Monday, January 16, 2006

The $125 Stove Handle

I have a 1934 Magic Chef that I cook on every night. Even though it is lacking in some modern stove amenities I don’t really mind. It’s a pretty neat stove and it works just fine. The thing I really like about it is that I’m only the second owner and it has been in almost continuous use since 1934 with out ever being restored! When you think about, that’s pretty amazing.

I had wanted an old stove but had trouble finding anything I liked or could afford. There is a guy locally that restores stoves from the 1940s and sells them. Very, very nice stuff but they start in the $3,000 range and go up. I was checking out EBay and all of the stoves are out of the area. The old ones weigh so much shipping is crazy expensive. If I got one off EBay it would have to be the deal of the century and could not need any work. I didn’t want to pay an arm and a leg for something, ship it all the way out, and then have to sink a lot more money it to it to get it running.

After a few months of occasional EBay browsing I saw the 1934 Magic Chef. It was in Ohio and had an opening bid of $125. It belonged to the guys Grand Mother and she bought it new in 1934. She passed away sometime in the mid 1990s and it had been in his garage ever since. She cooked on it everyday for almost 60 years! The only thing the matter with it was it was missing the two Bakelite parts to the oven and broiler door handles. You can see them in the picture above. They are the black tassel parts on the handles.

The Case of the Missing Bakelite

I watched it all week and no one bid on it. After the auction ended I emailed him and said I might be interested in it depending upon shipping cost. I contacted a company called Vintage Transport and they said they would pick it up, pack it, and ship it to my door for about $375. Kind of steep. I emailed him back and said I could only offer him his opening bid of $125. He agreed and about 6 weeks later I had my stove for a total cost of $500. I was happy.

I set about trying to find the stove and broiler handles. I went to some old appliance related forums and asked around and a few people responded saying I would never find them. The bakelite tended to get brittle from the heat and eventually broke off. I gave up and started to think of way to fabricate new handles. I few months later a guy emailed me saying he had a pair and he would let me have them for the oh so generous price of $125 each!!! I told I only paid $125 for the stove and there was no way in hell I was going to pay $250 for a pair of handles.

Eventually I found a set of three handles on Ebay. The metal part of the handles that the bakelite part screws on was all wrong. I bought them anyway thinking maybe I could use just the bakelite part with the original metal parts that I had. The opening bid was $3.99. I was the only one that bid and with shipping I had them for less than $12. A far cry from $250.

When I got them, though, I discovered that the threads were not an exact match and I broke one of the metal parts when I was screwing on the bakelite parts. I couldn’t believe it. It is white metal, sometimes called pot metal, and I’ve been told it can be repaired but I never really looked in to it. I tried super glue and JB Weld, both of which worked for a few weeks and then it broke again. I just kind of put the whole thing on the back burner and didn’t think about for a while. The oven door was complete, so it’s not the end of the world.

Threads Don’t Quite Go In All The Way


Then a few weeks ago another set of three came up for auction on Ebay. Apparently these aren’t as rare as I was lead to believe. This time I paid a whopping $1.04 for the set. It was around $8 with shipping. The best part is the metal part fits my oven door. They just came yesterday and I popped them on about an hour ago. Woo hoo! A complete stove.

New Old Handles


Anonymous said...

That's a beautiful stove, and a great story. Isn't Ebay great? I've kept myself from buying anything over $150. so far, but I've sure been tempted on a number of items. Congratulations on a sucessful hunt.

Anonymous said...

Very cool stove. I am such a sucker for Ebay too. Everyone has something they consider "worthless junk" that someone else would kill for. Tracking it down can be a real pain, but it sounds like you've got alot of patience. Glad you found your "it" from their genius commercials!

HomeImprovementNinja said...

I am constatnly amazed by what you can find on ebay if you check back periodically.

I think someone will sell Jimmy Hoffa's remains on there one day.