Polishing Nickel Plate?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by LH123, May 18, 2011.

  1. HiDef

    HiDef New Friend

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    Nickel is used in many food processing systems and equipment because it resists corrosion, and is will not react with the chemicals in food. Nickel is very passive and does not tarnish or "rust." It is also used in jewelry that contacts skin all day long. Some people have a reaction to it, but some people have a reaction to brass and silver, too, so it isn't accurate to say nickel is poisonous. The metal salts used in nickel plating are moderately poisonous, but the end user (the player) doesn't get near those. Once the plating is applied, the deposited metal is perfectly safe. (The same is true for silver and gold plating which have cyanide in the plating bath. The cyanide does NOT become part of the metal layer.)

    Copper is sometimes plated before nickel for corrosion protection and to make the nickel adhere to the base metal better. Before the advent of plastic car parts, steel was plated with copper, then nickel, then chrome. The copper was the base coating because it sticks to almost anything. Next came nickel for corrosion protection and because it sticks well to copper. Last in the sandwich was chrome for looks.
     
  2. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

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    Ok, so what is the greyish dark discoloration that is visible at points of contact on my nickle plated horn and how do I get rid of it?

    The discoloration started almost right away as I started playing the horn and convinced me to get a valve guard.

    Anderson charges exactly the same for nickel and silver plating, btw
     
  3. HiDef

    HiDef New Friend

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    >The silverplate on a horn is generally very thin. That is why regular cleaning and a salt water/aluminum foil bath make sense. Hand polishing silver plate can easily remove "too much" - especially at the contact points.<

    Yes, silver is pretty thin (and soft). But the original poster was talking about polishing nickel, not silver. It won't take much polishing to brighten up nickel, but nickel plating is usually so hard that you won't remove much metal by hand, and that's what I was referring to. Sorry if I confused things.
     
  4. LH123

    LH123 Piano User

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    When I have polished my nickel plated trumpet with "Flitz" metal polish, my cloth turns dark-gray/black very quickly. Is this just tarnish, or am I removing metal?
     
  5. HiDef

    HiDef New Friend

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    OK. Picky picky picky... So nickel WILL discolor and "oxidize" to some extent, but not like silver, copper, or raw brass does. That's all I meant. My fault for not being clear. It is one of the most inert of common metals. (Strong acids that will dissolve brass and copper over time barely affect nickel.) To clean it, I think you will need to polish it (surprise!) I have experimented with Tarnex, but it doesn't remove much.

    If your rag turns black, you are removing dirt and metal, but not a measurable amount (think atom quantities) so don't lose sleep over it. Just polish lightly. But why polish all the time? Now someone will blast me, but try 3M Tarnishield. It is the least abrasive polish I've found and it leaves a thin film of something that prevents tarnish. I have polished silver trumpets and cornets with it and they do not tarnish for (no kidding) a year or two. Just don't clean them in hot water and strong soap afterwards.
     
  6. Phil986

    Phil986 Forte User

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    Ok, that does clarify things and gives some useable tips. Thanks
     
  7. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

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    Nickel does tarnish, especially on parts that contact your hands while playing, to a dull gray color. It's a hard metal, so mild metal polishes won't remove enough to worry about. If you're talking about slide receivers on an otherwise brass horn, if they look nickel, they are usually made of solid nickel, not plated.
     
  8. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

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    Nickel plating is a little slippery compared to silver plate, so makes the trumpet more difficult to hold. Nickel plated flutes and nickel plated clarinet keys have the same issue.

    When I was playing in Brass Bands in New Zealand, I remember the band in Rotorua ordering a full set of nickel plated instruments because of the very high sulphur content in the air. Rotorua has a lot of geothermal activity; geysers, boiling mud pools etc. and the air smells of rotten eggs. This means that silver goes black almost instantly!
     
  9. trumpetsplus

    trumpetsplus Fortissimo User

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    There is often confusion about this word, Nickel. What we think of in instrument manufacture as "solid nickel" is actually Nickel-Silver (also known as German silver or White Brass), which I believe is a brass alloy containing nickel but not silver.
     
  10. Dave Hughes

    Dave Hughes Mezzo Forte User

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    I had a nickel plated Reynolds, the thing was a tank!
     

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