Make do and mend – kettle repair

Marking out ready to attach

In this week’s blog I will be talking you through how I replaced a rusting handle on a 10 litre kettle.  It’s good to repair and repurpose rather than having to dispose of items before they are at the end of their use.

To begin with I had a 4mm thick metal bar that may work, some 22mm copper pipe and an old metal gazebo tube.  My plan was to use my pipe benders to fashion a new handle.  I wasn’t sure how this was going to go as copper may prove to be too soft, the 4mm metal bar was tough to work with and the metal gazebo tube may not bend so well.  I was also aware that a round tube would work fine as a handle but would not sit in most of our pot hangers in the woods over the fire.

Read on to see what worked in the end.

Preparing to start
Preparing to start.

Using the grinder and safety goggles I set about removing the rusted handle by grinding off the rivets and then pushing the old rivets free from their original holes in the kettle.

I then bent the copper tube in the pipe bender and decided this may not be strong enough for continued safe use over a fire as the copper is fairly soft and not intended for this purpose.

I moved on to the steel tube which was far stronger but would not bend in the pipe bender which again is not meant for bending steel tube.

As a solution to this I decided to flatten the steel tube using a club hammer.

A little gentle persuasion
A little gentle persuasion.

This looked more promising and began to curve unintentionally.

Next I had to start to curve it into more of a handle shape using the old handle as a visual guide.  I did not have anything circular or robust enough to use as a form for this so just had to carefully persuade the flattened tube to curve as I wanted using a vice and the club hammer.

I was also able to create a small downward fold on either side of the top of the handle so it would sit nicely on our pot hangers over the fire. This was also achieved using the vice and the club hammer.

I was careful not to fold the metal through the handle section and continued to create the curve required by feeding it through the clamped vice and forcing the metal with the hammer.

Starting to take shape
Starting to take shape.

Once this was achieved I had to clamp the ends (approx 20mm) in the vice and squeeze the metal so it could then be folded in preparation to take the new rivets.

Once the ends of the handle were folded to the correct angle to meet the kettle I put masking tape on the ends, held the handle in position and marked the rivet positions using a sharpie from the inside of the kettle.

The masking tape was simply to help me see the sharpie marks.

Marking out ready to attach
Marking out ready to attach.

Next the holes were drilled in the new handle ends ready to take the new rivets.  The rivets I was using were pop rivets or blind rivets and required a 5mm hole in both the kettle and new handle.

The rivets and kettle body are aluminium so rust inside the kettle from the new rivets was of no concern. I also used stainless steel washers on the inside of the kettle with a 5mm central hole to reinforce the connection point so again no concerns about rust inside the kettle.

One at a time the new handle was riveted on to the kettle with the internal washers and hey presto!  One repaired kettle ready for field testing by our instructors before it is back in use with our customers.

Kettle ready for action
Kettle ready for action.

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