Preparing for the overhaul...

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Chrysnbon Cook Stove: Antiqued and Fabulous

The inspiration for this stove came from two sources: Burlington, ME and a mistake.  I saw a really wonderful stove for sale, where the body and neck were the most fantastic blue, and I thought "I can do that."  Well, as it turned out, I probably could've, but impatience, weather, and a few mini disasters intervened.  I'm glad they did, as I much prefer what I ended up with.  You can make your own judgments and, of course, antique as much or as little (or not at all) as you wish.

Since metalizers take awhile to dry--and shed!--I usually do that step first, then put my "metal" pieces aside for a time when I can concentrate on them, and know I won't be touching anything else.  I've had too many silvery fingerprints (from what I thought were well-scrubbed fingers) appear on matte black surfaces!

Metalizers like the oil in your skin, and will adhere to it--much like fingerprint powder.  Now, of course, you don't have to use metalizers; plain old metallic paint will work fine.  I particularly like the Testors metallic silver paint, although I prefer the spray version.  With most of the metallic colors, I've found that the sprays coat more evenly.

"Aluminum plate" versus Chrysnbon-flavored "silver metal."
The paint I found, that I decided to use--that was almost the right color--was Nassau blue metallic.  Which, if you like cars, you know was popular on the Corvette in '65 and '66.  My original plan was to spray the blue bits of the stove (after priming, and sanding where necessary) and then, later, to seal them with a topcoat of Testors "dullcote."  Which, as the name implies, is a mattifying spray.  Below, you can see the difference between the body of the stove and the door, with and without it.

Shiny stove body, dull door.
 I taped off the inside of the stove with masking tape, so that wouldn't turn blue, too.

Right color, wrong finish.
Then, well, I got over-enthusiastic.  See, I really, really wanted to work on this stove.  And I'd just started with the Chrysnbon kits, and had (and have) a world of mistakes in front of me.  Long story short, even though it was raining--so, like, 100% humidity--I went ahead and sprayed on my "dullcote" anyway.  And, extreme duh, it fogged right up.  See the difference, below.

Note: if this happens to you, and you don't want it to happen, or aren't willing to work with the project as it's become, you can usually salvage your piece by waiting for it to dry--and dry and dry--and then (on a suitably hot, humidity-free day) spraying on a glossy coat.  For whatever reason, this usually eliminates fog.

But in my case, I decided to press on.  Because, well, it wasn't what I'd intended...but it looked really cool, nevertheless.

I had to tape off the bottom portion, so I could re-spray the top.  This was another (just plain dumb) mistake I made: not checking that the pipe was adequately blackened before gluing it on.  I mean, it worked out in the end, but still.

And here's the body, before I started antiquing:

For the antiquing process, I used black craft paint.  I usually buy Delta Ceramcoat, but they're all kind of the same thing.  I painted on successive layers, using plenty of water, and dabbing off the excess with a q-tip.  Which, by the way, q-tips are the greatest craft invention ever.  What I found was that, to get the effect I wanted, I needed to use successive thin coats and, slowly, accrete "grime"--just like what happens in real life.

About halfway there.
After I'd completed a few layers and let them dry, I took a dullish piece of sanding sponge and brushed it over the highlights.  I pressed just hard enough to remove the "grime," but not hard enough to remove the actual color.

I periodically checked the body with the door, to make sure that both looked equally aged--and like they belonged together.

Then I let everything dry overnight.  My family actually wanted to, you know, see me anyway.  Funny thing, that.

By the way, I have a couple of construction notes.  One is, glue the upper part of the stove to the stove top first, before you attempt to attach either to the stove body.  Preferably, clamp the two together--I glue them together as soon as I have both painted--and let the seam dry overnight.  Otherwise, in my experience, anyway, the two pieces never fit together completely right.  And, being a perfectionist, I want an utterly flush, neat seam.

A few days later, when I had more time to work on the project, I glued on the back.

And taped it in place.  Be careful where you use masking tape; it's usually fine on matte finishes, but will pull metallic finishes right off the plastic.  Getting the stove body square--at whatever point in the project you assemble it--can be a challenge.

While that was setting, I aged the pad.  Basically, I stippled it with the same black, in layers, until it looked suitably revolting.

The weakness in this kit is the feet.  I don't understand why it couldn't be constructed like the pot belly stove, where the feet slot into the body--thus ensuring both alignment and stability.  Really, this stove has neither so you have to be careful.  I usually go in this order of assembly: back to cook top, body sub-assembly, attach hardware, back/cook top sub-assembly to body sub-assembly, upper pipe to collar, upper pipe/collar to stove unit, and FEET LAST.

This is the method I've found works the best: first, flip the stove over (I usually rest it on a can of spray paint, or something similar), and glue in the feet.  Let them set for an hour or two, but no longer.  This glue sets in four hours.  You want the feet stable enough so they don't fall apart when you try to fit them into the pad, but not so firmly in place that you can't push and pull them a little.  Because if you just glue them in and let them dry, your pad will NOT fit.

Here, I let the feet set for about two hours, then fitted the pad on.  I used a couple paint pots to weigh them (very lightly) in place and let this attractive setup cure overnight.  Then, the next day, after everything was dry, I glued the feet into the pad.

When griming up the stove, I thought about where, naturally, dirt, oil, etc would occur, where it would collect.  Some spots are easier to clean than others--and some just look more disgusting, year after year.

Since this is (in my magical pretend world) still a regularly used stove, it's free of rust, etc.  I wanted it to be old and gross, but still well-maintained.  Which is why the cooking surface itself is still reasonably clean.

And here's where I learned about the sub-assembly issue.  Here, I'd assembled everything in the right order but not let it dry long enough.  Impatience, once again rearing its ugly head.  I solved the problem with a minor amount of Testors putty.  It tends to dry and get crumbly very quickly, so if you want a little more dexterity, squeeze some onto your palette and mix it with a tiny amount of thinner.  It'll stay malleable a lot longer (you can always dip your brush in more thinner, but go sparingly), and squeeze into small joints much more easily.

Once this was dry, I sanded it down--very carefully--and painted over it with a combination of Testors flat black and black craft paint (one after the other).  It was pretty tricky, but since I couldn't touch it up with the blue, which is available only in spray form, I decided that this would be another really grimy area.  Which, of course, in real life, it would be.

In the meantime, my Artograph 1530 came, and we set it up.

I didn't spray it, I just kept it in here for safekeeping while it dried.

Fun with safety!  Mr. Awesome, Sr. tries on my respirator.  Which, there are only so many times you can get high spraying varnish (even outdoors) before, dude, it gets old.  A decent respirator costs as little as 35 bucks and saves brain cells.  I need all of mine!

And, clearly, so does my husband.

And then it was done...

And now, a brief pictorial presentation of why I live in Maine.  These were all taken in my, well, I guess what you'd call a "neighborhood."  I've spared you the endless pictures of creatively maintained trailers, sheep, and hubcaps.

So there you have it, folks.  I hope that, if you end up making a stove, you're happy with it.  This is kind of a challenging kit, but worth the effort.  There just aren't that many decent stoves out there, particularly for "smaller" 1:12 scales.  If you're doing a larger 1:12 scale house, though, and have absolutely no desire to make your own stove, Reutter Porzellan's cook stove is really lovely and, if you've got the money, worth the price tag.


otterine said...

That is one seriously gorgeous stove! :D

CJ said...

Thank you :-)

Elga said...

Your stove looks just wonderful, thanks for all the tips.

Cyndy said...

Love what you've done with this stove! I have the same stove - wonder how Mr. and Mrs. Santa feel about blue?....