Saturday, April 15, 2023

Cole's Hot Blast Ranges and Cookstoves

In my occasional trollings through Ebay, I sometimes run across some interesting cookstove ephemera that I want to share here on the blog. Tonight, we have a catalog from the Cole Manufacturing Company of Chicago, Illinois.  There is not date on the catalog, and a search of the Internet did not yield much information about this particular stove company at all.  However, I did find a site that said that the company closed down around 1920.  That information coupled with images from their 1916-1917 catalog, which was for sale at a different antique site, cause me to date this catalog at around 1920, thus making it one of the company's last.

The cover of the Cole catalog.

I've blown up the next view large enough that I think you'll be able to read it yourselves.  I'm entertained by the text on the left side and wonder whether there was some kind of "energy crisis" at the time that caused the price of coal to skyrocket like the price of heating oil did last fall.  There may not have been anything like that going on, though, as fuel economy is a topic often addressed in sales brochures for wood/coal cookstoves no matter the date of their publication.

Now, the next pictures are the ones that really caught my eye for this brochure.  Anytime I see a model of wood cookstove with the oven located somewhere other than the traditional spot to the right or left of the firebox, I am intrigued.  Before purchase, I think I had only seen a picture of the model on the left, and I couldn't help but think that this stove must have been a source of great frustration to those gallant souls who tried to cook on its stovetop.  You will note the barrel-shaped firepot at the base with four cooking lids arranged over its top.  This configuration is quite similar to the old-fashioned "laundry stoves" that were used to heat a pair of wash boilers before that advent of hot-running water.  

When I was in my very early teens, I purchased one of those laundry stoves at an antique store and hooked it up to an abandoned flue in the old school bus carcass that used to be here on our farm.  My brother and I had many, many fires in that stove while we cooked a variety of grass soups, popped field corn, and various other concocted "foods."  Although we never cooked any real foods on that stove, one of the things I learned quite quickly was that it didn't have the range of cooking temperatures that the surface of a cookstove has.  It was hottest over the center of the firepot, but beyond that, each of the four lids were of equal temperature.

I'm sure it would have been the same across the cooktop of the stove in the left picture.  The cook would have had to employ a variety of trivets and heat diffusers to create the varied temperatures that are needed for cooking most meals.  You may even notice that the text brags about this cookstove's room heating ability more than its ease of use for cooking.

The cookstove on the right in the scan above seems to have the answers to all of my suspicions about the one on the left.  You can see in the picture below, that the firebox is only at the front part of the base, thus creating a cooler surface at the back of the stove.  Granted, this still would have been a bit of a challenge because it wouldn't have been a lot cooler than the two front lids which are directly over the firebox, but some temperature difference would have existed.

Though this cookstove only had four cooking lids, I wonder if the high oven would have been bigger than the ovens on the little cookstoves that engineered like the one below.  I would think that it would certainly have been more even-heating with the flue gases hitting it squarely in the bottom rather than having the firebox occupy about a quarter of the surface area of the oven box.

That said, I wonder if "Cole's Square Base High Oven Range" would have been a popular choice with apartment dwellers of that time period.  This stove would have had a nice sized square oven while occupying a much smaller footprint in the kitchen than standard style range.

Speaking of standard style ranges, I find the range on the right side of the scan below to be extremely attractive.  The clean lines and angular trim just scream 1918 or 1919, and I think it is beautiful.  I might even use the word "masculine" to describe its solid, reliable appearance.

The next pages are interesting because they show Cole's line of "down-draft ranges."  As you can see, the Cole Manufacturing Company had designed a range where the drafts delivered air into the top of the firebox (hence the name "Hot Blast").  They advertise that this new technology is what allows their ranges to be so fuel-efficient.  What fascinates me about this is that delivering air into the top of the fire has been proven to create the most efficient combustion of wood, but not necessarily coal.  For this reason, the Margin Gem and other wood cookstoves that are being manufactured today use this technology, but they tout it as something that was discovered within the last thirty years.  It appears that the Cole Manufacturing Company was far ahead of its time.  

As you can see, Cole's offered three styles of downdraft ranges.

