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So you think YOUR Bakelite is in rough shape?

I sometimes get a chuckle out of seeing poor shape of people’s beloved Revere Ware, that they simply refuse to let go of.  I’ve heard a few stories of the lid without a knob that is used with a pair of pliers kept nearby.  We often get pictures of really damaged Bakelite handles that people have been using that way for years.

It’s not surprising that people soldier on using damaged cookware thinking they won’t be able to find replacement parts.  While we’ve been selling them now for ten years, before we came on the scene, there was a good 30 years where parts were not available.

Today’s winner in that department is Alex, who sent us these pictures of his skillet.

I can only imagine how long they have been held together that way.

Sadly, that is the early style handle for which we don’t have a direct replacement, although our replacement handles can be used with those for a somewhat imperfect fit.

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Inferences from a wooden handle

A customer pointed out this listing for a vintage Revere Ware skillet with a wooden handle

It’s a beautiful handle, which gives the skillet a very pleasing and unique appearance.

You can see from the handle detail that this is a very old skillet, made within the first few years of Revere Ware production.

The spline, rather than being a straight piece on those handles, was the same shape as the actual handle.  This was the style that had two screws close to the pot, and a third screw in the center of the end, where the hook went through.  It appears as if this customization used the two screws for near the pot end, to hold the handle, forgoing the hook.  Here is a blurb on adapting our newer style handles to that older style spline.

Everything about this handle, including the workmanship, tells me this is something that would not have been offered by Revere Ware, but was custom made by someone who probably could not get a replacement handle.

Before we started selling our parts, we saw a lot of funky attempts to continue using Revere Ware pots despite handle issues.

  • At least one other home made wooden handle
  • People attempting to epoxy broken handles together using high temperature epoxy
  • Holding the metal spline on a pot that has lost its handle with pliers or oven mitts
  • A complex polishing and restoration process that involved 5 different grits of sandpaper

Because of this, when we first opened our shop for replacement Revere Ware parts, we got a lot of appreciation emails from customers.  While we still get one now and again, dealing with customers on Amazon.com has turned into a very different experience.  People are quick to pull the trigger on negative feedback over any issue, no matter how small, without even contacting us first for assistance, and then rarely respond when we follow with an offer to help after seeing their feedback.

We sell somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 parts a year these days across about 6,500 customers.  In our mind, that is 6,500 people we’ve had the opportunity to help continue to use their cherished piece of cookware.  We also answer somewhere between 500 and 1000 questions each year for people, whether they are customers or not.  The nature of a business like ours is service more than product.  Service to help people find the right part, service to answer questions and sometimes solve a historical mystery, and service to solve problems when they arise.

Retailing used to be about service.  Consider this bit from an article today in the Wall Street Journal:

Long before internet shopping, when a personal touch and pride of proprietorship were essential to successful local merchandising, Robert Lazarus Sr. was the president of the largest department store in Columbus, Ohio, my hometown. His name was on the building: the F&R Lazarus Co., among the most prestigious stores in the Midwest.

A dignified, respected man, he lived in a grand and tastefully decorated house. He kept his home number listed in the phone book.

Here is something his son told me, years after Robert Lazarus had died, and the store had disappeared.

One evening when the son was growing up, the telephone in their home rang. The caller, with nervousness in his voice, asked for Robert Lazarus, who came to the phone.

The man, almost apologetically, said he and his wife had purchased a tea set at Lazarus. They had never owned one before, but saw it on display and decided it was something they would like to have in their home.

Robert Lazarus waited to hear what was coming next. Was there a flaw? Was a cup or saucer broken?

That wasn’t it. The man said he and his wife did not know the proper way to serve tea—how to make use of the tea set when company came over. They sensed there was an etiquette to it, but no one had ever told them what it was.

Some of Lazarus’s customers had very modest incomes; to them, that downtown store was almost a palace, a place of aspiration, even if they were only looking. The tea set had represented a step up, a significant expenditure for this man and his wife. And they weren’t quite sure how it was intended to be used.

