Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Tall, Dark and Wise

This is a blog post from my colleague Ruth Smith a few years back.  It is a wonderful read and I wanted to share it again!

There it stands against the wall.  Tall, dark and wise.  Within it’s frame lies over 50 years of Bronze, Copper, Iron, Foundry, Specification and general Mill knowledge that could rival any well stocked institution.  At times it receives visitor after visitor stopping only to drink from it’s wealth of knowledge but never to clean it!.  What could I be referring to?  Well, that would be our wonderful Resource Library.  Our owner, Tom Smith, has been collecting it’s contents for over 30 years and let’s just say -- it’s impressive. 

In this post I am going to highlight one of the most requested Resources that we offer. This would be our ASARCO Resource.  It was assembled by the American Smelting and Refining Company ( sometime in the 1960’s.   I suspect that it is so popular today because it was the first compilation featuring Bronze/ Brass information that was of specific use to both a designer / engineer as well as a foundry man. It covered two major sections:  (1) Application & Selection of typical copper alloys and (2) Foundry Characteristics of the copper base alloys and a tabulation of foundry casting problems. 

For those of you who do not know the name ASARCO, here is very brief history:

(Excerpts taken from Funding Universe)

Founded in 1899 as American Smelting and Refining Company--known informally as ASARCO--the company was a giant from the start. Founder Henry Rogers--along with William Rockefeller and the copper-rich Lewisohn brothers, Adolph and Leonard--had formed the United Metals Selling Company in the 1890s. This trust was so successful that they launched the even larger American Smelting and Refining Company in 1899. At its creation ASARCO consisted of 23 different smelting companies. Conspicuously absent from the ASARCO roster were concerns controlled by the Guggenheim family. In 1899, Rogers invited the Guggenheims to become part of ASARCO. They turned down his offer. The Guggenheims were not interested in being part of an organization that was not under their family control. Over the next couple of years, the Guggenheims took the matter into their own hands and gained control of ASARCO through aggressive business tactics.  As the years progressed and ASARCO experienced acquisition, expansion, two World Wars,  the Great Depression, Roosevelt’s Silver Purchase Plan, and controversy, ASARCO would today wind up being a world leader in the production of nonferrous metals, including copper, lead, zinc, silver, and gold.

(Again very brief can read all about ASARCO’s history by visiting,

Now that you are somewhat familiar with the history and industry relevance of ASARCO let’s dig into what the Guide has to offer.  It is broken down into (5) sections, Sections 1-3 were geared towards the Designer/Engineer and Sections  4-5 was geared towards the Foundry man.  Although I think today all of the Sections are applicable to any readers.

Overview of Section 1:  Guide to the Selection of Brass & Bronze Casting Alloys

This section tackles the Bearing Properties, Color, Corrosion Resistance, Conductivity, Machinability, Mechanical Properties, Availability of Castings for Brass & Bronze Alloys.  It explains why Brass and Bronze Casting Alloys are the standard materials for Bearing applications.  It touches upon how these alloys when properly specified and designed are resistant to deformation, excellent wear properties and in some cases able to operate for long periods of time without lubrication.  It also explains why the color of the material you are choosing is important and what general color group to expect from the different alloys.  Some of the other features to take away is that this guide references  alloy names such as Everdur, Tombasil and Herculoy. (Which we still have customers coming to us to quote)

Overview of Section 2: Characteristics & Range of Properties

This section breaks out the main groups of Brass / Bronze Alloys:  Tin & Leaded Tin Bronzes, Red & Semi-Red Brasses, High Leaded Brasses, and more.  This section covers the Typical Properties and Nominal Chemical Compositions of the mentioned groups.  But I like the fact that it references them by their nominal chemical composition, which is nice, because we do still have those customers with older prints who come to us referring to an alloy as 88-10-2.  It also gives some overview of each of the groups, their principle characteristics, commercial applications (which has changed slightly over the years) and any other important facts. 

Overview of Section 3:  Miscellaneous Specifications

This section is my favorite.  It not only lists the Chemical & Physical Comps for all the various Brass & Bronze Classifications BUT it gives the old school Ingot Number, Numerical Designation and Specification Numbers for each of group.  It also breaks down the Special Casting Specifications for ASTM, SAE, Federal Specs, Military and Navy Specifications.  And remember the beauty about this particular guide -- it references the OLD specs which is super helpful if you are dealing with an old drawing calling out for a spec that you have never seen.

Overview of Section 4:  Foundry Practices

This section covers the Melting of the material, Recommended Metal Melting Practices, Pouring the metal, Gating & Risering and Venting.  Again, it breaks out the Foundry Practices into Alloy Group pointing out the highlight within each group.  It even provides a (5) step recommended metal melting practices  and a (4) step recommended Pouring practice.

Overview of Section 5:  Some of the Most Common Brass & Bronze Casting Problems 

This section is pretty self explanatory.  This is a neat section because it breaks it down by Problem and then goes through the process to see where the problem would have occurred. Could the cause of the problem in the Design - Pattern Equipment - Mold Setting or Gating?  This section goes through the thought process. 

I hope you find this resource helpful and if you want your copy for your own digital library please contact me at and I'd be happy to send it on over. 

Happy Reading!


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  2. And do you know where ASARCO was located? In NJ is right......but where in NJ?

  3. Hmmmm...I have some of the same books on my resource shelf. :)