The Old Appliance Club

The Old Appliance Club

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TOAC Shop:  Parts, Service, Information for Antique Stoves

Sponsored by J.E.S. Enterprises, Inc. and ... People Like You, who Love Old Appliances

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Media Interviews with TOAC where Everything Old Is New Again!


Mark Hetts, "Mr. Handyperson" ... Sunday, November 17, 2002

Mark Hetts, Universal Press Syndicated Columnist, also known to  thousands of readers across

America and Canada as "Mr. Handyperson" enlightens us with useful, practical and good value gifts for

the holidays, including membership to The Old Appliance Club -

Read  Mark Hetts column at:


CNN NewsNet,  PBS- The History Channel,  The New York Times... Face of a Classic, Chicago Tribune...Lighting the stove with a match is eliminated, The Miami Herald ...older is often better, Detroit Free Press ...aged but elegant, The Billings Gazette...The Wall Street Journal...vintage appliance buffs on Refrigerators, 

The Appliance Doctor Radio Show... Jack Santoro’s Antique Stove 

Virtual Service Call®.

Everybody's Talking about The Old Appliance Club.


Old-appliance clearinghouse keeps home fires burning

By Sondra Farrell Bazrod
Special to the Tribune - August 16, 2002

Are you looking at your old kitchen stove and wondering what charity could use it because it wouldn't be worth fixing, and your family likes everything new? Don't be hasty. You might be surprised to learn that old is in and you could have a treasure right in your kitchen.

"Old is often better when it comes to appliances," says Jack Santoro, the Ventura, Calif., historian of the kitchen who is the No. 1 antique appliance restorer in the country. He receives requests by phone and mail from around the world and estimates that his company saves each year thousands of ranges 30, 40, 50 or more years old from the nationwide hungry jaws of the junk-yard crusher. He says proudly, " I always solve the problem. It's not if it can be fixed but when."

His advice for those who don't love their old appliances, "Don't throw stuff away. It can be worth something. Parts alone are valuable."

How valuable you might ask? One stove that was given to one of his customers because the owner didn't have room for it was worth $10,000 to $12,000 after restoration.

Santoro was in the moving and storage business 30 years ago and as a favor, fixed an old stove that was being stored and a new career was born.


Before the l994 Northridge, Calif., earthquake, he had 150 vintage refrigerators on the floor at all times in one his warehouses. He couldn't keep them in stock because there was such demand, but when the building collapsed he decided to work mail order and now has 15 subcontractors all over the country doing repairs.

On a typical day, he might receive a call from a sobbing New York City grandmother desperately seeking a replacement thermostat for her trusty 50-year-old Chambers stove, and an interior designer who is searching for a l939 Magic Chef 8 burner range for her client's European villa. Even the Smithsonian Institution contacts Santoro when a specific antique kitchen appliance is needed for a display.

Stoves lasted 50 years...

"The wealthiest people and the less wealthy are buying older equipment because they say it holds up better," he says. "Virgin steel and virgin iron were used. After World World II, the appliance-makers knew they had a huge market in the newly married homecoming veterans so they tried to outdo each other with products that they promised would last at least 10 years. The stoves often lasted 50 years because they were built so well."

Santoro feels he saves a lot more than stoves.

"We preserve a lifetime of family memories. You see, the kitchen is the cornerstone of a home and the heart of the kitchen is the family stove."

He says that thermostats are a major problem with older stoves and the generic ones that can be purchased don't work. "We rebuild the old ones. We get the most from stoves of the 1930s to the '50s. Newer ones wouldn't last that long. Just pop it in a box and send it to us. We'll tell you on the phone how to get it out. We do our magic and it's good again for 50 years."

People are building retro kitchens around old Chambers stoves, and Santoro points out that the most important part of this is the fact that when the stoves were first made they didn't have a safety system as we have now. When an old stove is installed it must be inspected, and because these old stoves had to be lighted with a match, they couldn't pass inspection.

He can fabricate a brand new safety system for the stove. People send pictures of their stove and he sends a new safety system. They can talk directly to the makers of the parts and the owner or their technician can be talked through the way to install it. Everything is certified and leakproof and the safety system is made from All American Gas Association parts. Lighting the stove with a match is eliminated. Most of the stoves are pre-1960s to early 1930s, but they have had one from l919.

Another major stove problem is the top burner valves which, when not operating properly, cause a gas smell. Originally the grease that was put on the valves was organic and when it dries out it turns to varnish. The next step is that people break knobs because they are hard to turn because the varnish is holding it like cement.

Santoro says that some people put vice grips on the knob to turn it, which is the worst thing to do because the valve is soft brass and you're either going to break off the valve from the stem or put so much torque on it that you will create a warp where the gas will pass straight through the valve out the front of the stove. People are smelling gas and don't know where it's originating. In the worst cases, flames come shooting right out from the front of the stove.

"Some old valves could cost $100," Santoro says.

"If they are never greased they get scores on them. Before you throw anything away you can get the proper grease from our company to keep those good old stoves working. We have special charts that will tell you, your technician or gas company how to check valves so you won't have problems. Don't use the spray on type products or Vasoline, which will instantly melt and clog up the valve."

Santoro says old refrigerators use less energy than new ones because they were not made frost-free and didn't have fans and heaters, so they didn't have to run all the time with equipment now used. People are getting old refrigerators and are thrilled.

When people buy an old house and want to get rid of the kitchen it can be sold, boxed up and shipped to someone who wants a retro kitchen in a newer home.

Santoro can put the parties in touch. "If you have an old appliance you don't want, don't throw it away because our magazine can find a home for it.

Santoro's Web site, which receives 350,000 hits per week and with 468 pages is the biggest vintage site in the world, is a wealth of information for those who want to keep the past alive.

You can join the Old Appliance Club and receive their magazine, "The Old Road Home." Some club members have formed subgroups for toasters, waffle irons, mangles, vacuum cleaners and more.

It appears that manufacturers were more creative in the past because Santoro knows of a 1929 gas stove that had a refrigerator attached, and also from that era, a stove that had a pull-out dishwasher.

Partial listing of other publications, TV, and radio website interviews:

Wall Street Journal-'95/'02, Natural Gas Dailies, LA Times, Antique Trader,  BrandWise, Good Housekeeping magazine, Independent Business magazine, Business '99, Renovation Style, The New Yorker, Frontier House PBS series, The Old House Journal magazine, syndicated columnists, Ann and Nan, Mr. Handyperson - Mark Hett, This Old House, Collectors Magazine and Price Guide, Cabin Life, libraries and museums throughout the country including The Smithsonian Library, Better Homes & Gardens-Home Planning-Jan/Feb 2003.


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