Cowper-Coles, Sherard Osborn

Cowper-Coles, Sherard Osborn
SUBJECT AREA: Metallurgy
b. 8 October 1866 East Harting, Sussex, England
d. 9 September 1936
English inventor of the sherardizing process for metal protection.
He was the son of Captain Cowper- Coles, Royal Navy, the inventor of the swivelling turret for naval guns. He inherited his father's inventive talents and investigated a variety of inventions in his workshop at his home at Sunbury-on-Thames, assisted by a number of scientific workers. He had been educated by governesses, but he lacked a sound scientific background. His inventions, rarely systematically pursued, ranged from electrolytic processes for making copper sheets and parabolic reflectors to a process for inlaying and decorating metallic surfaces. Overall, however, he is best known for the invention of "sherardizing", the process for producing a rustproof coating of zinc on small metallic articles. The discovery came by chance, when he was annealing iron and steel packed in zinc dust to exclude air. The metal was found to be coated with a thin layer of zinc with some surface penetration. The first patent for the process was obtained in 1900, and later the American rights were sold, with a company being formed in 1908 to control them. A small plant was set up in Chelsea, London, to develop the process to the point where it could be carried out on a commercial scale in a plant in Willesden. Sherardizing has not been a general protective finish, but is restricted to articles such as nuts and bolts which are then painted or finished. The process was still in use in 1977, operated by the Zinc Alloy Company (London) Ltd.
Further Reading
C.A.Smith, 1978, "Sherard Cowper-Coles: a review of the inception of sherardizing", Transactions of the Newcomen Society 49:1–4.

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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