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Our New Wood Cook Stove

>19 January 2010
 
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south bend wood cook stove (2)

Here she is. Our new 1930′s South Bend wood cook stove. I think I’m in love.

I’ve been waiting to show it to you until I’ve actually had a chance to cook on it, but I’m not sure when we will get it all hooked up and ready, and I just couldn’t wait any longer to tell you about it!

I’d been looking for a wood cook stove for the past two years. I scoured Craigslist several times a day trying to find just the right one. We looked at several, but none were in good enough condition for me to cook on, or else they were entirely out of our price range (like, over a thousand dollars!). I kept praying about it. And then, we finally came across this gem. The guy who was selling it had just bought a little cabin in the mountains which came with this stove. He knew he wouldn’t use it, and wanted it out of the way. The previous owner had still been cooking on it up until he moved out, so we know it works fine. I talked the guy down to $175, which is a steal in my opinion!

For those of you who don’t know much about these stoves, they are heated with wood, not electricity. You just need to run a stove pipe out through the ceiling or wall for ventilation. We have our stove in my husband’s workshop for now. I’m waiting for him to have time to hook up the stove pipe.

Here’s what the oven looks like inside:

south bend wood cook stove (3)

Pretty neat, huh?

The temperature gauge is on the oven door:

south bend wood cook stove (4)

Though I’ve heard that these gauges were notoriously inaccurate.

There’s a place on the far right of the stove where a water reserve used to be. We’re missing the bucket insert that would have held the water. It was used to keep hot water on hand at all times. It would have slid into the top shelf…

south bend wood cook stove (5)

Maybe the bottom shelf was a bread warmer??

south bend wood cook stove (1)

And here is what is behind the far left door. The top slot is where the wood pieces go. The middle slot is where you turn the grates to dump the ashes. And the bottom door opens to remove the ashes. I think it’s really cool that you can then use the ashes to make lye, for soap. (I’ll get there one day.)

The top of the stove has six burners. Two are round ones which can be removed to place wood in through the top,

south bend wood cook stove

The other four burners make up the flat spot directly over the stove.

I know it’s going to take a LOT of practice and getting used to cooking on this thing. But I’m dying to learn!!

If any of you have cooked on a wood cook stove, or have any tips for me, I’d love to hear what you know!

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29 Comments »

  • Kim said:

    Woohoo! Congrats! We got ours for about your price too. SO fun right? Somehow we didn’t get ours set up this winter. With a new baby it was just crazy. Ours looks a lot like yours:Woohoo! Congrats!
    http://braidsandboots.blogspot.com/2009/04/who-needs-flowers-take-2.html

    Congratulations!

  • Nancy M. said:

    Very cool! Congratulations for getting it for such a great price!

  • Michelle said:

    This is SO AMAZING!! I can’t wait to see what you learn to make with it…! Good job waiting out a bargain, too…makes it all the more wonderful…

  • Deanna said:

    My mom used to put a pot of beans with ham in it and cook all day. Also soup….brings back memories :)

  • Jessica K. said:

    I’m jealous… :) It looks awesome!

  • Joel said:

    WOW!! Great buy! That is beautiful. Very happy for you. I am looking forward to hearing how well it works and how difficult it is to get used to.

  • Tami Lewis said:

    i am so jealous!!!!!!!!!

  • Julia M said:

    This is so cool. I’ve been wishing for a wood cook stove for awhile. My dad remembers his mom and grandma’s stove and how they would have the wood cut specifically to fit; one inch square pieces, 12 inches long, to start the fire. And then several different sizes of 2,3, and 4 inch square to regulate the temperature. He said his grandma had it down to a science…if she wanted 350 degrees she’s put so many of each size in and it would work like a charm. Keep blogging about how it works out. Thanks for sharing the pics. :)

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Julia M,

    That’s a great tip! I wish I knew her exact formula :) Maybe I can ask around and see if any elderly women can give me some advice on that. Thanks!

  • kattmaxx said:

    Lehman’s store online has a book about cooking in a woodstove. They also have parts and accessories for stoves.

