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Reducing polishing maintenance on brass and bronze

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What is the issue?
Bronze or brass trimming features such as bells, cleats, winch heads, mast heads, gallows legs, wheel, gauge bezels, galley hardware, fuel caps etc look sensational; particularly so on traditional vessels. However they can go black in the marine environment in a matter of weeks if not days.

Why address this?
Boats with this type of decorative trim require an enormous amount of arduous upkeep to keep that bright work in good condition. It is nothing short of a formidable task.

How to address this?
Electroplate the bright work objects with 24kt gold.

Gold plating is not as expensive as you might think. It is certainly dramatically less than the cost of the hours of maintenance required to keep the bright work in good condition. The electroplate process required uses copper, nickel and then gold, with the piece polished to a mirror finish at the end of the process.
Once complete the plated object requires very little maintenance at all. It will not tarnish, rust or corrode and does not require lacquer. Just wash with a gentle soap. Then apply a light coat of wax to keep it in top condition. With this type of care the gold plate should last many years without peeling, fading or chipping. Some vendors will guarantee a gold finish for life for an additional fee.

The only thing you need to worry about is deep scratching. Objects that are likely to have a lot of chaff / rubbing or likely to clash with rigging for instance, or something like the jaws of the anchor windlass, would not be an ideal candidate for gold plating.

Most metals can be plated but in the marine environment that is often subject to galvanic corrosion it is best to reserve plating to copper, brass and bronze. Non-conductive materials such as glass, plastic or wood cannot be coated.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur with thanks to Lee Gunter of Medilectric http://www.medlectric.com

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