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When replacement isn’t an option – restoring Bakelite

We sell quite a few replacement Bakelite handles and what now now, but there are some parts that don’t have enough demand for us to produce, given the minimum quantity we must order for each part we make.

Assuming it isn’t cracked, restoring an old, faded Bakelite part is the only option.  There used to be a restoration service (that was expensive) that was an option before we started producing parts, that involved sanding the Bakelite with progressively finer sandpapers.

But we just came across a guide that makes it sound much more simple.

Step 1

Wipe down the handle with warm soapy water to wash away as much of the grime as possible.

Step 2

Rinse with warm water and dry with a clean cloth.

Step 3

Buff away deep scratches gently with fine gauge sandpaper.

Step 4

Apply liquid metal polish in a tight circular motion with a clean cloth. Rub with as much pressure as needed to polish away the accumulation of stains and dirt. Wait for the polish to haze over.

Step 5

Rub with a clean, dry cloth to remove the polish.

In terms of what fine gauge sandpaper is required, I am guessing perhaps 200, 400, or 600 grit would be possible options.



Restoring Bakelite when replacement isn’t an option

We sell a good number of replacement Bakelite parts, but it just isn’t economical for us to produce everything.

When replacement isn’t an option, you can try to restore the Bakelite part.  Here is a good tutorial on an old Bakelite radio.

In short, clean the piece, rub it thoroughly with 1000 grit steel wood, and then polish with Brasso.  I’ve also heard that Simichrome polish works well and might have a little bit of chemical reaction with the Bakelite that helps the restoration.


Finding old-style 2-screw pan handles

Our 2-screw handles fit Revere Ware cookware made since the early 1940’s.  However, from 1939 to the early 1940’s Revere Ware briefly used a type of handle that was somewhat different, but looked very similar.  These handles had 2 screw holes near the pan side of the handle, and another screw that went through the hold where the hanging hook goes.  They look like this:

Unfortunately, because of the limited number of pieces that have this type of handle, we don’t sell a replacement.  However, from time to time (like the ones above) they do appear on eBay.

The key is to save a search on eBay like “Revere Ware handle) such that it will email you new matches.

For the less patient, we have a guide to adapting our handles to this style of cookware.

For the more ambitions, you could grind down the metal spline to get a perfect fit.




Fix a warped skillet?

We’ve tried on several occasions to fix a warped skillet, with little success.  However, we recently came across an article that talked about heating and pounding out a warped pan.

The technique is to heat them up, put a 2×4 long enough to go from edge to edge of the pan on to the crowned side, and beat the heck out of it — all over it’s entire length, while revolving it so the entire pan surface gets its share of whacking.

If the pan is warped so the crown is on the outside, you have to rest the lip of the pan on a flat surface, so that the handle doesn’t touch the surface; a stair step is good.  If the pan is warped so the crown is inside, you have to cut the 2×4 to fit — as closely as you can but without making a big deal out of it.

Just keep reheating the pan and keep on whacking ’til you get bored.  The flattening will hold longer if you do both the inside and outside, but you can get most of the goodness if you only flattened the crowned side.

If anyone tries this, please let us know if it works.


When you can’t find a replacement part – buy a donor

We often get queries for replacement parts not in our catalog.  Unfortunately, it isn’t economical for us to supply every type of part regardless of the amount of demand out there for it.  One option, is to search eBay for new old stock replacement parts.

When that doesn’t work, it isn’t necessarily the end.  Given that there is a very rich marketplace on eBay for Revere Ware cookware, you can very likely find the same piece you are looking for a part for, that is complete, and use it as a donor for the parts you need.

One example of a part that is critical and can no longer be purchased anywhere is the over pressure plug for the vintage pressure cooker.

While this may look like a simple screw, it is not.  IT has a hole in the center filled with solder that will blow out at high pressure.  Once the over pressure plug has been blown out, it must be replaced.

eBay typically has quite a few listings for the vintage pressure cooker.  For example, here is one for $30 shipped.