  • Shannon said:

    When I was little we had a wood stove, but I never cooked on it, and it got taken out not long after we moved in, so it wasn’t much time lol, but I remember. (it was my great-grandmas house, I am only 26, don’t want to seem that old) They seem like a great idea, maybe you should try and get the water bucket from one of the trashy ones on craigslist, and maybe you should get some bbq thermometers so you can stick them inside the oven to gauge the temperature until you have the hang of it. There are digital scanning thermometers that read temp without probing, but I would think they would be too expensive haha.

  • Lanna said:

    Sweet!
    I’ve had my eye on one of the groovy new/expensive ones that can also officially heat your entire house as well as cook/bake (plus with a window on the spot where your fire is burning so you don’t have to constantly open it to check on the fire – no getting smoked out!). But that’s mostly because if/when we move we’d want to get a wood stove anywho, might as well go whole hog and make me happy as well.

  • Hannah said:

    WOO HOO! I just love that stove!
    I have to say, I’m VERY jealous! :)

  • Shelli said:

    How exciting is that? Good for you. I love it.

    As a small child I remember living with my great aunt for a while and she had a stove similar to that one. The older I get the more I admire that woman. Raising her own children as well as my brother and I, no indoor plumbing, working very part time, caring for her sick FIL, taking care of the chickens, laundry by hand, etc. The list could go on and on. The biggest thing I remember is her doing it all with a smile on her face.

    Wow, you stove brought back a couple memories for me. I hope it does the same for your family as well.

  • Anita said:

    If you can find a source for corn cobs (after the dry corn is removed to feed animals or for grain) they are excellent for burning in the wood cook stove and easier to regulate the temperature.

    I learned to cook on a wood stove as a young girl in the 50s but my parents got a gas one in the 70s. I remember it being nice to be near the stove during the winter but extremely uncomfortable to be around in the summer. It was especially hot in the kitchen during the months of July and August with no air conditioning back in those days.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Anita-

    Yes! I’ve heard about using dry corn cobs. I was told that they are best to burn during the summer, cause they don’t burn as hot as wood, and won’t heat up your kitchen as badly. Thanks for sharing!

  • margaret said:

    I grew up with Mom and g”ma who both cooked on wood stoves, there was nothing like coming home from school and there was always a pot of soup on the stove made with leftover vegtables and some tomatoes sometimes meat sometimes not what a great thing… I would love to have one.

  • connie said:

    After years of dreaming I finally got to cook on a wood cookstove this past winter. I have always heard what a pain it was, but I found it to be simple! Just a matter of keeping an eye on the fire. The food turned out to taste better than any I ever cooked on the gas or electric ranges! Hubby and I looked at one for sale this week and will probably buy it YIPPEEE! The one i looked at was built in the 1930 and looks very much like yours! “Lorraine” even has her water tank in tact! Good luck and much enjoyment to you on learning to cook on yours! I do reccomend getting one of those cheap oven thermometers to use when baking. Peace and happy wood cooking! Connie

  • quakerdan said:

    So, cold weather has hit again. Have you used the stove? For those not used to woodstove cooking, don’t forget to clean out under the oven, there’s a little cleanout door you can open and you need to clean out any soot and flyash that have accumulated there. I was vivisting in a home of a couple who were so happy with their woodstove but commented how the oven made things burn on one side, and raw on the other. I asked them if they were throwing the damper in the back of the stove shut so the fire would circulate around the firebox. They replied they didn’t know there was such a thing. I then threw the lever and the stove started smoking us out. I then asked if they’d cleaned out under the oven. They looked at me like I had three heads. I then flipped the little cleanout hole open and found a rat nest had been built under the oven. I asked them for a wire coat hanger and I cleaned it out and then the fire circulated around the oven fine.
    My neighbor was visiting a pioneer reenactment museum and the poor gal was choking on the smoking stove. He asked her if she’d cleaned out under her oven of late and she didn’t even know it needed cleaning so he showed her and all worked fine. One word of caution, you still have to turn whatever you’re baking while baking it as the oven will always be hotter on the firebox side of the oven than on the far side.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    quakerdan,

    Thank you so much for all of your wonderful advice!! I really, truly appreciate it. I will be sure to remember these tips. Yes, my husband has cooked on the stove a few times. He fried sausage patties and baked biscuits. They turned out really good!!

