Chambers Stove Cleaning and Updating

by Josh on December 21, 2010 · 13 comments

in Projects

Counting the packing, unpacking and travel time, it took a couple hours to move my vintage Chambers stove the 15 miles to my house.  Moving the stove the final 15 yards from the living room to the kitchen took considerably more time and effort.  Before settling it in the kitchen, I wanted to take the opportunity to clean up the stove and install a modern safety system for the oven burner.

Chambers Being Updated

Spray cleaner applied liberally and repeatedly with a soft cloth was enough to (eventually) degrease the oven interior as well as the burner parts and supply pipes in the utility cabinet.  For a nearly 60-year-old appliance this stove was amazingly clean, but it isn’t perfect– particularly with interior surface rust in the utility cabinet.  I could have removed the rust and repainted if I completely disassembled the stove, but with everything working and the rust light and out-of-sight, I didn’t think the cosmetic return was worth the risk to function.

For removable parts like the cast iron oven burner, however, I was able to clean off surface rust by scrubbing with oiled steel wool pads.  Here is the burner before cleaning:

Oven Burner Before

And here is the burner after cleaning:

Oven Burner Cleaned

When cleaning burners it helps to have toothpicks or paperclips at hand to poke into the gas outlet holes to keep them clear.

The bigger part of my stove work was to install a safety system for the oven.  This system includes a pilot light so the oven no longer needs to be match-lit, and new control valve that uses a thermocouple to shut off gas to the oven if the pilot flame ever goes out.  The trade-off for safer ignition and operation is a reduction in efficiency to keep that pilot flame burning.

IMPORTANT: The work described below is for entertainment purposes.  Consult an expert before working with natural gas.

Safety Valve Mounted

I found the major parts for this project online and bought hardware and compression fitting for the installation at my local True Value Hardware.  Having the hardware store nearby was particularly helpful because it seemed like I needed to stop for a part of some kind every day for a week while I installed the safety system.  In the photo above I have mounted the new gas shutoff valve to the floor of the utility cabinet, and the photo below shows the new pilot light and thermocouple installed in the oven floor.

New Oven Pilot

Not only did the folks at River-Lake True Value help me track down the hardware pieces I needed to install these stove parts, but they even let me use the bench vise at their repair counter to put the 90-degree bend in the bracket I used for the pilot light above.

The most challenging part of the safety system installation was the bending and connecting of the aluminum gas supply tubing.  It was tricky figuring how long to make the tubes and exactly where to put the bends.

Bending Aluminum Tubing

When all the tubing was cut and bent, I installed it with compression fittings and with permatex thread compound on the threaded connections between the fittings and the valve body.

Safety Valve Installed

The stove was now ready to be tested with gas for tight connections and proper function of the new components.  I will write about that last stage of my Chambers stove project in my next post.

Disclosure: I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program and my DIY project as well as my posts about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

gary December 21, 2010 at 3:20 pm

i have a 61c that i am thinking of restoring. what do you mean my “oiled steel wool”?

great job on the install.


yolanda December 21, 2010 at 6:20 pm

I have a huge vitorian cast iron grate I’d like to clean and reuse in my remodel. What kind of oil did you use on your steel wool?


Josh December 21, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Looks like I should have been a bit more detailed above, eh? For the stove burner, I scoured the surface with fine steel wool sprayed with WD-40 or lubricated with 3-in-1 oil– I tried them both. The WD-40/oil should help loosen the surface rust and protect the metal from future oxidation like seasoning a cast iron skillet.

I’m also going to be trying out a product called Evap-o-Rust that sounds promising for projects like this. So look for that in a future post.

Good luck with your projects– especially that Chambers 61C of yours Gary.


Jeff December 23, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Great job & thanks for the pics for us more visual learners!


Brad July 11, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Thanks for this great post. I’ll have to try the oil and steel wool on my chambers. I know I need to install one of those oven saftery systems but it just seems so complicated!


Josh July 12, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Good luck with your Chambers, Brad! The oven safety wasn’t that complicated to install, but I wouldn’t assume you must do it. For me, the safety valve offered peace of mind and the convenience of not needing to match light the oven. On the other hand, the new oven pilot light reduces appliance efficiency and keeps the oven warm all the time. This summer, I’ve snuffed the pilot light to keep the kitchen cooler, but this means I have to restart the pilot light (a 2-minute operation) if I need to bake. In the winter, I find the warm oven a benefit.


Ittybittybungalow July 27, 2011 at 8:12 am

Have you ever considered keeping the stove top pilot and thermowell snuffed? Mine goes out with some regularity and I don’t know why I can’t just light it with the sparker when I want to cook. any insight on this idea?


Josh July 27, 2011 at 8:52 am

Yes, you can just light the burners with a match or sparker if you turn off the pilot gas. In the case of the thermowell, much of its “slow cooker” functionality will be lost because it is based on utilizing heat from the pilot light.

Backing up a step, it sounds like your pilots aren’t adjusted properly if they are going out. The pilot gas supplies are controlled by two small hex screws in a manifold in the upper left side of the utility cabinet. Correctly adjusted, the pilot flames should have a small orange tip.


Brad July 28, 2011 at 9:35 pm

you were 100% right about the pilot light! I had it adjusted to a small blue flame. I turned it up to make it have a bit of orange but now it seems like the stovetop is kinda hot.


Josh July 29, 2011 at 8:37 am

Yeah, that’s the trade-off with standing pilot lights– they’re going to heat things up a bit. On mine, the thermowell cover stays warm but touchable and the surface burner pilot cover is quite hot, but the rest of the top isn’t noticeably warm.


Carl October 5, 2013 at 9:32 am

We have the same problem with our Chambers stove. It looks great and we always get a lot of compliments from visitors. The problem is that the pilot light does constantly go out and we have to continually check that it is on and if not, re-light it. Sometimes after lighting it and turning on the gas jets, the pilot light goes out again!

Also is there any place to obtain new grills for the jets?


Ann August 7, 2015 at 1:52 pm

Hi, I am new to this site, and just got my Chambers
model B range hooked up today. We can not get the pilot lights to light. Any ideas would be appreciated. First I will clean them.
Thanks, Ann


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