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Replacement lids

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One of the most common questions we get is whether we carry replacement lids for such and such a size Revere Ware piece.

We don’t carry any lids (just the knobs), and the official source for Revere Ware, World Kitchen, sells all of one of the traditional copper bottom lid sizes now.

The solution is to tap into the robust marked for used Revere Ware lids on eBay.  We’ve had an eBay helper site for Revere Ware cookware for a number of years now; it separates listings on eBay out by type and size, and is updated every 30 minutes.

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On the front page, we show a graph of the number of listings for Revere Ware items since 2009, which continues to grow; there is a very robust marketplace on eBay for just about anything Revere Ware.

When it comes to lids, there are a couple of considerations.  Here is our help text at the top of our lid listings page:

To find the right lid for your cookware, choose a size that is listed with measurements the same size or slightly smaller than the inside diameter of your cookware. Revere Ware lids are usually just slightly smaller than the cookware they fit. eBay listers will show this as anywhere from 1/16″ to 1/4 inch smaller than your cookware diameter. Very few Revere Ware pots in our experience have a diameter that is NOT a whole inch; exceptions we have found include a 6 1/4″ skillet (that takes a 6″ lid) and 5 1/2″ saucepans. However, based on auction listing we’ve seen, there do appear to be 6.5″ and 7.5″ sizes as well.

For example, lids listed measuring 5.25 (5 1/4), 5.3125 (5 5/16), 5.375 (5 3/8), 5.4375 (5 7/16), and 5.5 (5 1/2) inches are all probably the same size measured slightly differently by different sellers and should all fit a sauce pot with a 5.5″ inside diameter.

Which brings up another point – people typically ask, “do you have a lid for a 2 quart sauce pan.”  That is a hard question to answer, given that Revere Ware altered the dimensions of their sauce pans and pots many times over the years.  A 2 quart pot can come in one of several diameters.

Use the instructions above to find the correct size.

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What is Revere Ware (aka World Kitchen) up to?

The Revere Ware brand has been owned for at least a couple of decades by World Kitchen, which owns a number of other formerly iconic brands, like Pyrex, Cornigware, and EKCO. World Kitchen seems to specialize in buying formerly popular vintage brands and selling very cheap knockoffs under the brand name.

Today, something is up with their Revere site.  If you go to the World Kitchen Website and select the Revere brand, everything seems normal:

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If you previously went to the revereware.com, it would simply redirect you to the above Revere brand page of the World Kitchen website.  However, now, it shows as follows:

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Just what are they up to?

The Revere Brand has languished over the decades, with a minimal selection of very poor quality cookware.  It was not uncommon to hear stories about the mostly symbolic copper layer wearing off, or completely falling off.  The only piece we could recommend was the tea kettle, as that seems to be a pretty simple piece that doesn’t depend on the thickness of the metal like pots, pans, and skillets do.  All the other cookware was made to be thrown away after a few years (although they still honored a 25 year warranty on the copper bottom cookware).

Could they be planning a return to an actual quality product for the branded cookware?

Update 8/4/16

The revereware.com site still has the above message, but in a new twist, World Kitchens site no longer lists the Revere Ware brand on its main page, and using the sites search feature no longer brings up Revere Ware results.

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The Revere Ware FAQ page and Revere Ware product page are still available via direct link though, and their brands page does still include the Revere brand.

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Examining different Revere Ware lid styles

Customer Joseph writes to us with the following question:

I bought a set of pre-1968 Revere Ware on E-Bay and one of the sauce pan lids is different from the rest. I’ve attached a link to pictures of two 7 inch lids.  You can see that the one on the right is shallower than the one on the left. All of the other lids have the same design as the one on the left and fit perfectly. The one on the right fits somewhat sloppy. Did Revere Ware change the lids and did we end up with a later model lid?

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The historical information on lids is very fuzzy.  From looking through the Revere Ware photo guide I was able to identify that early Revere Ware lids were called vapor seal and had a tight fit to the cookware for “water-less cooking” which was popular at the time.  I believe both a high domed lid and a tight fit were essential for this type of cooking.