If you are attached to your vintage piece (as many of us are) this probably isn’t too much to pay to get your pressure cooker functional again, and you’ll get some other extra parts to boot.

So, the next time you can’t find a replacement part, consider buying a used piece as a parts donor.



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.


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


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:


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.

Update: Unfortunately, despite the temperature rating of the material we used, the trigger started softening up pretty quickly when we tried it out on the stove.  We are still looking for a material that can be 3D printed and will withstand the temperature.



3D printing low-quantity replacement parts

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.


Taking off old 2-screw handles

Sometimes, handles that have been in use for years can be very difficult to get off so you can replace them with new ones.  Frequently, screws and nuts will rust together, making them impossible to get apart (the nut simply spins).  Take this one for example.  Years of grease make even the handles reluctant to separate.

Unfortunately, in this case I had to break apart the handle to expose the screws so I could twist them apart, and the screws themselves broke off rather than unscrew.

In this case, I used a screwdriver to pry the handle halves apart until one of them broke off.  I tried prying the rest of the Bakelite off, but the handle spline started to deform.  So I placed the handle against a hard surface (concrete) and repeatedly hit it with a hammer until all the Bakelite was off.  Then I used two pairs of pliers to try to unscrew the screws, which broke off.

Sometimes it simply isn’t possible to save the old handle or hardware when removing them.


Handle repair options

We often get asked how to repair handles when the metal part that is attached to the pan body starts separating or has completely come off.  We aren’t aware of any services where you can send your cookware in to get repaired.


The surest way is to find a local welder that can either spot weld (typically how they were usually attached in the first place) or braze the pieces back together.  Brazing is similar to soldering, where a metal filler is heated up such that it flows in the space between the two parts.  I’ve seen one estimate for $35 for repairing a handle in this way, which is more than the typical Revere Ware vintage piece is worth.  But for sentimental hand-me-down items, cost may not be an option.

I also investigated using an epoxy to repair a handle.  By all indications, on a gas stove, the cookware can reach very high temperatures, perhaps as high as 500 or more degrees.  JB Weld, a product well known for bonding metal together, does offer a high heat formula, but it is rated only up to 500 degrees.  Another product is stainless steel putty, which is rated food grade and is often used to repair stainless steel food processing equipment.  Unfortunately this is only rated to 250 degrees.

A third option is to drill small holes and use stainless steel hardware to reattach the handle.  This is perhaps the most unsightly option.

I recently came across this DIY option that involves the use of a propane torch and silver solder rods.

I’d love to hear if anyone has tried this method or has had success repairing broken handles any other way.


Vintage 4-quart pressure cooker over pressure plug

The Revere Ware vintage 4-quart pressure cooker, made during the 40’s and 50’s, is a great pressure cooker and we’ve sold quite a few replacement gaskets to people who want to keep them cooking decades more.

The biggest problem with these units is the lack of availability of over-pressure plugs in the lids.  These plugs are made with a hole through them filled with solder that will blow out at a certain pressure.  Once the over-pressure plug is blown, it is done and needs to be replaced with another.

One possibility is to convert the pressure cooker to use an over pressure plug that is still available.  Specifically, Revere Ware’s model 1574 and 1576 pressure cookers use a simple rubber plug that fits in a 12mm hole in the lid.  These plugs are identical to Presto part 09915.

In theory, converting the vintage pressure cooker to use the new style plug should be easy – just drill out the hole for the current over pressure plug with a 12mm metal drill bit.  The vintage 4-quart pressure cooker has an operating pressure up to 15 lbs and the 157x models work up to 17.5 lbs.

Below are some comparison pictures between the vintage 4-quart and the 1574.

If anyone is going to attempt this conversion, please send us pictures and let us know the outcome.

As with anything pressure cooker related, we advise that you use caution.