Frequently Asked Questions about Vintage Stoves

Will you restore my stove?

Yes. I have had many owners send their stoves to me to get the restoration work that these stoves need after so many years of service. Check out the restoration page for details on the work that gets done, then drop me a line and we can talk about your project.

Do you restore vintage stoves that aren't Chambers?

Yes. Over the years, I’ve restored multiple brands of vintage stoves – Magic Chef, Roper, Tappan, Odin, Detroit Vapor, just to name a few. Chambers are my favorite and what I own myself, but I work on all vintage gas stoves.

How long does it take for you to restore a stove?

Usually between 5 and 6 weeks once I start. Please contact me to find out when I can start a stove for you as the wait time is always changing based on current demand.

Do you restore stoves to look as good as new?

If that’s what you want, then yes. Every stove I restore gets a complete mechanical restoration (see the restoration page for details). But you have a variety of cosmetic options, too, that you can choose if you like. So whether you want your stove to have the patina that comes naturally with its age or you want it to look factory new, we can restore your stove to your taste.

Do you repair modern stoves?

No. I rarely work on any stove made after 1959.

Do you sell parts and accessories?

Sometimes. There are a few people I work with regularly who are great parts suppliers. Contact me and I’ll gladly put you in touch with them.

Will you buy my vintage stove?

Probably. See the Selling FAQ on this page for more details.

Do you have a wait list?

Yes. Contact me using the form on this page. Let me know what you’re looking for – model, color, features, etc. I will get back to you to confirm everything and let you know where things stand.

How does the wait list work?

When you write me to let me know what you’re looking for, I will confirm and let you know if I have what you’re looking for. If not, I will notify you as soon I do.

When I write you to let you know it’s your turn, I give you 48 hours to respond. If you want to proceed, we’ll make arrangements for a deposit and get your stove ready. If you were on the list for a part or accessory, you pay and I send it out.

If I do not hear from you within 48 hours, I will write the next person in line.

Do you have any non-functioning stoves I can use as decoration or set dressing?

Usually. Drop me a line and we can discuss what you need to give your film project or tv show the right vintage feel.

Are you insured?

Yes. Chambers Rescue work is covered by general liability insurance.

What's the deal with your logo?

The Chambers Rescue logo is based on the Chambers logo that was used up to the end of 1924. One hundred years later, those stoves still function better than most modern stoves. I admire that kind of reliability and hope to live up to it in all my work.

Where are you located?

My workshop is located in Clifton, NJ. That’s close to Newark, 12 miles outside Manhattan and conveniently located near Interstate 80, the Garden State Parkway and Routes 46 & 3.

What should I look for when buying a vintage stove?

It’s easy  to fall in love with a vintage stove, but be sure to check the video on my Tutorials page about how to inspect a stove before you buy it.

Here are a few details from it:

Check for rust. Every unrestored stove has some and, if it’s just on the surface it’s no big deal. But if the oven floor is rusted through or the metal has been weakened, you have a lot of work ahead of you.

Specifically, check the oven floor, around the oven door and below the burners. If it’s a Chambers, check around the top of the broiler box, too.

Check that it is complete.

Condition of the porcelain and enamel. Minor touch-ups are easy. Complete reporcelaining can be expensive.

Are there any additional parts or accessories that come with it?

There are chips on the porcelain. Can they be repaired?

Yes. There are three ways to repair chipped porcelain: porcelain repair kits, appliance paint and reporcelaining. I have seen success with the first two for small dings and chips. There are companies that will put new porcelain on stove panels. This can be costly, but that panel will be as good as new.

Are vintage stoves safe?

If they’ve been restored, yes. Lighting an oven with a match (or a grill lighter) is simple and stoves are designed to handle some typical minor abuse from home owners. The standing pilots are covered. The only real danger comes if someone does something they know they’re not supposed to, but the reality of old stoves is not like what you see in old sitcoms.

Are vintage stoves efficient?

Very much so! Vintage stoves were built to last and that means they are heavily insulated, keeping your oven warmer longer with better temperature regulation. Over the course of regular use, your vintage stove will use less gas than a modern stove. And if you use a Chambers, the oven is kept warm so effectively you can actually cook with the gas off after initial heating.

Modern stoves with electric starters may seem like they use less gas over time, but they are very wasteful when it comes to actual cooking. Your vintage stove is a much more efficient choice.

Are vintage ovens small?

They are smaller than you modern stoves, but that’s because they diffuse heat more evenly than modern stoves, so they don’t have to hold your food as far away from the burner. For example, a Chambers stove can cook a 25lb turkey or 40lbs of ribs without any problem. For bakers, you may need a smaller cookie tray, but it’s a small price to pay for better tasting cookies!

Can I look at the stove before I buy from you?

Absolutely. Contact me and we can set up a time.

How do I move a vintage stove?

Carefully!