So the husband called the man whose name was on the store—at home, at night—for advice.

Robert Lazarus, his son said, stayed on the phone with his customer and, with great care, walked him through the steps of having a tea party, of using an elegant tea set. He told the man stories about tea receptions he and his own wife had given; he answered every question.

Then, before hanging up, he thanked the man profusely for having shopped at Lazarus.

I asked the son—by then an elderly man himself—if his dad had seemed at all bothered to have received the call in the middle of an evening with his family.

“Bothered?” the son said. “He couldn’t have been more pleased. He talked about it with great fondness for the rest of the night.”

I imagine the man who had placed the call did, too: The man who, in a time before customer service meant algorithm-generated email responses and endless waits for offshore call centers to answer, had taken a deep breath and dialed the phone, not knowing if he was making a mistake by imposing.

And who had been greeted, by the president of the F&R Lazarus Co., like an old friend.

Sometimes, dealing with customers on Amazon.com almost makes me want to quite the business.  I got in this business because I wanted to help people in a way that I wanted help myself years ago when I was looking for replacement parts for my Revere Ware.  With less business going to our website, where we have very few returns, almost no complaints, and the occasional praise, and more business going to Amazon.com, where we constantly struggle against abrupt and inconsiderate negative feedback and rarely a kind word, it is more of a burden and less of a joy these days.

While I love the convenience of ordering online and the benefit of being able to find things that used to be impossible to find, I had the impersonality of it all.  Perhaps this is what can save the malls and local businesses against the onslaught of  online shopping, good customer service and a very personal experience.

I’m trying to do my little part to keep business more personal.  While you can’t call me at home, I do answer every question, no matter how stupid you might think it is, frequently even during evenings and on weekends, and I try to make every customer happy if I can.

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Another option for Revere Ware mixing bowl lids

We often get requests for the lids for Revere Ware mixing bowls; apparently the original lids tend to fail after a while.  We did fine a crowdfunding campaign for some universal lids some time back, but a simpler solution may just be already available stretchy silicone lids that are pretty inexpensive.

Here are the mixing bowls.

The sizes are 9.75″, 8.5″, 6.75″, and 5.25″.

Here is a set of stretch silicone lids:

 

According to the listing, here are the sizes that they will fit:

❶ Special XL size 9.5” to14”
❷ 7.9” to 11”
❸ 6.5” to 9”
❹ 5.9” to 8”
❺ 4.7” to 6”
❻ 3.7” to 5”
❼ 2.8” to 4”

For 15 bucks, I think it is worth a shot.

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When your Revere Ware lid has a stub, not a screw

We’ve written about this before, but as it is the most common question we receive, it is worth mentioning again.

Over the years, Revere Ware had many different types of lid knob screw inserts (the part that provides the threads inside the lid knob).  We’ve seen brass, aluminum, stainless steel, and threads directly in the Bakelite (the worst, as they strip easily).  It is fairly common for the screw insert to rust to the screw on the lid.  Rust is common whenever you have dissimilar metals touching each other.  Customer Evelyn send us some great pictures of her lid that has this problem.

It makes it look like it requires a press-on knob, not a screw on one.

Evelyn soaked it with oil overnight, and then used a pair of pliers to unscrew it the next day.  It came off and she was able to use the replacement knob she ordered from us.

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Someone is selling our parts on Sears.com now

Did anyone else know that Sears.com had a marketplace similar to Amazon.com where independent merchants can list and sell items?  I certainly didn’t, until I came across this listing for our replacement pot handle there.

We’ve talked about this phenomenon before, where people are taking our Amazon.com listings and listing the parts on eBay and independent sites.  What happens is that, when you place an order for one of the parts there, they simply activate a purchase on Amazon.com and have it shipped to you.  But you are paying a premium over what you can buy it for on Amazon.com, as that is how these resellers are making money, and you are one link removed from us should there be an issue with the order; there is no guarantee that these resellers will field your call like we do, if there is a problem.

