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Apr 29 / Kevin Piotrowski

Cavalcade of Food – A New Life for an Old Stove

We get a lot of comments at Cavalcade of Food about appliances, especially about the variety of old stoves that we use when preparing our recipes.  I’ve been collecting these stoves – usually referred to as “ranges,” for many years. I try to rotate them through the three kitchens that we use to make recipes for Cavalcade of Food. These vintage ranges not only feature marvelous engineering, but many of them are simply beautiful in their design. These were made in that post-war period when the United States was still a manufacturing powerhouse, and one only needs to spend a minute with these ranges to know how well they were built. As a matter of fact, they are very,1950 Westinghouse Range ad very heavy! Moving them around provides more than a workout!

The steel used is of heavy gauge, and the porcelain enamel coating is thick and durable. At its factory in Mansfield, Ohio, Westinghouse turned out thousands of stoves like the one I just found to fill the new kitchens of homes in the suburban neighborhoods that were popping up across the country. Other major appliance companies like General Electric, Frigidaire, Hotpoint, Norge, Kelvinator, Crosley and Philco were also filling the market with spectacular new ranges, refrigerators, washers, dryers and other appliances.  Today, the survivors of this era remind us of this incredible period of American history.

This latest addition to the CoF collection is a 1950 Westinghouse Model BA-74, also known at the “Commander” model. The Commander was Westinghouse’s top-of-the-line, although the BA-74 was the single-oven model. The very top and most expensive was the double-oven Commander.  Instead of a smaller oven on the left side, the BA-74 has a warming drawer. This stove measures 40 inches across. It features “Color Glance” controls, which glow a different color depending on the burner’s heat setting. It also has one “Super Corax” heat unit, which according the above advertisement should reach full heat in 30 seconds. Speed burners were the answer to the criticism about electric ranges being slow to heat up, unlike the instant heat of a gas range.

So, it has been 63 years since this range was manufactured and it is still in good working order. This speaks to the care with which it was given all these years, and the quality of the product coming out of the factory. I can’t help but look at this range and think of my mom and grandma, both of whom were excellent cooks and bakers. They cooked on a range like this, and I feel connected to them when I have the opportunity to do the same.

 

9 Comments

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  1. Amy Cooper / May 1 2013

    Kevin…I am in “shock and awe” about your collection of stoves. I want to knwo where you keep them all. Russell made the comment” Imagine how many cookies you could make at once”….so maybe it’s a good thing. Love the CoF; thanks for sharing!

    • Kevin Piotrowski / May 1 2013

      Hey Amy! I keep them in my “appliance bunker” – a safe haven for vintage things! You and Russell need to come by and bake with me – what a blast that would be! Thanks for watching!

  2. Amy Cooper / May 1 2013

    Hi K: Russell and I would LOVE to come bake with you; as long as we don’t also have to help with the “rotation”! :)

  3. Charles Pelot / Jun 27 2013

    I sure did enjoy the tour of this stove. I am in the process of creating a 1951 style kitchen but space is limited. Do you know what the dimensions are other than the 40 inches wide as stated in the writeup. Could you please tell me how high the cook surface is from the floor and how high the back (with the controls) is from the floor. The depth dimensions will also come in very handy if you have them. Thanks for any info to further my project.
    Charlie Pelot

  4. Shirley Hattamer / Aug 17 2013

    I have an old monarch wood/gas range. It was made by the Malleable Iron Range Co. Style #PNCG17P.
    I need parts for the burners. Does know where I could get them. Thanks

    Can email pictures.

  5. Matt / Jan 17 2014

    Kevin, I have acquired one of these stoves, and it is in immaculate condition, except for the broiler element. One of the ceramic spacers was cracked and the broiler element is broken (cut in two). Do you have any idea where I can get replacement parts for this. Any source would be helpful, I’ve been googling but no one is listing a Westinghouse BA-74 as something they support, and most don’t even respond.

    Thank you so much for the video, I thought the outlets simply didn’t work no idea it was on a timer.

    • Kevin Piotrowski / May 28 2014

      Matt – I am SO SORRY for this late response but I just happened to look in the message queue for Wayne State blogs and saw your note…you may have already found a new broiler element for your stove. Ebay is the best source for parts, although they are still hard to find. I know a few people who have a “parts stove” where they found an identical (or close) model, maybe not in good shape, but are using it for spare parts. There is also an online community for old appliance lovers and often people there have sources for parts – it’s automaticwasher.org. You may want to join that forum (I’m a member) – people there are very knowledgeable. Again – SORRY for the delayed response – hope you are enjoying your beautiful Westinghouse range!!

  6. Linda Hawkey / Nov 5 2014

    Kevin,
    I have watched so many of your videos. I really liked the Dina Shore video. I have made many of your dishes and my family sure has enjoyed them!

    I see you love of stoves. Yours are always so clean. I am wondering if you can give any helpful hints on cleaning. I am having problems with old build up on the stove top. And the saucers under the elements. My stove is black and it shows everything!

    Oh also tell Ralph he is enjoyed too in the videos.
    I am in my 60’s and have gotten my daughter and some of her friends to follow you too.

    Thanks,
    Linda

    • Kevin Piotrowski / Nov 5 2014

      Thanks for your note, Linda!

      I try to keep the stoves clean and I find that every time there is a spill, boil over, etc. I clean it up right away. It’s when thing build up that it make it a challenge to clean. For the stove top, sometimes (when I get a used stove that is dirty) I will use a think razor blade. Just gently push it under the build up and it will get it off without scratching the surface. Very hot water and ammonia also helps to soften it up. Soak the saucers in very hot sudsy water for a couple of hours – that should loosen up things so the most of it will come off.

      I’ll let Ralph know you enjoy his parts in the video!! Thanks so much for watching and sharing!!

      Best wishes,
      Kevin

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