Category Archives: RV stove

A Week in the Bus (Allegany State Park trip – Part II)

(Continued from Part I)

After arriving around midnight at the campsite, we set up the basics, and got to bed. My wife and I ran into a bit of a problem with our bed situation, as the air mattress we had been using had developed a leak that I couldn’t patch, and the replacement we brought was a king-sized one that wouldn’t fit in the back area. Luckily, with just the three of us in the bus, we could share the bottom bunk, while our son took the top bunk.

We had a nice site near the top of the hill on our loop. For the Red House camping area, the A loop and B loop had their own bathroom facilities, while the C and D shared a bathroom, I think with the E loop. There were abundant water taps, and fairly nice stone rings for firepits, though no grates. We realized that we’d been spoiled, as the fire pits and rings at Sprague Brook and Evangola had attached and adjustable grates to cook on.

Luckily, the camp store was literally down the hill and across the road from our site, and they had a nice round grating that I could perch on stones in our firepit and make a cooking surface. They also sold a 30amp to 15amp plug adapter, which I found I needed, as the 15amp power plug on the power tree was a GFCI outlet that kept tripping when I plugged into it (which of course was happening after midnight in the light rain.)  

30 Amp RV Male to Female 5-15R Adapter (6736T) (Misc.)

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New From: 0 Out of Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) plugs are great, except when it's wet and dark and your system trips them!
Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) plugs are great, except when it’s wet and dark and your system trips them!

I was totally perplexed as to what was tripping the outlet, as the system worked fine on my garage’s 15amp breaker, so after going through everything and eventually unplugging a number of non-essential systems including the plug from the inverter (even though the breaker for the inverter’s power feed was off), I finally got us basic power for lights and the fridge. After spending part of the morning tearing apart the main power in plug and the breaker box, I found that it seemed that the GFCI was being tripped by the ground of the plug of the inverter.

As the ‘main’ of the box is just a regular breaker, I had wired in the plug end of a 12 gauge extension cord into an unused breaker in the box, with the understanding that in order to power the system with the inverter, I would first turn off the main, then turn on the inverter breaker, and to go back to land power, the inverter breaker would go off first, then the main would go on. But as the inverter was set to take a grounded plug, but only connected to the 12VDC positive and negative, it seemed that the GFCI ‘saw’ the system with a return/ground fault in the 110AC system. Once I put the adapter in and plugged into the 30amp outlet, there was no issue, and all worked the way it was supposed to.

We finally got to use the stove, and it preformed admirably. While most of our cooking was done over the wood fire, the burners of the stove did a nice job with popcorn, and the oven did a great job with flatbread pizzas (and a 12” round fits easily). However, I’ve found that I need some small receptacle for spent matches, though I’m realizing that all those ashtrays that have fallen into disuse should provide for something both suitable and attractive.

The troubleshooting/improving never stops …


(More on the park in Part III)


The fancy floorplan.

With the fridge finally in place, I have a firm ‘wall’ to start to build the kitchen in.  I knew for sure that the counter would be at the level of the base of the windows so that we wouldn’t lose visibility, but the actual arrangement of drawers and storage/access cabinets would depend on placement of other things, like the stove and the sink.  If you look on the original floorplan, you can see that there’s a whole lot of potential counter space where things could go.

The stove was easy to place, as my plan was to put it at one of the ’emergency’ windows that can be swung out and give lots of good ventilation if we need it.  As there are two such windows along the counter (colored red in the floorplan diagram), the stove could have gone along either one, but putting it along the fore window would give more ‘working space’ around the sink, which is fairly important when washing dishes and such.  And since we actually had the stove, I could place it so much more precisely than in the floorplan where there’s essentially a 24″ x 28″ space for the (three burner – ha!) stove.

The sink was a more dicey matter in terms of placement.  The window closest to the fridge is ‘sticky’ – there are some scratches in the aluminum frame, and it can make the window hard to close (at least form the inside). My original thought was to put it right in front of that window near the fridge to maximize the available counterspace between the sink and stove, but being able to have fresh air while doing dishes ranks highly, so the sink may move closer.  Actually doing the placement is going to wait until we ‘play’ with the space for a bit.  I had hoped to do this on one last camping trip of the Sprague Brook season, but it just never came to be.

