Living With a Vintage Chambers Stove

Our client Morgan is a certified e-n-t-h-u-s-i-a-s-t.  We loved her energy so much that we asked her to sign on as our web designer.  When she and her husband Phil remodeled their kitchen, their purchase of a Chambers was just one element of their desire to use as many reclaimed products as possible, both for the aesthetics and for the environmental benefits. Morgan never imagined that an old appliance would become the star of their kitchen. After just a couple of years with their white 90C Chambers stove, Morgan knew that she would never go back to a modern range.  Here's her tale of falling in love with "Babs": 

First, just look at her.

Babs.JPG

Babs is beautiful in a way that few modern stoves are. Just like the stunning cars from her heyday, she’s all rounded edges, curved handles, and lots of chrome. That authentic vintage style is a truly gorgeous alternative to the ho-hum stainless steel, white, or black boxes that can be found in appliance stores today. And in my 1915 bungalow kitchen, Babs looks right at home.

Beauty is important, but functionality is paramount. And Babs can do things that no other stove can. The In-A-Top broiler and griddle has been a game-changer for meals at my house. The griddle surface is ideal for anything that you flip to cook – fried eggs, pancakes, pork chops, grilled cheese – or huge amounts of food, like a double batch of Julia Child’s ratatouille recipe, which I make and freeze every summer. The griddle’s generous size is much larger than even my biggest pan, making quick work of any large recipe.

Bacon On Griddle.jpg

Underneath the griddle is a broiler and sizzle platter, which has completely replaced my toaster oven for toast, bagels, leftover pizza, and anything else that benefits from a broiling flame. I once broiled a Christmas Eve leg of lamb on the sizzle platter; it’s also great for burgers and steaks, especially when it’s too cold to grill. If you cook bacon under the broiler, you’ll be rewarded with a delicious little pool of grease in the sizzle platter’s gravy well. That grease is absolutely perfect for slowly cooking a couple of eggs.

I’ve also found Babs’ top pilot light to be surprisingly useful.

It’s ideal for melting butter, keeping hollandaise sauce or gravy warm, or softening cream cheese for a baking recipe. I have a set of 3.5” stoneware ramekins that happen to fit perfectly over the pilot, and they retain heat quite well. Between the In-A-Top and the pilot light, I haven’t had any need for a microwave since I got this stove.

Of course, Babs also has three regular burners, all of which are more powerful than those of any gas stove I’ve used before. The burners are perfectly sized for my most prized vintage kitchen tools, such as my 1910 cast iron Wagner waffle iron.

My vintage Wagner waffle iron looks like it was made for this burner. In the center of the range is the pilot light. The Thermowell is directly behind the waffle iron.

My vintage Wagner waffle iron looks like it was made for this burner. In the center of the range is the pilot light. The Thermowell is directly behind the waffle iron.

Before Babs came into my life, my biggest concern about living with a vintage stove was the size of the oven. It just looked so much smaller than a modern stove’s. But I’ve never once wished the oven was bigger. My years-old cookie sheets fit perfectly. Last year’s 12-pound Thanksgiving turkey had plenty of space (and tasted incredible). And since the oven is heavily insulated, you can actually cook with the gas turned off. I haven’t converted my recipes to cook this way yet, but it’s very handy for keeping a meal warm when dinner guests are running late.

If I ever do need more oven space, there is a solution already built in: the Thermowell. Often called “the original slow cooker,” the Thermowell is a small, heavily insulated well at the back of the stove that can serve as a fast-heating oven or warming closet. Chambers used to manufacture sets of kettles that fit perfectly in the Thermowell. With a triple kettle set, you could cook three different dishes at the same time! I own a Thermobaker, which is a device that holds a casserole dish, pie pan, cake tin, or a couple of foil-wrapped baked potatoes. The Thermowell truly becomes a second small oven when combined with a vintage Thermobaker.

The Thermobaker.

The Thermobaker.

