View Full Version : Is Mineral spirits and brake cleaner ok to use on nickel finishes?

June 25, 2002, 07:18 AM
Just bought myself a nickel plated M27-2 and wanted to know if using mineral spirits and brake cleaner will harm the nickel finish? Thanks guys.

Jim V
June 25, 2002, 07:27 AM
They shouldn't, of course the operative word is shouldn't. I can't see how they would harm nickle, I have a electroless nickle plated M-36 that has seen more than it's share of mineral spirits and/or GunScrubber/brake cleaners w/o problems.

June 25, 2002, 08:50 AM
If the finish is broken or chipped anywhere be careful with the bore solvents. Most nickle guns are copper plated and then the nickle is over the top of that. Bore solvents will ruin a nickle job if they get under it. Use a normal cleaner, rather than one of the harsh cleaners.

June 25, 2002, 02:48 PM
Anything with ammonia in it (Hoppes, etc.) can get through tiny nicks and attack the copper underneath.

June 25, 2002, 08:06 PM
Ledbetter, I couldna said it better.

June 26, 2002, 02:36 PM
I sure hope there's no copper undercoat, that would be one terribly done nickel finish. Nickel plates easily to carbon steel, no undercoat is necessary. The purpose of a copper coat under nickel or chrome is to make the resulting finish very shiny without having to polish the underlying steel or iron. Nickel or chrome over copper, while they offer good rust prevention, are very soft and will easily chip or scratch. This is why firearms are "hard" chromed (as opposed to "decorative" chromed, like car or cycle trim, faucets, etc), when these metals are bonded directly to the steel, they're both corrosion-resistant and very hard.

June 26, 2002, 03:35 PM

There are two common types of nickel, electroless nickel and nickel plate
now often called "electro nickel". Electro nickel is cheaper because the
bath doesn't wear out - you just add more nickel. It is usually put over
a layer of copper to increase adhesion. It has a coarse grain structure
and tends to build up at the high current density areas of the part, giving
an uneven plating thickness. It is somewhat softer than electroless but still
hard. The nickel itself is quite hard but if it is thin, the hardness you're
sensing may be that of the underlying copper.

Electroless is more expensive but gives finer grain structure. You can
put up to 4 or 5 mils of electroless nickel down. It has a hardness of
Rc 45-55 as laid down but afer a bake-out at 350-400 F for 3-4 hours, the
hardness goes up to Rc 60-65.

Nickel plated guns have nickel over copper. I believe these are subject to
attack from the usual chemical cleaners such as Hoppe's #9 and harsher
because the nickel is thin enough or has enough microgaps in it to allow the
chemicals to attack the underlying copper plate. But electroless and hard
chrome guns shouldn't be attacked. That's the theory, anyway. Me personally,
I use Breakfree on plated guns because I _know_ it can't hurt plating. (And
I'm a big chicken.)

JHBercovitz@lbl.gov (John Bercovitz)

sleeping dog
June 28, 2002, 07:48 AM
I don't think there's anything in mineral spirits or brake cleaner or even carb cleaner that will harm copper, if there is copper under the nickel.

Avoid ammonia, naval jelly.