The rest of the catalog features their heating stoves, furnaces, and schoolhouse heaters--most of which feature the down draft air delivery system.  I would love to know what caused this company to close its doors so long before the Great Depression hit, so if you have any information to add, please do so in the comments section below.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

A Couple of Family Recipes Specific to the Wood Cookstove: Laundry Soap and Boiled Potatoes

Back in 2010, one of my distant cousins on my mom's side of the family decided to put together a cookbook of the recipes from my Great-Grandma Ruth's family.  Grandma Ruth was the second of nine children, and she came from a family who knew their way around a kitchen.

The cookbook was a grand idea, and I find myself going to it for several family recipes.  While I was searching for the recipe for Aunt Tod's Lemon Filling to spread between the layers of a sponge cake I baked yesterday in the Margin Gem, I ran across a couple of treasures that I'd like to document here.  Both of these recipes have specific instructions for how to use the wood cookstove to accomplish the desired result, and they both come with stories that give today's reader some insight into what life used to be like in rural southwest Iowa in the first half of the twentieth century.

The first recipe is for laundry soap and comes from a book that my Great-Great Aunt "Tod" had.  It reads as follows:

4 pounds grease or cracklings

1 can lye

2 quarts water

Mix.  Let stand on back of stove, preferably the reservoir, from one morning until the next.  Stir in a tea kettle of hot water or until the consistency of honey.  Pour into a mold.  Let cool and cut into bars.

Aunt Tod's daughter remembers her mother making homemade soap in a big iron cooking pot over a fire outdoors.  That would have been as late as the 1940s or early 50s.

The second recipe comes with the following story written by my grandpa's first cousin:

"A three-ring recipe book was given to Mom for a shower gift by friends of hers.  Guests were to write recipes in it, and it was presented to her.  I have the book now, and I often read this page and laugh over it.  I wonder if the shower guests did too.  Date was June 19, 1930."

I can just see a group of farmwives in their best cotton summer dresses and with their bobbed hair done in waves gathering together to celebrate Aunt Martha's upcoming wedding.  A delicious homemade cake waited to be cut and placed on the hostess's best china while the women laughed at jokes about a bride's lumpy potatoes or her not knowing how to boil water.

The following is what was handwritten on the page, complete with the errors still present:

Boiled potatoes

        will serve nine

     Go to your potatoe [sic] patch or basement and get thirty five large potatoes and wash in water.

     Now get a basket of cobs and kerosene over a few of them, before you put them in the range.  put in the kitchen range.  Get a match and light the fire.  First being sure that your drafts are open, as the fire may go out if they are closed.  Now go to the pump or windmill and get a bucket of water.  Fill the teakettle and put over the fire.  Close the drafts.

     Next peel your potatoes, being sure to get all the eyes, unless Art [her fiancĂ©] likes eye soup for dinner. Wash the peeled potatoes and pour off water.  By this time it will be eleven-fifteen.  It is now time to pour the water which has reached the boiling stage, on the potatoes.  Salt to taste but don't burn your tongue.  Remove from fire when done.  They will be sure to please the hungry better half.

Notice the mention of the ever-present teakettle in both of these recipes. These bits of history are reminders of the hard work that filled the "good old days."  Speaking of that, Nancy and I are headed out to the wood splitter, so I'll sign off for this afternoon!

Monday, February 20, 2023

Homemade English Muffins on the Wood Cookstove

My dad and I have always enjoyed English muffins.  I remember Dad making English muffins from scratch a couple of times when I was young. I remember one time particularly well because we invited my paternal grandparents (and also our next door neighbors) down for supper so they could enjoy them with us.  We ate Dad's English muffins hot off the griddle, slathered with butter and homemade black raspberry jelly.

Years ago, I made English muffins using the same recipe that my dad used, and while they were delicious, they were dense and a bit on the rubbery side.  I remember that an engaged couple came to the house while I was making them.  I was going to be the organist at their wedding, and they had come to choose the music.  The muffins were ready to be baked as they were leaving, and I mentioned to them that I was disappointed in the texture.  The bride-to-be, in what appeared to me like an exaggerated attempt to impress her future husband, was telling me that I needed to have beaten the batter very hard for quite a while so as to get air into it.  She was sure that I would then have the nooks and crannies in the English muffins that I desired.

