Chambers Stove Installation

by Josh on December 29, 2010 · 12 comments

in Projects

With my vintage Chambers 61C kitchen stove sufficiently cleaned and updated with a new oven pilot light and gas shutoff safety system I was ready to connect the gas for final stove testing and adjustment.  Unfortunately, my kitchen wasn’t ready to cooperate until I updated the gas supply pipe.  Add that one to my list of personal examples of the cardinal rule of old house DIY: There’s always more work than you think.

Before I go any further, this would be a good moment for a disclaimer:  Natural gas is dangerous.  Consult with experts, follow the building codes, and don’t blow yourself up.  The description of my work below is not intended as skill instruction, or as a substitute for professional installation or inspection.

Here’s how the cooking area of the kitchen looked before I moved in the Chambers.  The “old” stove is a basic Kenmore from 1993 that came with the house when we bought it.  I’ve had no trouble with this stove, though it has more rust and cosmetic blemishes than the nearly 60-year-old Chambers that replaces it.

Former kitchen stove

The gas supply pipe exits the wall behind the refrigerator to the right of the stove.  To shut off the gas supply, I pulled out the fridge and also removed the cabinet between the fridge and stove which just sits unfixed on the floor between the appliances.  In the midst of all the rearranging, I neglected to take a photo of the old gas supply pipe, but trust me, it was a mess.  It had three 90-degree elbows one after the other in a pigtail shape as the pipe exited the wall, then five feet of iron pipe and an outdated shutoff valve.  But most distressing was that one of the elbow joints was actually loose so the entire pipe was movable and hung down diagonally to the floor.

After turning off the gas shutoff and disconnecting the old stove, I thought I smelled gas around the outlet from the wall near the loose elbow joint.  I left the house and called the gas company to have someone come check the pipe.  When the gas technician arrived, he found no leak (hooray!) and the proceeded to talk me through how to update the gas supply pipe.  So I was off to True Value Hardware for supplies, including a new shutoff valve, pipe, fittings, and a flexible gas line to connect to the stove.

Stove gas supply parts

After shutting off the gas for the house at the meter, I removed the pipe in the kitchen back to the 90-degree elbow that exits the wall.  Somehow in the process I forgot to take a before picture, but the unpainted white area in the photo below shows where the position of the old gas pipe.

Old gas supply removed

I tightened the remaining elbow and installed the new pipe and shutoff valve with permatex pipe dope on all the threads.  Then with the kitchen valve shut off, I opened up the main gas supply and used soap bubbles to test for leaks in my new assembly.
new gas shutoff

With no leaks in the supply, I moved the Chambers into position and connected the stove to the gas supply with the flex line.

New gas supply assembly

This was followed with lots more bubble testing in the stove itself as I turned on the new gas line.  Just as with the supply, the stove was leak-free.  So then I moved on to the process of lighting pilot lights and adjusting the flame height on the stove burners.  Counting the new oven pilot I installed, the stove has three pilot lights– one in the oven, one to light the three surface burners and one for the thermowell burner.  Lighting the oven pilot also gave me the opportunity to check the operation of the new safety system, and the thermocouple and shutoff valve performed as they should.

New oven pilot lit

My Chambers has now been hooked up and running flawlessly for a few weeks now.  Well, almost flawlessly– the timer has been a little unreliable and will sometimes just stop ticking.  For the time being, I’m solving that issue by keeping a spare kitchen timer next to the stove.

Chambers installed

With the stove in place and working I have a few follow-up projects to complete the upgrade to this part of the kitchen.  First, because the Chambers is seven inches wider than the stove it replaced, the cabinet that went between the stove and fridge won’t fit anymore.  I plan to build a narrower cabinet/shelf with a butcherblock top fill that space.  Less pressing but still desirable would be to replace the painted melamine wall backsplash with subway tile and to replace the tired-out, too-small exhaust hood.

The Chambers has been getting rave reviews from house guests and it performed like a champ for my holiday entertaining.  I love using it, and I’m convinced the Chambers really cooks better than my old stove.  Plus I get a smile every morning when I hear the “whoosh” of the burner lighting beneath the kettle for my morning coffee.  Not every DIY project yields results you get to appreciate every day, but this one certainly has– and that makes it an especially satisfying accomplishment.

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 }

mike @HA December 29, 2010 at 10:38 am

Looking good! Does it hold it’s baking temperature as well as you hoped?

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Josh December 29, 2010 at 11:22 am

Thanks Mike! I haven’t really tried cooking with the gas off yet, but I have a recipe book for the stove that I’m planning to use to get a greater feel for its unusual features like retained heat, the thermowell, etc. I imagine a little “Julie and Julia” vibe might show up here from time to time as I sample the Chambers “Idle Hour Cookbook” recipes.

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TonyT January 11, 2011 at 4:28 am

I am interested in the ability to set it at the desired temp. With gas if you get it to the right temp they seem to cook well, but I seem to have a bigger problem with setting the correct temp. It does add character to the kitchen though.

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bungalowbliss January 12, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Beautiful oven, lucky you!!

