This section is from the "Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas Recipes Processes" encyclopedia, by Norman W. Henley and others.
This metal is affected less by sea water than pure copper, and was formerly much vised for ship sheathing, and for making nails and rivets which were to come in contact with sea water. At the present day it has lost much of its importance, since all the larger ships are made of steel. It is usually composed of copper, 60 to 62 parts; and zinc, 40 to 38 parts. It is sometimes called yellow metal, or Müntz metal (called after its inventor), and is prepared with certain precautions, directed toward obtaining as fine a grain as possible, experience having shown that only a fine-grained alloy of uniform density can resist the action of the sea water evenly. A metal of uneven density will wear in holes. To obtain as uniform a grain as possible, small samples taken from the fused mass are cooled quickly and examined as to fracture. If they do not show the desired uniform grain, some zinc is added to the mass. After it has permeated the whole mass, a fresh sample is taken and tested, this being continued until the desired result is reached. It is scarcely necessary to remark that considerable experience is required to tell the correct composition of the alloy from the fracture. The mass is finally poured into molds and rolled cold. Malleable brass can be worked warm, like iron, being ductile in heat, a valuable quality.
Experiments with malleable brass show that all alloys containing up to 58.33 per cent of copper and up to 41.67 per cent of zinc are malleable. There is, in addition, a second group of such alloys, with 61.54 per cent of copper and 38.46 per cent of zinc, which are also malleable in heat.
The preparation of these alloys requires considerable experience, and is best accomplished by melting the metals together in the usual manner, and heating the fused mass as strongly as possible. It must be covered with a layer of charcoal dust to prevent oxidation of the zinc. The mass becomes thinly fluid, and an intimate mixture of the constituents is effected. Small pieces of the same alloy are thrown into the liquid mass until it no longer shows a reflecting surface, when it is cast into ingots in iron molds. The ingots are plunged into water while still red-hot, and acquire by this treatment a very high degree of ductility. The alloy, properly prepared, has a fibrous fracture and a reddish-yellow color.