Well, fast forward nearly twenty years.  I've done a great deal more baking with yeast doughs, and I can tell you that the advice the young lady gave me would have worked for cake batter, but not English muffins.  With yeast doughs, to get nooks and crannies is an entirely different matter.  First, you don't want to work the dough for a long time because that activates the gluten in the flour, which will create a finer crumb texture.  Secondly, you want a very soft dough so that large bubbles can easily form; and finally, you want the dough to rise as quickly as possible because that will create bigger bubbles of gas too.

Thus, when I came across a recipe which was such a soft dough that the muffins had to be dropped rather than rolled and cut out, I knew I was getting closer to my desired result.  I've tweaked the recipe that I found and gotten the results I desired.  Now, when I buy English muffins in the grocery store, it will be for the sake of convenience, not because I can't make an equally desirable product.  What's more, for reasons that will be obvious in a moment, this is recipe that takes full advantage of a wood cookstove.  Here is what you do:

Into a large mixing bowl, pour one cup of warm water.  To it, add 2 tsp. of yeast, 1 tsp. of sugar, and a 1/2 tsp. of salt.

You can see that Granny's ugly avocado green Sunbeam Mixmaster
that I inherited 28 years ago and was going to "use until it quit" 
still hasn't quit.  In the picture above, it is outfitted with Sunbeam's
answer to the Kitchenaid dough hook.

While the yeast is proofing, put a tablespoon of butter in the measuring cup you used for the water and put it into the warming oven of the cookstove to melt.

By the time the butter is melted, the yeast and water mixture should be foamy.  Add the melted butter to it.

To the liquid mixture, add 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour.  Mix just until dough is stringy.

Scrape the dough from the edges so that it is shaped into a ball in the middle of the bowl.

Cover with a plate and put in a very warm place to rise.  This is key to getting the big nooks and crannies. Usually, I think the warming oven of the Margin Gem is a little too warm for yeast doughs to rise there, but it is perfect for this because you want this dough to rise quickly to achieve those big bubbles.

Let use until double in size.  It will be EXTREMELY soft dough.

Sprinkle cornmeal lightly on a jelly roll pan.  Using a greased ice cream scoop (I sprayed mine with Pam), drop the muffins onto the cornmeal in the size you desire.

Sprinkle the tops of each muffin with a little more cornmeal and return them to the warming oven door to rise quickly again.  This is why a wood cookstove is the perfect tool to make English muffins.

Just a little before you think the muffins will be ready to bake, preheat a griddle and melt a tablespoon of butter on it.  

Depending on how hot your fire is burning at this point, you may need to do this directly over the fire or slightly away from it.  Initially, my fire was quite hot, so my griddle started to the right of the fire.  However, just before baking, I put a couple of large split pieces on the fire that didn't take right away and cooled the stovetop a little.  That is why you will see my griddle move in the pictures below.

When you are ready to bake the English muffins, quickly slide a pancake turner under them to pick them up, using the cornmeal as the means to slide them onto the turner without deflating them.  Place them on the hot buttered griddle and bake until the bottoms are nicely browned and set enough that they can be turned.

Turn them when you can and continue baking on the other side until as brown as the first side.  You want to be sure to bake these for quite a while to get as much moisture out of them as possible, and they can become quite brown without being burnt.  Just watch them carefully.

When done, remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

When the muffins are completely cool, you can split them and they are ready for toasting.  To toast them on the wood cookstove, I lightly butter the inside of the muffin and place them buttered side down on a small griddle directly over the fire. 

An English muffin half, toasting buttered side down.

The same English muffin turned so that the outside
is toasting and the toasted, buttered side is now up.

I slathered a dab of my homemade strawberry preserves on the buttered side, and it was wonderfully tasty!  These keep well in a plastic bag on the countertop until you are ready to toast them.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Meals out of a Ham

Since there are only two of us in our household, when we bake a ham, there is a lot of leftover meat.  Nancy doesn't like leftovers as a general rule, but she doesn't mind having leftover ham because we turn it into so many other very different dishes as we work to finish it.

