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O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

Posted by califsouthpaw (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 4, 11 at 12:29

Has anyone ever taken apart their Okeefe to give it a good cleaning? I got a quote from a restoration place for $2,000 which is out of the question, as I only paid $325 for it. The white porcelin exterior seems to come off pretty quickly once you unscrew where neccessary. Just want to know if anyone else has taken this endevour on before and been happy with their results. Thanks. I am going to be posting step by step results as I take the challenge.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

Is it $2k for a cleaning or for a restoraction? Like repairing porcelain finish?

RE: O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

That was just to clean it, crazy right? I was quoted $2,500 to be exact. Another $1400 to rechrome all parts, and reporcelin the whole thing inside and out and get everything looking new again. I dont want to pay that I just need it working and clean. I did get some numbers to get my grates reporcelined and the shiny stuff rechromed, hopefully I get a decent quote. Otherwise clean will have to do.

RE: O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

I have. We bought ours for $25 17 years ago, and I live in the middle of nowhere (on a farm in the Canadian prairies, six hours north of the US border), so there aren't any restoration places nearby, even if we had had $2,000 for the restoring...

We took ours apart, and my husband also took some pieces to the car wash for a good cleaning. I still give it a good cleaning several times a year, and we pull it out once a year to clean behind. It cooks wonderfully, and we are thinking of keeping it for our new kitchen when we build our new house later this year....


You might want to check on the Appliance Forum as well.

RE: O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

So close to 4 K? Wow, that's steep. There are many restoration sites you can find thru google. Circuspeanut here has rehabed her stove and may have more info to share (hint,hint).

Personally, I used LOTS of elbow grease, oven cleaner on parts in plastic bags overnite, rustoleum in silver for under the chrome top. Once you get the exterior clean, the stuff they make to clean glass top stoves keeps it looking very nice.

For removing rust, you can use coke and tinfoil, barkeepers friend or woodbleach. Just know that once you remove it, you may also remove some of the chrome, too, depending on its condition. It will re-rust without treatment.

For internal rust (inside the ovens) if you don't want to get it done professionally, you can get paint made for gas fireplaces and grills (high heat paint). It isn't pretty, but it will work. You can find it in black spay paint almost anywhere, but the paint in colors, only on line.

Are you thinking of a total tear down, or just a kickbutt cleaning? If you're going to attempt to rebuild valves and re-insulate, I would seriously recommend buying the guides.

Hopefully Circuspeanut will chime in here soon.

Looking forward to seeing your photos.

RE: O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

I hadn't thought of rebuilding valves, insulating has crossed my mind. Yes I was intending a total tear down. I want to get into every nook and cranny to get it as clean as possible.

Becky, thanks for your feedback, I found the appliance forum and posted there too.


RE: O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

Check out the website for Chambers stove lovers (link below). They might have good advice for you too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Chambers stove fansite

RE: O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

Ooooh yes! yes! I'll cut and paste a bit from old posts of mine that have slid off the GW record:

I bought an O'Keefe & Merritt on Craigs List and restored it for my kitchen remodel 2 years ago. It's a gas stove, model 600-G from about 1949.

I ADORE it; it's the best thing about my whole kitchen. I even found yellow subway tile to match its cheerful knobs.

You can get almost all of the replacement parts immediately for a chunk of $$ at specialty restoration places online, or you can haunt eBay and CraigsList to find them over a longer period of time. I did both.

For advice, I relied mostly on these two online sites:

who were both very friendly and knowledgeable about my stove. If necessary, of course, there are also outfits that are happy to have you ship your stove cross country to them for fixing it up, but that begins to run into the thousands.

Califsouthpaw: yes, you just start unscrewing! It's pretty self-explanatory once you begin. The doors lift upwards to slide off once you've undone the screws.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

What I did:
I took it apart and cleaned the bajeezus out of it with Barkeepers' Friend and some supposedly "green" automotive grease remover.
Got some valve lube ($10), new valve gaskets ($16) and a booklet ($12) to completely clean out all the knobs/valves. This was really rewarding and I recommend doing it to get the knobs back up to full ease of use.

I got new stainless simmer caps ($10 each) and a new regulator for natural gas ($35) because mine was adjusted for propane. I re-insulated the whole thing with new stove insulation (c. $210), got a brand new oven thermostat ($260) -- both expensive but worth it. It is better insulated than the 3-year-old Maytag it replaced.

