Interviews with TOAC where Everything Old Is New Again!
Hetts, "Mr. Handyperson" ... Sunday, November 17, 2002
Hetts, Universal Press Syndicated Columnist, also known to thousands
of readers across
and Canada as "Mr. Handyperson" enlightens us with useful,
practical and good value gifts for
holidays, including membership to The Old Appliance Club - http://www.antiquestoves.com/toac/about.htm
Mark Hetts column at: http://www.amuniversal.com/ups/features/mr_handyperson/
Talking about The Old Appliance Club.
WHAT'S NEW ON THE HOME FRONT
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
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
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
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
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
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.
listing of other publications, TV, and radio website interviews:
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.
For stove and appliance parts,
information, free consultation, estimates, thermostats, electrical elements,
safeties... see The
Old Appliance Club Shop