The first thing she always asks for is a ham pot pie.  I've never heard of anyone else making one of these, so maybe they are a creation that is unique to us.  The process for making this pie is almost identical to what I do to make a chicken pot pie, which I have written about in this previous post.  I make gravy out of the drippings from the bottom of the roaster, adding some heavy cream and mixed vegetables.  Nancy cuts a few slices of ham into chunks, and everything goes into the meat pie pastry that I blogged in the other post.  The only real difference other than the type of meat and the color of the gravy is that we like to cover the top of the meat filling with Swiss cheese before adding the top crust.  Also, because of the salt that is already in the ham and the cheese, we add no additional seasoning to the gravy.

The Swiss cheese (two different kinds) on top of the
meat filling, waiting for the top crust to be added.

There is nothing quite like the feeling of taking a flaky
meat pie out of the oven of a woodburning cookstove. 
Loaves of golden brown bread and meat pies just make
a woodburning cookstove cook's heart sing.

The finished potpie removed from the oven to the
countertop for serving.

Ham pot pie.  Delectable!

The next meal might be something really fast.  One of the things I like is ham and sweet potatoes.  In the picture below, I had just used a can of sweet potatoes, some pecan syrup leftover from sweet rolls, and a couple of slices of ham placed on top.  I covered it and let it boil until all was hot. Some leftover green beans were warming in the small saucepan up next to the stovepipe.

Nancy's other usual request is ham and scalloped potatoes.  For years, I would occasionally attempt homemade ham and scalloped potatoes with no good results.  Then, a couple of years ago, I ran onto a video from Brenda Hall of the Youtube channel Appalachian Cooking with Brenda.  I now make scalloped potatoes and ham just the way she teaches in this video.    

If you've ever made scalloped potatoes, you know that they take a long time in the oven to get the potatoes cooked through.  Brenda starts her potatoes on the stovetop to shave some of that oven time.  This is a particularly efficient thing to do on a wood cookstove because while the oven is coming up to temperature, you can use the hot cooktop to get the meal jump started.

The pot of homegrown potatoes beginning to cook
in milk on top of the cookstove.  The secret here (as
Brenda continually reminds you in her video) is to 
keep them moving so they don't scorch.

You can see that this boiled over in the oven.  This was the first
time that I've had a really smoky boil-over in the oven of a
wood cookstove.  I shouldn't have filled the dish so full!  After
I saw what was happening, I added the foil and the pie tin to
catch any further spills.

After cutting the ham for the scalloped potatoes, there was not much meat left on the bone, so the hambone and its remains went into the soup kettle that was about half full of water.  I brought it to a good quick boil while the scalloped potatoes were in the oven.  Then, I let it simmer and reduce on the back of the range overnight.  This resulted in about an inch or so of some intense ham broth that was perfect for ham and bean soup--the final dish that came out of this particular ham.

The hambone boiling on the back of the range with the scalloped potatoes
resting on the open door to the warming oven.

Now, I don't know about the rest of the world, but in my particular area of Iowa, ham and bean soup is made with ham broth, Navy or Great Northern Beans, a paltry little bit of onion, carrot, and celery, and a whatever morsels of ham were left on the bone.  I've made that soup before, and I'm told that mine was pretty good, but to me it tastes like dirty water.  By that I mean that it has a distinct lack of flavor and doesn't do justice to the ham, the beans, or the vegetables.

You can see from the photo below, that my version of ham and bean soup is totally different.  I used all of the traditional ingredients, but my beans came in the form of two cans of Van Camp's Pork and Beans, some ketchup, some potatoes (sometime I'm going to try adding pasta instead of the potatoes), and pearl barley. This, for me, is much more satisfying and delicious!  Again, the ham and its broth along with the canned beans and ketchup are salty enough that I added no further seasoning of any kind.

Now, there is one other dish that we love to make with leftover ham, and that is ham balls.  These are a favorite dish in the southern two tiers of counties in Iowa, but an "immigrant" from Mount Ayr brought these up to our area fifty years ago, and they remain a family favorite.  They really deserve their own blog post, though, so you'll have to look for that in the future.

In these days of high food costs, I think a ham is money well spent because of the number of different meals that can be made from it--even the bone was a source of joy to our dog after we had picked it clean of the meat that we could use.  Further, each of these dishes is extremely easy to make on a wood cookstove since no specific times and temperatures are needed for any of them.

Please use the comments section below to let me know what you do with leftover ham.

May your kitchen cookstove fire be burning brightly!