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Will the hardware set fit your cookware

All of our handles ship with the appropriate replacement hardware.  But we do sell quite a few hardware sets separately, which customers use to replace older hardware that no longer works.  A common issue with the older hardware is that the slotted screw heads strip.

With regard to determining which size hardware set was required, a customer recently asked:

When I remove the existing one and screw it together and measure the length I get 1/2 inch. Will this be the right size or too long?

We sell two hardware sets, the one for small handles, and the one for all the rest (medium, large, x-large).  The small handles fit very very few Revere Ware pieces, so the likelihood of needing the small hardware set, which is made specifically for those small handles, is slim.  So, a default choice would be the M/L/XL hardware set.

But, if you need the measurements, here they are.

The hardware set comes with two different length barrel nuts. The short of the two, with the screw all the way down, measures about .46 in between the inside of the barrel nut head, and the head of the screw. The longer one .61. The washer makes them a little bit smaller. Typically, the front and back of the Revere Ware handles will need different nuts; the front a shorter one, the back a longer one.

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Revere Ware without new parts

For a glimpse of what the market was like for Revere Ware replacement parts before we started selling them almost 10 years ago, take a look at this eBay listing:

At $199.99 for 9 handles and 12 knobs, these parts are listed for about 33% more than we sell them for (about $150 for what is shown above).

Before our replacement parts were available, the few NOS (new old stock) parts available on eBay would often go for $20-$30, or 2-3 times what we sell our handles for.

 

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Removing old 2-screw handles

Consider the handle above, which has clearly been on that pan for quite some time.  You can see that lots of grease has crept between the handles over time, and gotten baked on by the heat of stoves.  Such crud makes it very had to get old handles off sometimes, and these are by no means anywhere near the worst I have seen.  Additionally, despite being stainless steel, the screws and barrel nuts are known to rust together, or get stuck on with thick grease.

Our own recommendation for the removal of suck stubborn handles prior to replacement has been to simply break the handles off if they won’t come off by gentler methods.

Reader Phil has some better suggestions on this topic.

I’ve been restoring pre-1968 revere ware so i can have a set of amazing cookware, without spending thousands of dollars. I have been using a few tricks to get seized handle screws out, without destroying the handles completely.

#1. Use heat. I use a stick type soldering iron, tinned so you get good heat transfer to the nut and bolt sections of the handle hardware. The solder wont stick to the hardware because its not fluxed, but it will heat it up and boil any grease holding the hardware together. Also if metallic corrosion is present it will expand the hardware to hopefully free it up.

#2. While hot, use a precision flat tip screwdriver (similar to eye glasses screwdriver) to wedge between the ‘head’ of the nut hardware part and the handle hole it sits in, and lightly turn the precision screwdriver to hold the nut section, while using a standard size screwdriver to turn the bolt section of the hardware and separate the two.

If done correctly, you can save the handle without damaging it, and be able to inspect and clean the ‘tang’ (the metal that the handle bolts to). Be warned though, ive removed handles that appeared good on the outside, only to find the inside was overheated and dish-washered numerous times and the Bakelite was brittle and cracked on the inside. If that’s the case, buy new handles from RevereWareParts.

We certainly appreciate the last part.  🙂

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Sizing sheet for single screw handles for post 1968 skillets and sauce pans

Our 1-screw handles fit the type of newer (post 1968) skillets and sauce pans that have a single rivet or screw through the metal part of the handle.  The connection of the handle to the pot is the same on all handles, so, in theory, you could use the smallest handle in the largest skillet or sauce pan, but it won’t look right.

While we do include measurements of all of our parts in the part details, we recently came up with something simpler, this sizing sheet.

You can can download the PDF version of this sheet here.  If you download the PDF file and print it in portrait mode on an 8 1/2 x 11 (letter size) sheet of paper, you can just hold it up to your old handle to determine the proper size replacement.

If your existing handle has a rivet, you can find the guide to removing the old rivet here.

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