"Cast from the Past"
Research and Restoration
Taylorsville, N. Carolina
There is a lot that goes into restoring an antique stove properly. It is a combination of specific skills, knowledge and expertise, as well as the necessary equipment to restore it as it should be. To be restored as close to the original condition as possible involves disassembling the stove, cleaning the cast iron by sandblasting, re-painting with high heat stove paint, and re-sealing the stove, along with appropriate new hardware while re-assembling it. Those are the basics, and then there is the nickel re-plating of the trim pieces, and knowing which pieces, historically, should be re-plated or not, and also how to restore the finial appropriately.
Many times there are stove parts that are missing, broken, cracked or in poor condition and unstable. Missing parts of a particular stove are often not easy to find, while other parts, such as grates or stove lids are more readily replaceable. Some parts which may be cracked or seriously rusted or have heat damage, may need to be welded, replaced with good parts from another exact stove, or re-cast. All of these options entail a lot of experience in knowing what needs to be done, and what the best way of restoring it would be. Welding cast iron is an art in itself, and even so, some parts of a stove that would be highly heated when in use, should probably be re-cast, instead of being welded.
Each stove has been made to function in a specific way to burn the wood or coal. That functionality determines which parts of the stove will take the most stress from heating and usage. Those are the parts which will need to be given the most attention when restoring it. So, it is important to know exactly how the stove works thermodynamically, and to make sure that each and every part is intact, in place, and working as it should.
In addition, to be restored authentically, a knowledge of the history of the stove is needed. Many times, antique stoves have been kept for years, not used, but re-painted with regular spray paint; either all black or all silver or part of each. So, that all needs to be removed, the cast iron restored, isinglas windows replaced, and the nickel re-plated where it was originally intended to be.
Restoring an antique stove is a great thing to accomplish. It does require a lot of dedication, and respect for preserving the integrity and history of the stove.
Watch a video about the nickel plating process by our associate, Brian Spandl.
Ever wondered what it takes to plate metal in nickel or chrome? It is quite an interesting and complex process. Click the link above to see the 22 minute video. As a note, antique stove trim is always plated in nickel, because chrome will turn blue when heated.
Check out our Antique Stove blog ! See the complete restoration process of the antique stove the "King Arizona".
Please Note: Due to supply shortages and service issues, we are not taking more restoration projects, until further notice.
There are lots of things you can do to find out what your stove is worth, and something about its history. While it can be time consuming, and sometimes frustrating, when you find some information, it is also very rewarding.
You can check historical societies and museums near where your stove was made to see if they may have any info about the stove manufacturing company or your particular stove. It is always good to take note of whatever is written on the stove itself, and get the dimensions, and a picture that includes the whole stove in the picture frame.
Of course, check the internet for information. There is a lot of info online about antique stoves. You can do a search on Ebay or Craigslist to see if someone else is selling the same stove, or do a search on a search-engine such as Google, Bing, Yahoo. You can search under antique stoves, parlor stoves, wood stoves, coal stoves, pot belly stoves, cast iron stoves, wood cook stoves, or just even 'old stoves'.
Or you can search by other specific styles of stoves, for example: oak stoves, baseheaters, baseburners, cylinder parlor stoves, hot blast stoves, air tight stoves, box stoves. And you can always search by the actual stove name, or stove manufacturer's name.
There are also forums and blogs about antique stoves where people with the 'stove fever' share their interests, info and pictures, and eventually you will start to make connections which lead to information.
The value of any antique stove is largely based on its condition, age, style, size, rarity, and current marketability. Generally speaking, the older it is, the better the condition, the more ornate, and the more rare, the more it is worth. The caveat is, however rare and valuable the stove may be doesn't mean you will find a ready buyer. And, stoves that have been properly restored for safe use sell for much more than unrestored stoves.
If your stove is older than 1890, it may be difficult to find information about it, as they were generally not advertised in catalogs before then. Also, many times, the old foundries burned down, changed owners and company names frequently, and not a lot of documentation about all that was saved. So, it can be quite a puzzle! Just the same, it is possible to find out about most stoves, and just when you are ready to give up -- something will crop up about it, and you can follow the lead. In the meantime - don't give up! It is just a matter of doing your homework!
Also, when you buy an antique stove, always try to find out whatever history is known about it from the person you are buying it from. Anyone selling an old stove generally has some information about where it came from, how they got it, where it's been kept, how it's been used, and for how long, etc,. and an auction house will likely have some info about the stove as well.
Researching your antique stove is an interesting process in itself, and there are lots of little details you can find out just chatting with someone, even if they have a totally different stove or stove-type preference.
We are currently not offering appraisals. If you are interested in an appraisal, there are other restorers online who offer appraisals for varying fees.
You can also find out more tips, and what style your cast iron stove is, at our Antique Stove blog where we will soon be posting an article about 'Identifying Your Antique Stove'. Not all antique stoves are 'pot belly stoves', although that is a common misconception.
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