About 20 years ago, I ran across the most beautiful Okeefe & Merritt stove. It was in awesome condition (not the one pictured). It had a chrome top with four burners and a bitchin’ pancake grill in the middle. The built in salt and pepper shakers were still perfect, and the clock (though not working) had all its parts. My wife and I moved it from one rental home to another, storing it lovingly, waiting to put it into our own home. We eventually bought and moved into our own home. Problem: there was no way this 40 inch range was going to fit into our tiny new kitchen. I finally had to let her go (the stove, not the wife).
Antiques stoves are gorgeous, and they are pretty good cookers as well. The most common brands are Okeefe & Merritt, Wedgewood, and Chambers. Other than the cool retro look, these stoves are good because of the materials used. They have the qualities that make high end ranges better for your kitchen. The antiques’ and today’s high end ranges have solid, well insulated boxes, which lets them maintain even temperatures. It’s that simple.
Although there are other brands of antique stoves, I would recommend sticking with either the Okeefe & Merrit or the Wedgewood. The Chambers ranges, though a good solid range, and really the Cadillac of it’s era, present some maintenance issues. As the “Cadillac”, there were a lot less sold. What this means to you as the owner of one, is that finding a repair technician that is familiar with it, could be a bit of a challenge. The Okeefe & Merritt and Wedgewoods are very common, and you are more likely to find a technician familiar with their idiosyncrasies. Peoples Choice (SaveMyAppliance.com), I am proud to say, is very familiar with them.
Here are some of the pros and cons to these beautiful old ranges:
Solid cast iron burners
Fairly simply functional parts
Heavy porcelain and chrome finishes
Awesome retro look
“Always on” pilots for the top burners and for the oven and broiler. This uses gas, unlike modern ranges that use electronic ignition. It will also add significant heat to the kitchen in both the winter (good) and the summer (bad).
The user needs to learn the basics of the lighting the pilots, particularly the oven and broiler pilots, which can occasionally need relighting.
Although these stoves have oven lights, and clocks, they are rarely safely usable without having the old wiring replaced with new, and the clocks rebuilt (there are no functional cooking aspects that require electricity).
I normally advise against having these stoves in rental properties. Since the user needs to be somewhat familiar with the operation of the stove, particularly the pilot lighting, nuisance service calls are common when new tenants move in, simply because they aren’t familiar with the stove. If you want the stove because it fits the décor of the house, and would add value at the time of sale, consider storing it in the garage, until that time comes.
You can sometimes find these old stoves for relatively low prices, but in most cases they are going to need at least a little bit of repair. If the physical parts of the stove are intact, you can expect to spend between $150 and $700 to get the burners, oven, and broiler in good working order. Avoid any that have missing or broken parts, unless you are prepared for even more expense. Of course, if you want one totally refurbished with new porcelain and chrome, expect to pay as much as you would for a high end professional range, somewhere North of $3,000. By the way, the one in the picture, that belongs to a customer, will be for sale in the Summer of 2016.
If you have questions about these great old ranges, please contact me through SaveMyAppliance.com
Posted in: Appliances