I used special porcelain paint to retouch chips ($50), and am saving up to get the burner grates re-porcelained ($40 each plus shipping) and the top plates re-chromed (c. $200 for all 3).

When I was done, I had the whole shebang checked out by a professional gas guy ($150 for 3 hours, this included installation).

So: in the end, it may not really be much cheaper than a regular stove, but it was very worth it to me and may be to you, too.


--The range is spacious, lots of room to set pot lids and hot pans aside as you cook, and the burners are spaced nicely for even my biggest pots.

--The built-in stovetop grill is incredibly effective, and the Grillevator is worth its weight in gold for broiling. Many OKM models have a second, regular broiler underneath the oven if it's ever called for.

-- The oven is smaller, but this means that it preheats quicker and there are no cold or drafty spots: I've found that my baked goods & casseroles cook perfectly and evenly all over.

-- The OKM models come with a simmer function on all burners which is fabulous, no guessing about how high to leave the flame. (It's really surprisingly modern.)

-- The top cover is awesome - if you haven't quite had time to clean before guests arrive, slap that baby down over the burners for extra room and a smooth clean surface.

-- The enameled exterior beats any modern finish hands-down. Swipe and it's clean. And it is glossy and delicious. For a certain amount of $$ you can even have the exterior panels re-porcelained in any color you desire.


-- If you want zillion-BTU burners for wok stir-fries, you won't get them. But the 12,000 - 15,000 BTUs work just great for everything else, and you can tweak them as necessary for more or less flame output. (These are those fan-shaped tabs that sit right behind the valves under the top edge.)

-- The 40" width means you can't find a new ready-made range hood that's an exact match - hoods come in 36" or 48". We wound up making and tiling our own vent hood.

-- Almost all of these models have a pilot light. This means that the stove retains a certain amount of heat at any time, which is unnoticeable for us here in cold Maine, and the cats love it, but might be an issue in a really hot climate.

That's probably more than you ever wanted to know, but please just give me a holler if you need any details after you roll up your sleeves. :-)

RE: O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

But the 12,000 - 15,000 BTUs work just great for everything else

I rarely see discussions about the BTUs of vintage stoves. How do you know yours? 15K is as high as you'll get today without stepping up to a "prosumer"-type range like a Bluestar. Of course, I have a 15K burner right now, but it's one of those hilariously worthless closed burners, which is apparently designed to keep the center of a pot cool while lighting the cook on fire.

closed schmosed

Marcolo, on my OKM each burner's BTU is stamped on a metal plate screwed to the back of the range. The back two are 15,000, the front two are 12,000.

I never understood "closed burners" - what does that even mean? If it's closed, how does the gas get out? And how do you char peppers on it, or light celebratory cigars?

RE: O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

It's not that closed, silly peanut. Picture a big, big coat button, with the flames coming out only along the outer edge. In order to get a lot of BTUs, you just make the button really big. Obviously the bigger the button, the further the flames get pushed out from the center. My 15K burner can only run on "power boil," which is the full 15K, when I have a lobster pot on it. Otherwise, even with a really big pan, the flames overshoot to the side.

Closed burners are supposed to be easier to clean because nothing gets down into the innards of the stove.

Obviously they seem helpful if you like to squirt ketchup on your range and then clean it up while cooking. In reality, they tend to bake food onto the range top.

Bluestars, Capital Culinarians and perhaps a few others have open burners designed to heat the center of the pan:

If you are wondering what burner shape has to do w/ open vs. closed, I can't exactly explain it. Thermador has sort of star shaped burners but they're closed. I think a closed burner needs to be a little more bulbous for the design to work, so you can't really bring the flame all the way into the center.

As you can see, old ranges all used to have open burners:

RE: O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

I put this in my reply on your other thread, but yes, $2,500 is insane for a cleaning---that's someone trying to take advantage of you, I'd say (or unfamiliar with OKMs and what's entailed in cleaning them). In the SF Bay Area, you can get a stove completely refurbished with new thermostat and wiring, re-chromed and re-enameled for that cost.

