Check it out at home depot, lowes, or a similar store. they have chrome, brass, and a couple others as I recall.