I recently stayed at an Airbnb with a slick, modern, and likely expensive electric stove. It was the first time in a long time that I had tried cooking a meal on any stove other than Babs. The pans slid all over the surface. I had to press a button to get the burner started. I couldn’t tell when the surface had escalated from barely warm to screaming hot – or when it was cool enough to touch. The oven was comically large for the dishes I cooked inside – a total waste of energy. During that stay, I realized just how much I missed my Chambers’ gorgeous chrome handles and the satisfying sensation of turning them to light a burner. I missed the sound of the burner coming to life. And I really missed how consistent and visible the heat was, and how quickly it would be ready to use.

I feel a bit sorry for the Airbnb hosts who purchased that brand-new, gee-whiz electric stove. I imagine that they were lured in by the range’s sleek digital presence, and by the idea that a new stove must be so much better than an old one.

Well, when I was planning my kitchen remodel, I could have gone that way. I could have spent far more on a brand-new stove. I could have prioritized shiny newness over vintage charm. And I could have made do with just four burners and a huge oven, the way most people do these days, and I likely never would have known that I was missing out on so many other cooking possibilities. But I’m so glad I didn’t. In my mind, you just can’t improve upon the infinitely repairable, simply built, versatile, and gorgeous Chambers stove.  

D UGLIEST CHAMBERS EVER MADE

The Model D, also more appropriately known as the MR-9-H

The Model D, also more appropriately known as the MR-9-H

Since first laying eyes on Chambers' visual tragedy many years ago, I've been loath to grant the Model D any respect.  Aesthetically, if such a word even applies, I consider it the Edsel of the Chambers brand.  After decades of minimal changes to a warm, timeless design, the folks at Chambers seem to have taken a flying leap into steely cold Bauhaus pop.  Well actually, likely NOT the folks at Chambers:  my friend Todd White, keeper of the Chambers Stove Lovers website, writes that Rangaire had taken over by 1964.  So the new owners probably felt the need to make their mark.  Just like dogs make their marks on trees, if you ask me. 

 

There might be uglier stoves out there, but considering how nice looking and un-gimmicky Chambers stoves had been for so many years, even the plainest model D gives me a headache.  Then there's the top of the line Stainless Steel and Ivory Imperial shown here, trimmed with airbrushed Avocado.  It simply shocks the senses.  The squared structure, multiple facets of varying colors and surfaces, yards of channel trim, and wacko, uncomfortable handles on the broiler, oven door and service cabinet.  Hard to keep clean, unpleasant to touch...  And the looks - like fingernails scraping on chalkboard, while chugging a castor oil martini!
The many years and service calls that have passed since that first encounter have somewhat tempered my revulsion.  They are still ugly - no yielding on that - but I realize that the basic concept and layout remains true to that of the A, B/Z, and C.  While Rangaire had obviously decided that a visual update was needed, it seems they were confident enough in the unique character and value of their acquisition to leave the basics alone.  Let's see:  I believe that the model A originates in the early 1920's, when American farms still had way more horses pulling plows than tractors.  40 years later with the model D, we are blasting off to the moon, yet the Chambers stove had not been significantly altered, avoiding the yearly "ALL NEW!" marketing path followed by every other appliance (and car) manufacturer for decades.  Not abandoning Cooking With the Gas Turned Off (CWTGTO)?:  gotta give Rangair some credit on that account.

The electric version. Still ugly, more stupid.

The electric version. Still ugly, more stupid.

Designed (and written) by Yoda.  Of course!

Designed (and written) by Yoda.  Of course!

Also, I must say that the D's oven safety system is quite impressive, in terms of functionality and well-built components.  