The stove!The first thing I did was take measurements and figure out the placement of the stove.  I was planning for a 24″ deep stove,since I kept seeing that come up as a dimension for newer stoves, but ours is only about 20″ deep, leaving about 4 inches of counter behind it. And while the window comes out to be more than 24″ wide, the stove is only 21″ wide, and that measurement (like the depth) includes 1/2″ of overlap of the trim.

This gave me some concrete information to work with in making the countertop.  While I’ve seen lots of people using some of the pre-made household counters in their skoolies, my wife had shown me an article on how to build a counter that gave the look of thick oak planks and we both liked the look. However, the idea of having beveled edges between the planks seemed to just be an invitation to a continually dirty counter.  So as a compromise, I had decided to use oak to make a counter, with no beveled edges, and as few seams as possible.

It turned out that I had just enough oak in two almost 13″ wide by 1 1/8″ thick planks that, when planed down and jointed, came out to the right length for the counter from fridge-wall to side-facing seat.  These pieces were fixed together with the Kreg pocket-jig and some 1 1/4″ fine-thread screws.  

Kreg K4MS Jig Master System (Tools & Home Improvement)

List Price: $139.00 USD
New From: $139.00 USD In Stock
Used from: $129.27 USD In Stock

Even with some bowing in the plank, which was fixed with clamps, screwed, and sanded down to fit where the stove would go.

The stove structure and enclosure. 2x3" beams and 1/2" plywood, and some 3/4x2" pine to keep things even.
The stove structure and enclosure. 2×3″ beams and 1/2″ plywood, and some 3/4×2″ pine to keep things even.

In order to support the counter without actually having counters underneath it, I decided to build in some 2×3″ supports that would hold it up, and just fit the sides of the stove, with allowances for 1/2″ plywood on the inside of the enclosure to help support it.  The 2×3″ supports that attached to the wall rest upon a 2×4″ that is screwed into the wall supports.  I used more pocket screws to attach the horizontal supports to the 2×4″ and then attached the vertical supports to the 2×3″ that was attached to the floor.  The 2×4″ was attached to the wall at a height that would put the 7/8″ thick counter just below the level of the windows allowing for a 3/4-1″ oak backsplash to be added at a later time.

Counter supports in place.
Counter supports in place.

One additional support at the fridge wall and another toward the seat edge, though the one near the seat is back about 10″ so that I could put a small lower drawer and upper ‘bin’ at seat height that would have nice storage space for passengers and the counter above it.

The stove looks awesome in place!
The stove looks awesome in place!

With this all set, I stained the counter and slid it into place, checking the fitting and adjusting the ‘square’ of the stove structural fittings before using more pocket screws to sink things into place.  A 3/4×1 1/2″ edging was affixed to the counter after being rounded with a router and the stove was set in place (the edging had to come up to the trim of the stove.  This was also affixed from underneath with pocket screws.

The counter as seen from the captain's chair.
The counter as seen from the captain’s chair.

I had considered leaving the leading corner of the counter as a 90 degree angle, but thought that it would present too much of a chance for a bruise in the close quarters with several people on the bus.  Toward that end, I decided to trim the corner and make it a simple 45 degree angle, which was easy to work with for the trim.

The counter from the aft, by the bunks.
The counter from the aft, by the bunks.

With the counter in place as it is, it looks like a lot of space, though we’ll need to decide where the sink will go, and I was expecting to put in a full size sink as opposed to the RV sink that we salvaged from the trailer.  The salvaged sink is stainless steel and in decent shape, but it’s only 4 or 5 inches deep.  A standard kitchen sink is around 9 inches deep, and a double sink that deep could easily have one side filled with hot water and suds to wash and then use the other side to rinse and thus conserve water while still doing a full set of dishes for four or six people.

One of my concerns right now is that the 29″ height that the counter is at (the bottom of the windows) may be a bit low to be comfortable tpo work at for long periods of time since most counters are at about 35″ height.  That said, I do make cookies and bracciole at our kitchen table and it’s only about 29″ tall, so … time will tell.






