By J.W. PRATT, F.C.S.
It frequently happens in the laboratory that platinum vessels, after long-continued use, begin to show signs of wear, and become perforated with minute pinholes. When they have reached this stage, they are usually accounted of no further utility, and are disposed of as scrap; not that it is impossible to repair them - for with fine gold wire and an oxyhydrogen jet this is easily feasible - but that the proper appliances and skill are not in possession of all. Irrespective of the manipulation of the hydrogen jet, it is rather difficult without long practice to hold the end of the fine wire precisely over the aperture and to keep it in position. It occurred to me that, if the gold in a finely divided condition could be placed in very intimate contact with the platinum, judging from the fusibility of gold-platinum alloys, union could be effected at a lower temperature over the ordinary gas blowpipe. I tried the experiment, and found the supposition correct. The substance I used was auric chloride, AuCl, which, as is well known, splits up on heating, first into aurous chloride, and at a higher temperature gives off all its chlorine and leaves metallic gold.
Operating on a perforated platinum basin, in the first instance, I placed a few milligrammes of the aurous chloride from a 15 grain tube precisely over the perforation, and then gently heated to about 200° C. till the salt melted and ran through the holes. A little further heating caused the reduced gold to solidify on each side of the basin. The blowpipe was now brought to bear on the bottom of the dish, right over the particular spots it was wished to solder, and in a few moments, at a yellow-red heat (in daylight), the gold was seen to "run." On the vessel being immediately withdrawn, a very neat soldering was evident. The operation was repeated several times, till in a few minutes the dish had been rendered quite tight and serviceable.
Using the gold salt in this way, the principal difficulty experienced in holding gold wire unflinchingly in the exact position vanishes, while only a comparatively low temperature and small amount of gold is necessary. Care must be taken to withdraw the platinum from the flame just at the moment the gold is seen to run, for if the heat be continued longer, the gold alloys with a larger surface of platinum, spreads, and leaves the aperture empty. As in the case of all gold-soldered vessels, the article cannot afterward be safely exposed to a temperature higher than that at which the soldering was effected, and on this account it is advisable to use as small an amount of auric chloride as possible. When the perforations are of comparatively large size, the repairing is not so easy, owing to the auric chloride, on fusing, refusing to fill them. I find, however, that if some spongy platinum be mixed with a few milligrammes of the gold salt, pressed into the perforation, and heat applied as directed, a very good soldering can be effected. It is well to hammer the surface of the platinum while hot, so as to secure perfect union and welding of the two surfaces. This may be done in a few minutes in such a manner as to render the repair indistinguishable.
Strips of platinum may be joined together in much the same way as already described - a few crystals of auric chloride placed on each clean surface and gently heated till nearly black, then bound together and further heated for a few moments in the blowpipe flame. Rings and tubes can also be formed on a mandrel, and soldered in the same fashion, and the chemist thus enabled to build up small pieces of apparatus from sheet platinum in the laboratory. - Chem. News.