Crazy to keep my vintage stove?

TheRedHouseNovember 23, 2012

I have a 1950s Tappan 40" inch gas range. I used it in my last house and loved the way it looked and all its little quirks. It has burner covers! And a mechanical timer that's way, way off! And you have to light the oven with a match! It has a broken handle :( but I have the original owners manual! We loved it enough to move it across the country, but it's been stored in the garage for the last 7 years or so because we haven't had a house in which we could use it. We now need that garage storage space and pulled out the stove, and our 50s fridge, to clean and Craigslist. I'm okay with letting go of the fridge, which we can't really use anymore because of its small size, but I'm struggling with saying goodbye to the stove.

Although we can't use the stove now, we hope to move in the next 3 years or so and I'd insist on a house with a kitchen that could accommodate a larger stove like this.

I'm considering renting a storage space that could hold the stove and a few other bulky things. Is this nuts? Am I being ridiculously sentimental over an appliance? I'm struggling with weighing the pros and cons of keeping vs. selling. I'm really attached and in need of some perspective. Anyone have some thoughts to share?

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Vintage ranges such as yours in good condition are very collectible. A new one bought today won't last 50+ years.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 5:01PM
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Yeah, they are "collectible" to the right person. Finding that person sometimes isn't so easy. And you probably won't get more than $400 for it on Craigslist.

Renting a $50 month storage space just for the range is crazy. That's $1800 for those 3 years. You can buy a decent consumer grade range for that, or about 1/4 of a pro style range that will blow the old Tappan completely away performance-wise, and give it a run for it's money in the looks department too.

Now, if you have a bunch of other stuff that you need to store, like furniture that you inherited and that won't work in your current house, then it might not be so crazy. But remember that your sentimentality is costing you. I'd have a garage sale and get rid of enough stuff so that I didn't need to pay to store anything. Or accelerate that move date so that the storage time was a bunch shorter term.

Remember that if you haven't used something you own in a year's time, you don't really need it and you won't really miss it once it's gone. And if you do, then you can go onto Craigslist and buy another $400 Tappan when the time comes.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 5:30PM
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Thank you both.

GreenDesigns, you're right, it would be insane to rent storage just for this stove. I'm sentimental over it, but not so sentimental that I'm willing to throw away a good chunk of change. We do have other big things to store, so I'm still considering.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 10:11PM
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Do a search for vintage range, vintage stove, or whatever. There are collector & restoration web sites that deal with them.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 12:14AM
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As a huge retro fan, I would keep it if I was sure I would use it in the next home. It's beautiful.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 11:10PM
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There is no way that I would give up that stove! It is a beauty and you can choose to have something unique in your kitchen, or you can follow the crowd. The choice would be simple for me. As far as your issues with the stove's "quirks," you should consider checking with vintage stove repair people (some good ones on line) because I am sure that some/all of your issues could be resolved. There are plenty of old stove parts available. As was stated, you can't expect a new stove to last more than five years now. Planned obsolescence is the name of game for almost all manufactures.

Having said that if a move is really a hope rather than a reality, maybe it is time to pass the stove on to another vintage stove lover.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 10:14AM
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That is a gorgeous stove, I wouldn't part with it unless I was needing to pay storage fees just for it.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 1:51PM
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Thanks everyone! We decided that storage made sense because we have other big things we don't wanted to part with and it would be very nice to have a little breathing room in our house/garage. As I spent some time cleaning and photographing my stove I think I discovered why it speaks to me so strongly. I'm pretty sure it reminds me of my (long dead) grandma in a very visceral way. No wonder I was struggling with idea of selling it.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 2:59PM
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My 2 cents added late: I really hope you keep your vintage stove. These old stoves are valuable, and will only become more valuable with time. Especially as people restore older homes, and want period pieces that have stood the test of time and are still functional and beautiful.

My grandmother had an old Chambers gas stove, and I would have given anything to have been able to have it, keep it, and be using it today in one way or another. Not only do we have an old Chambers stove in our family history, we also have an even older wood burning stove that I really wish I would have had a place for. Sigh...

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 10:12PM
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I'm going to be the lucky recipient of a Tappan Deluxe range in the next month. A friend is giving it to me, it came w/the house she bought & she doesn't like it, cooks on a modern stove & wants it out of the kitchen. She said the burners work but hasn't used the oven. I suspect the oven will work too, the range is in great condition & prev. owners took good care of the entire house.
I'm not sure yet what yr it was mfrd, but it looks different then yours. Has a smaller oven & 2 side cabinets along the oven, one side for baking pan storage, the other has adorable bins for sugar/flour I believe. They seem to be going for $20-150 around here so not terribly valuable, but I love the look of it & have heard they're great to cook on. I'm glad you're not selling yours too.

This post was edited by jomuir on Tue, Nov 27, 12 at 15:09

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 3:08PM
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jomuir, those Tappan Deluxe models are so cool. Lucky you!

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 11:26PM
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Well, I vote for keeping it...but then I'm one of those nuts who currently has a 1953 Roper in his!

