Seriously on the fence about my vintage range...

kathecNovember 9, 2012

My floor tile is getting grouted today - another item off my "to-do" list. Next will be counters, but I'm having a bit of an internal mini crisis. Years ago I bought a vintage yellow Chambers range.

This one:

It's been in storage for nearly 3 years waiting for rehab. I've taken some parts off for painting and had others re-porcelained. It still needs cleaning, re-chroming and more.

I'm wondering if I should go through with it. We're getting closer to done on the kitchen, but the stove work is still several weeks/months out IF I have the time to work on it.

Or I can buy a new range. I'm looking seriously at the Bertazzoni. It's one of the least expensive 36" range models with generally high ratings.

I have to make a decision - ASAP. Next week hopefully we'll be getting counters templated, but I have to decide before that. The two ranges are different sizes, the Chambers is something like 37.5" made in the days before standard sizes. Once I decide, I'm pretty much locked in.

Chambers Pros:

No electronic parts to go out

Saves gas, oven can cook with residual heat

Daisy cone burners cook more evenly

Chambers lovers say it's the best they've ever used

Chambers Cons:

Needs work = time

After I rehab all the parts, could still need adjustments to get it working

Repair people are few or nonexistent

Manual pilot lighting

Narrow, but deep oven

Bertazzoni Pros:


Instant plug and playElectric ignition

Bigger/wider oven

Bertazzoni Cons Per Reviews:

Could be fussy to learn

Oven could be uneven

Vents heat into kitchen

Daily I go back and forth. It's been nearly 3 years (this Feb) and I am SO ready to be done and not to mention up and cooking/baking for the holidays. I'm so tired of not having people over due to the state of my kitchen. I've been making due with a single induction burner and 24" wall oven as well as various small appliances like griddle and skillet.

But, the Chambers is really a uniquely beautiful item, built to last. Re-habbing will likely give me a sense of accomplishment. I've already waited this long, what is a couple more months in the grand scheme of things?

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My first house, 1992-1996, had a chambers range in butter yellow. When I sold the house, I was in a rush, and foolishly let the stove go with the house. I have always regretted that decision.
I found one last year, it was in great condition, and put it in the barn waiting for an opportunity to do work in the kitchen to get the chambers to fit in our floorplan. When it came time, I realized that I didn't have the space for the 38.5" Chambers. I sold it. I got a 30" stove instead. It is a perfectly fine, very functional new stove. It is not a Chambers.
I am still sad. Someday I will have a Chambers again.
I should have given up counter space and dealt with the fact that the stove would have been virtually in the corner.
I didn't. It is too late for me.
It is not too late for you. Keep the Chambers!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 12:24PM
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I'd love to have a stove that looks like long as it performed the basics and was safe to use. It's unlikely to happen in any kitchen of mine, current or future, but if you can endure a further delay, I'd say go for it.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 12:53PM
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How old is your house? Is the kitchen going to be a vintage look?

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 2:10PM
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I love the look of the Chambers, but the decision would come down to function for me -- will it work well? Make cooking a joy? Then go for it! But if you do decide to go with the Chambers I would also ask the countertop fabricator to save a piece of your countertop approximately 1 1/2 inches wide so that if you do change your mind down the road you have a matching piece to scab in. Hopefully you will have stain/paint so you could later add a filler piece for the front as well. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 2:26PM
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You are getting project fatigue, which is understandable. But I vote for the Chambers. Anyone can go out and get a Bertazzoni. The Chambers makes a statement. And as for service, I actually know someone whose brother is an expert on old stoves. I'm pretty sure there is a decent network for service.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 2:30PM
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I love the Chambers! Truly unique and I think the low tech aspect of it will keep it mostly trouble free. Gorgeous piece!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 3:58PM
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I have a mint green Chambers just like yours. We gutted her and did a full restore, including chroming the top and shelf. We used for unbeatable help and advice. It took us at least a month working hard on it, but ours was in rough shape.

I'm so glad we did and I love to cook on it. Keep the Chambers. I do our Thanksgiving turkey 18# with about one hour of gas and the rest of the time CWTGTO (cooking with the gas turned off). The thermowell is a great place for bread to rise or to make yogurt in. Love that stove.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 4:06PM
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Have you cooked and baked with the particular Chambers range that you have in storage?
If you like the way it bakes, you should go with it. Or, do you have other concerns?

I cooked on a similar Chambers B range for 12 years before ditching it for a new range.
I loved the burners -- even though the specs said that they were only 9,000 BTU,
they were amazingly powerful and a joy to cook with. Truly it was the best cooktop I've ever had.
The broiler, however, was impossible and I never used the griddle feature because I don't like to cook on aluminum.
The oven was a pain.
It was small and it was very difficult to control the temperature.
If I had reconditioned the oven and rebuilt the thermostat I might have been happy with it.

