I showed this reel in a 13 June 2020 post (A “Perfect” Reel Configuration), with all the interior shots. But the anodize process for the frame and spool had failed, so it was not very attractive. I tried stripping the coating and re-doing the anodize, but appearance did not improve. Finally. I took the two aluminum parts to a local plating shop and had them put on a nickel coating.
I had been thinking that I would “blue” either the frame or the spool, but investigation revealed that nickel plating does not take bluing. Nickel silver rod parts can be blued because that alloy is mostly copper.
Electroplating is not workable for a complex geometries like this, it would be difficult to design an anode that made a uniform electric field over all the surface of the parts. Electroless nickel is the only approach.
The naturally developing oxide on the surface of an aluminum part is a problem for either electroplating or the electroless process. Parts have to first get a “zincate” coating, which displaces the oxide layer and protects the surface until nickel plating occurs.