This pic is from when I got it back from having the valves and thermostat adjusted, about a year ago, before it was hooked up. I bought it for 375 dollars, and spent another 400 or so getting it tuned up (it had sat for many many years).

Yes, it is quirky, has a small oven capacity, the oven needs to be lit with a lighter, etc.....but I love it so much! It is the centerpiece of my vintage kitchen, all my appliances (except fridge) are from the 40s - early 60s. Oster beehive blender (1953), Hamilton Beech toaster (1955), Sunbeam Mixmaster (1957), Farberware peculator from early 50s, even a full set of Revere Ware pots and pans from the 60s. My house is from the 1870s...I have furnished the main floor in mainly stuff from the first half of the 1900s...I did not want to go the way of everyone else I know (stainless steel appliances, granite countertops....zzzzzz), I wanted to do something different. And everyone loves it....sure a lot of people would not want to deal with all the quirks of having all this old stuff....but it works for me. I am a single father with 50% custody of my two teenage kids, so it's not like I am cooking 21 meals a week on this stuff.

And yes...stuff back then was built to last...this thing weighs at least twice what a comparable size non-commercial stove weighs these days.

OP, I am glad you have decided to hang on to it, these dinosaurs need to be preserved. BTW, if you are in the NYC area, I let me know and I can give you the name of someone in Westchester county that specializes in repairing and restoring old stoves....she (yes, she...) rebuilt all the valves and the thermostat when I got this stove, and they have been functioning flawlessly ever since.

Oh, one more benefit....I am on city gas, and when I lose power, I can still cook because this stove is all manual (except for the clock of course), all my other friends who lost power after Sandy (or Irene last year) could not cook, even if they had gas, because all their fancy stainless steel stoves had electronics that need to work in order to cook.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 10:15AM
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mkroopy, beautiful Roper! You're talking about The Stove Lady (Belgrove Appliance), right? We're west coast, but I do need a small part and now that we're going to keep our Tappan, I'll have to email her.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 11:53AM
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Yep that's who I was referring to....her shop was like a museum of various old stoves from the 20s - 60's in various stage of repair/restoration....pretty cool.

Good luck if you decide to use it as your primary stove. It's definitely a little more of a nuisance...but well worth it, I think. For me, friends think I'm nuts though.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 1:09PM
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nice range mkroopy!

The friend giving me this range said I may have an issue with pressurized gas, said when this was built people didn't have pressurized gas in their homes. Has anyone ever heard anything about that? I don't think it's an issue, from all the reading I've been doing for the last week or so, nobody has mentioned it as something they had to deal with. I'm thinking she is misinformed about it.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 10:53AM
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I do not know what your friend may have meant meant by "pressurized gas" but you should ask him or her.

I did hear the term used recently (once) to refer to propane (LP) which is stored in pressurized tanks.I heard this from a couple of out-of-state urbanites who bought themselves a trophy ranch here and needed to refill their propane tank.

Most older stoves are set up for natural gas (NG).If you need to use LP, then your stove will need a different set of orifaces and burner components. I've seen numbers of these where old ranchers hung onto their old stoves (mainly Wedgewood and Merritt & O'Keefe models hereabouts) but they did their propane conversions decades ago.The difficulty of fnding LP components now varies from hard to impossible depending on age and model of stove. Easier to go from LP to NG rather than NG to LP because of the number of junked old stoves that can be cannibalized for parts.

If you have an NG stove and want to run on propane,you need find the parts or hire somebody familiar with older stoves to make the conversion.

So, if your friend was using the old Tappan with NG and you are running LP, do not, repeat, do not hook it up until you get the burners converted.

One possibility that occurs to me is that that some really old stoves were set up to run on early NG systems which may have a different gas pressure than current systems. But we are talking stoves from before the mid-1930s. If your friend's Tappan stove was working in your friend's house when they bought it, and that was within the last, say, 50 years, it seems unlikely you would have that problem.

Finally, if there is a mis-match between the size of the gas pipes in your house and the inlets on the stove, you will need to get adapters and might need to install a regulator. If you do not understand what I just said, you really want to hire somebody with experience with old stoves to check the stove out and handle the installation for you. (If it has been sitting for more than a couple of years, you should have the gas lines and burners inspected and maybe cleaned of any bugs or crud that may be in them.)

This post was edited by JWVideo on Thu, Nov 29, 12 at 14:39

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 2:28PM
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jw, thanks for responding. OP, sorry, I'm hijacking your post :)

As for the pressurized gas, I think my friend is confused. A fellow on youtube said she may be thinking of restaurants, which may use pressurized gas & the appliances have built-in regulators. Personally, I think she's wrong & just wanted to put some feelers out to see if anyone said they knew about it.
We'll see about the pipe fits, and get adapters if nec. DH is fairly handy with these things, if not, there's a vintage stove repair/dealer in Mich, I'll contact immediately if we have any problems, their website looks like they know their stuff. Thanks again everyone, I'll start a new post when we get it home!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 10:57AM
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