Hi my name is Edward Semmelroth founder of
The Original Antique Stoves and AntiqueStoves.com
I am joining forces with Jack Santoro of The Old Appliance Club.
I have been restoring and conservator of Antique Stoves for over 24 years.
I have furnished Antique Stoves for Museums and fine Homes across America.
Thank you for stopping by.
Wood Cook stove
Repairs and where to find parts
In the initial joy of locating a fine-looking old stove, dont lay down your money without first giving the stove a thorough examination. I know of one man who, at an auction, cheerfully paid $500 for a lavishly scrolled, highly-polished black cookstove. It was carefully loaded into the back of his pickup, but when he got home, it lay scattered in half a dozen pieces. The owner had cunningly puttied together the broken parts and applied a stout coat of stove blacking. Be willing to spend fifteen minutes or more going over the entire stove, inspecting for the presence and soundness of all the parts. (Be sure to take a flashlight along on stove-hunting expeditions: a careful examination of the inside is as important as the outside.
A desirable stove is one that is tight enough to prevent air from entering through any place other than the drafts; otherwise the rate of burning cant be controlled and the firebox may overheat. Also, there should be no place for the smoke to escape other than through the stovepipe.
Most old stoves are less than perfect, but some are easily repaired. Others require more work, and still others are best forgotten. Missing parts are becoming increasingly difficult to replace, and should a stove be without such functional pieces as cooking lids, Ts, dividers, doors and dampers, consider moving onor try the following company's which still carries some old stove parts.
Stove Parts Unlimited
LOOK OUT FOR
Check the top of the stove. Make sure all the pieces are there, that theyre not warped. Look for any cracks.
Click picture to enlarge
This is from the South Bend stove catalog
Take an inventory of the parts on your prospective stove.
Make sure the stove you are looking at has all of it's parts
Stove top cracks, if small; can be welded or brazed. Larger cracks should be reinforced underneath with a steel plate. If the Ts are badly warped, (the parts most likely to do so), theyl have to be replaced, or you can try this simple repair. Fill the groove of the T, where the lid fits on, with furnace cement (found in hardware stores). While the cement is still wet, set the T in place, completely coat the cement with wood ashes, and put back the cooking lids. The cement will dry conforming to the shape of the lids and create an airtight seal, which the warping destroys. The ashes prevent the cement from adhering to the lids.
2. Check the sides, back, bottom and base of the stove. There should be no cracks or rusted-out areas.
Small cracks can be welded or brazed and, if necessary, re-inforced with a steel plate. If larger sections are missing, especially in such tricky areas as a curve, the problem increases. A piece of sheet steel can be fitted from behind to fill the space and then stove cement applied to fill out the front. If any parts are not securely fastened, bolts are rusted out or the seams are loose, they must be removed, cleaned and reassembled. Scrape out the old cement from the seams, re-cement with new, replace the parts and tighten with new bolts.
Remove the lids over the firebox and check the grates and firebox liner, making sure that theyre there; that theyre not warped or cracked; and that, if you plan to burn coal, the grate is the shaker type.
Click on picture below to enlarge
It is always best to have the right parts.
A warped, cracked, or missing grate and liner can be replaced. First contact the above company's and try to purchase the proper part.
If no grate can be found and all other options have been exhausted then: take a piece of cardboard and cut it to fit loosely on the ledge where the grate normally sits. A machine shop can cut a piece of 1/2inch plate steel to match its dimensions. Then burn or drill holes, about the size of a quarter, every few inches on the side over the fire. This will make a durable, poker-type grate.
3. To replace a liner:
c. Cut a piece of cardboard to fit inside the firebox along the oven wall. A piece of plate steel can be patterned after this and, if necessary, (some stoves require that the liner be bolted into place, but mine sits loose) bolted with one bolt. A patch expands differently from the stove, and if more than one bolt is used, the stress could become so great that the cast iron could crack.
To burn wood on a coal grate: Place a heavy wire screen over the coal grate, or, for a more permanent conversion, have a wood grate made (as described above) to sit on top, or replace the coal grate. These measures are only necessary if the wood coals drop through the grate too easily, or the fire is hard to control.
4. Remove the remaining lids and check the firebox wall and top of the oven for cracks.
A firebox crack, either on the outside or oven side, deserves careful attention. If not severe, it can be filled with stove cement, then lined with a piece of sheet asbestos, and finally backed with steel plate. Again, use only one bolt to tighten it.
