Hello everyone 👋
Please find the fourteenth instalment of our weekly update below.
I seem to have had a MailChimp issue earlier, this is my update for the week.
Week Ending 21/05/2021 (Friday)
It's with a heavy heart I write this post.
I had been looking forward to sharing this weeks update - as we've all waited a long time to see the mill bodies with a fresh coat of paint.
I will be completely open and honest about the situation, with the intention of allowing you to decide how you wish to proceed.
This week I collected both the anthracite and oyster mill bodies.
Sadly, none of them have met the high-quality standards I set out to achieve.
I am still evaluating the best course of action to rectify the issues that I'm seeing. But rest assured, I'm not giving up, and I'm committed to delivering a quality product.
Three issues need addressing:
1. The surface finish of the cast iron
Despite hours of linishing (grinding / belt sanding), I still see unacceptable levels of surface anomalies (through the paint).
This is a real shame, mainly because I didn't want to let you all down again, but also because of the amount of time spent preparing the surfaces for paint.
I specifically choose a fine-textured matt powder coating because, in theory, it should be more forgiving with the rough surface finish of cast iron. Sadly, in both the anthracite and oyster mill colours, this is not the case.
At this stage, I believe the best solution will be to return the mills to the machine shop. From there, we can run a second machining operation (on the lathe) to remove the paint and take the iron to a completely smooth finish.
80% of the body can be machined. The exception is the bottom section (where the logo is). This section will require further linishing to ensure an even finish.
2. Unequal radius of external profile
The radius of our mills' top and bottom features is somewhat uneven, more so around the area of the split pattern moulding lines.
Fortunately, the solution I pose for issue one would also fix this. We can use a lathe tool with the correct radius to create the intended profile.
In doing so, we will end up with a much more uniform exterior profile, and I believe this will result in a more polished final product.
3. Damaged logos
There are several mill bodies with slight damage to the logo on the front of the mill.
Looking back, I believe when we produced our prototypes, the black powder coating did an excellent job of hiding this. Sadly, the oyster colour is particularly unforgiving.
To fix this, we have modified the casting patterns with a temporary fix and received quotes to change the tooling to prevent this from re-occurring in the future.
Sadly, the ones we have made and are damaged, I believe the only option is to scrap them.
**My cousin pointed out that I could open an outlet store first - I was not amused... 😬
On Friday, I was able to start discussions about finding a resolution, as touched upon above.
The salvageable mills will need to be returned to the machine shop for the work outlined above and then back to be re-painted.
I need to speak with both companies on Monday morning to firm up a plan, but as an estimate, this is likely to take 1-2 weeks per business to fix (plus final assembly).
Because there will undoubtedly be some scrap, I might find myself in a position where I no longer have enough mills to fulfil every order.
If this is the case, I will work through the orders in the sequence they were received.
We are expecting a large batch of castings to be delivered on the 28th of May. Typically, there is a foundry shut down the following week. If there is a delay and this batch falls through for any reason, I wouldn't expect to see them until 11/06.
As I mentioned above, the damaged logo issue is temporarily fixed. And I am very confident we can resolve the surface finish and radius issues on the lathe.
As an estimate of when I believe we'll have replacements: It is likely to be one of either of the below scenarios:
Castings arrive 28/06 - Plus a maximum of two weeks for machining, two weeks for paint and a week for assembly - 02/07/2021
Castings are delivered 11/06 - Plus five weeks for processing - 16/07/2021
** Both companies might commit to a one-week turnaround, but this is more of a worst-case scenario.
I am ever conscious that you may be frustrated with the delays and have had a poor shopping experience.
I am also wary that many of you have purchased our mills as gifts - for birthdays/weddings and celebrations that have passed or are fast approaching.
Although I accept responsibility for not meeting the declared delivery dates, None of the issues we've encountered were expected or planned. It was not my intention to cause such a delay.
Please do let me know if you're fed up and would simply like your money back.
I apologise for letting you down.
The good news
I am confident that we can fix the surface finish and radius issues without interfering with the inside food-safe coating. This will reduce the processing time in the paint workshop as we'll only need to re-apply the external powder coating.
On Friday afternoon, after collecting the painted bodies, I raced back to the machine shop. We manually turned down a scrap casting and confirmed that we could fix both the radius and surface finish issues on the lathe.
All of the machined handles have now been collected. They need a quick polish and deburr to blend an additional machining operation, and they will be delivered for paint on Tuesday.
We have received our second packaging tube sample and have approved the production design. With a bit of luck, these will be with us by mid-July.
We have also received a couple of samples of the single and double coasters painted in anthracite grey. They've come out looking really nice.
I'd love to hear what each of you expected the surface of our mills' to look like when you imagined a cast-iron mill?
Did you envisage lines from the mould? Or picture slight lumps and bumps from the sand?
I am basing the above upon my vision of how I imagined them looking. It might be that some would individuals prefer the uniqueness of the raw cast look...
If you wish to contact me about any of the above, to feedback, or to request a refund, my direct email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll be available to answer any questions or process refunds if requested.
Here are some photos and videos I have taken this week:
This video shows two of our handles being machined. Excuse the poor production quality, I happened to be in the machine shop when these were being run and caught a quick video on my phone.
Just over 100 of each the anthracite & oyster mills. The positive is that the areas that have been machined the paint has come out beautifully.
A coated Oyster Mill (close up), you can see the kind of damage I am referring to around the logo.