We have one of the smaller O'Keefe and Merrits---34.5" instead of the big 39.5" models. It's a little less of everything---only one oven and broiler, and 9K and 12K BTU burners with a griddle instead of 12K and 15K like peanut has. We have a regular broiler under the oven, but no Grillevator. It's been great to use nonetheless, though, and has the plus of fitting into modern kitchens a bit more easily---we used a standard 36" range hood over it and built a space for a 36" range that our cabinetmaker trimmed out to get a snug fit around the OKM while making it easy to unscrew the trim to fit a standard 36" range for some future owner who doesn't like vintage. The only real downsides I've found are the pilot light always on (we split the difference on that and opted not to put heat in our kitchen since we live in a temperate climate; the stove is the only heat source). The oven is also small if you ever need to cook on full sheet pans. (Half fits fine.)

I cleaned ours with Simple Green, plus some Bon Ami and Barkeeper's Friend on the chrome. Our enamel was in good shape until we whacked it with a cast iron sink (don't ask...) so I ordered some porcelain touch-up paint for that; if that doesn't work, our local repair shop will sell us a replacement side panel from their parts warehouse for $75, which is far less than shipping the one we already have off to get re-enameled. Our burner grates are actually currently off being re-porcelained at the place circuspeanut linked to above; their prices were very reasonable since we were doing all four. The one thing we haven't decided what to do with yet is the griddle cover, which has rust spots, but which doesn't make sense to re-chrome since then it won't match anything else and may or may not fit over the griddle anymore. We'll see.

Also, on the open v. closed burner bit, I will say that one really big plus to the vintage stoves is that the burners themselves are pretty easy to remove and wash if you ever have a huge spill (I once had candy syrup boil over and coat the burner, which was awful!) The little burner drip trays are handy too, but nothing like pulling the burner itself out and scrubbing it in the sink. Ditto for the oven floor---I *love* that you can just lift it out and take it outside for a heavy-duty cleaning.

RE: O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

Wow thanks for the info Peanut. I am clueless as to the whole BTU stuff. I am no chef just a mom who loves to bake more than I cook. I am just starting to unscrew everything and clean stuff as I go. I might hit you up for some advice once the clean-up is done. The price quote in SF Bay area sounds more reasonable. I just can't spend that much right now. So I am going to take my time and get it as clean and sparkly as possible. My OKM is the smaller one like Artemis's. When I was looking through Ebay and Craig's I went on visual and wasn't really versed as to the fact the bigger ones had two ovens and such. But I am happy. I found a place out in LA that will reporcelin the burner grates for $20 each, she was recommended by a appliance repair place by me, I also found someone on the Chamber's site who recommended the same place. I found alot of before and after pictures on the Chamber's site, which made me feel alot more confident. Right now I just have the electric 70's cooktop that came with the house, and the single oven. They work great for the age but I am just miss cooking with gas. Thanks for the pictures.

RE: O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

I've had an old O'Keefe & Merritt gas stove for many years. It is a Model 600 made around 1952. I just use an SOS pad on it and it cleans up nicely. I wouldn't trade it for ANY of the new stoves.

RE: O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

We did a complete tear down of our Chambers range a few years backs. Took 2 solid months as it needed repainting and some fixing inside and etc, etc. I took everything that could stand up to it and put it in my other oven on the self clean cycle. That worked great. At the dollar store, they sell something called Awesome and it really did a good job at the greasy crap (which was everything, really) and it was only a buck a bottle. Find some nasty old clothes to wear, lol.

Maybe Circus said this but if you take apart the internals... take detailed pictures with pertinent notes of ALL of it BEFORE you dismantle it. I saved our bacon a few times.

Also, on the Chambers lovers website, there is a guy that has a business fixing and supplying parts for all kinds of old stoves. And he knows just about anything and was always happy to chime in. I highly recommend that site even if it's mostly about Chambers stoves.

It was worth it to us and I love my Chambers stove. Those old stoves have a beauty not to mention a quality construction that newer ones rarely touch.

FWIW, we did spring for re-chroming the top and some other pieces, made a world of difference and was well worth the $$.

RE: O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

There is a blog called Stuccohouse that is about the restoration of an arts and crafts bungalow in Minneapolis. The woman who writes it got a Tappan stove and took it apart to clean, paint, and restore. She has a spinoff blog about that. She is a very clear writer and takes a lot of pictures. There is a lot of good info there. hth

O'Keefe & Merritt Stove door problem

I've had my mother's 1953 O'Keefe & Merritt stove about 40 years. Love it! But the oven door spring, or something to do with the spring, gave way tonight. My husband says the innards are pretty inaccessible. Can anyone tell me how to take apart the place where the springs and pulleys live, fairly efficiently? My husband can fix most things, but this is really discouraging him.