There is no question that my kitchen lost a lot of charm when I retired the Chambers B.
But, I so very much prefer baking with my new range.

Bottom line: I don't see how you can decide unless you have cooked and baked with it. Give it a try.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 4:11PM
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I've never used it. I bought it after researching vintage ranges. I found this one on craigslist. I've had to store it because the old kitchen was electric downdraft. We had to reconfigure the space, extend the gas, and duct overhead. I guess you are right about fatigue. I never thought our DIY would take as long as it has, but life got in the way.

Our house was built in 1990. It's the 90's version of a center hall colonial. I'm going for an updated traditional look, so either one fits.

I appreciate all the encouragement. I'll share your posts with DH. I'm so glad I posted, it has helped just getting this off my chest!

Now I'm off to Ikea for butcher block. We're finishing off the island this weekend.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 6:35PM
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This may already have been mentioned...but why not buy an inexpensive 30" range and then replace it with the Chambers, when it's ready. You can always sell the 30" range, once you no longer need it. Just an idea :)

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 6:56PM
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A vote for the Chambers but I'm a little biased as we have a Chambers C in our kitchen :) I've been using it now for several years and still love it. I will agree the double ovens are a little tempermental but I've learned to live with them.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 9:50PM
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farmhousebound: Chambers C with double ovens?

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 10:12PM
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What lavender said!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 11:22PM
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Ok I'll buy it from you(I was just looking online at them tonight) doesn't that make you want to get a inexpensive stove like LL said and replace it when you are done with the restoration ? :)
Are you doing the restoration yourself ? please tell more about that. That yellow is GORGEOUS !

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 11:40PM
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I have a Bert, and I love it, but I'd still vote for the Chambers.

The value of having something so special and unique is what makes me say that. However, if this isn't your "forever house" then go with the easier option (the Bert). The Chambers will be a labor of love and it would be too painful to leave it when you move.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 7:49AM
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Um.... we're moving and I'm dang well taking mine with me, lol. I figure since we have to dismantle it to move it (460#) I'll have a good chance to give her a good cleaning.

A yellow Chambers is a beauty to behold. I told my DH about your predicament and he says "Oo. Tell them they can give it to us".

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 8:06AM
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Well, after all your posts, I decided to keep her. I feel renergized and remember all the reasons why I wanted her in the first place. I guess I just lost sight of that.

This weekend is all about our island. I just got through staining our island counter butcher block. I did have a few minutes to do some rust removal of the dismantled back pieces. I'm going to get as far as I can. If I fall short, DH has graciously offered to drive it to the nearest restorer in Oklahoma - we're in North Texas. He figures that some of the most expensive parts - the porcelain - have already been done, so even if it's $2K to have it finished professionally, we're still out less than the cost of a brand new range. I'd still like to do it myself if I can. I've heard the restoration places can take months...

Lavender Lass - I've thought about getting a cheap range or even a cooktop will do as we have a 24" oven already installed. I may start trolling craigslist or sears outlet for something basic. This used to be no big deal when we had a truck. DH and I would just buy stuff and take it home. Unfortunately, our truck was totaled earlier this year, so now I've got to think about how to get it home or paying extra charges for delivery.

Thank you again for all your encouragement.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 8:47PM
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Woo hoo! I'm glad you're keeping it! You can do it. My best advice is, as you dismantle it TAKE PICTURES. Lots of pictures. Having a photo record really helped DH when he went to put it all back together.

You'll have to keep us updated on your progress.

And do check out It's a great site like this for all the help you'll need.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 9:30PM
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Oh, and when you are done, find yourself one of these red jewel name badges to match the timer/temp knobs.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 9:37PM
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I know I'm late to the game but I just wanted to validate your decision. In my recent kitchen reno I was in the same situation. I bought a Chambers off eBay, then let it sit in a pavillion in my yard for a good 6 months while we got ready for it. There were numerous days when I thought...its too heavy, too dirty, too unpredictable, we should sell it and buy a "normal" range. Well, I decided to throw caution to the wind and use my Chambers C, having never cooked on one before. For me, it was a total form-over-function decision.

Well, fast forward, now that I've been using it for a few months, I can honestly say it's the best range I've ever had. The oven is indeed very difficult to control the temperature on, but the burners are amazingly powerful despite their BTU rating. I love the griddle. I haven' learned to use the thermowell yet, and I'm only an occasion broiler so I haven't had that experience either. Despite the oven's quirkiness, I have been able to figure out how to do just about everything I need to with it, and I'm someone who bakes multiple times a week.