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Tim January 25, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Mike: I have a Chambers I re-did for us, and one for my M.I.L. If you calibrate the oven per the service manual, they will hold almost perfectly–ours is within 5 degrees. On the other hand, you have to get used to the little quirks some have–on ours, you have to turn the oven on @ 500 degrees, let it run a minute or two, then set the temp to what you want (i.e. 350). An oven thermometer proved that it was indeed shutting off @ 350 degrees, once I started out @ 500…

Here’s a link to free literature on the stoves, including the service manual(s):

http://www.vintagechambers.com/indexe042.html?module=pagemaster&PAGE_user_op=view_page&PAGE_id=2&MMN_position=8:8

And here’s a link to the other Chambers site:

http://www.chamberstoves.net/

Both places are EXCELLENT, and the folks there will walk you through about any problem you might have restoring one, as they have been there/done that. Also lots of pix of restorations in stages to help you through..

Hope this helps!
Tim

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Tim January 25, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Josh–Some things to think about before you rebuild that cabinet…

We had the same situation w/the cabinet between the Chambers & the refrigerator. A buddy of mine who is a cabinet maker took the measurements, but was going to build a ‘standard’ cabinet. I had him build it the exact same height and depth of the stove, with a drawer on top like the original cabinet had for spatulas, pot holders, etc.

You’ll be AMAZED how many cutting boards, cooling racks, and many other over-sized items that you can fit in the lower cabinet space w/increased depth and ONLY 10″ wide–everything along those lines we OWNED, which, believe me, is A LOT! Also, keep the cabinet ‘free standing’ like your old one was, so WHEN (not IF) you slop betwixt the stove and cabinet, you can remove the latter easily to clean up.

Lastly, I also had him put laminate on the outside unseen part of the cabinet next to the stove so said spills clean up easily when the cabinet is pulled out….

Just spouting from hard-learned experience, hoping to help out…

Tim

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Josh January 26, 2011 at 1:49 am

Thanks for the links, Tim. I’ve intended to do a post specifically about the Chambers enthusiast sites you referenced. These were essential resources for me when I researched, purchased and worked on the stove.

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Josh January 26, 2011 at 1:52 am

Those are some great ideas for the cabinet, Tim. I haven’t started working on that project yet, but I’ll refer back to your suggestions when I do.

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Eileen February 14, 2011 at 10:45 am

Wow. that is one awesome stove. Loved to watch as this progresses. Best of luck with your re-do. I am nearly finished a kitchen renovation. It was a total gut job, and I got to design an entire new kitchen! Finally, I have waited for this for 17 years!

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Susan June 6, 2014 at 7:34 am

Hello!
My son bought a 1955 house from the original owner which has the exact Chambers model stove. It’s in perfect condition.
Problem is we don’t know how to use it and the daughter in law is scared to death of it, lol
The pilot light lit in the middle but when we turn the knob for the burner it doesn’t come on, do we need to light it the burner with a match or what? I’ve been to all the sites and we’ve found the user manual which doesn’t give us much details on how to get the burners or over to work.
What are we missing?
Thanks for your help in advance.

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Steve October 6, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Hopefully you’ve had a chance to dig into the use of your Chambers a bit more. They’re amazing. If no one has given you the link, the Chambers Rangers group administrater obtained the rights to reproduce the original manuals and does them at a price that barely covers expenses. I had a download of the manual but decided to order the reprint and it’s the best $20 I ever spent. There’s also a service manual, which I ordered as well. I don’t know what I’d have done without them! The site is at http://www.chamberstoves.net/Literature.html

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Josh June 6, 2014 at 10:42 am

Hi Susan! I make no claims to be an expert on gas stoves in general or the Chambers in particular. As with all the content on this site, my comments are intended for informational use only. Natural gas is dangerous and presents a risk to property damage, personal injury and even death. Act at your own risk! Avoid loose, draping clothing, wear protective equipment and keep a fire extinguisher at hand.

That said, congratulations to your son on his Chambers! I still love mine and it is working perfectly for me. As you note, the three top burners are lit by a pilot flame in the middle of the stovetop. That pilot flame should be just big enough to have an orange tip. If the flame is too small, the burners may not ignite. The pilot flames for the stove top and thermowell are regulated by a pair of hex screws in the utility compartment on the right side of the oven. Follow the small aluminum gas line down from the pilot flame to find that adjustment screw. Tightening the screw shrinks the flame and loosening the screw expands it.

If the stovetop burners aren’t igniting then either the gas isn’t reaching the burner or the pilot flame isn’t reaching the burner. You can check to see if gas is at the burner by turning on the burner with a lit match next to the burner. Like most other gas stoves, the burners light best when fully open.

If you can ignite the burner with a match but not the pilot, you should check the flame tubes between the burner and the pilot flame. The flame tubes should sit over a small gas outlet from the burner, so make sure that outlet isn’t clogged and that the tubes are intact and unblocked. Also, you should know that this ignition process isn’t as direct as modern burner-mounted spark ignitors. As a result, it takes a full second or two with the burner fully open for the burner gas to travel down the flame tube, get ignited by the pilot flame, and carry the flame back to the burner. Before giving up on this I would make sure that the test gave the ignition process enough gas (fully open) and time (a couple seconds) to do the job.

If there is still trouble, I would check to see whether all the burners acted the same way. It could be that one or more is out of adjustment or broken in some way but that another works as intended. This might sound obvious, but I’ve overlooked the obvious enough myself that I try to avoid making assumptions.

There are plenty more things to consider, but I’m reaching the end of my personal experience. For further troubleshooting and repair, I would recommend the resources at and as well as the services of a qualified appliance repair technician in your area.

Good luck!

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