Hole in Kettle

BenH

New member
Hi, new here from OH! Have been by this site for years to acquire and refurbish a nice kitchen collection of cast iron and finally created an account to see if anyone can share some perspective on this problem.

Here's my question:
Can you repair a 5mm hole in the side of an old cast iron kettle?

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Details:
I picked up an old cast iron kettle for a steal on ebay to use as a fireplace steamer, sold as-is and looking in fairly good condition. It's an old 1800s Southard Robertson & Co kettle.

Turns out, there was a pinhole leak in the rear of the kettle about an inch up from the base. Before setting up an electrolysis bath, I probed the hole gently and quite a bit of rust flaked off, revealing a 5mm hole.

As I'm using it for steaming over a fireplace, and picked it up for a steal, I was considering a few fixes I've come across on the web:
  • Drill a bit wider, thread, put in a bolt (stainless?), and grind down. The remaining material in that area is only about 2mm thick.
  • Attempt at JB weld over steel mesh?
  • Resell for non-usable collectors item after a nice cleaning

Happy to hear any thoughts

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SeanD

Active member
If you arent going to use it for drinking, then if it were me Id do the J B Weld.....its worth a try.....Ive used it before a LOT of times in my life....never lets ya down.....oh, and welcome to the Forums!!
 

BenH

New member
Thanks Sean for the input and welcome!
I figure that JB Weld would make a decent watertight repair. Would you use a screen material in there to hold the epoxy in place, or would you simply layer it on thick and sand down once cured?

I'm not planning to use for food/drinking purposes. However, I'm curious if any other solution would work that would keep it food safe, in case I change my mind or if I resell would want to keep it safe for future unintended use.
-Ben
 

SeanD

Active member
Not sure about a food safe way to fix......but the JB Weld id try the mesh on the inside, and put the Weld on thick, then mold it before it cures.....then you can sand or grind it down....it should work.
 
I have had a couple of antique cast iron pieces that when I started to remove the rust a pinhole showed up. A three legged spider skillet and a different size spider skillet lid were both thick enough that I was able to drill and tap out the holes to 8/32” and put a stainless steel screw in the holes and I ground the screw on the inside flush but left the screw head on the outside.
But I have a round bottom footed bean pot that the whole bottom was so thin when I drilled it out and started threading the hole it crumbled around the tapping tool and left a larger hole. I went up to a 1/4” tap and it did the same thing again. I was left with a hole big enough to stick my finger in.
I said all that to say your pot was designed to be a humidifier and they stayed on the wood stove with water in them and rust eventually kills them eating thin layer by layer. I’ve seen them in Antique stores with holes or so thin you can tap them with your fingernail and they sound hollow. At this point if I were you I’d clean it up and sell it for a display piece. Even it you patch it the life of it isn’t going to be long as thin as it is. Even brand new they aren’t good for a teapot. So even if you patch it I wouldn’t worry about ever being food grade.
Just my opinion and good luck with whatever route you take!
 

BenH

New member
Thanks for the input guys. I'll clean it up some more and see how it looks. Might try tapping it, and if it's too brittle either go with an epoxy fix or just resell as a nice cleaned up collector's item.
 
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