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View Full Version : Foundry: Was All-brass Door Hardware Produced?



EddyCurr
11-17-2010, 05:39 PM
I was under the impression that older better quality commercial/industrial
components were solid brass. Handles, lock sets, striker plates, hinges
and so on.

Was this ever the case or has such hardware always been just plated
with brass ?

.

Peter.
11-17-2010, 05:57 PM
I have some solid brass door handles/cupboard knobs, so yes they do make them.

Deja Vu
11-17-2010, 06:04 PM
Was this ever the case or has such hardware always been just plated
with brass ?
.

At one time hardware was only polished.....if that. Sometimes plating is looked upon as sophisticated. Many have a favorable view about plating, and when used properly enhance the "look" while also improving function. Although, sometimes not.;)

EddyCurr
11-17-2010, 06:08 PM
Would solid brass be suitable for hinges in an institutional setting,
or would steel be needed for sufficient strength & durability?

The matter comes up in respect to whether brass can be salvaged
from doors in a building that may be slated for demolition. I thought
that this might be feasible but if the custom is for the hardware to
be plated than the effort would not be worthwhile.

.

Deja Vu
11-17-2010, 06:22 PM
The matter comes up in respect to whether brass can be salvaged
from doors in a building that may be slated for demolition.
.
I have yet to see a building(in our area) that was not "cleaned" of any valuables before demolition.

recoilless
11-17-2010, 07:12 PM
[quote=Deja Vu]I have yet to see a building(in our area) that was not "cleaned" of any valuables before demolition.[/quote
How true. Luckily, most of what I end up demolishing on a typical job has to be dug up out of the ground. Get alot of copper and cast iron(old watermain), some lead pipe that local re-enactors happily buy to cast bullets.

For OP, part of my house was built circa 1940(based on newspapers stuffed in walls) and had several doors with all brass passage hardware sets, hinges...all solid. We have kept several of these in use, kind of classic.

Fasttrack
11-17-2010, 07:19 PM
I was under the impression that older better quality commercial/industrial
components were solid brass. Handles, lock sets, striker plates, hinges
and so on.

Was this ever the case or has such hardware always been just plated
with brass ?

.


Baldwin Brass still makes solid brass door handles/lock sets etc...

uncle pete
11-17-2010, 07:33 PM
EddyCurr,
One pass with a file in a area that would be hidden if You reuse the hardwhare would certainly tell you if it was plated or not.

Pete

jkilroy
11-17-2010, 07:58 PM
Lots of older (pre-1900) hardware is solid brass, hinges included, some of the quite ornate. Some of the older pre-war (as in war of Northern Aggression ;) houses around here have some huge doors, 15ft tall and taller, several hundred pounds, and they have very impressive hardware. I know a guy in Natchez that makes a pretty good retirement living restoring old door hardware, including lock sets, no plating used. He does have a couple of impressive buffers however, and is pretty good at making springs.

On edit, don't pass on old hardware just because its plated steel or cast iron, lots of that can bring good money, and all of it is worth well in excess of scrap value so PLEASE I hope you don't intend to scrap this stuff.

x39
11-17-2010, 09:20 PM
I had an acquaintance some years boack who collected assorted building hardware from the dump. He put it in boxes and stored it in his basement in classic hoarder fashion. Not long after Ebay debuted, he was sitting around the house, broke and unemployed when he flashed on the stuff in his basement. That stuff carried him for quite a while.

Bill736
11-17-2010, 11:32 PM
As others have explained, hardware came as solid brass, cast iron, and plated steel. A magnet will tell you which is brass plated steel or cast iron and which is solid brass. I have several solid brass door knobs in my old house , and some cast iron locksets. I don't think I have any solid brass heavy door hinges, but I do have some cast iron hinges, and some wrought iron hinges on basement and barn doors. Your concern as to whether solid brass hinges are strong enough for heavy institutional doors is valid, and I'd listen to the experience of others on that subject. The value of old hardware isn't necessarily a function of the type of metal, however. Designs that are ornate, unusual, or proven to be old and original are worth the most.
Interestingly, historian Henry Mercer of Doylestown, Pennsylvania wrote some papers in the early 20th. century about the dating of old houses. He concluded that details, such as nails, screws, and hardware were more reliable methods of determining the age of an old house than more obvious things such as the style of architecture . The hardware and nails most likely to have been original to the house were found in attic floors, basement doors, small rooms such as closets, and other locations that were less likely to have been remodeled.

RussZHC
11-18-2010, 12:03 AM
"Duty" has a lot to do with quality of door fittings.
"Duty" can be associated with the weight of a door (e.g. steel, older solid thick section wood or lots of thick glass) or frequency of use (residential compared say to a swinging door in a warehouse or hospital setting).

You can buy brass new, for a premium.
If you are looking at "brass" be sure, as stated, it is solid brass not "brass" finish.
Stainless is also used (and will likely be the pin in the solid brass hinges).
Biggest difference is five knuckle and ball bearing vs. three knuckle and plain bearing.