The most significant technical change of the D from the C is also it's most dubious characteristic: incorporation of the Auto Timer, designed to automatically turn the oven on and off at pre-selected times.  Why dubious?  First, the Auto Timer only applies to conventional oven use:  it cannot be used for CWTGTO, the primary feature setting Chambers apart from all others.  That's like putting an electric motor on a Harley.  Secondly, my investigations of the D's Auto Timer reveal that Chambers now shared a safety flaw that had previously been the sole provence of all lesser makes with similar systems.  From this comes my obligatory warning to Chambers D clients:

DANGER:  If an electrical power outage occurs with the ThermoStat dial turned on and an "Auto Start" time selected, the loss of power to the Heater Valve Solenoid will open the Heater Valve, prematurely turning the oven on.  Similarly, since electricity is required to close the Heater Valve (which turns off the oven when the ThermoStat dial is turned on),  a power outage while "Auto Stop" is engaged prevents  the oven from being turned off at a selected "Stop" time. 

Yeah, sounds scary.  But for current and wannabe D owners, it's hardly a deal killer.  First of all, the chances of a power outage while using the Auto Timer are slim, though not impossible.  Secondly, by not using the stupidly irrelevant Auto Timer system, the scary irrelevant problem is avoided altogether.   An ancienttechnology - used on other makes since the early 40's - practically useless to anyone sold on the CWTGTO pillar of Chambers marketing.  Why it suddenly appeared on a Chambers in the 60's is anybody's guess. Rangaire probably wanted to attract potential purchasers who were used to this feature on other brands they had owned.  Why hadn't Chambers incorporated Auto Timers earlier?  Here's a quote from a 1940's Chambers brochure that reveals their confident and reasoned wisdom:

(Cooking With The Gas Turned Off) is a feature of Chambers Ranges that is not to be confused with automatic timing devices becoming more widely advertised. There is not much logic in buying a fine refrigerator to preserve food and then leaving perishables in a room tempera­ture oven where the heat is not set to come on until 3:00 or 4:00 o'clock in the after­noon. With the remarkable Chambers method, no bacteria can develop because food starts to cook before you leave home; the cooking Finishes on retained heat and the Chambers oven and Thermowell act as sealed warming closets until it suits your con­venience to serve the meal. Cook the food first - the Chambers way - and play safe!

Ha!  Rangair thought it knew better.  Looking back, their confusion - or cluelessness - made evident by the Model D, was the first, clear indication of the decline of the Chambers brand. 

Despite it's bizarre looks, increased complexity and ridiculous Auto Timer, the D for the most part inherited the same well thought-out functionality and build quality as previous iterations. Chambers purists may scoff at the fact that D's have electric controls (for the oven, if the Auto Timer is utilized), but beneath this and the D's visual changes, the heart of the same old Chambers is still beating.  Sure, the oven's Auto Timer operation does require electricity, but its CWTGTO and conventional operations function safely and normally, by choice when not using the Auto Timer, or by default in an electrical outage.
Would I have a D in my kitchen?  Not a snowball's chance in a pre-heated ThermoWell,  but if I run across one whose owner has requested some TLC, I promise to be polite and stifle any opinions I may have about their baby's looks.

TECH HINT:  Has your Model D oven stopped working?  IE, does it refuse to light when you turn the dial on?  If so, first be sure your oven's pilot is lit.  If it is, there's a good chance your Auto Timer is malfunctioning.   Try unplugging the stove's cord from the electrical outlet.  You should hear an immediate "click" from inside the service cabinet.  Unplugging the cord de-powers the Auto Timer and puts it into default "Manual" mode, which opens a valve between the oven thermostat and oven burner.  A handy remedy when the Auto Timer switches start malfunctioning.  

DON'T GET BURNED


THIS ISN'T ABOUT A KITCHEN ACCIDENT.  It has nothing to do with a Chambers stove.  It's about avoiding "getting burned" when selling anything for cash.

