I've returned to the city. I'm sending out the last few crepe pans today for the first round. It was a good trip to Wisconsin. I was slowed quite a bit by the snow and cold. I hit a massive blizzard near Minneapolis and got stuck for 2 days in a lodge at the bottom of a hill in a two wheel drive city truck. I saw 7 bald eagles flying over our lodge the day the plows came. I got up the hill and drove to my friend Broc Allen Ceramic Studio, where we pour iron, near the Manitou Falls. I set up a mini processing and distribution center there with help from my friend Craig, who's been on disability and not working, so he was happy to help. He helped me put a hitch on the truck so we could pick up the trailer to take to Washburn. It was super cold and icy so we had to drive slow down Highway 2. I called Washburn to see if the castings were finished. The last of the crepe pans were being sandblasted and the order should be finished by 3:00 pm, on a Tuesday (3 days after the blizzard). Craig and I took the truck and trailer and made it to Washburn Iron Works by 3:45. I got my bucket of crepe pans. They looked good. I went and talked to some of the ladle crew who just finished pouring some iron molds. We bonded because we started talking about the Packers. I'm a real Wisconsin boy. With a trailer full of crepe pans.
Long story short, we brought the trailer back to Broc's where I spent the next 3 days, building/unbuilding/rebuilding an oven for seasoning, grinding/sanding/polishing 104 cast iron crepe pans, and packaged 100 crepes pans for December shipment. It was rough, and the continuous snow and cold brought many challenges. We built the seasoning oven out an old steel bed frame and kiln bricks. At first, we burned through 1/2 cord of wood and tried to heat it with a bed of coals but we lost all our heat and it took almost 12 hours to partially season 8 pans in 7 degree weather. And the next morning, 6 inches of snow covered everything. So now I'm fighting rust. Every flake of snow leaves a rust circle which I have to polish out with a wire brush. The next day, we decided to build a real oven with more bricks, a fiber board roof, and PROPANE! That worked slick, but the cold temperatures was causing the propane tank to freeze so I had to change it every hour. We kept the stove top going in the house to finish off the pans that didn't get even heat. The grinding was the biggest challenge and the next problem I need to solve with concerns to the workflow of processing raw castings. I can grind and polish each casting for 3-5 minutes each, but not at a very high volume. I suspect I'll have to have one my relatives that is a machinist build me a crepe pan grinding/sanding machine so I can crank them out without getting a sore neck covered in black iron and rusty sweat.
So we got everything processed and packaged and I've been going through my spreadsheets and set up shop at FedEx Office. I'm a metal worker learning to use spreadsheets. Please, please, let me know if there are any mistakes with your shipment as I will do everything in my power to correct them. If I missed a spot in grinding, my apologies. I made my list and checked it twice but I do have a mere human brain.
Let me know how the packaging is. I designed it and will need to tweak it a bit as well. Any damages shall be replaced. I used to be a box breaker for FedEx so I tried to visualize how well this would do going through their system. So there it is. I still haven't gotten an address from a few backers and I wanted to let the second group of April backers know that I am beginning to go through your order fulfillment, once I'm fully reassembled. So shoot me an address if you haven't already. And the April pre-order is still live on www.captaincrepe.com
Happy Solstice. Happy Holidays. Happy Crepe Making. Get together with you friends and family and share tasty food together.