With the cheapening of the cookware in the lats 1960’s, it makes perfect sense that they would move to a construction that was cheaper to manufacture and there are a couple of things about the construction of the shorter lid that seem to indicate this

– The lack of the little lip on the lid would one less step in the manufacturing process
– The shorter size would require less metal

So, my theory is that sometime in the late 1960’s they switched to the cheaper construction. That is approximately when the construction of Revere Ware cookware changed to reducing the overall  amount of metal in the pans (about half the amount of copper and stainless steel) and moved from the two-screw style handle to the single screw style handle,  so a change in the lid also makes perfect sense.

If anyone has additional (or contradictory) information on the different lid styles, please respond to this post.

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Mystery copper bowls

Customer Lois contacted us looking for information about these beautiful Revere Ware copper bowls.

My family was stationed at Griffiss AFB, Rome, NY 1962-1966. Given that I believe my mother may have bought them then, but do not know for sure.  There are six of them. Weigh about 9.5 oz ea. Six inch diameter. One and a half inches high. Someone in the past scratched the inside surface of one of them to prove they were solid copper. The red interior finish could be lacquered?

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I’ve never seen anything like them and we were unable to find any historical information about them.

If you have any information about what line these belonged to, when they were produced, what the red finish on the inside might be, or anything else regarding these bowls, please contact us.

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Stainless steel and heat tint

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If you’ve ever overheated your stainless steel cookware (like almost all Revere Ware) you’ve seen that rainbow tint discoloration that stainless steel can take on. This isn’t something you can simply wash off.   This discoloration is called heat tint.

Stainless steel works (keep from rusting) due to the addition of small amount of chromium int the steel mixture. (Note that this is a type of chromium that the body needs in trace amounts, not the hexavalent chromium of the type featured in the move Erin Brockovich.)  The Chromium oxidizes and forms a thin layout on the outside of the stainless steel which keeps the iron from rusting.  The nice thing about stainless steel is that this layer is self repairing; if you damage it, more chromium is exposed to air and oxidizes to form a new protective layer.

However, it seems that under high heat, parts of the stainless steel can form a thicker chrome oxide layer. Chrome oxide layers of different thicknesses will show different colors.

In short, the rainbow tint is completely harmless, if not annoying.  The best suggestion we’ve seen to remove it is to use a stainless steel cleaner like Bar Keepers Friend to polish the outside of the cookware.

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3D printing a new tea kettle trigger

We’ve completed our first 3D printable design – a trigger for the larger 3 1/2 (or so) quart Revere Ware tea kettle.

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Here are the old and new trigger side-by-side:

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We gave the new trigger a more curved end as we felt that the original allowed the finger to slip off too easily.

The only material available for our printer that matches or exceeds the temperature resistance of Bakelite is called Z-GLASS and is semi-transparent.  While the trigger won’t win any beauty contests (it is a bit of a rough finish due to the nature of 3D printing) it is quite functional.

Here it is on a kettle:

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If you have a 3D printer that can print to a material that has a deformation / deflection / softening temperature (the point at which it will irreparably bend) greater than 350 degrees F, you can print these yourself.  Here are the Solidworks and STL files.

If you would like to get one of these triggers, please contact us.

 

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3D printing low-quantity replacement parts

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We receive a lot of requests for parts that we don’t carry because they are too low volume to justify the cost of making molds and of minimum order quantities. In short, we’d lose money on them.

However, we recently purchased a 3D printer for another project and are intrigued with the idea of being able to do small runs of low-quantity parts, to make some of the rarer pieces available again.  There is one material in particular that is a good fit as it has a melting point that is high enough for normal stovetop cooking (and is above that of Bakelite).

We’ve love to offer a download library of parts as well so people can print them themselves if they wish.

While our own rudimentary 3D design skills might get the job done, there are probably much more qualified people out there.

