Top Menu

Stainless steel and heat tint

Belfast-20130415-00284

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.

0

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.

trigger_rendering

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

old_new_trigger

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:

trigger_on_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.

 

0

3D printing low-quantity replacement parts

zortrax-m2003
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.

0

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

5-stars-640x162

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.

0

The economics of small business: shipping costs

free-shipping

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).

0

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.

0

Good tea kettle maintenance

revere_kettle

A customer recently asked:

My kettle boiled dry and a bunch of stuff came out of the inside.  Is it ruined?

Unless it is leaking, your kettle probably isn’t ruined.  Because the bottom is solid copper, it tends to oxidize from exposure to the air, which will carry a blue tint.  Also, as most municipal water has some level of hardness, this builds up on the bottom (mostly) of the kettle.  What likely happened is that the boiling dry precipitated some of these deposits to flake off which is what is coming out.

It is a good idea to periodically add some pure vinegar to your kettle, boil it, and let it stand.  Then pour it out and rinse thoroughly.  That water that comes out should have lots of hard water chunks and will be very blue.  This cleans off  the deposits.

For more about Revere tea kettles, see our information page.

We sell replacement caps and triggers, and handles, for the 2 1/3 quart kettles.

0

Can the copper layer on the bottom of Revere Ware cookware be repaired?

A customer wrote us with the following question:

Can my 62 year old Revere Ware “pasta-pot” be copper re-coated ?  I had boiled water dry.

The short answer is no, not that we know of.  We have never heard of a service (or a process) that does this.  There is something somewhat similar for copper cookware, called re-tinning, but that is a very different process and doesn’t apply here.

We have done tests specifically where we heated a dry pan to see what would happen.  And indeed, some of the copper came off.  However, the older, well-made cookware (and 62 years old fits squarely in that category) has a pretty thick copper layer:

1091664622118_cladding5

In our experiment, the amount of copper that came off was minimal given the overall thickness of the layer.

Having said that, if you are seeing stainless steel through the copper layer, I would thank your pan for many years of good service, and find yourself a vintage replacement.  You can find a robust market for used Revere Ware cookware on eBay, and using our helper site, can likely find a replacement for just about anything.

 

1

Our new Website

old_vs_new_sites

We started selling Revere Ware replacement parts in 2008.  In the 7 years since then the web has changed quite a bit.  Recently, we felt that our website started looking outdated and became increasingly hard to manage as compared to today’s more modern platforms.  Additionally, the USPS recently changed their interfaces and it broke our international shipping.

Earlier this year we embarked on a redesign and upgrade.  I am happy to say that we are now live with the new site, and shipping to Canada is working again.  Other countries will follow in the coming months.

If you compare our old and new sites, you’ll see quite a few changes in aesthetics as well as more convenient organization of information.  For example, we now include all relevant content related to a part right in the product details for that part, as well as links to other related parts; if you are looking for the correct size of 2-screw handle, you can easily navigate to any other size of that handle right from the product page.

We’ve done our best to migrate all user account and order information. If you have any issues using our new site, please contact us and let us know.

0