Caitlin originally sent me an email trying to decide between two Tappan Deluxe stoves that she found for sale.
The discussion boiled down to.... "...what do you personally think would be cheaper to handle, a tappan that needs a new thermostat and has a gas leak in the line or a tappan whose pilot light and oven do not come on at all?"
Here's is an edited version of my response:
"Ok. keep in mind as you read this, I am NOT an appliance pro. So, take whatever I say with the appropriate skepticism and verify it with someone that knows stoves.
Replacing the light bulbs on the burner lights is not a big deal. In fact, I posted instructions on my blog. Do a quick search and the pages of the Owner Manual that explain how to do it should come up. Also, look for a post entitled "Keeping it in the Family."
Thermostats can be rebuilt. There are a number of companies out there that rebuild Robert Shaw thermostats (or sell replacements if the original can't be fixed). It is not cheap. If memory serves me I think it's in the $250-300 range. That said, if your thermostat is rebuilt you are set for a very long time. If the rest of the stove is in good condition, probably worth the expense. Thermostats can also be adjusted. It could be that this is all it would take. I have instructions on adjusting the thermostat on my blog (search the label "thermostat"). You can hand these off to a pro.
A leak in the gas line would concern me. They can be tricky to find. I have read that mixing a soap & water mixture and putting it on suspected areas and watching for bubbles can help you find a leak (they also sell stuff for that). I'm not sure how you go about fixing a leak. If the gas smell only appears when you turn on the top burners, I would suspect the burner valves leaking (the piece behind the white knob). These can also be rebuilt/or regreased - you can have a pro do it or, you can buy the grease yourself ($20 or so) & it comes with instructions (from what I understand it's not very difficult). Or you could have an appliance person do this. This is a pretty common repair (and one I will be doing on one of my burner valves eventually).
If the leak is on the manifold line, this might be a bigger deal....but that would stink even when the top burners are off because gas is always flowing to the burner pilots. One other thought it looking back over our past emails, is that the conversion to propane loosened something. It's my understanding that the conversion involves adjusting the burner valves. So, this kind of makes sense...and might be a good place to start.
On the second stove. The oven pilot line can get clogged. There is a post (Tina's Stove) on my blog where the reader cleaned out her pilot tube and got her pilot to light (she provided a nice photo). I think rust & crud can get into the line. On the stove you are looking at, it sounds as if the top burners work fine, right (?) There is also a "mixer cap/burner spud" under the oven burner (where gas flows in). This adjusts the air/gas mixture. I have some info on adjusting this..and you can show it to an appliance repair person."
A week or so later, I received the following email from Caitlin along with photos of her stunning new stove. She went with the second stove. She was lucky enough to score a pair of both the Tappan Doughboy and the McKee salt & pepper shakers. (Note to self: If I ever sell my Tappan Deluxe, putting silver puts and pans on top really brings out the chrome)
"Just got the "new" Tappan Deluxe CP delivered today with all the bells and whistles (original S and P shakers too!) . I just need to figure out how to fix the light behind the second to right red burner ring and get the oven working, which from looking at it seems to be merely a blocked gas line (she got a new thermocouple and electric start in 1996 when it originally went out), let's hope. I'm making an appt. with a repair guy tomorrow who will most likely steal me blind, but such is life...."