Friday, November 25, 2022

Monarch Brochure from 1980

Occasionally, I find some very interesting things on Ebay, and this little brochure from the Monarch division of the Malleable Iron Range Company is one of them.

I have a special affinity for Monarch ranges.  When I was growing up, the Monarch range that had belonged to my great-great grandparents on my mother's side rested comfortably in the dilapidated summer kitchen on the original home place.  It had been my great-great aunt Meme's last woodburning range before she moved off the farm to her home on Grace Street in Council Bluffs, and it had been my grandma Marian's first range after getting married in 1947.  

Both Meme and Grandma Marian sang the praises of that large cookstove, which had reigned supreme in the spacious kitchen of the original home place.  Fortunately, it had been moved out of the house into the summer kitchen a few years before the house burned to the ground from an electrical fire.  Whenever we were at "the other place" to work cattle or cut thistles or simply have a picnic, I would go in and visit that old range.

When I was about five years old, I drew up plans in red crayon to have a summer kitchen built between the two houses here on our farm using four old cedar trees as the corner posts.  I wanted to move that Monarch range over here and put it to use.  I distinctly remember having Granny come and look over the plans--even at that age I knew that if anything was going to get done on our place, Granny was the one who would spearhead the operation.  She listened with that feigned interest that we give children who amuse us, but I could tell at the end of the conversation that no summer kitchen was in the foreseeable future.

During my high school days, I was certain that I would be putting that range back into service someday, so I purchased a can of stove black and coated it well in order to protect it as much as I could.  Though I would guess it to be about seventy years old at that point, it was in pristine condition except for surface rust and a temperamental oven cleanout door.

Well, when I was in my freshman year at Iowa State University, someone--actually a group of someones, I'm sure--absconded with that precious stove.  I've kept my eyes peeled for it ever since, but Grandma and Grandpa were told at the time they filed a report with the county sheriff's department that it had been very likely shipped to Colorado since that was the hot spot for antiques during that time.

Monarchs seem to have been a particular favorite among our family members.  The last kitchen stove my great-grandma Ruth (the daughter-in-law and next door neighbor of the aforementioned great-great grandmother) had on the farm before moving to Council Bluffs was a Monarch combination stove with a woodburning left side and an electric right side.  That stove still rests in the basement of my Grandma Marian's house.  On the other side of the family, my great-great aunt Donald's Edna Klopping had an electric Monarch range purchased in the 1940s and used until the 1960s.  It was the 40" deluxe model that had an electric roaster built into the right side of the cooktop.  I actually think that it was Auntie Edna's first electric range, and I know she liked that stove very much.

Even the last woodburning range that was in our farmhouse before I put the Qualified range in was a Monarch.  Its remains still haunt the banks of our creek where my grandparents deposited it sometime in the late 1950s or 60s.

As I said earlier, Monarch was a division of the Malleable Iron Range Company of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.  Much information about them is available online, but two important details stick out: a) the company was in business from 1896 to 1985 and b) Monarch ranges "were recognized as being [of] much better quality and easier to use than the typical range."  Perhaps Meme and Grandma knew what they were talking about when they bragged about that old Monarch!

The brochure was sold on Ebay as having been published in 1980, but I am unable to find a dated printed on it anywhere.  From the pictures, I would say that 1980 is believable, but if that isn't accurate, I would put it slightly earlier.  There were many pictures of the woodburning heating stoves and furnaces they sold as well, but I only included the pictures that had to do with cooking appliances.  (As I always say, if it doesn't have an oven, I'm not interested.)

The cover of the brochure.

The first picture of a range is the later version of the
combination stove that my great-grandmother had
in the late 1930s.

The gas version of the same stove.

The wood/coal range that they were manufacturing at
that time.

The dual-fuel range that Monarch made for many, many
years. This stove went through many different iterations
over the nearly forty years that it was manufactured.  This
was truly a dual-fuel range in that you could cook on the 
surface with heat from a wood or coal fire or with electricity.
The single oven was heated with either the wood or coal fire
or electricity or a combination of both.  If your wood fire
wasn't hot enough to heat the oven to baking temperature, 
you could supplement that heat with electricity.

Information about the woodburning firebox, clearances,
and the waterfront to heat running water.

