For more than 20 years Larry Durney tried to solve the technical electroplating problems of anyone who wrote the "Finishing Clinic" (in more recent years, the "Plating Clinic"). He was our Ann Landers.
A lot of platers benefited not only from his replies to their own queries, but from reading his advice to others. Problems that occur in one plating shop are likely to bedevil others as well. So if you don't have the problem today you may have it tomorrow.
Larry's replies were based largely on experience. He spent his early post-college years in rubber boots on a plating line, solving his own problems. Later he worked for suppliers of proprietary chemicals in "technical service," which translates to "OK, I bought your stuff and now I'm getting rejects, so DO SOMETHING." Larry did something. But unlike a lot of us, he had a memory chip in his head that contained information about what he had done and why it had worked or not worked.
I've talked to readers who don't do plating, but they read the column. They just like to read his advice to the people who have tried everything and nothing has worked. After all, if the solution for the problem were obvious, the plater wouldn't write.
Eventually Larry became the technical director of a plating-supply company. There he concocted chemicals that produced more good parts than bad, making the lives of technical service persons less arduous. And pre-solving some problems for many platers.
In the years since he retired from the world of eight-hour days with beakers and flasks nearby, he has written the Plating Clinic column. Taught courses. Wrote books. Was the editor of the Electroplating Engineering Handbook. And did some consulting for people who wanted to pay for a private session with the wizard.
Amazingly he still had time for fishing, electronics tinkering, grandchildren (his seven children have been increasing the Durney clan), and bouncing back and forth between a cottage in Cape Cod and his home in New Jersey.
Now he's decided to take more time for those personal pursuits. So regretfully he's written his last response to a PF reader.
It has been a pleasure to work with Larry. He was prompt. He explained patiently why chemicals do what they do and why sometimes plating is still an art as well as a science. He showed his sense of humor in answering serious questions.
Best of all, when we surveyed readers and asked what they liked about Products Finishing, "Plating Clinic" always was among the top scores. As a former editor of PF, that's the greatest compliment I can give to a columnist.
We wish all the best for Larry and his family in the coming years.