Oh, and about the manual pilot--we have a standing pilot on ours. The previous owners installed it, but they are apparently quite easy to install and I really enjoy being able to just flip on a burner.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 5:43AM
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My sister, a New England Culinary Institute graduate, went out searching to buy a Chambers gas cook-top and ovens for her kitchen. Her husband revived them and she absolutely loves them. I've never used the oven, but the concept of such energy efficiency is fantastic. The stovetop was wonderful (and I am comparing it to the 6' long Lacanche Sully that I have in my house).

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 10:14AM
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I'll have to look for the Chambers name badge in orange to match my orange knobs. I'm guessing the one I have now was white or off white. It has yellowed a bit with age.

cjcali, it's nice to hear that you and your sister like it.

deedles and fellow re-habbers - How far did you go on the rehab? Did you de-rust and repaint with the high temp paint? If so, how smooth did you go? I've painted a couple of pieces, namely the outer corners and the two plates that connect the high back to the main stove. The are fully coated, but still a bit bumpy. I know these parts are not cosmetic, but still, I'm wondering if I should try to get it as smooth as possible. I know, it's all a bit OCD.

I'm getting the main back piece ready to paint now and wonder if I should keep going until it's super smooth metal.

Also, with the rock wool, did you replace or just reuse?

I'm already a board member at I've pretty much left things hanging on this project for about 2 years. I've been back over there a couple of times but haven't dove in completely. I'll definitely solicit more help when I get done with the pieces I'm working on and move on to the next step.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 6:13PM
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DH doesn't remember exactly but he thinks he wirebrushed the rust and got it cleaned up as best he could in that way. Our stove metal was so well preserved with grease that there really wasn't much rust. Just grease. Lord the grease.

He says ignore the bumpyness, he would. It's not seen as you say.

We replaced the rockwool with some from an old water heater. He repacked the oven door and the oven box. The rockwool was greasy and gross. We had to buy a new T-well lid as it had been soaked and the rockwool was ruined inside it. It 'rattled' when I shook it.

DH offers this advice and apologies if you already know it: don't bend or damage the capillary temperature sensor thing that goes in through the hole in the side of the oven. And don't soak the timer at all. If it works, clean 'er up outside and be happy. I think the timers that work are the hardest things to find for these.

Orange knobs! So pretty!

Do you have the broiler lift handle? I see it's missing in the pic. DH had a time with that as a pin had sheared off inside the mechanism.

Keep posting your progress! Happy to answer any questions if we can.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 6:35PM
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Just came back to this and saw where folks asked about our Chambers--yes, she has two ovens, one a little smaller than the other. In fact, the last stove featured on the chambers stove site is actually ours! We found her on the internet in Michigan and took a road trip from Georgia to pick her up. It is our understanding that other than a little cleaning and then having them convert from natural to propane gas, she is in her original condition. We were able to identify her on the website by the nick on the porcelain on top left as you are looking at her. Scroll all the way to the bottom, "Baby" is the last stove featured:

Glad you've decided to take the plunge and keep yours--she sure is a beauty and I love the yellow!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 7:15PM
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Farmhousebound: wow, you have an Imperial! What a find! Now THAT is a stove. 6 burners and an extra wide griddle/broiler. I drool over those but I think DH would have a coronary if I told him we had to trailer one of those from across state lines, lol. Bringing back our model C from 6 hours away just about did him in. Haha. Quite a trip but it was all worth it. Do you have a pic of yours in your kitchen? I'd love to see it!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 7:23PM
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Pic of "Baby" (disregard date on photo as it's incorrect).

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 7:26PM
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Deedles, yes, I got the handle a while back. I remember posting on the Chambers board asking which one it was so I could get the right sized handle. I was pretty clueless. Luckily, Todd had a great diagram he posted for me that really cleared things up. I haven't gone into the storage in a while, but I think the latch on the storage cabinet needs to be repaired/replaced.

There's so much that it's daunting.

You were really lucky that the grease coating preserved your innards.

Here's a few pictures of mine:
Pretty rusty.

The thermowell was pretty nasty, but not too bad after the gunk removal

The oven bottom was pretty rough and pitted. I had it re-porcelained. Maybe you could ask DH, Is that the wire he's talking about in the back of the picture? The one that is drooping in the back? : (

This picture was taken the day we picked it up. The post it note is stuck on the one badly bent leg. The other 3 and skirt are all MIA. The oven rack is upside down. I only got the one, I think 2 is standard. On the upside, the sides of the oven cleaned up pretty nice.

A couple of the burners were in a box and the wagon wheel pilot cover was missing. Fortunately I found it inside the carcass covered with gunk.

