Anybody know much about antique Chambers ranges/stoves?

So I’m buying a house built in 1927 from only the second owners of the house: the current owners have lived there for 40 years, and bought it in 1968 from the very first owners. The kitchen is badly in need of renovating, style-wise. The counters and cabinets are, well, about 40 years old, and painted rather garishly.

One thing that caught my eye was the range/stove that is in place there. It was clearly quite old, and my first instinct was to replace it with a modern one, but my wife was taken with its antique look and wanted to keep it.

I then realized this wasn’t just “an old range”; it had some things on it that I have never seen on any range or stove anywhere else. For example, instead of four burners and a griddle, it has three burners and a round something which is a lid for an inset pot of some kind for stewing. And the broiler, instead of being at the bottom of the oven, is under the griddle. And the oven is divided into two chambers instead of one.

I sensed this stove had something unique about it and did a Google search, then a Wikipedia search, on the manufacturer: “Chambers”. What I have, or will soon have, is a fully functional Chambers Model B stove manufactured sometime in the 1940s (without the light fixtures at the top and sides as seen in that picture, but otherwise seemingly identical). Apparently these ranges have a cult following, which has grown recently due to Rachael Ray using one on a cooking show on the Food Network (which I have never seen).

I am rather caught up in the idea now and am willing to keep it, and try using it, for at least the first year we live there (we are renovating much of the rest of the kitchen). Are there any Dopers with experience, first or second hand, with these stoves, or have any wonder or horror stories to share about them?

Cool! I was reading along and thinking, “That sounds like Rachel Ray’s oven.”

I say, strike while the fad’s hot and eBay (or whatever) that bad boy.

Me, me, me, me!!! :: waves hand wildly while bouncing out of seat""

I’ll take it if you don’t want it!

I’ve known a couple people with similar stoves, and they rock.

On preview: they’re popular now because of Rachel-friggin-Ray?!!? Hell, now I’ll never be able to afford one. :mad:

I had an apartment that had one of those. It was great to cook on – especially the broiler. I’m pretty sure there are collectors out there – if you don’t want it, it does have value.

Heh. I’ve definitely decided to keep it at least for the short term, to see what the fuss is about. What I’m interested in finding out is, well, what is the fuss about?

You say “they rock”, so I ask you, in what way can I rock on this stove that I would not be able to on a “modern” stove?

The broiler-on-top bit is interesting, but really, it’s a minor inconvenience to “get down low” to use a broiler, and I don’t use one all that often anyway.

The slow-cooker-in-the-burner-space is also interesting, but I’ve never used a slow cooker before anyway. This might pique my interest in doing so, to make some kind of cassoulet or beef stew, but what does it really save me other than having to find shelf space for an infrequently used slow cooker? On the other hand, missing that fourth burner might be a real inconvenience some time.

I think this stove is old enough that it won’t have a pilot, is that right? Or would that only be for the oven?

The oven partition, what is that for? Doesn’t it mean I basically won’t be able to make a large roast in the oven? One of my Holiday Specials is a standing rib roast that serves 8-12 people, I’m talkin’ a huge chunk of steer… I haven’t had a look firsthand at the interior of the oven, but assuming the two doors indicate a real partition and not just two doors into the same oven, I don’t think that’s gonna fly for me with the Chambers. (Though I will be able to do it with indirect heat, or even rotisserie unit, on my new superfly outdoor grill instead. :D)

I rented an apartment in an old house from a rather eccentric antique collector – queer as a three dollar bill, if you’ll pardon the expression, his lovely wife and family notwithstanding. (And he was a great landlord – climbed a ladder to get into the apartment through a bedroom window when my key broke off in the lock one day.)

Anyhoo, the apartment was furnished with some fabulous pieces, included a Chambers stove in the kitchen. We used it every day for three years and it was very serviceable. I was doing a lot of fancy-schmancy cooking then, and it handled everything I threw at it.

My MIL had a stove (not a Chambers) with a “deep well” – i.e., the slow-cooker-in-the-burner-space – and she absolutely loved it. Think of it as a stock pot in the burner space. She mourned it when she moved to a senior apartment complex.

I just bought my Chambers model 90-C! I haven’t installed it yet, but I’ve cleaned it up and should have it working soon. I’ve been interested in them for some time and this one was had in working condition from e-bay for only $137. The guy who sold me mine had the original receipt. It was purchased in 1952 for $50, a huge amount of money back then. There are deals out there, you just have to wait. I’ve been tracking them for a year.

The top of the broiler is also used as a griddle, for sandwiches or eggs and bacon or whatever. The selling point of the stoves was “cooking with the gas turned off”. They are so efficiently insulated that you could run the gas for 45 minutes and it would cook a large turkey or ham. The thermowell is the same deal - 10 minutes of gas and your meal simmers away for hours. They were very intelligently engineered. A good site for learning more is Chambers’ Stoves and Chamber Rangers discussion boards.

Here’s the link to my original thread. Congratulations!


My folks have had their Chambers stove for roughly all of their 60 year marriage. My grandmother tried to warn my mother against such an extravagance for the day, but mom insisted and has been proven correct. The movers over the years may be cursing the decision, though, as the stove is HEAVY.

It’s held up very well, all things considered. The built in timer has died and over the years the burners have needed some of my Dad’s engineering skills to counter the minor ravages of useage and time, but the stove still works like a champ.

We never used the griddle top for doing griddle things - - don’t know why, exactly - - but I suspect it’s because mom preferred using non-stick pancake griddles when they came out. The broiler works great, but be easy when you open it lest you cause a grease splash. Dad had a grease fire once by opening the broiler fast and bumping it, but closing the broiler and turning off the burner smothered the flames and the food was still good.

Also, the griddle top gets very HOT when you use the broiler. Obvious when you consider that that’s how the griddle gets its heat, but a bummer if you forget and put your hand or a tupperware dish or some other meltable or flammable or hurtable thing on there when broiling.

Mom never cared much for the taste of the food cooked in the well. My guess is that since the aluminum containers that came with the stove are not coated, some metallic taste is added to the food. Lining with foil or taking them in to be coated might help. We used it to warm bread by wrapping loaves or rolls in foil and dropping them in the well while supper cooked.

Not-so-minor edit of my first post. The original cost of my stove was $450, not $50.

Ivorybill - Can you ask your dad a question, please? ON my stove, the tubes that run the gas from the central pilot are attached to the burners by tiny L-shaped tubes. Really tiny. Mine are more or less rusted out (the L-shaped thingy, not the pilot tubes). Has your dad had to get or fabricate replacements?