Stove Moving Daycomments (4) January 5th, 2011 in Blogs
My wife Pat is a legendary cook. So, when we built our house in New Jersey 15 years ago, we designed the kitchen around a cook’s stove – a 48 inch Viking with six burners, two ovens, and a griddle. Viking stoves weigh ten lbs to the inch. This one was 480 lbs. Its hood exhausts through two 8 in. vents – the same diameter as the main guns on the USS Indianapolis. The hood requires its own fresh air intake, or it will backdraft my oil burner.
Now, another thing Pat does really well is get stuff cheap. It's embarrassing, really, to watch her negotiate price with someone - Imagine the New England Patriots taking on a high school football team. I just get out of the way. Our Viking range was used, lightly. It turned out the first owner was allergic to something in the propane gas the stove burned, and we bought it for less than half of retail. Good thing too, because even at that price I swore I’d never pay that much for a stove again. I don’t remember the details of moving the Viking that time. Probably my best friend Mark was in on it. We were both in our mid-30s at the time, and in the fullness of manhood. Toting around a quarter-ton stove would have seemed de rigueur. Mark is a perennial bachelor who gets roped into helping whenever I have anything heavy to move. (Pat’s cooking is so good, he kept coming back even after the time we dropped 300 lbs of statue on his foot. But that's another story.)
We moved into that new house in March of 1996. Seven months later, Kevin Ireton hired me as an editor at Fine Homebuilding. Anticipating a move to Connecticut, we put our new house on the market with the stipulation that the Viking would come with us. I rebuilt the kitchen cabinets in that area so the new owners could install a standard 30 inch range.
It took a year to sell our Jersey house, a time I spent learning the ropes at FHB, renting a room in Connecticut, and coming back to my kids, my wife, and her Viking, on weekends. Once the Jersey house was under contract, I scrambled to find a rental in Connecticut, planning that we’d rent while we found land and built again. Fine Homebuilding hired movers, so I didn’t break a sweat over the Viking that time. The movers put it in the walkout basement of our rental home. I first saw that basement in the fall, when it was dry. In the spring, I found that the basement was damp. In fact, damp barely describes it. There was running water at times. Occasionally, I heard a frog.
Over the next two years we built our current house, with another kitchen designed around the Viking. I do remember moving the Viking into this house. My friend Scott stopped by to help just as I was puzzling how to get the Viking off the ground and into the back of my truck. With his help, and that of a couple of neighbors, we managed. But when Scott and I got to the new house, it was just him and me. Happily, the porch was at the level of my truck’s tailgate, so there were no elevation changes to contend with. Just a quarter ton of stove. Scott and I squatted like Sumo wrestlers, and each grabbed an end of the Viking. Searching deep in each other’s eyes for any hint of weakness, we slowly straightened up. To our mutual surprise, the Viking rose with us, and we carried it inside, where it provided the heat for innumerable excellent meals over the next decade.
All was not well, however. The time the Viking spent in our damp basement had consequences. The Viking developed issues, mostly from rust clogging the burners and corroded thermocouples giving up the ghost. If you think buying a Viking is expensive, try hiring someone to come to your house and repair one, particularly in Connecticut where the smallest unit of currency is apparently the hundred dollar bill.
We limped the Viking along. One oven died. The igniters on the burners started to go, one by one, but they could be lit by hand. The fuel mixture at two of the burners got befuddled, and the yellow flame coated the pots with soot and no doubt filled the air with CO. We stopped using those burners. The broiler stopped broiling. The door on the remaining oven stopped staying fully closed. I applied a carpenter's solution, holding the door shut with a wooden wedge. I made the wedge from cherry so it would at least smell good as it gradually charred. A few months ago, the second oven died. Considering the cost of repair, we decided a Viking funeral was in order.
But what to replace the Viking with? I had sworn never to spend that much on a stove again. And I didn’t. I spent more. I love my wife beyond reason, and when she found another Viking on Craigslist, what could I say? Fall was approaching, and Pat makes the planet’s best pumpkin pie, gingerbread, and springerle cookies. Facing Thanksgiving and Christmas without them was unthinkable. We went to look at the replacement Viking, 70 miles away in a controlled-climate storage unit in Kingston, NY.
posted in: Blogs, viking, Henry V, Stove Moving Day, St. Crispin, Martha Stewart
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