I'm trying to not think too far ahead and try to focus on mini tasks. I do however have to get all the chrome stuff together to take it them to the shop. The turn around time is about 3 weeks. The last time I worked on her, I couldn't get all the screws out of the chrome top so it's still connected. I'm hoping to get over there tomorrow to soak the screws in WD40 to try to loosen them.

Now that I'm committed, I want to try to get her home by Christmas or rather by Dec 19. Ambitious, I know. That's when my in laws come into town. They are not DIYers, they pay people. They are always saying, "aren't you done YET?" My MIL can't understand why I like older or vintage things. She's of the mindset that new and modern is best. To be perfectly honest, that's the reason I was so tempted to get the Bert.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 10:53PM
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Yup, that's the temp probe. There is a screw hole for the holder... between the middle 2 rack holders but on the back wall. I think I can see it in your picture. Unless you've already screwed it back in place by now.

Have you gotten the legs for it yet? I can't imagine those are easy to find. DH figures someone tried to slide the stove and bent the legs all to heck. He says to check where the legs attach to the stove in case those holders are bent. Might have to beat those back into shape. Hopefully they didn't get busted off necessitating some welding. Ours were bent and he had to beat them back into shape a little. Our legs were good, though. We don't have a skirt either. Some people that do say the skirt messes up the oven pilot staying lit. I think it looks fine without it.

You could probably ask on the chamberstoves site, but maybe some naval jelly on the rust and then a wire brushing to clean it off?

DH thinks penetrating oil might work better on the screws than WD40. He thinks something called PB Blaster works pretty well. Or Liquid Wrench.

I think people that don't like vintage stuff don't understand those of us that do. 'Course, I think that goes both ways, lol.

Hoping you can get her up and running by Christmas! That would be great.

Farmhouse: What a beauty! (Thou shalt not covet, Thou shalt not covet....) I think I remember seeing that range before on here, now that you've taken the time to post the pic. Do love the pig cutting board, too. My Mom had one of those and I may have to locate one for myself someday.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 8:01AM
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I do our Thanksgiving turkey 18# with about one hour of gas and the rest of the time CWTGTO (cooking with the gas turned off).

Not the stir the pot but your statement intrigued me and I was curious about the potential savings. According to the California Department of Energy it takes about 7â worth of gas (at 60â per therm) to heat a gas oven to 350ð for an hour. Assuming the average Chambers owner can cut back gas consumption by an hour per day that amounts to about $25.50 per year in savings. Around here natural gas is 41â per therm or about $17 per year.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 9:04AM
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I can't speak to exact figures, honestly, I'm not a numbers person. I've only just skimmed the user's manual/cookbook called the Idle Hour. Here's some highlights from The Oven section:

The oven is COMPLETELY insulated on top, bottom, front, back and sides. It heats quickly, bakes evenly, uses a minimum of gas. It is a 3-way oven: 1) high speed, 2) low temperature, 3) Retained-Heat Oven. It comes up to high temperatures rapidly. It maintains low temperatures accurately.

Beef Roast 3-4 lbs
Preheat oven 10 minutes
For well done heat control setting is set to 500, cook with gas on Full with food in the oven 20 minutes, turn off gas completely, leave food in oven for 2 hours or more

By comparison, my electric oven requires 10 -12 minutes of electricity to preheat and a 3-4 lb roast cooks with electricity on for 4+ hours.

I haven't had a gas oven in a long time, but it's probably about the same cooking time 4 hours (+) 10 minutes with gas on the entire time.

So if most items in the oven only require about 10 minutes preheat and about 20 minutes with the gas on, it can really save you on gas if you use it daily.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 12:33AM
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I don't think I've ever cooked anything for 4 hours. ;-) Even a 12 lb turkey takes me less than 2 hours.

I was just trying to evaluate the information and I thought using the oven for one less hour per day seemed like a lot for the average family today - meaning that they would have normally used the over for 2 hours or more per day.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 12:14AM
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So, talking to DH about the range has brought it to his attention. Prior to this it was out of sight, out of mind. Yesterday he decided it was high time we rented a U Haul and emptied out our storage unit. So all the left over cabinets went to Re Store and the Chambers came home. Yeah!

We started cleaning and attempting to dismantle the chrome top. Up til now it's been my project, but now he seems to be on board with helping. It'll probably go a lot faster with the two of us. Plus he's worked on cars before and has a bit of mechanical experience. Me, not so much.

Hopefully we'll have her going sooner rather than later.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 9:49AM
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It is much better with two.... esp. if one has a bit of mechanical experience and is interested in the project, lol.

You may find DH becomes very impressed with the quality of the Chambers. Mine was. Especially the machined door/oven cast iron. No flexible gasket required/perfect machined fit.

We used to build good things in this country before the politicians and corporate knobs did away with that. :(

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 12:06PM
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