Any advice about paying someone to update an older gas range?
September 11, 2007 10:09 AM   Subscribe

Any advice about paying someone to update an older gas range?

My wife and I are gradually renovating our kitchen, and we want to switch over to a gas range from electric. Our general home style could be described as "50s modern eclectic". But we think all the new gas ovens out there look really horrible. Even the fancy ones are ugly to us - we don't really like the stainless steel look, and from what i can tell, the finish always looks streaky fingerprinty, etc. Or they are just too ridiculously massive.

So is it a stupid idea to try and find an older gas range that we like (say - 1950s style) and pay someone to fix it up or update and refurb it? Has anyone out there done this?
posted by chr1sb0y to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
I bought a beautiful gas 1960 Kenmore griddletop from a shop that sells "classic" appliances in the antique district here in St. Louis. You should be able to find such a place in any reasonably sized city. That, or start combing Ebay.

If you decide to go old-school as you propose, and can afford it, get the bells and whistles - griddletop, side-by side oven and broiler, etc. It adds a bit of extra flair.

I know one fellow who would be able to give me all sorts of pointers to pass along, but he's currently in jail.
posted by notsnot at 10:24 AM on September 11, 2007

No advice about refurbing an old range, but you might get more support by purchasing it somewhere that will stand behind its original working condition and servicing. (Like this place or this place that I found). There are also new ranges that might fit your aesthetic: Aga, Smeg.
posted by cocoagirl at 10:29 AM on September 11, 2007

When I lived in San Diego I had an old Tappan gas range very similar to this one on eBay. It came with the house when I bought it, and at first I was very intimidated by it although I loved the way it looked. It was in good shape, just a few chips in the porcelain-on-metal finish and some problems with the oven thermostat. We looked in the Yellow Pages and found someone who worked on old stoves, and he replaced the thermostat for us. The only other issue was that the pilot lights didn't stay lit sometimes, and relighting them was tedious, but not really awful.

I think cocoagirl's suggestion of buying one from someone who fixes them up and stands behind them has merit.
posted by Robert Angelo at 12:06 PM on September 11, 2007

There seem to be a lot of people around who prefer older gas ranges and ovens. Some from the 30s and 40s, even. (If you watch the Food Network, I think Rachael Ray has a 'classic' gas stove/oven that she uses; it looks like it's probably from the 30s.)

Personally the one thing I'd say you should think about is whether you really want a gas oven to go with the gas range. Gas cooktops are awesome, IMO gas ovens suck. Particularly if you're used to having a nice top-broiler. Also, the combustion of gas produces moisture, which can do weird things at times.

But anyway, you really shouldn't have much of a hard time finding someone to work on an older stove; there are quite a few of them out there, and they're enjoying a resurgence in popularity. If you can, get a model that was produced for a long time, since it'll be easier to get replacement parts.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:14 PM on September 11, 2007

Not a stupid idea at all.

I'm sure very experienced chefs or cooks will prefer one stove over another but I bet for most people, meaning really me, the old gas stoves that I owned worked just fine. They turned off and on and I got a thermometer to guage the oven temp.

I once had a Wedgewood and later an O'Keefe and Merritt. Slightly different styles, both built like tanks. When the dude from Stove Heaven out here in LA came to the house to tune 'em up, he said that with a little care they'll last forever. I got the impression that there really isn't all that much to 'em depending on if you have electric lights, clocks or timers.

Fancy ones are not cheap, but neither is that Wolf stuff.
posted by asparagus_berlin at 12:35 PM on September 11, 2007

Just my $0.02...i recently moved into a house that has a refurbished 50's gas range. it works, but the knobs don't match the cooking temps, and i have to light the oven manually when i want to use it. it looks nice, but honestly, i'd much rather have a modern, fully functional gas range.
posted by gnutron at 1:34 PM on September 11, 2007

Voice of experience: even though powder coating might seem like a good idea, it doesn't work well in practice.
posted by bink at 2:01 PM on September 11, 2007

Check out the message boards at the Old House Web or American Bungalow Magazine forum. Folks on there do this quite a bit.

Or, bite the bullet and get a Northstar Retro stove from Elmira. All the fun of retro, but with gas top and electric oven. However, pricey. ($3700+)
posted by jeanmari at 2:34 PM on September 11, 2007

Ohhh, I miss the '50s gas range that was in our last rental house. The griddle was not only excellent for pancakes and such, but also for heating tortillas, making gravy or pan sauces in roasting pans, the list goes on.... Also, the burners seemed hotter than other gas stoves I've had (I won't even go into the infuriating, anemic electric thing I'm faced with at the moment), and the oven and broiler worked fine, particularly with an oven thermometer to double-check temperature. Plus, it was pretty. I'd take that stove again in a second.
posted by paleography at 9:32 PM on September 11, 2007

I recently bought a 1964 ranch house with an original 64 gas cooktop and oven - and they work great. They're very mod looking, well-constructed, and easy/cheap to repair, and they are a much nicer (read: smaller) size than you can get anywhere nowadays, so they fit perfectly in our smallish 60's kitchen. Sure, the oven's temperature is a little off, but you can adjust that with some weird set screws, or use a thermometer in the oven to get things right.

I think that 1960s gas stove technology has pretty decent safety features, and none of the often-broken, expensive-to-fix digital technology that I hate about modern stoves. I would recommend just finding a nice old gas stove at a resale shop/Salvation Army if you are so inclined, and learning to love the quirks that it comes with - and enjoying the cash you save by not buying new or refurbing.
posted by sluggo at 6:59 AM on September 12, 2007

You may also wish to check out Elmira Stove Works for new appliances with a retro look. (SO CUTE.)
posted by Madamina at 3:09 PM on September 14, 2007

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