If you are as passionate about Revere Ware as we are, have 3D design skills, and want to contribute to this effort, please contact us.

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The economics of small business: quality, feedback, and ratings

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In today’s climate of ratings and feedback, small businesses like ours can often suffer at the hands of customers who don’t understand the realities and economics of small businesses, or are simply too lackadaisical to go through the trouble of contacting a seller before they go negative on us.

Take, for example, Amazon.com.  I often order books from third party sellers, and see that most of the time sellers are rated in the low 90’s or high 80’s in terms of overall satisfaction.  On eBay, where I’ve been a buyer and seller for almost 20 years, and have a 100% rating across thousands of transactions, buying from someone with such a low rating seems dangerous.  If someone is rated at 90% satisfaction, does that mean I have a one in ten change of having an issue?  On eBay, where the company forces a resolution process on buyers and sellers, this is often the case.  On eBay, if you want a refund, you have no choice but to go through this process to get your money back.  One person’s bad experience can often be indicative of your likelihood of having a problem.

But on sites like Amazon, where we now do quite a bit of our selling, things are very different, and this leads to a very different quality to their ratings.  Consider the following:

Process: Amazon.com has no process whatsoever that helps buyers and sellers resolve issues.  Have a problem and want your money back?  Sure, no problem, just a few clicks and you are there.  The downside of this is that sellers are often not aware that there is a problem at all.  Looking at returns, there is no way for us to tell that someone returned a part for quality reasons, or simply because they didn’t read the detail and ordered the wrong part.

Quantity vs quality of ratings:  On eBay, which is treated by both buyers and sellers more like a community, people are motivated just as much to leave positive feedback when there is a satisfying experience, as they are to leave negative feedback when there is a bad experience.  On Amazon.com, a very very small percentage of buyers actually leave feedback.  This means that an out-sized percentage of people that leave feedback do so because of a problem (and often a problem they never tried to contact the seller about), which almost guarantees that as a seller, you will find it impossible to have a near 100% positive rating.

Shoot first, ask questions later:  This in my opinion is the single biggest problem with feedback and ratings on Amazon.com.  People simply don’t bother to contact the seller when there is a problem.  Perhaps the norm these days for sellers is that they simply don’t take care of their buyers, and buyers expect poor service.  But for our business, this is anything but the case.  We go to great trouble to try and insure our customers get a good product and have a good experience, and when there are problems, we will do what ever we can to resolve it.  Got a defective part, no problem, we’ll ship you a new one.  Part broke for no good reason a year after you bought it, no problem, we’ll replace it.

That is, we’ll do all that, given the chance.  Most of the time, buyers on Amazon.com will simply return a defective part, leave a negative review, and never ask us for help.

People don’t understand how Fulfillment by Amazon works:  People often leave negative feedback for problems with shipping.  When you order something with Amazon Prime shipping, that means it is fulfilled by Amazon.  People don’t seem to realize that in cases like this, the onus for a good shipping experience is on Amazon, not us; we have no control over shipping.  But we get the negative feedback from shipping issues anyways.

All this mean that it is very very hard for a small seller like us to maintain a good seller rating on Amazon.com.  For example, if 300 people buy something from us on Amazon.com in a month, but only 15 leave feedback:

# negative ratings Seller rating
0 100%
1 93%
2 87%

As you can see, just one or two (undeserved) negative ratings can make us look really bad.  If all of our customers left feedback:

# negative ratings Seller rating
0 100%
1 100%
2 99%

Being a small business means that we can’t provide the kind of product quality that large businesses can offer.  While a large business might have the resources or technology to achieve defect rates like .1% or .05%, we measure ours in the 1-3% range depending on product.  So sometimes a part is simply defective and we don’t catch it before it ships.  But what we lack in big business resources, like many small business, we make up for with great customer service.  We’ll do whatever it takes to fix the problem.

So, I beg of you, when you buy from the marketplace on Amazon.com, give the sellers the benefit of the doubt.  If you have a problem with the product or experience, ask the seller for help.  Give them a chance.  Consider leaving negative feedback only when you’ve exhausted your options and the seller clearly deserves it.

