Rod Bearing Cage Plating
The copper plating was for heat treating. This gives
two different hardness's on the cage, from just one heat treat process, just
like connecting rods are done.
Yes, Kevin Cameron did make his own cages and silver plate them, simply because he was deemed "Team B" from Bob Hansen/Randy Hall, and wasn't allowed the good stuff. Kevin did have the cages he made silver plated as well.
The silver plating is done as the last plating process, over the copper plating on factory cages. The silver plating isn't really to keep the cage from injuring the pin/rod, but to keep the needle roller from possible seizure in the cage groove itself.
One H1R experiment was different from the single needle per groove. The specials, which proved not to work well, had the cages cut to accept two needle rollers per groove in the cage. Loser deal.
There was a real class structure at Team Kawasaki back then, not a good thing at all. There was 'A Team" of DuHamel and Baumann (Chris Young), 'B Team of Nixon (Kanemoto) and Carr (Kevin), and definitely the best guy there was as an all around tuner-rider, 'C Team' of Hurley Wilvert. Hurley got his "Hansening" because he wanted to ride, and not just be a mechanic on the factory team.
Consider a full circle connecting rod. It has to have
a bearing hardness in the bores for the top and lower rod bearings. This it gets
from heat treating, BUT, that bearing hardness is way too hard for the outer
diameter and beam areas, can cause the rod beam to shatter from being too hard.
So, copper cladding is added to draw heat away from those areas that are to be treated with another softer treat. The copper draws excessive heat from those areas, making one heat treatment process treat at two different conditions.