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Old 12-04-2014, 18:19   #1
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Brass or Bronze?

Conundrum: I have acquired two 3/4" ball valves in exchange for a $40 advance to a tradesman. Plus a couple of 45 degree angles that I don't need. Tradesman announced the valves were $60 US list each.

Heh.

I can buy wholesale thru a comm'l fishermans outlet but I'm willing to pay $20 each to help the guy out.

And a similar valve, bronze, can be had for 33.00 at West Marine.

Anyway, my valves are Valpres, made in Italy. They look exactly like this:



Trouble comes: I cannot make sense of the markings on the valves. They appear to be bronze to me: cast, not shiny, much darker than brass fittings.The one in the above pic is being marketed as brass on Ebay. A lot of people don't know the difference but as offshore, 200 nm sailors, we do. Is there a surefire way to tell brass from bronze?
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Old 12-04-2014, 18:37   #2
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Re: Brass or Bronze?

google the numbers. Try to find the manufacturer's site & the specs. Just make sure its not 'high zinc, brass'. The only visual is to look at the cut threads. If the cut surface is red-ish, it might be marine grade stuff - no guarantee.
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Old 12-04-2014, 19:29   #3
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Re: Brass or Bronze?

I was at West Marine yesterday purchasing thru hill fittings. Check their catalogue, if it's labeled Apollo then it's most likely made from Naval Bronze 85-5-5-5.
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Old 12-04-2014, 19:52   #4
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Re: Brass or Bronze?

That appears to be a brass valve that has sat around and oxidized. Bet you can scrape the oxide off, with a pocket knife, and see yellow brass.
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Old 12-04-2014, 19:53   #5
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pirate Re: Brass or Bronze?

Thanks guys. I'm sitting here in Gallants Channel, sucking free wifi from a mile away ... hence bandwidth probs. Hafta wait til Monday to go to the library. I can find the Valpres site but not enuff ommpf (technical terms) to get on.

Edit: very shiny after scraping but still appears to be cast. These came from a boatyard but we all know that means nothing these days.
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Old 12-04-2014, 20:29   #6
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Re: Brass or Bronze?

Unless you can persuade a large scrap merchant to zap it for you with their analyser gun, the only way I know is to machine it and inspect the chips.

Ideally in a lathe with a flat-topped tool, but if you don't mind drilling a shallow hole, a drill gun will do. If that doesn't appeal, a large countersink (preferably a 3 flute toolmaker's bit, not a hardware store cheapy), big enough to span the opening, preferably in a drill press, turning reasonably slow.

The chips from brass come off in a shower of narrow flakes, often with a distinctive harsh noise a bit like some of the screeching birdcalls you might hear in the Australian bush (which, if you have no idea what I'm talking about, you can calibrate by doing the same operation on a piece you know to be brass).


Bronze generally comes off more like mild steel, as long curling chips you could conceivably cut a finger on.

You'll never cut your finger on the chips which come off brass. But if you did the test using a lathe there's every chance you'll end up making a trip to the emergency room to get the nasty little flakes out of your eye.
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Old 13-04-2014, 00:36   #7
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Re: Brass or Bronze?

The sure way to know is the manufacture and the numbers. If it has a SS handle chances are that it's a marine valve but no guarantee.

But from what I read on their site, neither of their bronze valves are marine grade.
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Old 13-04-2014, 01:03   #8
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Re: Brass or Bronze?

Blue crab,

Can you transpose the numbers? And any that are on the handle I can't read them in the picture.
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Old 13-04-2014, 04:25   #9
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Re: Brass or Bronze?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Crab View Post
Thanks guys. I'm sitting here in Gallants Channel, sucking free wifi from a mile away ... hence bandwidth probs. Hafta wait til Monday to go to the library. I can find the Valpres site but not enuff ommpf (technical terms) to get on.

Edit: very shiny after scraping but still appears to be cast. These came from a boatyard but we all know that means nothing these days.

I had a look at the Valpres site. In that body style, it seems they only list Stainless valves

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Old 13-04-2014, 06:12   #10
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Re: Brass or Bronze?

The picture shows a stainless steel valve. Or I need a new iPad
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Old 13-04-2014, 06:21   #11
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Re: Brass or Bronze?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Crab View Post
Conundrum: I have acquired two 3/4" ball valves in exchange for a $40 advance to a tradesman. Plus a couple of 45 degree angles that I don't need. Tradesman announced the valves were $60 US list each.

Heh.

I can buy wholesale thru a comm'l fishermans outlet but I'm willing to pay $20 each to help the guy out.

And a similar valve, bronze, can be had for 33.00 at West Marine.

Anyway, my valves are Valpres, made in Italy. They look exactly like this:



Trouble comes: I cannot make sense of the markings on the valves. They appear to be bronze to me: cast, not shiny, much darker than brass fittings.The one in the above pic is being marketed as brass on Ebay. A lot of people don't know the difference but as offshore, 200 nm sailors, we do. Is there a surefire way to tell brass from bronze?
regardless of the valve material, i would not touch it with a barge pole!
the nuts and spindle appear to be electro plated mild steel,as does the handle

,a marine grade valve will have a stainless spindle,stainless nuts and stainless handle
check these with a magnet
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Old 13-04-2014, 07:04   #12
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pirate Re: Brass or Bronze?

All you are right. I was able to get on Valpres this a.m. They only make this style in brass and stainless, using their search function with the several numbers I could read. Plus the threads absolutely look like regular brass fittings.

I have a great small magnet. Is it on the boat? Nope. I always take it shopping. How come there's no Magnet App on our phones?

Nick, I think ya need a new Ipad. I was bragging about the hi-tech retina gizmo on my Mini, and my tech bud said, "you poor dumb bastard, you're old, one-eyed, been wearing glasses yer whole miserable existence ... you never could see well enough to tell the difference."

I says, "AAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGG."

Not using these valves. After reading MS, I'll try rebuilding the three real deal Grocos I have next haul out. They're only 38 years old. Just getting good. Wish I was only 38!
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Old 13-04-2014, 07:11   #13
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Re: Brass or Bronze?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Crab View Post
All you are right. I was able to get on Valpres this a.m. They only make this style in brass and stainless, using their search function with the several numbers I could read. Plus the threads absolutely look like regular brass fittings.

I have a great small magnet. Is it on the boat? Nope. I always take it shopping. How come there's no Magnet App on our phones?

Nick, I think ya need a new Ipad. I was bragging about the hi-tech retina gizmo on my Mini, and my tech bud said, "you poor dumb bastard, you're old, one-eyed, been wearing glasses yer whole miserable existence ... you never could see well enough to tell the difference."

I says, "AAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGG."

Not using these valves. After reading MS, I'll try rebuilding the three real deal Grocos I have next haul out. They're only 38 years old. Just getting good. Wish I was only 38!
no magnet,just put it next to your compass,and see if it swings the needle
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Old 13-04-2014, 07:35   #14
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pirate Re: Brass or Bronze?

Quote:
Originally Posted by atoll View Post
no magnet,just put it next to your compass,and see if it swings the needle
Oh yeah, I knew that.

No, it didn't. It looks real stainless-y to me, just not polished.

No way I'm using these brass valves tho.
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Old 13-04-2014, 07:47   #15
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Re: Brass or Bronze?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Crab View Post
Oh yeah, I knew that.

No, it didn't. It looks real stainless-y to me, just not polished.

No way I'm using these brass valves tho.

I suspect it's a stainless steel valve body, has uses on a boat. Your mechanic probably thought the price meant it was bronze ( that's the nice explanation )

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