Galvanizing, as a protecting surface for large articles, such as enter into the construction of bridges, roofs, and shipwork, has not quite reached the point of appreciation that possibly the near future may award to it. Certain fallacies existed for a long time as to the relative merits of the dry or molten and the wet or electrolytical methods of galvanizing. The latter was found to be costly and slow, and the results obtained were erratic and not satisfactory, and soon gave place to the dry or molten bath process, as in practice at the present day; but the difficulty of management in connexion with large baths of molten material, and the deterioration of the bath, and other mechanical causes, limit the process to articles of comparatively small size and weight. The electro deposition of zinc has been subject to many patents, and the efforts to introduce it have been lamentable in both a mechanical and financial sense. Most authorities recommend a current density of 18 or 20 ampères per square foot of cathode surface, and aqueous solutions of zinc sulphate, acetate or chloride, ammonia, chloride or tartrate, as being the most suitable for deposition. Electrolytes made by adding caustic potash or soda to a suitable zinc salt have been found to be unworkable in practice on account of the formation of an insoluble zinc oxide on the surface of the anode and the resultant increased electrical resistance; the electrolytes are also constantly getting out of order, as more metal is taken out of the solution than could possibly be dissolved from the anodes by the chemicals set free on account of this insoluble scale or furring up of the anodes, which sometimes reaches one-eighth of an inch in thickness. To all intents and purposes the deposits obtained from acid solutions under favourable circumstances are fairly adhesive when great care has been exercised to thoroughly scale and clean the surface to be coated, which is found to be the principal difficulty in the application of any electro-chemical process for copper, lead, or tin, as well as for zinc, and that renders even the application of paint or other brush compounds to futile unless honestly complied with. Unfortunately these acid zinc coatings are of a transitory nature, Their durability being incomparable with hot galvanizing, as the deposit is porous and retains some of the acid salts, which cause a wasting of the zinc, and consequently the rusting of the iron or steel. Castings coated with acid zinc rust comparatively quickly, even when the porosity has been reduced by oxidation, aggravated no doubt by some of the corroding agents—sal-ammoniac, for instance—being forced into the pores of the metal. Other matters of serious moment in the electro-zincing process, apart from the slowness of the operation, were the uncertain nature, thickness, and extent of the coating on articles of irregular shape, and the formation of loose, dark-coloured patches on the work; the unhealthy and non-metallic look and want of brilliancy and the lustre prevented engineers and the trade from accepting the process or its results, except for the commoner articles of use. To obviate any tendency of the paint to peel off from the zinc surface, as it generally manifests a disposition to do, it is recommended to coat all the zinc surfaces, previous to painting them, with the following compound: 1 part chloride of copper, 1 part nitrate of copper, 1 part sal-ammoniac, dissolved in 61 parts of water, and then add 1 part commercial hydrochloric acid. When the zinc is brushed over with this mixture it oxidizes the surface, turns black, and dries in from twelve to twenty-four hours, and may then be painted over without any danger of peeling. Another and more quickly applied coating consists of, bi-chloride of platinum, 1 part dissolved in 10 parts of distilled water, and applied either by a brush or sponge. It oxidizes at once, turns black, and resists the weak acids, rain, and the elements generally.

Zinc surfaces, after a brief exposure to the air, become coated with a thin film of oxide—insoluble in water—which adheres tenaciously, forming a protective coating to the underlying zinc. So long as the zinc surface remains intact, the underlying metal is protected from corrosive action, but a mechanical or other injury to the zinc coating that exposes the metal beneath, in the presence of moisture causes a very rapid corrosion to be started, the galvanic action being changed from the zinc positive to zinc negative, and the iron, as the positive element in the circuit, is corroded instead of the zinc. When galvanized iron is immersed in a corrosive liquid, the zinc is attacked in preference to the iron, provided both the exposed parts of the iron and the protected parts are immersed in the liquid. The zinc has not the same protective quality when the liquid is sprinkled over the surface and remains in isolated drops. Sea air, being charged with saline matters, is very destructive to galvanized surfaces, forming a soluble chloride by its action. As zinc is one of the metals most readily attacked by acids, ordinary galvanized iron is not suitable for positions where it is to be much exposed to an atmosphere charged with acids sent into the air by some manufactories, or to the sulphuric acid fumes found in the products of combustion of rolling mills, iron, glass, and gas works, etc., and yet we see engineers of note covering-in important buildings with corrugated and other sheets of iron, and using galvanized iron tie rods, angles, and other constructive shapes in blind confidence of the protective power of the zinc coating; also in supreme indifference as to the future consequences and catastrophes that arise from their unexpected failure. The comparative inertia of lead to the chemical action of many acids has led to the contention that it should form as good, if not a better, protection of iron than zinc, but in practice it is found to be deficient as a protective coating against corrosion. A piece of lead-coated iron placed in water will show decided evidences of corrosion in twenty-four hours. This is to be attributed to the porous nature of the coating, whether it is applied by the hot or wet (acid) process. The lead does not bond to the plate as well as either of the other metals—zinc, tin, copper, or any alloys of them. The following table gives the increase in weight of different articles due to hot galvanizing:—

Description of Article Weight of Zinc per Square foot Percentage
of Increase of
Thin sheet-iron 1.196 oz. 18.2
5/16-in. plates 1.76    "   2.0
4-in. cut nails 2.19    "   6.72
7/8-in. die bolt and nut approximately 1.206 oz.   1.00

Tin is often added to the hot bath for the purpose of obtaining a smoother surface and larger facets, but it is found to shorten the life of the protective coating very considerably.

A portion of a zinc coating applied by the hot process was found to be very brittle, breaking when attempts were made to bend it; the average thickness of the coating was .015 inch. An analysis gave the following result: tin, 2.20; iron, 3.78; arsenic, a trace; zinc (by difference), 94.02. A small quantity of iron is dissolved from all the articles placed in the molten zinc bath, and a dross is formed amounting in many cases to 25 per cent of the whole amount of zinc used. The zinc-iron alloy is very brittle, and contains by analysis 6 per cent of iron, and is used to cast small art ornaments from. A hot galvanizing plant, having a bath capacity of 10 feet by 4 feet by 41/2 feet outside dimensions, and about 1 inch in thickness, will hold 28 tons of zinc. With equal amounts of zinc per unit of area, the zinc coating put on by the cold process is more resistant to the corroding action of a saturated solution of copper sulphate than is the case with steel coated by the ordinary hot galvanizing process; or, to put it in another form, articles coated by the cold process should have an equally long life under the same conditions of exposure that hot galvanized articles are exposed to, and with less zinc than would be necessary in the ordinary hot process. The hardness of a zinc surface is a matter of some importance. With this object in view aluminium has been added from a separate crucible to the molten zinc at the moment of dipping the article to be zinced, so as to form a compound surface of zinco-aluminium, and to reduce the ashes formed from the protective coverings of sal-ammoniac, fat, glycerine, etc. The addition of the aluminium also reduces the thickness of the coating applied. Cold and hot galvanized plates appear to stand abrasion equally well. Both pickling and hot galvanizing reduce the strength, distort and render brittle iron and steel wires of small sections.

The End.