Antique Stove Restoration
Since I have progressed into my senior years I’ve reevaluated my business priorities. The objective now is to downsize my holdings, and prioritize activities (Right, good luck with that!). Hopefully I can enjoy the business as a hobby and concentrate on my pet projects which have been on hold for 40 years. Therefor I have quit customer restorations but will continue to consult, sell parts and consider small welding jobs.
My previous restoration page is offered here as a guideline for those who would like to restore a stove. You can probably do it – “it’s not rocket science”. Anyone with mechanical skills can disassemble and reassemble a stove, but it is a big, dirty job to refinish a range or a big base burner.
The Restoration Process
Usually the restoration procedure involves a complete disassembly, sandblasting, and a close inspection of the castings and sheet metal. Sometimes a stove in relatively good condition doesn’t need sandblasting. In that case I don’t do it because sandblasting may even devalue the stove’s antique worth by destroying the original surface finish, especially if it is “Blue Steel” (a shiny dark blue sheet metal that is really beautiful).
If the castings are cracked or broken they are welded (see Cast Iron Welding). If any pieces need to be recast at the foundry then the pattern work is completed quickly and sent out, because it can take a while to get them back.
If the nickel needs replating then the brightwork is sent out with instructions. It may be possible to buff out the original nickel even if it looks bad. The finished stove may look better with salvaged plating than with new nickel. New nickel is often harsh in appearance and antique connoisseurs prefer the softer, satiny look of the original plating, and there is a considerable cost savings.
After all the parts are repaired, recast, replated then the stove is assembled for a “dry fit”. After any necessary adjustments are made, the stove is cemented and bolted up for the final assembly.
Black Giant Box Heater, dated 1858
I usually paint the stove with two coats of high temperature paint to seal it against water damage. And last, the stove is polished for that gleam which brings it to life!
Types of Restoration
I generalize my restoration work into several categories:
- MUSEUM RESTORATION emphasizes the preservation of original material. I usually document the work with photographs and supply a report.
- CUSTOM RESTORATION allows for alterations to suit the customer’s wishes. This may include the addition of warming ovens, towel bars, extra nickel, or personalized touches.
- COMMERCIAL RESTORATION assumes a market value then proceeds to finish the stove within the budgetary limit
A reconstructed sheet metal body for a “steel range” complete with rivets
Before any work is started for a customer we fill out a contract form with details of the work and payments. Normally I require the cost of materials as the down payment and the balance is due when the stove is picked up or delivered. Generally, the term for a contract is four months, which allows for the plating and foundry work to be sent out. At this time my general restoration work is charged at a rate of $25/hour, welding at $30/hour.
Shop rate for repairs is FIFTY DOLLARS ($50.00)