Seriously, they are heavy, but not insurmountable. Check out my Tutorials page for a video on how to move a Chambers – most stoves are even easier to move than the one in the video!

Will you work with my movers?

Of course. Once a stove is paid for, we can make arrangements for your movers to pick up the stove. Of course, if you want to move your stove yourself, I can usually help with that, too.

Do you deliver?

I do not, but I work with movers you hire to make sure your stove gets delivered to you safely. I recommend taking a look at Shiply and Uship for movers (look for LTL or less than load deliveries). They’re like Uber for movers and I’ve had many clients sing the praises of the movers they’ve found there.

Will you buy my old stove?

Maybe. If you’re located near me here in North Jersey (although I’ve been known to travel a bit to get one), we can likely work out a deal. I’m always looking for good restoration candidates, so drop me a line and we can talk.

What do you need from me to buy my stove?

The more details the better, but here are the basics:

  • Make (if known)
  • Model (if known)
  • Details about where it is located (e.g. number of stairs between it and your driveway)
  • Recent pictures (load me up, the more, the merrier)

Email that to me at stoves (@) chambersrescue.com and I’ll get right back to you.

What is my vintage stove worth?

This depends on many factors: brand, model, condition, location and so on.

But to be clear, while a restored stove is worth thousands, an unrestored stove, no matter what the condition, is only worth hundreds. There are VERY few exceptions to that rule –  a Chambers Imperial or a Magic Chef 6300, for example.

To put hard data on it, in 2021, roughly 1000 unrestored Chambers model Cs were on the market in the US (Craigslist, Facebook, Ebay, etc). The average sales price of an unrestored model C across the US was $250. The higher prices were paid for colored porcelain. If your stove has chips in it or any damage to the chrome, the value goes down quickly. I’ve been watching the same unrestored Chambers C be put on Ebay twice a year for the past 4 years at $1800. It hasn’t sold and it won’t sell at that price. I’ve seen a beautiful 1924 4-burner sit online at $3500 for almost a year now because it’s only worth one tenth of the asking price. There’s a good reason for this.

The difference between an unrestored stove and a restored one is 50 to 80 hours worth of work taking apart every last piece of the stove, cleaning it, rebuilding it, adjusting, calibrating and testing it. Add on to that the cost of materials and replacement parts and the difference in value is clear.

A collector I know uses the rule of thumb “never more than $500 for an unrestored, medium-sized stove.” His words of wisdom should serve as a guide for buyers and sellers everywhere.

But don't they sell for thousands restored?

Yes. The difference is 50 to 80 hours of craftsman’s work that takes apart every single piece of a stove, rebuilds, replaces or recreates it, puts it all back together, then adjusts, calibrates and tests it until it’s ready to head to a new home, backed by liability insurance and expertise.

The value of that labor is reflected in the price of a restored stove compared with an unrestored one.

Where do all these parts go?

Check out the video about setting up your Chambers. It walks you through reassembling your stove after moving it.

Why won't my burners light?

Your flashtubes aren’t sitting right. The flashtube goes from the pilot to the burner to connect gas and flame when you turn the burner on. It has a little nozzle on the tip that sits in a hole on the burner. When transporting or cleaning, it’s easy to knock them out. Just push them back in. The tube itself can sometimes move freely in the cuff that holds it – and sometimes it’s requires muscle to move it. You won’t break it by twisting it to sit straight and at the proper length so it rests properly in

Why does my oven temperature fluctuate?

The most likely reason is an improperly calibrated oven. This can be the result of age, different gas pressure in a new location or a switch between fuels (natural gas vs propane).

Take a look at the video about calibrating your oven and thermostat in order to troubleshoot your issue. Most of the time, these steps solve the problem.

What’s that smell?

Probably Crisco and possibly also soap.

The Crisco is from seasoning the oven and broiler burners. Like any cast iron cooking tool, proper seasoning is key to preservation. It mitigates rust, smooths the flame and offers a protective coat so that any future cleaning will only require a damp cloth.

(Pro tip: If your oven floor or Thermowell floor ever develop pitting in the enamel, using a bit of Crisco to season and seal the exposed metal will preserve it and prevent further damage.)

The soap is part of the leak-testing process. Sudsy water is the best way to detect a gas leak, so it gets sprayed on every single connection point on the stove and along every gas line. While it does get wiped off, it’s possible there could be some residue.

While all stoves I restore are reassembled and then tested for hours, some residual smell can still be present. It bakes off with use and is not harmful to you or your food.

Do I smell gas?

Did you remember to light the pilots? Both the stove top and Thermowell pilots should be lit once you’ve set up your stove. Be sure to watch the video on setting up your Chambers.

To make things easier, I’ve broken down the questions I get most often into groups:

  • Buying a Vintage Stove
  • Selling a Vintage Stove
  • The Services I Offer
  • A Guide for New Owners

If I didn’t answer your question or there’s something you think should be here, drop me a line!

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