RE: O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

A internet search turned this up:

"THE TYPICAL QUESTION: I saw a really old post you did about your broken stove door. I have the same problem with my oven door and was wondering if you ever found out how to access the spring thingy?

MY TYPICAL RESPONSE: Yes, i did - and it is funny - approximately every 4 months someone emails me about this question - here is what i have been telling others who ask:

Yes, I did find out how to fix it - it is pretty easy.

Remove the screws holding on the side of the oven (they are on the back). Then, remove the side panel - it will take a little shifting and pushing, but you will get it mostly off.) Then, you will see the pully and spring.

Replace that and hook it into the hole and reassemble. It has been about 7 months since I fixed it so I am a little foggy on the details - but if you come across any questions, feel free to email."

RE: O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

Thank you!

RE: O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

I bought another Merritt stove as a spare. I was able to lube up the stove valves with the proper old grease (which seems to only be grey Molybdenum paste but I could be wrong) and it works beautifully, but the oven valves won't turn at all. The pilot lights are lit. But the valve won't turn. Pulling off the cover for it (held on by a small screw and a large screw and then pulling off the cover slightly counterclockwise) and the valve won't pull out or move whatsover. Any suggestions?

RE: O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

Are you pushing in the oven knob? You don't have to do that with the burner knobs, but must do it with the oven knob. Otherwise, I have no clue--sorry.

RE: O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

Nope, even pushing in will not let either of them to move clockwise (or counter).

RE: O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

the tang at the bottom interferes (screwdriver is pressing against it) with the housing and won't allow the shaft to go far enough down so the key at the top can be clear of its groove and allow it to turn. This seems awfully odd. This isn't a wear item. I can't account for the tang somehow GROWING over time to interfere. I don't think the previous owner could have taken it apart (though, he had completely disconnected the supply hose to the solenoid from one of the thermostats). Weird?

RE: O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

Hello, I just tackled a major cleaning of my OKM stove 1950's after being quoted $1,700 and having it kept for about 2 months. Used Awesome to soak the metal burners. The burners wouldn't even light as the holes were plugged up with grease. Almost a miracle how clean they came out after an overnight soak.

One dilemma: somehow some rodents got into the pot storage area and burner area. The shelf area has these quarter sized holes for ventilation and I'm guessing that's how the rodents got into the stove. I have since had an exterminator come and resolve the situation. There were droppings which I have cleaned by using baking soda with water and then Awesome,

I'm wondering if there is a hygienic or danger of disease from the droppings even though I cleaned with the above products. I was storing pots and covers before the cleaning began. Any suggestions on how to make sure my pots don't get contaminated?

Also, how do I decontaminate the oven and burner area? I'm really paranoid now and keep thinking of those nasty droppings in the burner area and storage area even though I did a such extensive scrapping and cleaning.
Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

Photo is before cleaning project began.

This post was edited by musiclover22 on Mon, Sep 23, 13 at 3:18

RE: O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

Mild bleach and water solution with hand and eye protection and plenty of ventilation? And keep in mind that any part of the stove that gets really hot will already have scorched the germs right out of any leftover droppings, turning them into charcoal.

RE: O'Keefe & Merritt Stove

I'm so glad to have found this discussion. I bought my O&M (model 500) from a neighbor a couple of weeks ago. It seemed to need a little cleaning until I lifted up the hood. I've been steaming away baked goo, sanding de-rusting and generally disassembling.

For the most part, I've had to learn how to disassemble on my own - no directions anywhere online, apparently. I've now got parts all over the house, and about 200 photos, capturing everything I do as I go. I may publish the entire adventure on my website a little later.

The main issue currently is gas leakage. Even with all the pilots lit, there's a strong smell. So I figure to locate and fix likely culprits like valves and gaskets. The oven thermostat is definitely leaking. I'm planning to replace all the gaskets; disassemble the valves (maybe replace them). - Has anyone bought gasket material and cut their own?

To date, I've had a plumber, a PG&E tech and an antique gas stove expert visit "us" to service, provide advice and recommendations. The expert was helpful, although he kinda wanted to sell me one of his restored units for a princely sum.

I said 'thanks but no thanks'. I'm having fun tackling this baby. I've never had a gas stove and I'm having fun learning the basics. Besides I'm not that interested in a completely restored stove. I just want a safe, properly functioning one.

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