Project update 8 of 12
It has been a while since our last update, and a lot has happened since then. Here is a breakdown of what’s been going on regarding the manufacturing of the Portland Press. There’s a lot of information, so make yourself comfortable.
The wire mesh screen which pushes coffee grinds to the bottom of the jar, while leaving tasty coffee above for you to drink, has been the most complicated part to have manufactured. More specifically, it’s been very complicated to have manufactured domestically, not to mention anywhere near Portland. After being turned away from a half-dozen suppliers, all who said that they could not make the part, we contacted the Wire Cloth Manufacturers sales team in Texas. This is what they told us:
"…80x80 mesh in "plain weave" hasn’t been manufactured in the U.S. since the 1970’s. That info came from one of our "partners" as we wouldn’t be able to do it. They also told him that no U.S. equipment would be able to handle the outside hem and if they could that the "tooling" costs for doing such would be astronomical. So I’m afraid we can’t help you with a domestic version. Looks like you will have no choice but to go overseas for these."
For clarification, 80x80 is the opening size of the mesh, 80x80 holes per square inch. Our mesh is actually a twill weave, but it’s the same deal for that, too. Also, the hem around the edge of the screen is required to make a clean edge, without any sharp wires. The machines that are required to make the weaves are massive, multi-million dollar looms which can not be easily replicated. Knowing all of this, it makes sense now why we’ve been having so much difficulty. Realizing our limited options, we decided to work with Wire Cloth Manufacturers to have the screens made in China. We asked them for the name of the mill where they would be made, but they were not willing to share this information. Such is the world of manufacturing.
After breaking about 30 lids through a merciless set of tests, we discovered all the low points and high points of our design, and revised accordingly. Here is some interesting information we discovered:
Using glue alone to attach the handle doesn’t make a strong enough joint. However, with a mechanical attachment they’re much stronger, with a significantly higher survival rate on our drop tests (though we would suggest that you not intentionally drop yours on the floor). Therefore, we’re adding a dowel to secure the handle to the lid, and it actually looks very nice.
Our final lid prototypes just came in, and everything checks out.
Prolonged exposure to water is bad for the lid. We found that, under normal conditions (make coffee, hand wash lid, let dry, repeat) the lid is fine, and will hold up to a lifetime of use. However, if you put your lid in the dishwasher, it will be ruined. If you leave your lid in a bucket of water overnight, it will be very, very ruined. To see what I mean, check out any of your wooden cooking spoons. Chances are they’ve made a run or two through the dishwasher, or sat in your sink overnight, and as a result, are all curvy and warped. The moral of the story is, don’t put the lid in the dishwasher, and don’t leave it in a bucket of water overnight.
The silicon gaskets work! Hooray, no hot coffee spills all over the place. Delivered and waiting to be assembled.
The boxes are finished and they look great. They’re currently sitting in an assembly warehouse in Hillsboro waiting for the presses to be delivered. That’s about it for the boxes.
Each Portland Press comes with a booklet to explain proper care instructions, and pay tribute to the means by which they were created. We’re working with a local printer to have these booklets made by mid next week.
All of our turned metal parts were originally made from nickel plated mild steel, as opposed to stainless steel. However, after a few tests, it was clear that the nickel plating was not sufficient to provide effective corrosion resistance. We worked with our manufacturers to remake these parts in stainless steel, and should have the new ones by Friday.
We made the springs too short. Oops! New springs should arrive on Friday.
The stamped top plates are all delivered. Thanks Custom Stamping & Manufacturing!
All of the wool was delivered and cozies made ahead of schedule. Thanks to Creekside Fiber Mill and Spooltown for an awesome job.
The lower plate assembly for the press is what holds the screen on from the bottom, and attaches to the plunger rod. This plate has to attach to a nut with threads on it. We tested some welded pieces and discovered that the welds either warp the plate due to heat stresses, or break because they’re too weak. Instead of welding, we looked at a rivet nut solution, which is kind of like a standard rivet, but with threads on it. Penn Manufacturing, out of Danboro, PA, designs and manufactures these types of parts, and we’re testing a few samples this week. If they work out, we should have the parts assembled and delivered within a few days.
We were hoping to have all the presses shipped by December 1st. Given all of the issues we’ve outlined above, our expected ship date has slipped to December 5th. We’re hoping that this plenty of time for a pre-Christmas delivery, barring any further manufacturing issues.
All pre-orders that are placed before December 2nd will be shipped out at the same time. If you still want to buy a Portland Press before Christmas, but you can’t order by the 2nd, we’ll let you know of all the retail spots that are carrying it.
Sorry for the long-windedness. This is the final countdown. Just like that song. Rob and I are on pins and needles, eager to send you these products that we helped create. Thanks again for your support, and for helping Rob and I start our business.
The Bucket Team