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Advice on restoring a pre 1940's pot-belly coal stove

Post in 'Classic Wood Stove Forums (prior to approx. 1993)' started by ailanthus, Sep 2, 2013.

  1. ailanthus

    ailanthus Feeling the Heat

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    Shen Valley, VA
    Hey gang,

    I just picked up this old cast-iron pot-belly stove that has been at my parents for years. My dad remembers it being on the family farm in the tobacco stripping room when he was young, which would've been in the 1940's. It's a coal stove (see the bottom grate) that I'm interested in using as a woodstove in my workshop. I could use it as-is right now since it seems solid & all the parts are there, just obviously a lot of surface rust. But, I'd like to know what are my range of options with cleaning it up and painting it, etc. If I would want to paint it, I'm not even sure how to go about it.

    Any advice for cleaning it up? Anyone see any issues with using it for wood rather than coal?
    IMG_20130902_080127_549.jpg



    IMG_20130902_080255_911.jpg IMG_20130902_080214_405.jpg IMG_20130902_080144_366.jpg IMG_20130902_080154_790.jpg

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  2. Bigfoot

    Bigfoot Member

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    Hi Desert Southern California 3000' level
    Sweet stove, I restored a old classic stove this past Feburary. I took it apart, grinded the metal with wire wheel, used oven cleaner to remove the extra junk & PAINTED IT with rustoleum hi temp paint. There is a youtube video somewhere of a restoration of a wood stove.
    Now im sure others will add to this but you need to know there are clearances for pre epa stoves. Im sure you already know this. Heck if nothing else that large pot belly stove would be nice set up on a patio, search youtube.
  3. ailanthus

    ailanthus Feeling the Heat

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    One thing I was wondering is if you can use a rust retardant primer or do the high temperatures preclude that. Sounds like the stove paint after the loose rust is removed should be good enough then?
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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  5. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Installing that old beauty in a workshop (or anywhere) with the intent of safely burning in it is a non-trivial project. For starters, you've got to find a place where it can be located such that it's 36" from any combustible materials in any direction, unless you are going to build & install appropriate wall protection. What the floor beneath is made of is of primary importance, as well...if there is combustible material involved there, additional steps must be taken to provide an adequate hearth beneath the appliance. Then there is the whole thing about designing/installing a flue to exhaust the stove to daylight. Restoring the appearance is easy...installing it so that you can safely operate it is not so easy. We can help you with all aspects of this. I really like the old thing. Rick
    ailanthus likes this.
  6. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Also be aware that a coal stove is different in design from a wood stove. A coal stove brings air in from under the fuel, a wood stove does not. What this means in real life burning is that you are going to rip through the wood with that thing and it may be very difficult to control. Proceed with caution and make darn sure you stick to the clearance requirements for it (as Fossil was pointing out).
    ailanthus likes this.
  7. ctluba

    ctluba New Member

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    Sep 3, 2013
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    Wire wheel and stove black, thing will look brand new. Wear a mask or you will tasting rust for a week!!!

    I wont comment on anything else as I dont know anything else LOL.
    ailanthus likes this.
  8. ailanthus

    ailanthus Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks for the input everyone - I'll be getting after it with a wire wheel today & for however long it takes. I am starting to see some of the difficulties with installing it where I had intended, but it's do-able. If I don't get it installed until later, it might make a nice bedside or end table until then.
  9. ailanthus

    ailanthus Feeling the Heat

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    Hey, all,
    Just wanted to post some final pics of the little stove - thanks for everyone's advice. I decided I needed to give some more thought to the chimney setup I'll eventually use in the workshop, so for the time being I've got it as a lampstand in the living room. I'm really pleased with how it turned out. Here are the steps I followed
    1. Used 2 different shaped wire wheels on the drill. Just went at it all over for at least an hour. I was pleased that there wasn't more loose rust/thin spots. The thing is remarkable intact, including all the moving parts.
    2. Rinsed it thoroughly with water - wished I had a pressure washer, but the garden hose seemed to do just fine. Inside and out. It seemed counter-intuitive to make it wet after cleaning off all that rust, but that seemed like the only way to get all the dust off. I made sure it was a warm, sunny day so it did dry very quickly.
    3. I used about a full can of Rust-oleum's high temperature paint. it was glossier than I wanted, so I topped it off with stove-bright, which is much flatter. I even painted much of the inside since I knew it would be inside for awhile.
    It was a pretty fun little project & I love having it around, especially considering the history.
    stove1.jpg stove2.jpg
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 27, 2013
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    It looks great, even as a lampstand.

    One thing to note is that it's not a good idea to mix paints unless you know they have compatible bases. You are probably ok if it is not showing any signs of wrinkling. Several years back I touched up a stove pipe with Stove Brite. The paint started wrinkling badly in the area of the touch up. It turns out that for a few years the pipe mfg had switched from an acetone based paint to a lacquer based paint. The two were definitely not compatible.
  11. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    That is nice, any one make a new EPA stove that looks like that, could be a market maybe, or have I missed one some where.
  12. ailanthus

    ailanthus Feeling the Heat

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    There were 3-4 days in between coats, so I wouldn't think solvent compatibility would be a problem. I'm definitely no paint expert though, so I'll remember that in case it shows up later on.
  13. Bigfoot

    Bigfoot Member

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    Hi Desert Southern California 3000' level
    Looks great, nice job......

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