German Silver, Nickel Silver, Nickel over Brass?

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Rick H
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German Silver, Nickel Silver, Nickel over Brass?

Post by Rick H »

Guys & Gals...Can someone clarify the differences? Some reels are marked German Silver, some marked Nickel Silver and some not marked at all. Is there a simple "visual" method to tell them all apart...if three reels are side-by-side AND in like (good cosmetic) condition?

Us Newbie's need to know.

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john elder
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Post by john elder »

Well, if you believe the folks at Wikipedia and assorted other internet sites:

http://www.google.com/search?client=saf ... 8&oe=UTF-8


and everyone on this board except Bad Bob, then they are the same. As to over-plating, some of the early work was done over nickel silver...thinking that would work better in the salt...we all know how that turned out. I think most of the later reels were plated over brass, but I'm sure others, including Ron Mc, will have more to add.

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Post by Brian F. »

I look for German silver to have more of a satin finish look to it. Sometimes if its been polished, it might have a more yellow coloration to it. I usually assume "nickel silver" to also mean nickel silver over brass or plated material and it most times appears to be a bright, polished finish.

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Rick H
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Post by Rick H »

I tend to sway toward Brian's "visual review". I also see a softer satin look on the German Silver, with more of a shiny chrome look to a nickel-silver plate over brass.

Seems the nickel over brass will lift and peel when soaked n vinegar & water. That'd be a bad thing, eh! But, German Silver loves that bath!

Here's a pic of a Pflueger Bond next to a Gulf Freespool. Is the Bond nickel plate over brass? And is the Gulf (marked) "Nickel Silver" the same as "German Silver"? i.e. blended metals which are then poured or cast vs. plated over another metal.

Wikipedia says that German Silver and Nickel Silver are the same. ?

Image

PS: These are Cris' (chowell) reels and he just toasted a nickel over brass by soaking it in vinegar & water. He doesn't want to take a chance with these two.

My guess is the Bond (on the left) is nickel plate over brass - Bath Bad!
And the Gulf (on the right) is German Silver equiveant - Bath Good but maybe not needed for this reel, it's already lookin' great.

"Knowledge is Good"
Last edited by Rick H on Mon Oct 04, 2010 5:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Steve
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Post by Steve »

The "German" faded from use around the time of WWI, for obvious reasons. Both "German silver" and "nickel silver" have been used to describe a slew of brass alloys with high nickel contents. You can see differences between GS reels, e.g., Meek vs. E. Vom Hofe. Generally, they form tan-to-brown patinas when oxidized and can be mistaken for plain, tarnished brass. Light patinas can add a touch of yellow. Although most GS reels have a satiny finish, GS can be polished to a mirror finish. It got its name originally because it could be used as a relatively inexpensive substitute for genuine silver.

Most older (to WWI or so) reels were brass, unplated or plated with nickel. GS reels are less common, simply because they were more expensive. Later, chrome, harder than nickel and more difficult to plate, replaced nickel plating on brass reels. Nickel has a slightly yellow tinge, compared with chrome.

Almost all old reels will have a scratch somewhere. More often than not, as long as the scratch is deep enough, you can see yellow brass there if the reel was plated. A GS scratch will still look silvery inside. If you have the reel in hand and can take out a screw or two, you'll find that a GS screw is silvery all over, but the thread of a plated-brass screw normally is brass-colored.

BTW, I'm not aware of any maker who plated brass with nickel silver. Nickel, yes. Nickel isn't an alloy.

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Rick H
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Post by Rick H »

Ah HA! It IS rocket science! :D

Thanks Steve, sometimes the simplest methods are the ones that are overlooked. When in doubt...Pull a screw and look! Great Advise!

There ya go Cris...

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