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The economics of small business: shipping costs

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Having been an Amazon Prime customer for quite some time, I am used to free shipping on most of what I order online, and find myself a bit annoyed when I order something where shipping is not free.  However, I also am very aware of what it costs a business to ship orders, both in postage and in handling, so I understand that these costs are real.

Large businesses like Amazon often make up for free shipping by charging more for the item; while it looks like a good deal, the customer is paying for some of it in higher prices.  Large shippers also have the benefit of being able to ship multiple orders to the same customer in a single box, so the cost of free shipping is spread out among the profit margin on many orders.  And often times, free shipping lures customers to buy more, so they can spread the cost of free shipping among the profit margin for the additional items they sell.

On the other hand, consider small businesses.  We occasionally get a comment from a customer complaining about our high shipping costs; for example, $4.25 in shipping on an order for a part that costs $2.99.

The bottom line is that for a business like ours, shipping an order for our cheapest part is the least economically viable thing we do.  It costs a certain amount for us to have an order of any size shipped; this is something we pay our fulfillment center and it doesn’t matter to them whether pick a single $2.99 item for an order or 5 items that cost $9.99; in each case, we pay the same handling fee.

Postage works similarly.  The cheapest USPS First Class Mail rate, for a 1 oz package is $2.54 (say for the aforementioned $2.99 part), and yet the cost to ship a 13 oz package (which might hold $30 worth of parts) is only $4.54, less than twice as much.  If you compare the two:

Order size Postage cost Order weight Cost per oz Cost per $
$2.99 $2.54 1 0z $2.54 $0.85
$30.00 $4.54 13 oz $0.35 $0.15

As you can see, with very small orders, the cost of postage is extremely high no matter how you measure it.

As you might also guess, there is no feasible way for us to offer free shipping on small orders (and most of our orders are for a single item); we would lose money on every order. At a certain order size, we are able to offer free shipping, and we do.  For us, this makes sense economically, right around $30, above which we offer free shipping.

So, when you consider our shipping costs, try to see the economics from our point of view.

Or, order our parts from Amazon.com and take advantage free Amazon prime shipping.  We sell almost all of our parts there too, and when we do, we also benefit from Amazon’s economies of scale.

Or, consider what other parts you might need and order more than one part at a time.  Shipping on additional parts you order will be much less relative to the overall shipping cost for the order (or free if you order more than $30 of parts).

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The economics of small business: why does that part cost so much?

We occasionally get a complaint from a customer about the cost of some of our parts.  A great example is the hardware set for our single screw handle.

Pan/skillet 1-screw handle hardware set (all sizes)

We charge $2.99 for this part.  Compare this to a standard machine screw, nut, and washer of approximately the same size which you could buy from any hardware store for perhaps 25 cents, or, if you bought a bunch of them together, pennies.

To understand why we charge what we do for a part like this, consider the difference between the standard 8/32 machine screw, washer, and nut you might buy from a hardware store, and our screw, lock washer, and barrel nut.  What hardware you buy from a hardware store is made by the billions.  The principle of economies of scale say that the more of something you make, the cheaper you can make it.

We suffer from the opposite of economies of scale. We make and sell small quantities of something that is not standard and that has to be made specially for our application.  In this case, the barrel nut is not something you can just order; the screw is of a non-standard length.  For each order, we pay quite a lot for the manufacturer to set up and make a run of these parts for us.

If we were to sell tens of thousands of these parts, the set up cost would be spread among many many parts, and be a small part of the cost.  But selling only hundreds or low thousands of these, it comes to dominate the cost of making the part.

So the next time you come across a part you need for a very niche application, to fix a rare appliance, or an old something-or-other, think about how many of these the seller is likely selling and whether it is something you can buy off-the-shelf at any hardware store, and try to understand that the economics of small business sometimes require that we sell at a certain price, or not sell at all.

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