Thursday, January 21, 2010

More From Ron and Aiden

I've been exchanging emails with Aiden (whose stove I highlighted in my previous post).  Ron & Aiden were in the envious position of being able to meet the original owner of their stove, as well as having a friend who worked for Tappan.  So, they have a ton of interesting tidbits of information.  Information worth capturing.

With permission, I am posting parts of our email conversation here (my comments are in bold, with Aiden's response following).

1/19/10 email:
Wow, great story and pictures! I just put a post about your stove up on my blog.  My stove is also a 1948 or 49 model (but without all the bells & whistles yours has).

Thanks for posting us! We just love your blog - AND our great old stove. It just finished a cheesecake in the oven as well as a slowcooker sausage, rice and vegetable thing via the Telechron - now, if the darned thing would only clean up the kitchen....

I love the info. about the insulation - I'll have to remember to post more about that from the Owner's Manual on the blog later.  Your time control clock is very cool looking - the chrome knob and edging are nice.

I use the "heavily insulated" oven feature a lot - the pilot keeps things warm, and ours has the light that stays on - not the "peek-a-boo" light on later models - so the oven can always be warm. I use that to soften butter for cookies or other baking - and sometimes leave it in there long enough to be "brush-ready" for toasted cheese sandwiches and the like.

Interesting that you have the Tappan Chef salt and pepper shakers.  I had found info. that they were earlier than the McKee blue & yellow shakers, but was never able to prove it.

They were in the drawer in the thermostat compartment when we bought it, so they're 1948. We really like 'em. Don't know if our pictures showed any of the "Vitroc" condiment set on the left of the stove but they're from Ron's family home and in mint condition (and used constantly). Thanks for the comment about the KitchenAid, too - it's a "rebuild" of a much older model, and we had it enameled red to match the black, white and red kitchen tiles in another place we lived. It gets used as much as the Tappan!

Does your Owner's Manual have a date after the introduction?  It seems those manuals were printed every few months...I've been trying to keep a list of dates that they were published.

We'll go over it with a fine-tooth comb, but can't find an actual date.

A comment about the Robertshaw thermostat you'd mentioned in your blog: it was our understanding, from someone who worked for Tappan in Ohio way back when, that they USED the Robertshaw quipment, but the Robertshaw firm wasn't "credited." Our thermostat knob does not say Robertshaw - it's very much the usual Tappan knob. But we did look at a stove - from the 1950s - that DID have a thermostat knob that clearly said Robertshaw.

When we spoke to our friend who worked for Tappan, he mentioned that they were built a lot like the old Packard automobiles - by hand. Yes, there was an assembly line production, but sometimes the "details" were a mixed bag as new things were tried. Purchasers were always encouraged to fill out the reply card (those folded, stamped envelope things that one filled out and then licked and mailed), because that's how they knew what was working. After we purchased and installed this stove, we sent pictures to our friend not long before he died - he IMMEDIATELY identified it without a second guess. He said that Tappan always took great pride in their work, and they listened to housewives and others about what was convenient and would WORK - like the Telechron stuff.

1/20/10 email edited for Tappan Info.:
Ah, it sounds like you have the cream colored (with aqua writing on the cover) Owners Manual. From what I understand, your clock would be the Timer Control Clock (the Telechron Clock didn't work the stove & has two knobs w/ a plain timer).

Yup. Our mistake. You got it right. However, our late "Tappan guy" said that the movement is Telechron - sealed oil movement - it's absolutely silent and never skips a beat.

Wow, what a great resource! Here's the funny thing..I follow a lot of old car restoration sites because I find their process is very similar to stove restoration.  When I bought my stove off of Craigslist, I brought along a friend of mine (safety) who is really into vintage cars. I was surprised at how interested he became in the whole vintage stove search.  There is something very similar between the two machines.

And organs and trains. It seems like all the really GOOD American stuff is gone: Packard motor cars, Kimball pipe organs, the Burlington Zephyr (now in a museum) - and those great old Tappan stoves.

All of those things were American engineering at its finest and most clever - engineers had to sit down and physically DRAW all that stuff, and then pattern makers and tool-and-die guys had to get busy. That's why they're built like tanks. As our "Tappan guy" said - "a lot of material that went into that stuff was good wartime production metal." Not like today. Plastic and paper.

Your stove *really* must have been cutting edge at the time. My stove is a 1948-49 and is non-cp, has the Telechron clock (no oven control), and no crispers (which Sales Room brochure I have says first formally introduced en masse in 1950). Even your all chrome backsplash is all of the Deluxe I've seen, I haven't seen an all chrome one (Except the Super 60 model). Your stove must have been very high end.

We were given to understand - from the little old lady who learned to cook on it as a bride - that a special deal was worked out with "the stove people" (her words) for all the stoves in "the circle" - the area where she lived. A contractor busied himself scrambling to build about 30 G.I. loan bungalows and they were all outfitted with these stoves. So - indeed - our "Tappan guy" even suggested that the company may well have seen an opportunity to try out various features before they became standard. It is truly sad that - literally - this is the ONLY one of those stoves we can find that survived. That same lady also told us she could never figure out the clock and how to set it to use the oven. Admittedly, the first couple of times, it's a little confusing - but after it's been done once - we find ourselves using that feature and the "auto" outlet and just about everything else all the time - the thing is a wonder.

Incidentally, we notice that one owner calls his "Precious." We call this old girl "Mighty Whitey."

So, your oven light turns on/off by the brown knob at the bottom of the main control panel?...but doesn't have the mechanism that turns it on and off when the door is open and shut?

It turns on and remains on via the knob, yes. There's no mechanism for on/off through opening and closing the oven door. The lady said that this was a feature she used, and is reminiscent of the ad slogan (which she knew): "Watch it happen in your Tappan."

I wish your friend was still alive....I've been dying of curiosity trying to figure out why my oven light socket was never installed (it just was packed in the insulation).

Our bet it was a goof on somebody's part. That happened. Our guy used to laugh about a couple of stoves that made it out of the factory without several things every now and then. It happened in those days when manufacturing was more "hands-on." Truly, we miss our buddy - he was the source of many a good story and a lot of history.

Aiden, again, thanks so much for letting me share this information on Tappan Talk!


  1. This is the most complete, documented story regarding these I have heard yet! I had suspected that some of the differences were trial & error but knowing that Tappan was experimenting earlier still (ie Crisper chest)is eye-opening! Thanks for this story about Mighty Whitey. I'm running out to tell Precious!

  2. Joe - Isn't it great info?!!

    And...I laughed out loud at your "running to tell Precious" comment :)

    I still need to come up with a name for my stove. Maybe I will hold a contest.

  3. Hi, I am just about to purchase an AV 668. The chrome back splash appears rusty and I haven/t even tested it yet. It has all the bells and whistles. I am hoping to remove the backsplash on my current HV 64-15(and any other parts that are needed to clean up my new stove. I realize two small holes will have to be made into the chrome bezel to accommodate the automatic clock knobs. Does this sound like a reasonable plan, or am I getting in too deep?

  4. I have taken possession of a gorgeous Tappan AV668. The only issues are that I that the thermostat runs too hot. I do have an replacement thermostat that does work from an older model, but I was hoping that the thermostat can be calibrated. The "hold" part of it works, when it reaches what it thinks is the right temp, the flame cuts down, and comes back up when heat is called for. Does anyone know how to calibrate the thermostat? I am in Baltimore Md if someone can suggest a repair person> I am also looking to repair my Visiminder timer. Otherwise it is perfect!


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