Friday, June 19, 2020

Using My Brother's Vintage Montgomery Ward Cookstove in Our Summer Kitchen

So, way back in 2013, I blogged about my brother's new-to-his-family cookstove in this post, and for nearly seven years, I've been looking forward to hauling this little cookstove over to our place and hooking it up in our summer kitchen.  Since we moved the summer kitchen much closer to the house last spring, we had disconnected the Riverside Bakewell cookstove that was in it.  I wanted to perform a little cookstove rotation anyway, so this was the perfect time to try this little baby out.

When I say "little baby," I mean it.  With the cast iron eyes and "T" removed from the cooktop, I am able to carry it by myself.  Kevin was surprised to find that I had carried it out of the loft of his shed without assistance.  This stove is 26" wide by 21" deep, and it is a back-breaking 25" tall, but don't let its diminutive size fool you.  This stove performs very, very well.

As I have mentioned before, there is no joy in cooking with a wood fire for me unless the stove I'm using has an oven, so I was particularly interested in how this stove would bake.  At first glance, the oven seems tiny, measuring 17.75" deep, 13.5" wide, and 9.5" tall.  In the picture below, I tried to give you a little perspective by holding my spread hand in front of the oven door.  I'm not sure it was the most effective photography technique, though.

Also, it is the first oven on a woodburning cookstove that I have used to be heated using a configuration similar to the one illustrated in the bottom drawing below.  The oven damper is operated by a small lever near the upper right hand corner of the oven door.  For kindling the fire, the damper is turned to the right.  For baking, the lever is turned to the left and thereby diverts all of the smoke and heat from the fire around the oven box.

Well, the stove was installed in our summer kitchen from June 5th to June 12th.  During that time, I did absolutely all of our cooking on it, and I was thoroughly impressed.  You can see from the pictures below that baking was no problem at all.  I did rotate a few things, but this is not uncommon in wood cookstove cookery, and I was pleased and surprised to note how well the bottoms of things had cooked (this can sometimes be a problem on some wood cookstoves).  

The first thing that struck me about the operation of this stove is how quickly it heated.  With the first fire I built, I had the oven temperature up over 400ºF within 15 minutes.  The firebox is small, but not overly so, and during the whole time that the stove was in use, I only used small sticks and wood chips picked up from the floor of the shed where we keep the wood splitter.  Even though the stove is nowhere near airtight, I would say that it was remarkably efficient as I was surprised at how much cooking I could do on so little fuel.

While the stove was in service here, I baked sweet potatoes, sweet potato casserole, bread, hot dog buns, a sour cream cake, a meatloaf, and brownies.  The only thing that didn't turn out well was the brownies--and that was due to a little nephew messing with the timer, not any problem with the stove.

The size of the oven was not as limiting as I thought it would be.  The brownie recipe calls for them to be baked in a 10" x 15" pan, and it fit and worked perfectly.

I have already blogged about cooking our supper of shrimp scampi and capellini pasta, but that was a supper for only two people.  

Our supper of shrimp scampi and capellini pasta
cooking on the tiny Montgomery Ward Cookstove.

I wanted to stretch the capacity of this little stove a bit, and since my young nephews claim the stove as theirs, I wanted to teach them how to use it, too.  Thus, we invited my brother and his family over for supper and therefore served supper for eight cooked on this tiny cookstove.  We had Lamb Loaf Supreme (a recipe out of a vintage pamphlet from the Martin Meat Market which used to be in our hometown--I wasn't impressed, so you won't get to see the recipe here), mashed potatoes, and fried cabbage.  As you can see from the picture below, we had sufficient room on the stove to have been able to cook more food if we had wanted to.

The one characteristic of this stove that I didn't care for was the fact that the sliding draft on the left side is located at the same level as the grate so that when you rake the ashes down or maneuver the dump grate, ashes jump out of the stove onto the floor--a minor inconvenience but worth mentioning.

Overall, the experience of cooking on this stove was fantastic.  Its ease of use and fuel efficiency were quite impressive.  If given the choice between this stove and no wood cookstove at all, I would be glad to have this Montgomery Ward Economy Cookstove.  

One thing I couldn't help but wonder about was its room heating capacity. Our summer kitchen is only 10' x 12', and the weather was hot here the whole time the stove was in use, so I have no idea how warm it might keep a home in the winter.  My romantic side thinks it would be fun to test this stove in some kind of small cabin in the middle of a blizzard, but that will only happen in my imagination.

If you are local to the greater Omaha area, an identical stove is currently for sale on Craigslist at the following link:

After supper with my brother's family, we let the fire go out and exchanged this little cookstove with the Hayes-Custer that I brought home in March of 2018 (more on that stove will be coming).  The next day, I gave my brother's little stove a coat of stove black to retard rust, and he has taken it home now.  I feel better knowing they have it back.  In the event that some humongous disaster occurs, I know that they will be able to stave off starvation with this little marvel.


  1. I've had two of those small wood cookstoves. They used to refer to them as cabin stoves. I had one in a schoolbus, when we lived in that. They are great little stoves and also do a good job of heating up a small space.

    1. Thank you for your input, Teri! I'm glad to know that they are good little heaters, too.

  2. I have this exact stove. Unfortunately the little door below the oven is missing. Could you show photos of it open and closed? Would really appreciate it!!

    1. Hello! I'm sorry I didn't see your comment until this evening. This stove is in storage at my brother's machine shed, so I will get pictures ASAP and write a new post for you. Thank you for visiting my blog!

  3. I have an older version of this stove. A friend found it in the mountains of Arizona about 30 years ago, so it was undoubtedly used in a cabin there. It's the same size as this one, but doesn't have that "apron" on the bottom, so there is more open space between the bottom of the oven and the floor. It has a small metal label on the back side near the bottom which reads, "Ward's Valiant", 35-14D, Montgomery Wards. It's rusted out in places so not usable, and is missing the firebox door. But it's so darn small and cute, I have been meaning to clean it up and use it as an end table in our living room.

  4. I am so excited to see this post! We bought one of these (Ward's Valor model) at a garage sale 10 years ago. The previous owner never used it, and we haven't either. We lit it today and smoke is coming out of every orifice!!! There are a lot of damaged pieces in the firebox.
    Do you know any information about this stove (year made?) and do you know of anyone that sells replacement parts? Could you post a picture of the workings of the firebox area, so we know if we are missing a piece? We would love to get this little gem fixed up and use in our future 'tiny cabin', but don't know where to get the parts. Thank you for any help you can give us!

    1. I published a new blogpost yesterday which shows the inside of the firebox. If you are missing a piece, I would contact a local metalworking shop. From what I have heard from other blog readers, that's usually your best bet.

      I don't know how long these stoves were made for sure. I only know that my brother's was shown in the 1958 Ward's catalog. Sorry I can't be of better service!