Sometimes the metal has been so badly burnt that it has deteriorated to the point of uselessness. If the stove looks suspicious and you cannot determine this yourself, have somebody who knows metal look over the stove before you buy it.
5. Open the oven door and check the walls and top for any cracks or rusted-out areas.
These can be welded or brazed, or covered with 1/8-inch plate steel, and tightened into place with as few bolts as possible.
6. Check all the seams of the stove to insure that theyre tight-fitting.
A gaping seam, besides being difficult to repair, indicates there is something wrong with the stove or that it has, sometime in the past, been heartlessly dropped or abused.
7. All the moving partsdoors, dampers, draft slides and leversshould be in place, closely fitting, and easily moved. Missing doors, especially flush-fitting ones, can sometimes be replaced with a door fashioned out of steel. Doors with rounded contours are more difficult to fit.
Household oil, penetrating oil, and kerosene will usually loosen stiff joints. Don't be in a hurry give the oil some time to work.
8. If the stove has a water reservoir, check the cast iron supporting it to make sure that its sound. Some of the stove companies didn't make vents for the steam to escape; instead the moisture collected on the inside of the reservoir cover, condensed, and rolled around the reservoir tank into the hot air chamber below. This water would combine with ashes, which had blown over from the firebox, to produce lye. After years of use, the lye could corrode the end of the stove. This must be repaired before the stove can be used.
Also check to see that the reservoir liner is there; a missing or damaged one can be replaced with a liner made of galvanized tin or copper.
9. Check for rust damage. There likely will be some rust, but if its only on the surface, its harmless and easy to remove. Some stoves, however, were stored without first being cleaned of ashes, and the moisture accumulation and ashes will have eaten thin parts of the metal. So, if the inside of the stove looks like a lace curtain, forget it.
For heavily surface-rusted stoves, sandblasting is an effective and time-saving solution. Often, gravestone and monument makers provide this service. A better method however, is to remove the rust by hand (with a wire brush attachment on a power drill) as it encourages a careful examination of the stove. Thin layers of rust are removed with steel wool.
1. A good stove paint is made by the Forest Paint Co. It is called Stove Bright pH#503-342-1821
2. A stove paint and polish can be made
by mixing powered graphite and linseed oil. Mix into a paste then rub on with soft clothe. Allow to dry overnight; then rub with a burlap bag or other hard clothe.
How to tell if the Stove has been worked on.
Look for makeshift repairs. They will appear as gray or rough areas. Furnace cement which has been used to fill in cracks or fill out missing pieces of metal will not take stove blacking the same as metal.
Black Light testing
Black light testing is a common practice used to authenticate antiques, to determine the extent of repairs.
For many beginning collectors, the science and techniques used in the black light testing method are a mystery?
Blacklight is used in evaluating antiques because the ultraviolet rays they produce react differently to different materials. Because of this interesting characteristic, things that are invisible to the naked eye become visible under the blacklight.
Before we go any further, a word of warning: Be sure that the blacklight you purchase is a longwave blacklight. Short-wave blacklight can damage your eyes and skin.
Now, onto the uses of blacklight in collecting antiques. Different chemical properties become apparent under a blacklight, modern paint will fluoresce under a black light, older paints will not, you can use this to determine whether a painted object is an antique or a newer reproduction as well as to determine whether a piece has been "touched up" and if so, how extensive was the repair.
The same technique can be used to detect repairs on antique porcelain as the old finish will not glow under a blacklight, and the newer material in the repair will.
Some antique glassware will glow under the blacklight as well; vaseline glass will glow because it contains uranium oxide.
Cast Iron: Most new paint on most new cast iron fluoresces; old paint on old cast iron rarely fluoresces. You can also detect newly painted repairs as well.
These recommendations for stove repairs may or may not be helpful for your particular problems; I have discovered that for every person versed in stove repairs, there is a somewhat different solution. But unless youre an experienced welder or repair person, you would be smart to seek out someone who is. There are countless stories of jury-rigged repairs which led to fires far grander than what the firebox held. Anything which involves a fire inside your home requires utmost care.
These hints and idea's are for make do repairs.
It takes years of experience to restore stoves to museum quality.
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04/08/14 11:19:25 AM
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