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Abstract

The steam tug Hercules was an ocean-going and bay tug for 55 years before being retired. It is now being restored by the National Park Service. A broken steam valve was obtained for microstructural examination. The body was gray cast iron, and the stem and seat were brass. The examination centered on corrosion of the brass components. The seat and shaft were alpha brass, with a hardness of 64 and 79 DPH, respectively. A nut held the shaft onto the seat, and was alpha-beta brass with a hardness of 197 DPH. Welded on the end of the shaft was a ring of hard (DPH 294) alpha-beta brass, which seated against the nut. The brass seat and stem show little corrosion. However, the alpha-beta brass nut and welded tip showed extensive dezincification. This process of removal of Zn and the retention of Cu began in the high Zn beta phase, but eventually both phases were attacked. The depth of penetration was consistent with dezincification rates reported in the literature for such brasses in salt water if the valve had been in service about 55 years.

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Charlie R. Brooks, Dean Monday, 2019. "Microstructural Analysis of the Brass Seat of a Valve from the 1907 Steam Tug ‘Hercules’", ASM Failure Analysis Case Histories: Mechanical and Machine Components

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