About My Chambers Stove

by Josh on December 17, 2010 · 10 comments

in Journal

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may recall that back in May I shared a teaser photo of the 1951 Chambers 61C range I bought for the kitchen.  Since then, I haven’t said a word about the stove because…. I wasn’t doing much with it besides think about how great it would be when I could move it out of my living room and into the kitchen.

Well, I finally have some progress to share and I’m really excited to show it off!  But first, here is some background on the whys and hows of my vintage stove journey so far:

Why buy a vintage stove?

I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was a lot about aesthetics– so many old stoves just look cool.  But as I learned a bit more about vintage stoves, I discovered they sometimes included excellent features not found on their modern counterparts.  This is particularly true for Chambers stoves.

Chambers Logo Badge

Why buy a Chambers?

Because Rachel Ray has one!  Celebrity endorsement aside, the Chambers is built like a tank (originally carried a 25-year warranty) and it has some super cool features.  Perfect for my Saturday morning pancake ritual, the stove features an integrated griddle on the stovetop that also lifts to reveal a broiler.  It has an insulated “thermowell” burner recessed in the top that can function like a slow cooker or a small second oven.  The oven, though small by modern standards, is highly insulated and able to cook on retained heat with the burner turned off.  In fact, Chambers marketed its stoves with the slogan, “It cooks with the gas OFF!”

Chambers Range Top

What’s the story with this particular stove?

My Chambers came from a suburban home about 15 miles west of my house.  The sellers told me the stove was a wedding present for its original owners, who also built the house from which I moved it.  When the stove sellers bought their house, the Chambers was hooked up and working in a second/back-up kitchen in the basement.  Later, when the sellers remodeled their basement and turned the lower kitchen into a bar, they posted the stove to Craigslist.  And that’s where I found it.

When it came to the move, I removing the porcelain side panels and any removable parts that could jostle in transit.  Initially I had planned to move the stove myself (with the help of friends and a truck), but in the end I hired some movers to get it door-to-door.  I’ve never second-guessed that decision either because the 600-pound stove had to come out of a walk-out basement and up a hill over a gravel path at the seller’s house, and then up15 steps to the front door of my house.  That would have killed me for sure.

Chambers Packed for Moving

With the moving dust settled and the thrill of the hunt passed, I still really feel like I hit the jackpot with this one.  I didn’t think that I would find an affordable Chambers nearby–let alone one in such excellent cosmetic and mechanical condition.  It is exactly what I wanted, but figured I probably couldn’t get.

In my next post, I’ll write about the work I’ve done on the stove since it arrived in my living room getting my Chambers ready for its kitchen debut.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

will January 2, 2011 at 11:54 am

Have I expressed how darn jealous I am of this stove? Well I am. My grandma had this identical stove, and this is what I learned to cook on. Wish that I had the opportunity to get one of these again, but not in this house.
Enjoy!

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Catherine Schiele January 5, 2011 at 12:21 am

I grew up with a Chambers stove in the 1950′a My parents purchased it in the 40′s and I remember my mother telling me they had to reinforce the floor in their first house because it was so heavy. I have many fond memories of this great appliance–especially remember using what my mother called the “deep well” as a slow cooker–made great stews. Also loved the griddle. We used the small opening on the right side to store crackers so they would stay crisp. I had no idea how valuable this stove was–mother left it behind when she moved to an apartment in 1990. Often wonder what the new owners did with it. Thanks for sharing–loved seeing and old Chambers again. Enjoy!

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Josh January 26, 2011 at 1:27 am

Thanks for sharing your Chambers memories, Catherine and Will. Like with an old house, it is fun to think about the people who came before me that used and loved this stove. I continue to see a Chambers stove on Craigslist every few months, so they’re out there if or when either of you want to join the club.

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Kristina Sanders December 17, 2011 at 10:51 am

I just bought the exact stove that you just refurbished.
Unfortunately the name plate is missing! Any ideas on where to find a replacement? I have searched high and low. No luck.

Any advice would be very appreciated.

