Keep Antique Stove?

skubaMarch 14, 2013


Me and my wife bought a house in San Francisco and are in the process of remodeling the kitchen. The house came with an antique O'Keefe & Merritt stove. My wife loves it and very much wants to keep it. I like it to, but I am concerned whether or not it will be efficient and convenient compared to modern stoves.

It's visually in very good condition, and the old owner said it works fine. We are trying to get someone to take a look at it.

But my question is, even if it's working perfectly, how do these stoves compare to modern ones? I hear they are much harder to clean. Will the oven heat up to desired temp as fast as a modern stove? Any pros and cons I should be aware off?

I am attaching a picture. If you want to see more details I believe it's just like this one but different color:

I really appreciate any feedback here.

Thanks so much

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Very good condition? It looks great! The only advise I can give is that I had a 1940s Magic Chef gas stove and it can be hard to keep clean - mostly the grates, lots of old grease but if those have been kept clean no problem; if not, an easy fix. My oven is slower to come up to temp and doesn't always stay where it's suppose to. All these years and I finally bought me a thermometer you sit inside to see where the temp actually is. I think it can be re-calibrated? Not sure, never bothered to check that out.

Have you cooked with gas before?

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 12:02PM
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A user named circuspeanut has an Okeefe and Merritt. She loves it. She moved recently and took it with her.
Try a posting with the subject line: Calling CircusPeanut or OKeefe and Merritt Questions or both.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 1:04PM
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Before we got our 1936 Chambers I was leaning toward the Okeefe and Merritt---your's looks great!! Different cooking on these older stoves, yes; worth it, most definitely :) Ovens are a little off (bought thermometer to sit in) but absolutely love cooking with the gas on top which I use the most as I grill out almost daily. If you do a lot of baking maybe someone else can chime in as I don't do much.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 1:53PM
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Circus Peanut

Love mine. Love. It. To. Death.

I've posted copious and tediously on the topic in the past, so you'd do best to run a search for my user name + O'Keefe & Merritt + Gardenweb.

A few quick tidbits:

You've got a slightly newer model from the late 1950's. This means it's all run off pilot lights, so no worries about having to light the oven manually.

Those pilots do mean a steady source of very low-level heat. I used to live in SF, had a similar Wedgewood, and we never minded it since the kitchen had no heater per se. Your preference may vary.

Your model also has the white porcelain tops under the burner grates, which I think is probably slightly easier to maintain than mine -- mine has chrome tops, which is fancier but also much easier to scratch over time. We throw the grates into the dishwasher.

Does yours have a double oven, or a Grillevator on the left side? From the knob configuration, probably the Grillevator?

We adore our Grillevator, but that's because we're in Maine, so it allows us to bbq when there are 5 feet of snow outside. Your desires may vary. It's also surprisingly un-difficult to locate the parts and have a gas professional switch out the Grillevator for a second oven, should your wife prefer to have 2 ovens for family baking.

We had our Robertshaw oven thermostat re-built and it works great, no temperature fluctuations. There's an outfit in Los Angeles that will recalibrate yours, or sell you a replacement. There's also a great guy over in Berkeley who rehabs these stoves on a regular basis, and he'd be a wonderful resource for parts, rechroming, etc, should you need anything restored or replaced.

I'd recommend getting it thoroughly cleaned and lubricated before using -- or leaning to take it apart and clean it yourself. Goole the 'Old Appliance Club' online, they sell a number of manuals that walk you through this.

The wonderful thing about these stoves: anything that can break can be repaired or replaced. I mean anything. I just spent a few days cleaning and disassembling my clock/timer, and we now have that cheerful buzzer back. Yay!

The gas burners are calibrated at 12btu which we find hot enough for almost every purpose. You can adjust the flame for your cooking preference down inside the hood behind the knob panel. The OKM burners have a wonderful low simmer setting, something I hear modern gas stoves often fail to do.

Ask away with any questions. I've been using ours with gusto for 5 years now, and can perhaps help. GW member Bayareafrancy has an OKM like yours, and there are a number of Chambers users here as well.


Here is a link that might be useful: Reliance Appliance in Berkeley

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 2:56PM
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Circus Peanut

the Grillevator:

PS: your kitchen tile is to die for! Are you planning to keep it?

This post was edited by circuspeanut on Thu, Mar 14, 13 at 15:01

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 2:59PM
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So as not to thread hijack, sending you an email about the Grillevator to oven conversion.....

This post was edited by navi_jen on Fri, May 24, 13 at 14:46

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 2:44PM
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Skuba, congratulations on buying a house in SF! Go Giants!!!

That stove is beautiful. I would have something that looked like that over anything else. I really hope it ends up working for you.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 4:49PM
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I'd keep the stove and that amazing tile too.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 5:07PM
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Those stoves look so much like my wonderful old 1940s 48" Wedgewood. Skuba, I cooked on it for a quarter century. I doubt anyone ever had it fixed and everything always worked very well. A friend of DH just acquired it somehow as a bachelor and stored it absolutely filthy in his new garage when he married someone who didn't want the nasty old thing. He couldn't be bothered to get rid of it, so she was very glad when we got married during a recession and were grateful for a free stove. It took us at least two long days to get it clean.

I keeping it safe, although I decided to do this kitchen, our first empty nester, without it, a function of limited space and a break from pulling out a range to clean behind. (Our bungalow kitchen was so small we could only pull it out partway without a crew of helpers, and DH would have to lower me down behind to clean, then pull me out. I didn't dare try it when he wasn't home, even if I could have moved it.)

No one can get me to sell it, though word actually got around: an old Wedgewood just sitting in someone's shed. It goes in my next kitchen without fail, wherever that will be. I even have Circuspeanut's tile in my ideas file for when the time comes.

Skuba, I'd guess that one's all pilot lit like ours, but if you didn't like pilot lights burning all the time you could have it retrofitted with the units modern gas ranges use. Just store the original pieces where they won't get lost.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 6:35PM
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Funny Circuspeanut! What beautiful stoves!

I hope it works great for you.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 6:38PM
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Skuba, you absolutely, positively cannot use that stove! It must be shipped immediately to me so I can use it LOL! Seriously, it's wonderful. Efficiency? Are you a professional baker? A stove is not exactly like a refrigerator that needs to keep a constant temperature at all times. So what if the over takes a bit longer to get to temp? Doesn't matter in my mind. I want to smile when I walk into my rooms.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 9:53PM
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If I had that stove I might actually wear an apron.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 10:16PM
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Thanks guys, this is an old post. We love the look of the stove but have decided to get a new 30" one. We have a small kitchen and that stove would make it even smaller.
We will be selling it soon.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 7:45AM
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