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Old 01-01-2009, 11:25 PM   #1
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Cast Iron Restoration Seasoning Project

There have been a couple of threads about CI cookware and talk of smoothe vs machined, Griswold Vs Wagner Vs Lodge discussions of the quality and questions about seanoning so I thought I would share my latest CI Project both to get some input and to illustrate some of these issues. I am not an expert or a real collector I just really like the old iron cookware and think it is terribly underappreciated/utilized

I am currently restoring 3 skillets. 2 are "unmarked" #8 (10.5") skillets I picked up at a fleamarket. The other is my xmas gift to myself a Griswold #12 (13.5")

I will start with the #8s because they illustrate the most. At first glance they are very similar both the same size/style with 2 spouts and a heat ring. Neither has a real "Makers Mark" to help identify origin or age. The following pic are taken after the initial cleaning when the differences came to light.

The first is marked only with a "Z"

The second is marked "Made in USA"

Despite thier similar appearence at closer inspection they are very different in quality.

First the Z skillet:

This skillet was covered in a nasty black crust that was once seasoning. It had a touch of rust. Once cleaned up it showed itself to be a nice skillet.The inside is machined smoothe... smoothe as my Grizwold and the skillet at 5lbs outweighs my Grizwold #8 by a pound

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Old 01-01-2009, 11:32 PM   #2
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Pancho, unless my imagination is seriously lacking, I don't see any pictures.
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Old 01-01-2009, 11:34 PM   #3
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Now for the USA skillet

The USA skillet appeared quite similar. Unlike the Z though it did not have alot of grime just a bit of rusting... this should have been my first clue.


The inside is roug and uneven. It was not machined after being removed from the mold. This is not "pitting" from age this is the original casting


and then theres this...

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Old 01-02-2009, 12:16 AM   #4
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Ok Katie I think I fixed it

.... The USA skillet has some serious flaws in the casting that make me doubt it will last 100 years. Aftler looking at it I doubt it has ever been used and is probably pretty new. It is the heaviest of all at 5.5Lbs but that is its only good quality. I am going to finish cleaning and season it up out of curiousity though.

For comparison Here are some pics of my Grizwold 8 it is much lighter at only 4 lbs. It is smoothe inside like the "z" skillet. I think the Z will be a better pan in the end. The Grizwolds are popular because of ther looks I dont know if you can see it but the casting is really nice and crisp. While mine is not really a special one in a collectors sense (it is common and late) it is more handsome than the others

this sucker was nastier than the others when I got it and it cleaned up OK. For cooking purposes you can probably find an old skillet that is as good as a Griz for a couple bucks while a Grizwold like mine (unrestored)will run about $20 + Shipping on ebay. Being branded the Grizwolds and Wagners are a sure bet though (I have never seen a Grizwold at a thrift or fleamarket around here.

Note that this is a recently reseasoned skillet. It is old but was stripped so I have not built up the nice long term seasoning my inherited pans have.
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Old 01-02-2009, 12:22 AM   #5
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the big Kahuna

Here is my "new" grizwold #12 it is a big sucker 13.5" diameter and 7lbs.

This one is super grimy and the pics are as aquired. It is getting its first cleaning now.....

13.5 Inches does not sound big but for comparison here is the #8 which is a pretty standard size

Right now it is pretty grimy lets see how it cleans up. Again it is not a collector piece those cost a fortune but it is the real dealAnyway I hope someone finds this interesting

I will post new pics of the final cleaning and seasoning as they come along.

If you made it this far thanks for humoring me.
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Old 01-02-2009, 11:11 AM   #6
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Oh yeah for the cleaning I am using the Oven Cleaner cold in a garbage bag.

I had one disastrous attempt using it in the oven warm... bad bad idea.

The OC is nasty stuff so I don't recommend it but I dont have a self cleaning oven (supposed to work) and am a bit hesitant to toss them in a fire.

I will pull them out of the bags tonight and see. It always creates a nasty goopy mess. Gloves are a must as is ventilation.
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Old 01-02-2009, 11:46 AM   #7
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Yes the self cleaning oven works. I've done that to several old rusty CI skillets and they come out great! I started with the cold oven cleaner and that worked too but took several days and lots of elbow grease to get down to metal. Good luck with yours and hope you enjoy using them.
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Old 01-02-2009, 12:09 PM   #8
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Got a friend with a wood burning stove?

I just refurbished an old (very old) Wagner. It had about 2-3 mm of carbon buildup (I actually didn't know it was a Wagner until after I cleaned it.

I heated the pan in the oven (to about 350 dgrees.) I then placed it in the wood burning stove on a pile of hot embers, filling the pan with the remaining hot embers. After allowing the pan to heat for about 10-15 minutes, I added wood to the embers and built a hot fire right on top of my cast iron. I repeated these steps about 3 times. When it was over, I had a slightly-rusty-but-otherwise-like-new Wagner. A little steel wool and soap removed the rust and left only very minor pitting. I then very lightly oiled the pan with shortening (after a stove top drying) and baked it in the oven at 350 degrees for about one hour. If I had some lard I would have used that instead. Anyways, it worked like a charm. If you want to try it great, but don't blame me if your pan dosen't make it.
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Old 01-02-2009, 12:59 PM   #9
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I have a skillet with same markings as your 8 SK. This was given to me some 40 years ago new as a gift. I am pretty sure that it came from Sears. Never knew whether the SK designated skillet or a brand name. One thing certain, the 8 does not designate the diameter. Mine is the same as yours. One notable difference. The one I have came with a polished interior. It appears to be very well made and has been in almost daily use and abuse with no bad effects. It is my go to pan for smokin' hot searing. I'm guessing that yours is a later model. It would be nice to know just when Sears got with the program and stopped finishing the interior, along with other cost saving improvements. Mine appears as well made as my Griswolds. Like it or not, leaving sand casting marks is a cost cutting measure, not a product improvement. Just received a new P Dean 8 inch square pot w/lid. No designation as to country of origin. Might be made by Lodge Lots of cutsey frills on the outside. Pre seasoned. Sand cast interior. Out comes the sander. Then I'll reseason.
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Old 01-19-2009, 11:40 PM   #10
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Ok Iv'e been busy with the skillets here are the results and what I have learned so far.

First the "Z" skillet. This one has been getting alot of use and abuse. Today it made Mexico Karens Oatmeal Cake.

this sucker has taken a beating but it cooks great. Cant get the seasoning to look pretty and once accidentally burned it all off because I forgot it on the burner when it was suppossed to be drying.

The smooth surface is tougher to get the seasoning even on. It tends to spot up but use takes care of this.

The crummy USA skillet seasoned nicely and evenly. I think the roughness helps with the pooling and stuff. Still the surface looks like the moon and I have not used it to cook. I am probaby going to give this one away or something.

The big Griz took alot of work to get clean. There are some black spots left that I just gave up on. I figure they were not raised at all and I had had enough of the nasty chemicals and was afraid to scrape or sand too much and hurt the pan they will blend in eventually.

I have just seasoned this one once. It has not been used because it is a it big for everyday cooking for me. It is going to get its first go with the chili cookoff.After the first go it is hardly there but I figure all that meat will help it out.

.... continued
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