Remember when Cash was King?  Well, sorry to say... things have changed.  Have you noticed how common it is for grocery store and other cashiers to check your cash by holding the bills up to the light, and/or swiping them with those yellow highlighters?  They don't do it to annoy or insult you, they don't do it just for fun.  They do it because they are motivated by the everyday reality of fake currency.  It's worth a cashier's time so that their drawer isn't "short" at the end of their shift.
If you're selling a stove, a vehicle, or anything worth significant cash, make sure you research and know how to tell the difference between the counterfeit and real stuff.  It's so easy to learn the distinguishing characteristics of the most common fakes (via watermarks, security strips, reflective ink, serial numbers, etc), that there's really no excuse not to know.  Here's one great website

I recently got burned by phony bills selling my old stove-hauler van via Craigslist.  Talk about feeling like a chump!  The fakes were obvious, but only IF I had known what to look for.  Rather than let shame and revenge get the better of me, I'm trying to see things like this as a life lesson.  It certainly meets my three sure signs that an education has occurred:

  1. it cost money
  2. it hurt
  3. it took time

Okay, so now I know better…  What good is that really gonna do me?  By the time I get around to selling my new van 10 year from now, I'll have forgotten all of this.

Well, no point in keeping this "valuable" education all to myself.  So here's a School of Hard Knocks lesson for the benefit of anyone who can use it. 

The cops and Secret Service say this scam is a common one:  the guy arrives on foot or public trans (no car or license to trace), offers some kind of sob story to gain your sympathy (get your guard down, lower the price), refuses to sign the title ("My wife's the one with the good credit/driving record.  The title will be under her name"), and pays with a mix of fake and real cash.

Then they drive away and sell it on Craigslist a few weeks later, effectively "laundering" the counterfeit bills.  The mix of fake and real cash you've received makes it likely that it will be awhile before you, or some store or bank that you hand the cash over to, will notice that some of your bills are fake.  (YOU could be in big trouble paying with fake cash).  AND, once you've spent some or most of the "evidence" and you realize you've been had, you are in an awkward situation.

Read on.

Won't the Secret Service or cops arrest the scammer?  Well, sure…  Maybe.  The Secret Service told me that unless the fake cash amounts to $3000 or above, it is the jurisdiction of the local police.  

The police told me that, to file a police report, I'd have to hand over all the money, even the real stuff, because it is useful evidence.  The choice was mine:  file a report, lose the little bit of real dough I had left, MAYBE have to show up in court to testify IF they ever find the guy (it was inferred to me that, among other types of local crime, this is not a high priority), MAYBE the case drags on for years and MAYBE the case is unsuccessful.  Was it worth it my time and money to try to nail this guy?  Gee whiz, don't we think that the scammers have figured all this out and know it's unlikely they'll be caught?

To save YOUR time, effort and money, know how to avoid the scam!  Take a few minutes to research the latest on identifying counterfeit money.  Then, set up the sale to protect yourself:  Before you agree to have a prospective buyer show up, make sure you tell them that they MUST agree to the following if they show up and decide to purchase the car.  (Explain to them that, while these demands might seem harsh, they benefit any legitimate buyer by motivating them to closely inspect their cash before spending it to avoid trouble from unknowingly passing fake cash, and to be prepared with the proper information for the two documents they will fill out (Title and Bill of Sale) that protect both parties (Illinois and other states do not require a Bill of Sale, but it can benefit BOTH parties):

  • They will allow you to closely inspect their cash
  • They agree you will call 911 if you find ANY fake cash in their payment
  • They agree you will keep the ENTIRE payment until the cops arrive to sort things out.
  • It the cash checks out OK, they will hand you their ID and let you write down all the info. 
  • They will let you photograph them.  
  • They will print THEIR name, address and phone number (must match ID) on the Bill of Sale.
  • They will put THEIR signature (not ANYONE ELSE's) on both the title AND a Bill of Sale


If a prospective buyer objects to ANY of these demands, just say "No thanks" to the likely scammer and wait until a legitimate buyer calls.  Just like a diligent grocery store cashier, it's worth your time to make sure you don't get "shorted".

PS:  I am not a lawyer, cannot provide legal advice, and am providing this information for entertainment purposes only.

THERMOSTAT FAILURE? MAYBE NOT...