  • quakerdan said:

    Yes, nothing bakes like a wood stove.
    Biscuits and bread are lovely in the wood oven. Our children all learned to cook and bake with the wood stove. As for the water reservoir, if I had the dimensions, I might have one stored away in one of the sheds. You should be able to remove the lid on the right hand above the reservoir, and the actual reservoir would “hang” in that space from the top of the stove.

    We actually have two cookstoves, one in the kitchen and one in the summer kitchen. We use the reservoir all the time in the summer kitchen when we butcher to heat water. In the house, we have running water so we don’t use the reservoir for water, but we keep jars of crystalized honey in there. It’s a great place to put jars of honey to liquify. You could actually use your little shelf in yours and use that reservoir space as a warming oven since your stove is not equipped with an oven or a shelf.

  • Lynn B said:

    My husband’s grandmother had this exact stove in her basement; he remembers her baking sugar cookies in it. The house was built around the stove so there was no getting it out. Well, his brother just demolished the house & remembered that I wanted that stove, & he delivered it to us today! It is exactly like yours–a South Bend. We need to get new grates or repair these, and like yours there is no water basket for the reservoir. His family think we’re a little nuts for wanting this old stove, but it is beautiful to us and I can hardly wait to get it installed. My husband has had the insulated pipe for years–we just need to get a proper base to set it on. So glad I found your site; it was the first one I clicked on when I googled South Bend Wood stoves. Wish me luck & thanks quakerdan for all the hints. This is my first ever exposure to a wood stove so I’ve got a lot to learn.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Lynn B,

    Yay!! That’s SO exciting! I’m so happy to hear that the old stove will have a new home with you. I was afraid when you said that your brother-in-law had the house demolished, that the stove went with it. What a blessing that he brought it to you guys! I hope you enjoy many meals on that stove. Ours has been wonderful. I’d give anything to have a place for it in my kitchen, but for now it’s still hooked up in the workshop. We don’t use it very often, but it’s comforting to know that it’s there, just in case we need it.

  • MommaMia said:

    We looked into a wood burning stove- still looking actually. What does your insurance provider suggest with all these wood burning machines? Or, are you not going to put them inside your home.
    We found the regulations in our State so daunting we aren’t going to be able to do it ourselves and the cost is making me shudder.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    MommaMia,

    We aren’t ones to “ask” about installing or building anything. We just do it. Since the wood stove isn’t installed in our home, it’s not that big of a deal though, safety wise.

  • jan said:

    I was scouring the web for folks who had wood cookstove experience and found your site. I cooked on an old glenwood 35 years ago and longed to have wood cook stove again after we moved to our farm in Maine. Finally we have one! My husband bought me a used Baker’s Choice and hooked it up immediately.
    I have been cooking on it ever since. My oven works great. The fire box is big…takes up to 18 inch logs and is easy to load. Every day I try out something new to cook!
    My advice…jump in and cook whatever you like.

  • Weeser1 said:

    Hello everybody.I have been so curious about the different brands of wood cook stoves? I looked at Bakers choice & many brands.
    We live in Minnesota and the first fill of fuel oil this year was $800. Couldn’t believe it ! We live in a log home & it tends to be a bit drafty. Still chasing leaks down. Thanks for sharing info.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Weeser1-

    I wish I knew more I could tell you, but the only experience I have is with our own wood cook stove, as you’ve read about. Good luck!

  • pastorchuck said:

    awesome
    we spent two years looking for one then the mother inlaw calls and asks if jennifer wants her grandmothers old cook stove noooo why would we want that I’ll be there in an hour to pick it up works grest had been in storage for twenty years

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