Local large department store used to have a couple of staff polishing the doors and other trim as a full time job. Great stuff if it fits exactly the size you need.

EddyCurr
11-18-2010, 12:26 AM
Many thanks for the helpful replies.

They serve to reinforce my contention that the building perhaps due
to be demolished could well have some solid brass door hardware.
The tips about using a file and/or magnet to assist in distinguishing
between plated and solid hardware are appreciated.

FWIW, the intent wasn't to repurpose the hardware for use in another
building, but rather to melt it - either into ingots for future use or for
immediate casting purposes.

.

RussZHC
11-18-2010, 12:48 AM
Kinda what I figured...so also keep an eye open for larger plumbing fittings, those valves do wear out or can get tossed when the material of the piping changes. A lot of old restaurants change to stainless from brass and those fittings are a bit larger. If you can find them large enough the stems and some flanges may be somewhat useful as is. The occasional fire hydrant can also turn up though not sure what if any of those internals are useful.

The other thing that may play a part is some of the more artistic features (not sure how important these possible building were/are) could be bronze and so would need a bit different approach...plaques of bronze rarely show up as most are local castings and can be re-used by the originating company.
Though mostly "gone", each school house had a bell at one time.

Richard Wilson
11-18-2010, 07:07 AM
Many thanks for the helpful replies.


FWIW, the intent wasn't to repurpose the hardware for use in another
building, but rather to melt it - either into ingots for future use or for
immediate casting purposes..
If its decent brass hardware in good or salvagable condition, it will be worth far more as architectural salvage than the value of the metal. Get them, clean them up, sell them on (ebay or the archetectural salvage trade) and buy some ingots of known quality and you'll still be in profit.

Richard

PixMan
11-18-2010, 09:55 AM
You can still buy solid brass or hybrid brass-steel door & lock hardware new. I have visited this company's facility and the stuff is good. Not cheap by any measure, but worth it.

http://www.accuratelockandhardware.com/main.asp

bob_s
11-18-2010, 01:50 PM
Eddy:

Keep a close watch on the provincial legislature.

When they have to demolish it to pay for the current 4.7B$ deficit, there's lots of good stuff inside.

kc5ezc
11-18-2010, 02:15 PM
Plumbers around here keep a barrel for used brass and copper pieces.
I can buy from them before they take the scrap (to them) to the recycler for a decent price. Some of the offshore brass is not that good, however. Spongey and full of holes. Worth a look if you need some brass quick.

EddyCurr
11-19-2010, 05:43 PM
Eddy:

Keep a close watch on the provincial legislature.

When they have to demolish it to pay for the current 4.7B$ deficit,
there's lots of good stuff inside.I might have to wait a while longer for the legislature hardware to
become available.


Alberta's 2009-10 deficit down to $1 billion (http://alberta.ca/blog/home.cfm/2010/6/24/Albertas-200910-deficit-down-to-1-billion)

"Revenues from oil and oil sands royalties, investment income,
and corporate income tax added an additional $4 billion to the
province's bottom line ..."
Some governments print money, this one raises royalty rates and corp
taxes.

It's fun while it lasts.

.

boslab
11-19-2010, 08:49 PM
Non ferrous chemistry of brass is an intreaging thing in itself, years ago they all had lovely names too, 60/40 or 70/30 or whatever got cute names like,
Brass (zinc)
Calamine brass (zinc)
Chinese silver (zinc)
Dutch metal (zinc)
Gilding metal (zinc)
Muntz metal (zinc)
Pinchbeck (zinc)
Prince's metal (zinc)
Tombac (zinc)
Bronze (tin, aluminium or any other element)
Aluminium bronze (aluminium)
Arsenical bronze
Bell metal (tin)
Florentine bronze (aluminium or tin)
Guanín
Gunmetal (tin, zinc)
Glucydur
Phosphor bronze (tin and phosphorus)
Ormolu (Gilt Bronze) (zinc)
Speculum metal (tin)
Constantan (nickel)
Copper-tungsten (tungsten)
Corinthian bronze (gold, silver)
Cunife (nickel, iron)
Cupronickel (nickel)
Cymbal alloys (Bell metal) (tin)
Devarda's alloy (aluminium, zinc)
Electrum (gold, silver)
Hepatizon (gold, silver)
Heusler alloy (manganese, tin)
Manganin (manganese, nickel)
Molybdochalkos (lead)
Nickel silver (nickel)
Nordic gold (aluminium, zinc, tin)
Shakudo (gold)
Tumbaga (gold)
[I know thesese are the Wiki name sand there are others not included, basically the alpa brasses are hot working, beta brasses cold workers and gamma brasses are cas only and will hot short if you try to hot work and crumble if you cold work, they are generally too hard to be that handy
mark