Last week it happened again:  I returned from a service call without installing the newly rebuilt Thermostat I had deemed necessary for a malfunctioning oven.  Great for the customer, but I was left holding the bill for a rebuilt T-Stat that was all dressed up with nowhere to go.  That's twice in the last 6 months.  Time to pass on some hard earned wisdom:  the next time your oven won't light, or is difficult to light with burner flames that don't get very high resulting in a 24 hour slow cooker rather than an oven, don't jump to the conclusion that your 60 year old Thermostat's gotta go.   

To keep things simple and understandable for the qualified gas appliance repair professional you have engaged to fix your oven, I will lay out the basics of the problems I encountered above.

One stove had been in storage for a year or more.  When the owners hooked it up, they immediately realized their oven had a problem.  The other oven had been in everyday use when it "suddenly" stopped working. 

One stove had a Constant Pilot Safety System:  it's pilot light was doing fine, and its oven burner would light, but the flames were very small. 

The temporary pilot in the oven without the Safety System would light, but not the burner:  there was absolutely no gas going to the burner.

The common symptom:  both had difficulty passing gas.  This is actually good news:  the signal that something other than the Thermostat may be at fault. 

The very first thing to do with this symptom is to isolate where in the system gas is being restricted, and the very first place to check is the Thermostat.  Why the Thermostat?  Since there are many places in the system where obstructions can occur (between the supply pipe entering your kitchen and the gas jet entering the oven burner), the highest-priced component in that pathway is the Thermostat.  So have your repair person isolate and test that first.  If human breath can be made to flow freely through the completely disconnected Thermostat, then the restriction lies elsewhere:  in the pathways supplying or exiting the device.

In my client's stove that had been stored before use, insects had somehow entered the system and completely clogged the aluminum tube immediately before the oven burner gas jet (the oven pilot, running on its own small-diameter gas line from the Thermostat, was not affected).  After determining the cause of the problem, I cleared the line with a pipe cleaner).

In the other client's stove, the clog was at the tip of the gas jet itself, an accumulation of mineral deposits:  it was cleared by simply loosening the cap and using a toothbrush to clean the tip.

In my experience, a malfunctioning Thermostat is most often characterized by an oven that easily lights but who's heat is high and uncontrollable by the Thermostat dial.  If your oven won't light easily or won't light at all and has very low temperatures, look to obstructions that are restricting the gas supplying or exiting the Thermostat.

REGULATIONS AND THE REGULATORS THEY BEGET

Gas Meter.jpg

In the past five years Chicago residents have witnessed one of the largest, most widespread and often irritating infrastructure improvements in the city's recent history:  the upgrading of the natural gas distribution system by the local utility People's Gas.  Streets and parkways are torn up, parking can be disrupted and restricted for weeks, gas meters are relocated from inside to the outside of many houses, often requiring rerouting of inside gas lines.  To top it off, the different phases of the work in any block can be spread out through a year or more, with very little communication provided on what work will be done and when it will happen.

For many owners of vintage stoves, including Chambers, the change can have drastic implications.  This is due to the fact most vintage stoves built prior to the mid 1960's do not come equipped with built-in gas pressure regulators.  People's Gas employees are directed to disconnect any stove not so equipped.

Here's the back story:  All gas stoves and other gas appliances are manufactured to operate with a uniform standard pressure of gas:  If that pressure is exceeded while the stove is being used, the burner flames will be drastically higher.  If the stove is not being used, certain components of the stove, mainly the valves used to turn the gas on and off, can be overpowered and raw gas will escape past them and into your kitchen. 

Avoiding this problem was originally the sole responsibility of the gas utility, which utilized the "gas supply regulator" installed on a home or apartment building.  It's a disc-shaped device (about 10" wide) attached to the building's gas supply pipe just before it enters the building.  You can see it in the photo on the upper left.

Some old regulator installations are inside the building.  There may be a meter between the regulator and the building, or the meter may be inside. 