I've not personally seen any of the ranges advertised in this brochure up close, but the earlier versions of these stoves were high quality appliances with a high standard of fit and finish.  If any of you readers have had or are currently using any of the ranges pictured in this post, please fill the comments section with your opinions about them and whatever other information you can share.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Readers' Cookstoves Post VII

Brett, a longtime blog reader and fellow Midwesterner, has become a great email friend over the last few years.  Though he heats his home with a Kitchen Queen, he completed the restoration of a Waterford Stanley cookstove earlier this year and shared the following account with me and gave permission to share it with all of you.

Waterford Stanley Cookstove

We heat our home with a Kitchen Queen 380 cookstove.  We live in northern Indiana and our house is a 2200 cu. ft. ranch.  The Kitchen Queen in the basement does an admirable job of keeping the house warm.  When it is very cold and/or windy, we have a small Hearthstone stove in the living room to help the Kitchen Queen out.  We do almost no cooking on the Kitchen Queen.

All that, notwithstanding, this article is not about the aforementioned stoves.  It is about our Waterford Stanley cookstove.  I recently renovated this stove and this article is about that renovation.  Note: we have never fired this stove.


From what I have been able to find, the company that became Waterford Stanley began manufacturing cookstoves in 1936.  I have seen at least one claim on the Internet that the poster’s Waterford stove was “antique.”  In another post, someone claimed her Waterford Stanley cookstove was made in “the late 1920s.”  That seems a little impossible.  I am less sure about this, but the best estimate I have is the company began exporting cookstoves to the U.S. about 1982.  I do not know how old our stove is, but I am guessing it was new in the late 1980s.

Our Stove

I purchased the Waterford cookstove in March of 2016.  When I purchased it, the stove was in rough shape, as the following photos show.

Everything shown in the above photos was included.  A new water jacket was also included.

Despite the rough appearance, the stove, from the hob (cooking surface) down, was in pretty good shape – with the exception of the sheet metal side panels.  The left side panel is shown in the figure below.  The discoloration toward the bottom is rust.

I had a variety of plans when I bought the stove, and more came to mind along the way.

  • I wanted to replace the “platerack” (the slotted warming shelf) with a warming closet.
  • I wanted side shelves.
  • I wanted the option to burn coal.
  • I wanted a plurality of hooks available for hanging tools, trivets, etc.

For the warming oven, I made a pair of new standards using one-inch square tubing.  I had a local welding shop make a stainless steel backsplash for me.  I also had them build a warming oven, which I did not use, as detailed, below.

I purchased a pair of cast iron grates from Tractor Supply to use as side-shelves.  To support the side shelves, I had to fabricate some bracing members.

The first major hitch came when I had my new parts porcelain coated.  The job was not done very professionally.  The owner of the porcelain coating business claimed many of the parts would not take a porcelain coating due to being inferior quality steel.  The warming oven was coated in black, whereas I had specified white.  The backsplash and side-panels came back terribly warped.  The standards were coated in the right color and were not too badly done.  The cast iron side-shelves came back looking very good.  I ended up using the standards, backsplash, side-panels, and the side-shelves.  The company did not coat the braces for the side shelves, so I had to paint those.

In considering what to do about the warming closet, I found that Margin sold a package comprising a warming oven, backsplash, and standards.  I reached out to Jim R. who operates the woodcookstovecooking blog, and he was very helpful in providing me Margorie’s warming oven dimensions.  Based on those, I decided to order a white warming oven assembly to substitute for the miscolored one I already had.  The overall width of the Margin warming oven is greater than the width of the Waterford stove, so I stripped off the Margin standards and backsplash and used my own.  Because the Margin backsplash extends up to form the back of the warming oven, I had to fabricate a replacement back for my installation.  I used stainless steel for that purpose.

As you can see in many photographs on Jim’s blog, the flue exiting Margin’s stoves is oval in cross section.  So the hole in the bottom shelf of the Margin warming oven is also oval-shaped.  Waterford Stanley stoves, on the other hand, make use of a circular flue.  I had considered reshaping a flue pipe to pass through the warming closet, but I chose, instead, to cut the lower shelf of the Margin warming closet.  The shelf is porcelain coated, making cutting it a challenge.  To overcome that challenge, I made a clamp for my die grinder, and welded a short piece of rod stock to the bottom of the clamp.  Then, I drilled a board and put the board under the lower warming oven shelf.  The rod engaged in the hole and the die grinder could pivot around that axis of rotation.  The next two photos illustrate the die grinder with its clamp.  In the first one, the rod is engaged in the hole in the board.  In the second, the rod can be seen on the right side of the photo.  With that, I was able to cut an arc and make room for the circular flue.  In the third photo, below, the modified hole in the bottom of the warming oven is illustrated.  A flue pipe is shown passing through that hole.

