Saturday, November 30, 2013

Big News! My Brother's New-to-His-Family Wood Cookstove

That's right, folks.  I am no longer the only wood cookstove owner in my family.  My brother and his family now are also the proud owners of a vintage woodburning cookstove!  When they took their family vacation just before harvest started a couple months ago this fall, they stopped at an antique store in Oklahoma and found this cute little Montgomery Ward cookstove. My sister-in-law had posted a picture on Facebook of my nephew standing next to it, saying that he walked right up to it and started taking the lids off like an old hand.  This made me proud.  He has helped me start the Margin Gem, and whenever he is here while the stove is going, he always wants to see the fire.

Kevin called me to see if I thought that the price was reasonable.  He had inspected it thoroughly and found it sound, and I thought that the price was certainly reasonable, so he bought it and brought it home.  After they got back, I couldn't wait to get over there to take a look at it.  My nephew was more than happy to show it to me.  Since it is just his size, he is under the impression that it is his.   He removed all of the lids for me and gave me a tour.

HD showing me "his" cookstove.

You can see in this picture that the oven clean out door was
missing.  Other than that, the stove was complete.  The lid
with the concentric circles is not original to the stove, but
fits perfectly, and I think it adds to the value of the stove.  I
am hoping to eventually find a lid like that to fit the
Riverside Bakewell down in the summer kitchen.
I inspected the stove pretty closely, poking and tapping on every surface.  A couple of missing bolts make the cast-iron cooktop loose, but they will be easily supplied.  I was disappointed to see that the door for the oven clean out was missing since that meant that the stove could not be fired until a replacement could be made.

However, while I was completing my inspection, I decided to poke the camera into the oven clean out opening, and with the flash and camera screen discovered that the clean out door was simply reposing inside the oven flue.  Thus, the stove is complete.  (At this point, I would just like to sing the praises of the digital camera.  When I was growing up and my parents took the occasional photograph, we would not know what the pictures looked like until the film was developed, and sometimes this would be months after the photo was snapped.  I'm not usually one who gets very excited over the latest technological advancements, but I think that it is wonderful to be able to see the pictures that you've taken immediately so that you can delete the terrible ones and get a retake before your subject flies the coop.)
The oven clean out door hiding in the flue beneath the oven.

I was surprised at how large the firebox is for such a small stove.  I was also fascinated by the grate.  It is what is called a dump grate where the whole grate pivots on a single axis and "dumps" the ashes down into the ash drawer.

A picture of the inside of the firebox and the dump grate at
the bottom.

The clean out door is in position, and HD is busily replacing the
lids in the cooktop for the umpteenth time.
I don't know enough about serial numbers to know exactly when this stove was manufactured, but I have a small collection of antique catalogs, and this model stove appears in the 1958 Spring and Summer Montgomery Ward catalog.  At that time, the stove retailed for $22.95.

A scan of part of the page from the
1958 Montgomery Ward catalog
where Kevin's stove appeared.
Here is what the text in the catalog says:

Economy Cook Stove
Welded steel body, steel oven--17 3/4 x 13 1/2 x 9 1/2 in. high.  Four 8-inch cooking lids.  Easy-to-clean white porcelained panels.  Cast-iron cooktop.  Cast-iron firebox, 17 x 7 x 7 1/2 in., has flat dump grate; burns soft coal, 18-inch wood.  Size overall: 26 x 21 in. deep, 25 in. high.  Use 6-in. stovepipe--see Notice, Page 906.  Pay Freight from Factory near St. Louis, Mo.--shipped promptly.  Ship. wt. 120 lbs.  68 A 1518F-$2.50 Down; Cash $22.95

When all of the lids are removed from the cooktop, I can lift the stove by myself.  I was surprised at how roomy the oven is.  Had I known that the catalog didn't include the dimensions of the oven, I would have measured it and included them here.  Suffice it to say that a 9 x 13 pan would easily fit with a little room to spare.

Now here is the part where all of you readers will discover just how weird I am:

I don't consider myself a prepper, but the fact that Kevin has this stove makes me feel a little bit more secure.  You see, on the farm where he lives, there are three homes: Kevin's, my grandmother's, and my cousin's.  Each of these homes is equipped with only electric stoves for cooking.  I feel better because in some kind of drastic emergency, this little cookstove could be easily put into service.  It wouldn't take a huge crew of men to transport it to my grandmother's basement where a furnace duct could be taken down and fashioned into a stovepipe that would be sufficient to attach it to one of the two old, but lined and safe chimneys which can be accessed down there. My grandmother would probably be able to remember a little about cooking on a wood cookstove, and my sister-in-law is a brilliant cook who could probably prepare a five-course, gourmet meal over a can of Sterno, so I know they will all be able to eat because she would easily be able to figure out how to cook on a cookstove.

As it is, I'm looking forward to the day when we can try out this little cutie, and of course, I'll write a post about how it works so that you'll all know too. 


  1. It seems strange to me that newly manufactured wood cook stoves were sold as recently as 1958.

    1. Actually, I have a 1963 Sears catalog too, and it has a page of wood cookstoves as well. The top-of-the-line model in that year had an electric oven light and a window in the oven door! I'm not sure when the other major wood cookstove manufacturers quit production, but I believe that Monarch wood ranges were manufactured into the 1970s.

  2. Although I don't consider myself to be a prepper either I imagine that everyone interested in having a wood cookstove has some thoughts towards a time when electricity is not always available.

    I think this little Montgomery Ward is the cutest little cookstove! How fun to find it intact.

  3. Thats us had our woodburning stove for a week now and we love it dont understand why more people have them

  4. How fortunate to find the oven clean out door inside! I have been looking for just the "right" wood cook stove for some time now. While I love the look of the older stoves, I have been leaning towards a new stove due to the smallish space I have in which to place the stove. It is my understanding that greater clearances are required for the older stoves. I note that the pic of the stove in your summer kitchen shows your vintage stove very close to the walls. Can you talk a little about clearances?

  5. What a great little stove! My grandmother grew up in coal camps in Colorado and she talked about having her own little stove that was her size when she was about 7 or 8 so she could help her mom cook. My great-grandmother cooked for all the men in the camp and she sold bread. I imagine it was about that size.

  6. I just acquired a Montgomery ward cookstove that looks almost identical but the cooktop only has 2 inserts over the firebox, the middle is solid cast iron. I got it at auction in the original shipping crate from Auto Stove Works in New Athens IL. Was never used but had been exposed to the elements so moderate surface rust. I have the model number (AS-15-20A) but cant find any info. Was wondering what the small 3 inch cast iron insert near the flu was used for. Got it for $5 at auction so I'll restore it.

    1. Five dollars! Excellent buy! I'm definitely a little jealous!

      The small lid by the collar where stovepipe would be attached is there to allow access to the flue path for cleaning soot and creosote out of the stove.

      Do you plan to use the stove?