The purpose of the regulator is to "regulate" (decrease) the pressure of the gas from the high pressure "street" supply, to the lower standard pressure for a building's gas appliances.  It also prevents any accidental "spikes" or "surges" of "street" pressure from entering a building's gas lines and appliances.

Since the mid 60's, all gas stoves (as well as furnaces and water heaters) must by law have their own regulators built-in for safety redundancy.  The reasoning is this:  if the utility company's supply regulator fails, allowing high pressure gas into your house's gas pipes, the stove's regulator prevents the surge from entering and overwhelming the stove's components.

Many old neighborhoods in Chicago still have low pressure gas supply systems that date from the original installations of the late 1800's to early 1900's.  For various safety and efficiency reasons, those and many mid-century systems are being replaced with a new high pressure supply, and when they are being replaced, new exterior "supply" regulators and meters are being installed.  It's at this point in the process when your vintage stove will be tagged and disconnected.

When the gas company upgrades a building, they must first turn off the gas supply, attach the new equipment, then turn the gas supply back on.  Before they leave the building, the utility's personnel are required to enter each residence to relight any pilot lights on water heaters, furnaces, and stoves.  They must also check any vintage stove to check to see if it has its own built-in regulator and modern flexible connector (stainless steel or plastic coated).  If not, the stove is summarily disconnected, the supply to the stove plugged, and the owner is told that it cannot be reconnected until one or both have been installed.

Fitting a regulator to your Chambers is a fairly straightforward job that any plumber should be able to handle in an hour, two at most.  If you don't have a modern yellow plastic coated flex line and an on/off valve between your stove and the pipe coming out of the kitchen wall or floor, now would be the time to update everything.  You can buy all the parts for about $100, though regulators are not usually available at hardware stores:  check professional appliance supply stores in your area. 

Of course if you are not qualified to work on gas systems, leave this upgrade to a professional.  If you need this work done and you haven't had your Chambers looked at in a while, please give me a call. 

A TIMELY ITEM

For many years, anybody who'd listen has heard me spout on about how great a stove a Chambers is:  Retained heat cooking, the Thermo-Well, the cooktop griddle and broiler.  Oh yeah, and that great little dial timer too.  

A Chambers Model B timer, all cleaned up.

A Chambers Model B timer, all cleaned up.

Four months ago I removed our timer to fix it and, well, you know the old saw about a cobbler and his kid’s shoes:  we’ve been without the thing ever since. Its absence has been conspicuous, and very enlightening about the role it plays not only for cooking on the stove, but for our family dynamic.  The effect has been so noticeable that my perspective about the timer and the stove has totally flipped. Now I tell people that a Chambers is a fantastic timer, which just happens to have a great stove attached.  Here's what that new perspective is about.

Free-floating Lux timers, or kitchen timers (some people call them egg timers) aren't anything new or rare:  they are absolutely ubiquitous, have been around forever, and as far as I know Lux still makes most of them.  But just where is yours at the moment?  Mine?  Well, I do have one somewhere around here.  Uh, let's see, where’d I put it last?  Hmmm, not on the countertop, where it's supposed to be.  Maybe the "miracle" drawer.  Nope, at least not in the top layer.  Maybe behind the toaster.  Nah.  Well, my son used it for his science homework...  Oh, right, he's not home.  No way I'm gonna go in his room:  a water buffalo would be hard to find in there by sight or smell.  Let's see... did I leave it in the basement workshop?

You get the point:  rather than the convenience they are meant to provide, those free-floating little buggers are so easy to misplace that they become a stress generating nuisance! 

Now, that same timer, attached to a Chambers…  It makes all the difference in the world, an incredibly ingenious convenience.  But to those who don’t own a Chambers, that timer dial is sorta like George Smiley, of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy:  so common looking, so mundane, so invisible.  But so very, very affective. 