The oven (Ward & Son 164-50)

A really good friend of ours offered to give us whatever we could scavenge out of a 1970’s vintage RV trailer that had been sitting in a field, unused and untended for many years, if we would help get it out from where it was.  We took the bus and our 4×4 pickup and a ton of tools down to the field which was basically an enjoyable hour’s drive away. (Well, within a few hundred feet, as the road down to the field was more washed out than the pick-up could take.)

We got some great stuff from the trailer, including the electrical box (forthcoming), a fridge that was just the size we were looking for (but it didn’t work), a water tank, water pump (pressure switch broken), LP regulator (works great!), and the LP stove (upon which I’ll focus in this post).  The stove had been used in the past without being cleaned, the roof of the RV had developed leaks, and some field mice had discovered that the oven was an awesome place to live and the fiberglass around it was a special type of nest material.  However, looking past the rust and mess, there was a full stove (range and oven) that had four burners.  The sticker on the drip tray indicated that it was a Ward & Son 164-50 stove.

Now that may not help you visualize what the stove is, as it seems that Ward & Son is out of business and has been for some time.  But, the stove measures about 21″ wide, 19 1/2″ deep and 17″ tall, so it seems small, but just about on-target for oven/range combinations.  Modern ovens tend to be a little taller and have correspondingly taller ovens.  They also tend to have piezo ignitors instead of pilot lights.  And it is really hard to find one with four burners, as three burners seem to have become the standard, probably to make room for bigger pots on the range.  That said, they tend to run between $500-$800 new (Amazon, Camping World), so I was really hoping the stove was okay.  I gave it a really brief cleaning and got a 20 lb propane tank, hooked up the regulator and the stove and tested it.  Each of the four burners worked perfectly, and the oven did as well.  A big consideration here is that the oven has a pilot light but the burners do not – they need to be lit with a match or lighter every single time you want to use them (but it’s not a problem for us).

This successful test of the stove lead me along the refurbishing trail.  The outer rails, heat deflector, and stove door handle were chromed, but covered with rust.  The stovetop, oven door, and drip tray were a steel that was shined, but also pitted with rust and grime (I thought I had pictures, but I can’t find them).  Investigating re-chroming, I was advised to get a little sand-blaster and paint the stove instead.  This seemed reasonable, especially since the only high-temperature stove paint was the flat black type.  I thought this would end up making the unit look somewhat like a cast-iron stove, which would fit with our concept of a Victorian era interior.

It turned out that the sand blaster, loaded with black diamond grit (coal), etched the chrome and removed the rust, and even the fake wood grain (on plastic or vinyl) wonderfully.  The thing it really doesn’t do well with though, was the grime.  This, I think, was old, cooked-on and reduced oils and fats.  These I ended up cleaning off with a wire wheel on my angle grinder. Finally, I had everything that needed to be painted prepared, and spent some time cleaning (and disinfecting) the oven interior and the range-top structure, and reattaching the spring to one side of the oven door.

  When I got to painting, I found that in addition to the flat black Rust-Oleum High Heat, there was also a gloss black paint in high heat, so I decided that I would keep the larger bits of the stove in the matte black, but make the trim (all that chrome) gloss.  Overall, it came out nicely.

I did have one concern, however – that pilot light in the oven.  I know that it has to be in there so that the oven can kick on and off to regulate it’s  temperature.  But I wouldn’t want the pilot light on while travelling as it could blow out and start to fill the bus with propane.

  And, of course, having a pilot light going the whole time the bus is just sitting would just drain the tank needlessly.  So I’ve been thinking on how to tactfully put a shut-off valve for the stove on the countertop so we could avoid all that.

  But, in cleaning the knobs (they had plenty of grime caked on them) I found that the oven control knob doesn’t just go from ‘Off’ to ‘Broil’ with all the usual oven temperatures in-between, but it also has a setting for ‘Pilot Off’.  I will of course be hooking it up again to double-check before installing the stove to make sure that it functions as it should, but so far, this stove is all that we could have asked for.

Thanks Laura!