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Old 02-22-2015, 10:24 AM   #1
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I Need a Mechanical Engineer_Cooking Pot Problem

For yesterday's dinner, I was using a favorite SS pot that has a tight fitting steamer insert. I've been using this combination for years and it has served me well. Anyways, I was steaming whole artichokes and accidentally boiled all of the water out of the pot. Fortunately, smoking hadn't started yet and the artichokes were done and delicious. I removed the artichokes and poured cold water into that very hot pot, through the steamer insert, in an attempt to cool the pan. The water turned to super-heated steam, and expanded the sides of the pot. I heard a thud about half a second after adding the water. The sides of the pot had expanded and the steamer dropped a full inch deeper than usual into the pot. The diameter of the steamer insert and the pot is identical. When the metal of the pot again resumed its original size, the friction fit between the pot and the steamer insert made it impossible to get the steamer out of the pot.

I tried filling the insert with 15 degree F. snow (the snow as a solid will get colder that the freezing point of water), and letting it sit for a couple minutes, to try and contract the steamer size, then placed the pot into a sink full of the hottest water my tap will give me (about 115 F.) in an effort to expand the pot size, hopping that this procedure would allow me to get the insert out of the pot. But nope, you guessed it, They are still stuck together.

After that didn't work, I filled the pot with water until it just barely touched the bottom of the steamer insert and put it outside to freeze overnight, hoping that the expanding ice would push the insert upward enough to allow me to melt the ice and remove the insert. Nope, that didn't work either. I am now officially out of ideas.

I need help if I am to save this pot and steamer. Otherwise I will have to purchase (if I can find one) a three quart pot with a steamer insert and lid. Oh, and in the current pot, the lid fits the steamer insert and the pot perfectly.

Help.

Seeeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North

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Old 02-22-2015, 10:41 AM   #2
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Use a sheet metal screw that is slightly larger than a steam hole near the center of the basket. Not overly tight, but just snug secure the screw. Using a pair of pliers take hold of the head of the screw and apply pulling tension while rapping the side of the pot on a board or counter or tapping it with a rubber mallet.
Good luck!
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Old 02-22-2015, 11:21 AM   #3
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I had that same thing happen myself before. The pot never did fit together correctly again.

I ended up buying a replacement. This one, to be exact:

Farberware Classic Series Stack'N Steam 3-qt. Sa... : Target
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Old 02-22-2015, 11:22 AM   #4
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Chief - you have what is known as a shrink fit. I'm a retired machinist and when I made parts designed to be fitted like that, the hole was actually made smaller than the shaft. The shaft was chilled with a dry ice/alcohol bath while the part with the hole in which it was to be fitted was heated. They were then assembled without delay, making a permanent assembly once the temperatures equalized. There were times when the assembly was not made quickly enough, and the shaft would expand enough to stick before it was completely installed. At that point you were finished. The only recourse was to drill and bore the shaft from the hole and start again with a new one.

I don't know for sure, it sounds like you have a tight enough fit that it will be easy to damage the insert if you use Selkie's method. However, I don't have a better suggestion. Try it. If it works fine, if not that you are still in the same boat with an unusable pot.
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Old 02-22-2015, 12:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RPCookin View Post
Chief - you have what is known as a shrink fit. I'm a retired machinist and when I made parts designed to be fitted like that, the hole was actually made smaller than the shaft. The shaft was chilled with a dry ice/alcohol bath while the part with the hole in which it was to be fitted was heated. They were then assembled without delay, making a permanent assembly once the temperatures equalized. There were times when the assembly was not made quickly enough, and the shaft would expand enough to stick before it was completely installed. At that point you were finished. The only recourse was to drill and bore the shaft from the hole and start again with a new one.

I don't know for sure, it sounds like you have a tight enough fit that it will be easy to damage the insert if you use Selkie's method. However, I don't have a better suggestion. Try it. If it works fine, if not that you are still in the same boat with an unusable pot.
Thanks everyone. As I found a decent looking replacement on line for $36 U.S. online, with a double boiler insert as well, I'm just going to replace the pot.

As far as the shrink fit method, I'm familiar with it. Bicycle frames are sometimes made with the shrink-fit method, eliminating the extra weight and possible loss of metal integrity with welding.

I might just try the screw-in-the-hole idea. Though due to the tightness of the fit, I have some doubts. But it's the one idea I can think of that I haven't tried yet. In the mean time, until I order and get my new pot, I have another sauce pot, albeit without a steamer or double boiler insert. But I can improvise if I need to.

Again, thanks.

Seeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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