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Old 20-06-2013, 07:45   #1
F51
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Bronze vs Red Brass fittings

Was at the marine hardware store purchasing some plumbing parts and was told that bronze pipe parts were no longer available. They suggested "Red Brass." I know plain brass is no good for salt water use, so what is red brass? Is it really ok for salt water piping or am I getting marketing hype?
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Old 20-06-2013, 07:58   #2
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Re: Bronze vs Red Brass fittings

I did find this Wikipedia article:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_brass
So it looks like "Red Brass" is ok for salt water. However, there are various compositions where the proportions of Copper, Tin, Zinc, etc can all be called red brass. Who knows what you are buying these days? Cavaet emptor!
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Old 20-06-2013, 08:50   #3
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Re: Bronze vs Red Brass fittings

I have not been able to find bronze pipe fittings either. I was looking for some fittings for plumbing on the inboard side of the valve, but still below the waterline. Conex make some that looked suitable but depending on where you looked they were either called bronze or red brass.

I asked Conex tech support what the composition was and if they were suitable for marine use. Here is what it is in them ...

Our red brass aligns with EN 1982, alloy CC499K which is:
Copper 83.0 86.5%.
Zinc 4.5 6.5%.
Tin - 4.2 6.0%.
Lead 2.4 3.0%.
Iron 0.25% maximum.

However, regardless of the content, the tech said they are not recommended for marine use.

On a different mission looking for a valve, someone suggested a local plumbing supply. (hmm, unlikely I thought, but go have a look). The valves were supposedly bronze and looked OK, but a magnet showed the spindle was not stainless, so not worth the risk.
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Old 20-06-2013, 10:10   #4
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Re: Bronze vs Red Brass fittings

Most of the pipe fittings sold as bronze are really a very low zinc brass. When the dealer tells you it is red brass he is just being honest and it is perfectly acceptable to use with salt water. Red Brass has only about 5% zinc. Where you run into trouble is using yellow brasses that can have up to 40% zinc.
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Old 20-06-2013, 12:04   #5
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Re: Bronze vs Red Brass fittings

From what I've been able to find, leaded red brass (AKA 85-5-5-5) is fine for below the waterline valves and fittings. In fact it is often called bronze by the manufacturers. Apollo does this, at least in their catalog they say their marine seacocks are made of 85-5-5-5 Bronze. Sometimes 85-5-5-5 is called navel bronze. It seems the names are used interchangeably. I would guess silicon bronze would be a better material, but is more expensive and difficult to machine.
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Old 20-06-2013, 12:24   #6
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Re: Bronze vs Red Brass fittings

Quote:
Originally Posted by F51 View Post
Was at the marine hardware store purchasing some plumbing parts and was told that bronze pipe parts were no longer available.
Wrong shop me thinks Marine Plumbing Fittings
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