Tag Archives: vintage O’Keefe & Merrit stove

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.

The Free O’Keefe & Merritt Stove

Here she is, folks!  The FREE vintage O’Keefe & Merritt stove Philip got for me.  It required a visit to a dusty shanty-town near a power plant in which it would not surprise me to find a dead body in an old oil barrel (not that I go looking inside oil barrels, cause, c’mon!  Bodies get hidden in them…) and a whole lot of jostling a local with a truck to help haul it home plus this stove almost crushed Philip to death.

This stove supposedly works but the person who was giving it away (to us!) hadn’t ever actually used it himself so this is not really known.  It’s in remarkably good shape for a stove that has been lying on its side out in the open air.  Very little rust on it – definitely some rust near the pilots (not good) but the enamel is in really good shape and the chrome is also in great shape.  The whole thing is understandably dirty.

Isn’t it pretty?  It comes with cooking guides (such a convenience).  It also has the salt and pepper shakers.

Why get excited about an old stove like this?  Have you ever cooked with one?!  In our old house on Beaver Street we had an O’keefe & Merritt stove very similar to this one (but it only had one oven) and it was the best stove I’ve ever cooked on.  I left it behind because the house we were moving to up in Oregon has no gas to the house.  But boy have I missed that stove.

These stoves cost an arm and a leg when they’re restored.  It’s a lot less expensive when you start by getting it for free.  I’ll need to have it worked on inside by a place that restores vintage stoves (I’ve already found a place) and I don’t know what that will cost.  The more pressing problem is how to fit it in the kitchen.

The current stove we have is only 30″ and this one is 40″ so to make it fit we’ll have to lose some cabinets.  This is not work we know how to do so we’ll need a professional to help us.

It’s in really good shape inside too – it’s pretty clean.  Look – more instructions for my convenience!  I can’t wait to be cooking on this stove.  Philip is hoping we can have it in by Thanksgiving.  I don’t know that that’s realistic.

Two ovens and two broilers!  Think of the possibilities!  I know I am.