Q: We love our Crown gas stove. The burners work fine, but the ovens have problems. The pilots work, but when I turn on the left oven, the "secondary" flame sometimes does not light at first. I have to try several times, and then it finally lights. In the right oven, the secondary flame comes on, but it can take more than 15 minutes before it actually lights. Neither oven has any gas smell. Do you have any suggestions?
A: Gas ranges such as yours are sought after these days by people who want a vintage kitchen look. Luckily, replacement parts are generally available, even if local appliance-repair companies don’t realize that.
Appliance411.com, which contains useful information about both new and vintage appliances, is a good place to learn some of the terminology. The site has a good primer on gas range ignition systems. It identifies five types, labels the parts, discusses what’s likely to go wrong with each, and suggests how to fix the problems. The site also has links to its sponsors: a variety of online appliance-parts companies. These companies have search boxes where you can locate the parts you need — if you can figure out the part numbers.
For more focused help, contact Belgrove Appliance in Yonkers, N.Y. (914-664-5231; belgroveappliance.com ). This company is home to the Famous Stove Lady, a service that specializes in repairing, restoring and selling vintage stoves. It serves customers in New York and surrounding states, and offers help by phone to customers anywhere. The company has a technician who makes house calls in the Washington area, and he works on double-oven Crown gas ranges such as yours.
American Crown Range, now out of business, had a factory in Cicero, Ill., and later in Nashville, according to historical notes on the website Applianceadvisor.com. In the mid-1980s, snowpack caused the roof of the Tennessee factory to collapse, and the company never recovered. But the company’s national service manager, Loren Huck, continued to sell replacement parts. Before he died, in 2012, he passed along a lot of what he knew to Carlita Belgrove, whose father owned a Yonkers appliance store that operated under the family name. After he died, she took over Belgrove Appliance and started the Famous Stove Lady. Focused on repairing and selling vintage ranges, her company was the only one with that specialty in New York and seven surrounding states, she said.
“I did so many stoves that I had to stop doing all other appliances because I couldn’t keep up with demand,” Belgrove wrote in an email. “As it is now, we have a waiting list and I am trying to hire and train more technicians.”
Belgrove said she would love to help, but she suggested that you not wait because the company’s busy season is approaching. “Crown is one of my favorite stoves,” she said. “I grew up with one in my family home and it is still there today.”
In your case, part of the solution is something you can probably do yourself, at no cost. “For the left oven that lights sporadically, she should vacuum it and clean it with an old toothbrush,” Belgrove said. “For the right oven, she needs our help.”
If you decide to schedule an appointment with the Belgrove technician in the Washington area, the fee is $250, with all but $100 of that applied toward the cost of repair if you decide to proceed. Fill out the service request form at Stovelady.com. Belgrove also offers a video phone service starting at $125, in which she walks people through doing some of their own diagnostics and repairs. Or you can ask a technician from a local appliance company to call Belgrove for advice and then order the needed parts.
Besides repairs, Belgrove’s company also offers what she calls a luxury service that includes cleaning and partial restoration. “We would partially dismantle the stove, clean and restore key functional and cosmetic parts, and send the stove back refreshed and working like it did in its infancy,” Belgrove wrote. “We do things like chromeplate the drip pans so they are new, and sandblast the grates and apply new porcelain so they are new.” Restored stoves wind up looking as good as new, complete with a warranty that Belgrove said is better than most new stoves have. “And it ends up being cheaper in the long run because these appliances were built to last.”
Of course, for that level of restoration, you would need to ship your stove to and from Yonkers. Belgrove can arrange that, too.
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