I had no idea about that ten years ago when my wife and I first installed our Chambers.  As we lived with it, we of course loved it, but until the timer's recent absence we really didn't fathom the specific elements of our appreciation.   But boy, we sure did use that timer a lot:  thirty minutes for piano practice, son.  Having a tantrum about it?  20 minutes time out, mister!   Okay, gotta rustle up some grub:  Rice will be done in the ThermoWell when the timer dings in ten minutes.  Just the right amount of time for pre-heating the broiler.  Pop in the chops and for another 8 minutes and it'll be time for dinner.  Please set the table!  30 minutes until the Bull's game starts.  


Now, having lived four months with the goll-blasted free floating egg timer, we realize how perfectly simple, predictable, reliable, and reachable the Chambers timer is, and what a quantum leap in usefulness over a free-floating timer these qualities provide.  Absolutely no amount of psychic stress precedes or accompanies its use.  It can be located and set blindfolded.  It's there...  We set it...  We don't even think about it.  At home, the rhythm of our lives depends on it.  

That's not all.  Another infinitesimally perceptible quality about the timer, as fantastically mundane as it is profound, is this simple fact:  

It requires only one hand to operate.  

Not impressed?  Let me put that another way...  Let me "quantify" that:  it requires 50 percent fewer hands to operate than a free-floating timer.  

Laughing, are you?  Well, before you guffaw too much, let me set the scene: 

It's Saturday, 5:15 pm.  Meatloaf’s for dinner so my hands are full of raw eggy, raw meaty, soggy bread-crumby meatloaf schmutz.  I suddenly remember that I MUST call my car mechanic before they close in 15 minutes to make sure that they have put my wife's car outside the shop for her to pick up tonight, so she’ll have it for work for Monday morning.  But first I gotta get this mess o’ meat into a pan and in the oven.   Here are my choices:

Scenario A:  Chambers stove timer:  Grab a paper towel with my right hand, set the Chambers timer for 10 minutes, live to see another day. 

Elapsed time:  10 seconds.  Stress level:  1 on a scale of ten.   

Scenario B (free-floating timer):  Scan the kitchen countertops.  Well, scan the chaos on our kitchen countertops.  Scooch the piles of school papers, bills, magazines, toys, glasses, gloves, cat toys, photographs, etc. around with my elbows.  No good.  Rummage with either hand for the timer through the Miracle drawer, spreading gobs of weapons-grade salmonella throughout.  Spy the timer. Pick it up with one hand, set dial with the other, schmearing it thoroughly with death slime. 

Elapsed time:  5 minutes plus.  Stress level:  6 on a scale of ten.    

Scenario C (free-floating timer):  scrape meatloaf mix off both hands, wash thoroughly, search for and hopefully find the timer, then forget what the heck it was I wanted it for in the first place.  Until we are at the table an hour later and my wife sits and ruins a perfectly cooked meatloaf dinner by asking if she can pick up her car at the mechanic’s. 

Elapsed time:  eternity.  Stress level:  Off scale.   

You can now appreciate the beauty of a Chambers timer:  knowing absolutely where the timer is, and the unfettered ability to set it by one hand. 

We’re still not done.  Did I mention acoustics?  Give me a classic mechanical egg timer any day over a digital version.  I like their sound, enjoy their action, and value the fact that they do not require or consume batteries.  However, stand in a kitchen and listen to a free floater, then a Chambers timer.  The difference is significant. Some may say that it is more a matter of esthetics rather than practicality.  Well, sure, but, between a toy violin and a Stradavarius, what would you prefer?  Doesn’t the phrase “Quality of Life” apply here?

I would also argue that the sound of a Chambers timer does offer practical advantages.  It is, after all, attached to a 475 pound, 2’ deep by 3’ wide by 4’ tall hollow metal sound box.  The reverberations from that timer have lots of surface areas and interior spaces to resonate within and project from.  Its sound is way louder and more far reaching than any dinky, plastic, free floating timer. 

There you have it.  The real perspective on why owning a Chambers timer with attached stove is the timely thing to do.  I better take a few minutes to get that thing fixed and back in place.