Purcell Trench company
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Frequently Asked Questions
Q. These are great products, why aren't you selling them everywhere? I've been looking for something like your grills for years and couldn't find them.
A. We tried wholesale distribution but ran into two problems. First, material and labor costs are too high to justify retail sales. We only retail in Japan and Canada as a convenience to our many customers in those countries. Profit is minimal. Here in the USA, retailers consider items like our grills accessories and the retail price is typically about twice wholesale. Second, we found a high percentage of sales people in outdoor stores have no campfire cooking experience and are not qualified to sell our products. And some of them are hostile to the use of campfire. We received quite a bit of feedback from our customers about the lack of knowledge of sales people, especially young sales clerks.
Q. I see you are making titanium grills but don't warranty them against warping over a fire. Why do you make them if you won't stand behind them?
A. Titanium is an abundant element that can be smelted into a strong, light metal with excellent corrosion resistance. It will work well as a campfire grill material as long as the user avoids extreme heat and exercises some care. The grills will tolerate kitchen stove heat levels. Campfires can get much hotter. Generally, smaller fires are not as hot as larger fires. The Titanium Packers Grill is an appropriate size for campfire use. So far, customers have not had problems with the grills. I am the one who has had heat deflection over campfires with test grills. The Packers grill in stainless steel weighs about 3.3 ounces. The Titanium Packer - 1.9 ounces. For some customers that is an important weight savings.
Q. You have been making titanium Packers Grills for quite a while now. When are you going to start making larger grills and streamside models?
A. So far, the demand for titanium models is modest. Given interest in ultra-light backpacking, I am surprised. Materials are expensive and we have had a lot of waste during product development. Without more customer support there will not be an expansion of the product line. I am also concerned about the ability of current titanium alloys to stand up to the heat of larger fires. Expanded titanium in the same grade as the tube is difficult to source at anything approaching an affordable price.
Q. Do you actually make these products or are they made in Asia, or Mexico, or somewhere and you just put
your company name on them?
A. We make them. The products are hand crafted in the USA of American made materials.
Q. Do you have the grills and bags in stock or are they made after the order is placed?
A. Grills and bags are normally in stock and shipping is next day unless I am out of the shop on work or play.
Q. Why don't you make grills out of aluminum, which is lighter and less expensive than titanium?
A. Because aluminum is not heat tolerant enough for campfire use. It will melt and oxidize readily at campfire temperatures.
Q. Why donít you put legs on your grills? Some places donít have rocks for fire rings, what do I do then?
A. ďOne of the poorest grills on the market is the type that has folding legs.Ē Bill Riviere, The Camperís Bible. Bill advised anyone buying the little folding wire rack backpack grills to take a pair of pliers and remove the legs. Legs are OK on big, sturdy car camping grills. Small grills with legs are usually unsteady. Purcell Trench grills are lightweight accessories for backcountry travelers. I donít want to carry legs and you shouldnít either. If no rocks are available, I dig a trench or pit, or I use green wood and earth to support the grill. It is best to use some form of ring, pit or trench for your cooking fire. A grill on legs over an open fire is a poor cooking arrangement, primarily because convection heat is uncontrolled. A Weber kettle style barbecue is efficient, so make your campfire with the Weber in mind.
Q. Why do some of your grills have a tapered construction?
A. Mother Nature isnít symmetrical. A taper increases chances of finding a better fit on your support. In addition to increased difficulty putting a taper on larger grills, the taper isnít needed because the larger grill is inherently more stable. Also, a grill with a bit of taper slips more readily into a pack.
Q. There isnít much to your grills, why are they so expensive?
A. The grills are made of an industrial grade, made in America thin wall stainless steel tubing. The joints are precision TIG welded. TIG welding thin stainless steel is one of the most demanding types of welding. Our titanium grills are made out of best quality aerospace tube; welding requires purging air from inside the tube and completely shielding the weld from degradation. Thin wall stainless tube requires inert gas welding too, but not as much shielding as titanium. High quality materials and labor are expensive.
I try to produce simple products that provide a lifetime of pleasure. Consumers are free to exploit sweatshop foreign labor and smokestack industries, ship greenbacks overseas and support the most heavily advertised, media touted products. I think America needs a different vision and lifestyle.
Q. I remember hikers cooking on campfires when I was a child, but this is the 21st century. Campfires are environmentally destructive and dangerous. Why are you building campfire grills when light, safe, compact stoves are readily available?
A. I own stoves, use them and like them, but campfires have soul and stoves don't. The ability to build a fire and cook real food on it is the definition of real camping and the essence of North American woodcraft. Many conservation campaigns were born around a campfire - not around a stove.
The Wilderness Act emphasizes primitive recreation, not gadgetry, ease and convenience. There are certainly times and places when fires are inappropriate; however, humans have been using fires all around the world for warmth, protection, cooking food and spiritual sustenance for thousands of generations. The domestication of fire is our greatest cultural achievement. Celebrate it when you can.
Q. You say the mesh grill surface warps over a fire. How much does it warp? Do the mesh grills last as long as the all tube grills?
A. The mesh surface is expanded stainless steel. Stainless has a relatively high expansion ratio. The expansion can cause a pot to tilt a bit. A few users have noted their Streamside Voyageur grill bent into a U when placed over a campfire for the first time. I don't know why a few of our grills have bent this much while others have not. My tests indicate a much higher probability of significant deflection if the first fire is hot. I recommend users break streamside grills in over moderate heat fires the first use or so. The Streamside Voyageur grill has a lot more expanded metal on it than other Streamside grills, so there is more potential for expansion related problems. The Streamside Voyageur grill has increased substantially in popularity and I have never had a customer complain about grill warp or deflection. Frame deflection is minimal after the grills get used to campfire. Mesh grills almost certainly will not last as long as all tube grills, which we assume will last a lifetime, or several lifetimes. However, we have no report of a mesh grill burning out, or weld failure.
Q. This is probably a dumb question, but I just purchased a Streamside Travelers grill and I am wondering if it matters what side I cook on. Putting the mesh down can keep some food from sliding or rolling off, no?
A. I normally use the mesh facing up, but I donít see why it would matter. I had one customer write and mention he usually cooks with the mesh facing down and uses the grill as his plate, too.
Q. It is difficult to know which grill to buy without actually seeing them. How do I choose?
A. Try cutting out a sample grill from construction paper or cardboard. Lay it on the floor and put your pots and pans on it. If you like to cook everything in one small pot, you can get buy with a small grill. If you like to fry a trout, bake bread in a pan and have a kettle of water on the fire at the same time, you need more grill, even if you travel solo. Remember, a larger fire area will retain heat longer and allow the use of larger fuel. A very small fire area will not hold heat as well, so if you like to simmer some items, for example, you will do better with a larger grill for a larger fire. In cold and moist conditions a larger fire is welcome to maintain consistent cooking heat, as well as staying warm while you cook and dine.
Q. You used to make a great tarp style shelter that was real light - any chance I can still get one?
A. The Selkirk Shelter was one of the first ultralight tarp shelters on the market. Customers liked them. The design was sophisticated and materials first rate, but we didn't sell as many as anticipated. We have none in stock and have no plans to reintroduce the product.
Don Tryon, Revised March 2017