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First Vintage Appliance Project - 1953 Frigidaire RS-38

Kobalt Kiwi

May 3, 2022
Model Number
RS-38 (1953)
Rescued this 1953 Frigidaire Thrifty 30 RS-38 Electric Range from the basement of an old house. The new owner of the place was going to bring it in for scrap, and I couldn't let that happen. Got it for next to nothing. I've never restored an old appliance before (any appliance really), but I figured this would be a very worthwhile noob project. Everyone has to start somewhere, right?

Managed to get it home (it might need a name)...and I've done some assessments. It needs a super deep cleaning (started). All the knobs and handles are in good shape, all four elements seem to work fine, the exterior paint and metal is in relatively good shape, and there isn't any obvious burnt or shredded wiring at first glance with the back panel off.

Needs to be fixed:
- Currently the broiler and baking coils are not warming up. I'll be assessing and troubleshooting these soon.
- The glass front of the clock timer is cracked and needs to be replaced
- There is rusting and pitting on the inside of the oven that needs to be addressed and repaired
- The outlet, clock and timer do not appear to be functioning at the moment. I do not need these to be working right away, but it would be great if I can fix them.
- The timer unit buzzes (quietly) even when off, though it buzzes loudly in the "end" position. Needs to be repaired or disabled because it is pretty distracting.
- The light indicators for the burners still light up, but the light for the oven does not (possibly related to the first issue)
- One of the guide "wheels" for the storage drawer is missing and needs a suitable replacement

Obviously I have a lot of work ahead of me here. I'm not afraid of the work, but it would be great to be able to get this beautiful piece working again without too many f*ck ups or basic mistakes.

I was able to get the maintenance and repair guide - Thanks, Automaticwasher.org/Automatic Ephemera - so I have part numbers and a troubleshooting guide. My new AC/DC multi-meter arrives tomorrow morning. I'll be following the guide to do testing on the heating elements shortly. If I need to replace the heating elements I know the broiler part is 5430886 and the baking unit is 5429134. I've got a search saved on Ebay for those.

One question I have right now is about the best way to stop the rust and pitting inside the oven. What are some products that are safe to use, heat wise and food wise, inside the oven? I don't mind doing some sanding, but I don't currently have access to sandblasting or commercial type refinishing equipment.

In addition to addressing the rust and pitting, any recommendations as I start diving into this new challenge? What do I need to look out for? What do you wish you knew before your first vintage fix?

Thanks in advance for any insights.


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