Quickmeal Cook Stove: The Heart of Home

Reader Contribution by Karrie Steely
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As we’re building our new house, we’re putting a lot of thought into what will go inside. The outside is going to be plain and practical, but I want magic to happen when you walk in the door. There are so many beautiful antiques in the old buildings of this farm property, and I want to be able to showcase them and bring the history of the place into the house. Early 20th-century farmhouse decor is going to be the way to go.

The kitchen and living area will be one big room. With that in mind, I want a focal point, a heart if you will. We talked about what kind of stove/oven we want, and did a little shopping. We looked at new stoves in the big box stores, and did some research and found a couple of new-but-antique-looking stoves. They were beautiful but very expensive. Then we started talking about the idea of getting an antique wood burning stove and converting it to propane. At first this sounded like a complicated project. Soon I realized that was no reason to back down and settle for something less than spectacular.

So I got on Craigslist and did some searching. That’s when I found her. An 1896 Quickmeal wood cook stove in beautiful condition, with little rust and with all her parts. She lived almost her whole life in an old cabin in the Thompson Canyon of Colorado. She needed a lot of cleaning and elbow grease, but was glowing under that grime and dust. I was in love.

It took four people to load her into my pickup and one skid steer to unload her at the shop. We took her apart and inspected every bit. I did some research on old stoves, and realized that we have two options. One is to repaint and re-nickel and make her look like new. The other is to do a deep cleaning and sealing and let the years and personality shine through in the patina. We both agreed on the latter. We also agreed that we don’t want to make any more holes than are absolutely necessary to convert it. Luckily, an old friend who spent most of his life restoring old cars stopped by the shop. We got some great advice from him, and I spent some time researching on the Internet.

The first step so far has been to use Brasso and very fine steel wool, pads, and cloth to rub the grime off. I’m also gently and painstakingly scraping the rust off of the nickel plating.

When we convert it to a gas cook top, we might need to make one hole in the back for the gas hose. We were considering converting the oven with electric elements, but don’t want to make any more holes, so will probably use the oven area for storage, and install an oven under another counter top.

I look forward to writing about the process of bringing this old girl back to life, and welcoming her into our family. Stay tuned for progress!

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