Phosphor Bronze

Phosphor bronze is an alloy of copper with 3.5 to 10% of tin and a significant phosphorus content of up to 1%.

  • PB1 is a continuously cast product used for machined components washers and bushes.
  • PB2 This has a higher tin content than PB1 this addition aids wear resistance and is used in gear applications.
  • PB102 is wrought with a high hardness mainly id bar and rod form used in the manufacture of machined parts and electrical components.
  • SAE660 – this is a leaded gunmetal used for a bearing material, good strength and , machinability and abrasion resistance.


You can get in a lot of trouble when drilling this in the lathe as it does have a tendency to bind and lock.

On the cutting edges of the drill grind a flat that is parallel with the centre-line of the drill.

You only need to remove a few thou: a touch on the grinding wheel or a few strokes on the oil-stone or diamond pad.

This will stop the drill digging into the phosphor bronze and then rotating the drill in the chuck or the whole chuck rotating in the spindle/tailstock.

Also, I find the best way is to use lots of cutting fluid to remove the heat and to lubricate the cutter, especially important when drilling phosphor bronze.


Phosphor bronze has many uses where resistance to fatigue, wear and chemical corrosion are required.

  • bearings
  • pistons – in steam engines

The main bearings, the big-end and the camshaft bearings are all phosphor bronze in my Transitional Engine.

In addition the sliders are made from phosphor bronze.

About Nigel 338 Articles
I've been making models since I was around 7 years old and using a lathe from the age of 11, a self taught engineer with a passion for making model engines.

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