The top shelf of the warming oven already had a hole permitting the circular flue to pass.  This facet was introduced by Woody Chain of Obadiah’s Woodstoves.

I ordered all the parts for converting to coal from Lehman’s Hardware in Kidron, Ohio.  Those included firebrick, a cast iron frame with a gate just inside the firebox door, and a coal riddling grate.  Although these stoves seem to hold up very well, one of the things that does, occasionally, go wrong is the cast iron firebox lining breaks.  Replacements are still available, but very expensive.  So I decided I would build forms (a few of which are shown in the first illustration, below) so I could cast my own refractory cement firebrick (see the second photo, below).  I used the firebricks from Lehman’s as patterns.  A new, complete set of cast iron liners would run over $1100, today.  I can cast a full set of refractory cement firebricks for less than $50.  Also, if I choose to burn coal, I would be closer to being ready for that with the firebox lined with firebrick.  At this time, my plan is to use the stove with the firebrick installed.  I still have the cast iron liners that came with the stove, and they are in good condition, so I can revert to them if I decide firebrick is not the way to go.

I removed the hob (cook-top).  The stove cement in all the seams had long ago failed, so the stove would not have been air tight.  I sealed up the seams inside the stove, and after I had cast the firebrick, I recemented the hob into place.  Hopefully, it is airtight, now.

To brace the side shelves – shown below – I used half inch solid square stock, pivotally connected to the side shelves and then pinned to cross-braces between the stove legs at each side of the stove.  I had to drill the legs to provide a way to attach the cross braces.  The legs, like most of the rest of the stove, are porcelain coated.  I made a jig that allowed me to drill, using a diamond drill bit, from both sides of the leg, eliminating the porcelain coating in a circle 5/16” in diameter so I could use a high-speed drill bit to drill the cast iron.  It all worked well.

The trivets, attached to the backsplash, were an eBay find.  I drilled the backsplash for them before I had the backsplash porcelain coated.  Because the backsplash was so badly warped after it was porcelain coated, I made some vertical braces extending the entire height of the backsplash.  I then screwed the trivets to the braces, thus straightening the backsplash and providing very stable anchorage for the trivets.

Also from eBay, I purchased two cast iron oven racks that fit the Stanley.  The two lower racks in the photo are from eBay.  The top one is original to the cookstove.  These cookstoves came with one cast iron rack and one sheet metal shelf that was to be inserted above the cast iron rack.  Our stove came to us with both.

There are two cookie sheets in the next photo, though it may be hard to tell.  I purchased two pieces of 14 gage stainless steel sheet.  I bent one edge of each up about 45°.  They are made to slide into the oven without a rack to support them.  The material is sufficiently heavy so the cookie sheets will not sag, and their dimensions are such that they engage the same guides that support the cast iron racks.  I made them so they can be inserted frontwards or backwards – so they can be rotated to deal with higher firebox-side temperatures, when necessary.

Online, it is common to see cookstove tools – lid lifter, poker, soot rake, etc. – sitting on the warming shelf or in the warming oven, or just in the way, somewhere.  I wanted a place to store these items so they will be out of the way, yet accessible.  So I fabricated a set of hooks to hang beneath one of the side shelves, as shown, below.  I also made hooks for the back of the warming oven (not shown).

For the most part, this was a fun project.  We look forward to using this Waterford Stanley cookstove someday.

After reading everything that Brett sent, two things are abundantly clear: a) He and his wife have a beautiful and unique cookstove to use, and b) Brett has a very useful set of skills that I only dream of having!

I have heard very good things about Waterford Stanley cookstoves, and when I was at Lehman's last and had a chance to examine one, I was quite impressed with the standard of workmanship that went into these ranges.

Thanks, Brett, for your contribution to my blog!