Adventures in Vintage Stove Cleanup

knob filthRemember that free vintage O’Keefe and Merritt stove Philip found for us that has been living in our driveway for over a year?  (Slummy is the new cool, didn’t you know?)  Now that the horrid summer of 2013 is far behind us, the stressful fall where the house situation finally resolved is done and done, and the distracting holiday season is almost a distant memory (except for the dead Christmas tree in the front yard that keeps reminding us), it’s time to settle into this house like we mean it.  I wanted and planned to get back into cooking with new energy and excitement which was quickly dulled by the current stove in my kitchen.

Current stove stats: btu output is paltry and barely enough to boil pots of water in under an hour on three of the four burners, the oven door falls apart at least once a month (I have pictures for proof but it depresses me so I won’t share), the knobs had a habit of falling off (a minor problem which has since been fixed  by the awesome Stove Man), and the oven temp is uneven.

It was finally time to see if our free stove is worth fixing and installing into our kitchen.

stove gutsSo I got one of the few people who works on vintage stoves in my area to come out and have a look.  The Stove Man!  (His actual name is Mark Cownie of Grift’s Appliance in Sebastopol)  My brother in law helped Philip bring the stove into the kitchen so Stove Man could hook it up to the gas line and check it out.  I never thought I’d geek out about a stove so much but Cownie’s love of these stoves and his knowledge is infectious.  He taught me how to remove the pilot housing (so I can clean them and also dry all the water that collected in them) and he put in a gas shut off (yellow knob in the image above) and showed me how to clean off the connection between the stove knobs and the pilots.

removing partsRemoving these parts is really simple.  I used to be scared of blowing things up or killing my family with stealthy gas emissions and consequently avoided anything more sketchy than lighting a pilot which, honestly, I used to make Philip do for me whenever possible.  Mark Cownie has taught me not to be scared of my own stove.  This is empowerment for the kitchen set!

Please observe that griddle in the above image.  Notice anything wrong with it?  I’ll pretend to give you fifty buckaroos if you can tell me what’s wrong with it.

testing oven pilotsThe Stove Man fixed one of the oven pilots and both of them are now working beautifully.  I only realized last week what it could mean to have a double oven.  I mean, I knew instinctively that where one oven is good, two are better, but in practical terms what does that actually mean?

It means having the magical power to bake a batch of cookies at 350° while simultaneously roasting a chicken at 450°!!  (Excuse me while I go shriek and holler with unbridled excitement…)

dirty knobsI have a ton of cleaning to do of this stove but it isn’t going to take much money to get it functional.  I cleaned the knobs last Friday.

clean knobsNext up – everything else!

The biggest challenge with getting this stove in use is that it is much bigger than our current piece of crap (both wider, deeper, and taller) so we’ll have to remove some cupboards to install it and I believe we’ll need to get an actual stove hood installed.  Our current set-up is the usual microwave doubling as stove hood – which is fine when  your stove’s btu output is barely enough to make pasta, but on the vintage stove that has four full-sized burners I think we need a real hood for safety.

Before we can go hacking away at cabinets I need to submit our plan to one of our landlords (a good friend of ours) so in the next week I’ll be cleaning this big magic stove and coming up with a solid plan for installing it.

6 thoughts on “Adventures in Vintage Stove Cleanup

  1. Ann

    What a cool stove! As for the griddle, besides the mans reflection in it, I think I can see that part of it looks painted white. Good luck with your exciting project. Two ovens…. ah, oven dreamland!

  2. angelina Post author

    The griddle isn’t painted white – it was chromed. You can’t cook on a chrome surface. I should never have been chromed. So if we ever want to use it as a griddle we’ll have to have the chrome stripped.

  3. Ann

    I thought about that and just can’t figure out why somebody would chrome part of an oven. Unless, they really hate pancakes.

  4. angelina Post author

    I think they just really hated cooking! I think this was a case of someone getting their hands on a vintage thing who thinks all vintage things are supposed to be chromed up to the eyeballs. The whole stove top is chromed and I think it’s supposed to be enamel. So at some point when we have money for it – we might return it to its former true state.

  5. Jennifer Benz

    I’m working on an old stove that has the same burner assembly in your picture. Did you clean those? How’d you do it? There are so many conflicting recommendations out there and I don’t want to screw mine up. Thank you!

  6. angelina Post author

    I’m so sorry I never responded to this. I thought I’d shut my comments down on this blog a long time ago and so never check it any more. I don’t know about working on these stoves much at all. I cleaned this one up a good deal but in the end we bought one very similar to this one (another O’Keefe and Meritt) that was in working condition because I realized I didn’t want such a big project.

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