Thanks
Kristina

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Josh December 17, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Welcome to the Chambers club, Kristina! I found parts for my stove (in my case, a thermowell pot) on eBay, which I’m sure you’ve tried. I also have an RSS subscription for the search “Chambers” on my local Craigslist page. For information on subscribing to a Craigslist search, check out my instructions in this post about my buffet. Additionally, there is a parts and service listing at ChambersStove.net. And you might also find help on the discussion boards at VintageChambers.com. I hope that helps!

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martha deleon October 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Anyone out there know of anyone who restores Chambers stoves in the Chicagoland area. Have a 90C white model that I purchases at an estate sale. Has the inevitable rusty interior, but seems otherwise intact. Was in a dry basement when found. Porcelain is in good shape, chrome top, all knobs present. Has red dials, think soup pot is missing??? Grill lifts up and down well. Stove has the high back with glass light. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Have contacted the Michigan website as I thought maybe I should just truck it up there, but they said that could crack the porcelain, so now I am stumped. Am normally a do it yourselfer, but don’t know if I can tackle this and do it the justice it deserves. Help!!

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Don March 29, 2013 at 10:50 am

Hi Josh, I live in Minneapolis too and am in the hunt for a great vintage range from the 50′s. A big issue is that I only have a 30″ wide space to fit it. I have serious Chambers envy. Do you know if they made a 30″ model? Is yours really 600 lbs?

Is yours hooked up? How do you like it?

Do you have any info on who works on old ranges in the area?

Thanks, Don

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Josh March 29, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Hi Don! I’m happy to help your hunt for a vintage stove. I don’t believe Chambers made anything narrower than the 37″ or so of my Model C, unless you count the relatively rare wall oven and cooktop units they made to be built-in. As to the stove weight, I must apologize for my gross exaggeration: it’s “only” 460 pounds.

My Chambers is hooked up and used daily in my kitchen. It works like a charm and looks fabulous. The Chambers fits my needs well, but I am also willing to adjust my expectations to accomodate its limitations. For example, the oven–as with many vintage stoves–is very small by today’s standards, so I use smaller pans for my cookies and, being vegetarian, I don’t roast a massive Thanksgiving turkey.

I found my Chambers on Craigslist and bought it in unrestored fully working order. My refurbishing work consisted of gentle surface cleaning and installing an oven pilot light with cutoff valve for safety. More aggressive refurbishment could certainly be done, but I don’t need it to look showroom fresh. I didn’t use any local services or technicians to work on the range, so I don’t have any recommendations for you there, unfortunately. If you buy a Chambers (or another stove similarly popular with restorers) you should be able to find online resources to help with advice, parts, and refurbishing recommendations.

As to your issue of space, the standard 30″ range was less of a standard back in the day. I’m sure there are vintage stoves of that size around, but they will be less common than models around 36″ wide. The larger ranges were also often more elaborately equipped and are therefore more appealing to restorers, so that’s where most of the attention goes. If you are serious about this, keep hunting Craigslist, eBay, and garage/estate sales. There are still plenty of these old stoves hooked up and in use–often, as mine was, as a secondary unit in the basement for canning, holidays, and entertaining. Good luck!

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Amy June 3, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Hi Josh! Hubs and I have a sweet little white 90c from 1952 that we bought and have been putting the spark back into…we had the top re-chromed and have lovingly cleaned up the rest. It was in pretty decent condition from the get-go, but needed deep cleaning and scrubbing. We received it with a thermobaker and the triple pots, and just bought a single well pot. Our problem is we are living in a house we know we want to sell as it is too much for our empty-nester status, but we may have to install our Chambers (propane) in our barn for awhile until the market turns. We would love to have a little cottage with our Chambers stove as the heart of our kitchen…but we may have to wait until the tides turn.

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Amy June 3, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Let me be more specific…as I like to read specifics when I am focused on a project..[smile}. Our stove is a white, high backed, 1952 90-C model Chambers. We bought it from a couple in New Orleans that wanted a new stove. They were only the second owners, and the wife worked outside the home for years, and only used the stove for the burners. She never knew how to cook with the gas turned off. They were more than thrilled to accept an offer and get rid of the bohemoth in their tiny kitchen. We live in the country and have propane and a Viking range. But we constantly talk about the day when we can find or build a little place and install our Chambers stove and get intimate with its potentials.

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