Sunday, April 24, 2016

Antique Gas Stove Repair

Antique gas stoves: I've always loved them. I pretty much like anything at least several decades older than me. Even people. If you are 80+ years old, we will likely get along fantastically, and find ourselves waxing poetic about the 'good old days'.

So, of course this old stove with the door stuck halfway open and a 'Happy Cooking' emblem caught my eye at a yard sale. Caught my eye as in triple take and double back. It was the same yard sale we found our claw foot tub and antique sink at: an old country inn was changing hands. Some yard sales are gold. Anyway...

We'd laid down some money at this sale, and in the interest of common sense/thriftiness, I offered the yard sale ladies $50 for it (they were asking $100). I wasn't sure I'd be able to overcome the door issue, and no one could guarantee it worked overall. They said they would let me know at the close of sale. I later got a call informing me the stove was mine for $50 and was elated.

The door issue was a head scratcher. I removed both doors, took them apart to inspect the hinges, attachments, etc., and put them back together none the wiser. An internet search led me to an old appliance maintenance website:

I ordered a stove repair booklet from the site, with the promise that included with the booklet was unlimited follow-up advice. They carry parts for numerous popular brands of antique stoves (and have an Ebay store). Mine was made by Hardwick Stove Co. and they didn't have anything for my brand/model handy, so the repair took some work-shopping.

The booklet convinced me my issue was with the door springs. I emailed pictures and measurements to the stove repair expert. (This was kind of like dealing with the Wizard of Oz; the emails were always unsigned, so I can only assume I was speaking with The Stove Repair Expert.) He said my springs were a size he hadn't seen before, and I spent nearly as much as I paid for the stove ordering a range of potential springs from an industrial spring company that has a minimum order requirement.

Those springs arrived and I replaced the old with new and the door seemed even worse. I sent the strove repair guy more pictures of the original springs. Finally he emailed me with "The smaller spring looks like someone tried to make this work and is not the right one. Hard to say without being there so check the other side(s) if you can." The spring on the other side was huge by comparison. It looked so heavy duty and immovable I hadn't even worried about replacing it. I'd concerned myself solely its sad, bent, rusting little counterpart.

It never occurred to me the whole thing was a jerry-rigged repair, and the springs on either side of the door should, of course, be a matching pair. I felt kind of silly, but relieved. Now all I had to do was measure the space the springs spanned, and figure out what size they should have been. I tried some out via the stove repair website. It turns out an old Tappan stove part fits my Hardwick.

The door closed with its new springs in place. I did some cosmetic touch-ups; polishing the chrome with metal polish and repainting the black areas. I removed the burner grates and coated them with Rustoleum 'High Heat Ultra' spray paint, designed to withstand temperatures up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. I taped off the bottom of the stove and gave the black base the same treatment.

We hooked it up and it worked great. My mother talked me into getting a carbon monoxide detector when I told her we had just installed a recently revived antique and planned to cook on it. It passed its carbon monoxide test with flying colors.

We took to it straight away, with its sturdy retro charm and chic blue flame. We can cook side by side and not elbow each other! It was immediately comfy to use and cozy to behold. This was the first change we made to our kitchen, before our renovation started proper.

And what's more, reassuringly, this stove is cat-approved.

Bear the cat gives his stamp of approval.


  1. Wow! What a lovely stove! It looks really clean and well-maintained. I like the door handles on front; it makes it look unique. It sounds like some time and care on your part you turned this stove into a gem. Do you collect other antique pieces, or is this just something you stumbled upon?

    1. Hi Lindsey. Thanks for your kind feedback...It's a bit of both--I often fall for antiques that I stumble upon. If I have a choice between something old and characterful that can be revived/reused, or something new, I'll usually choose the old. I love old stoves--the metal is thicker, and they add so much retro charm to the kitchen. :-)

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    1. I'm so glad to hear this info has been of use to you. I must admit, I've really let this blog slide as I get sidetracked with other writing. Sometimes when we put things out to the Internet, it's hard to know if it's reaching anyone/of use to anyone. You've encouraged me to keep sharing--thank you. :-)