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MMD > Archives > May 1998 > 1998.05.17 > 05Prev  Next

White Metal, Hoyt Metal, Pot Metal
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,

And here I thought 'white metal' was called 'pot metal'.
According to Webster's:

pot metal:
   1. originally, a mixture of copper and lead used in the
      manufacture of faucets and large pots.
   2. iron from which pots are manufactured.
   3. stained glass that is colored while molten.

white metal:
   any of various alloys containing large proportions of lead or tin,
   as pewter, plumber's solder, type metal, etc.

I don't dispute that Hoyt may have 'invented' the alloy more
commonly known as 'white metal' but I was not able to find any
references that mention his name.

From my earlier days as an apprentice, I vaguely recall my
instructor explaining 'white metal' as various scrap metals
all smelted in one pot, ergo the term 'pot metal'.

What I find very interesting about this type of alloy, which
does not withstand the test of time very well at all, is that
it was used to make so many things. Do you think they knew
how this metal would 'explode'* as it aged?

* 'explosion', as explained to me is an oxidation process
wherein water molecules find their way 'inside' the metal
due to it's extreme porousity causing the metal piece to
'explode' from the inside out (so to speak). Unlike rust
which attacks the surface.

Where's a metallurgist when you need one?


John A. Tuttle (
Brick, NJ

Key Words in Subject:  Hoyt, Metal, Pot, White

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