Home, home with a range

January 11th, 2021

When we bought our house, one of the most interesting (and commented upon) features is our late-1950s era electric range, GE model J 406P2WH 14.4. I can only assume the 14.4 refers to the V.32 modem for unit telemetry (*cough*). Meet The General:

This thing is a beast: 40 inches wide (difficult to replace!), two ovens, lots of chrome, a bunch of ganged push buttons (kindly placed away from little fingers), a cool looking timer/clock and none of this fancy self-cleaning garbage. If you want to clean The General, you’re going to need a few hours, oven cleaner, and elbow grease. Good ventilation is a plus.

The General has been pretty good to us over the 5 years we’ve used it, but there have been two incidents of note. Around 2016, and near to when we were preparing a major holiday meal, the oven stopped heating up. An appliance repair person was called, some poking was done, and an ancient terminal than had broken loose was replaced. A couple years later, also in proximity to a major holiday meal (I know, right?), some blue smoke was released when I was cooking and the cause was the same. Given the frequency of failure, I took the opportunity to purchase some high temperature wire and terminals and replaced the [likely original] wiring at the back of the unit.

A couple weeks ago, our oven failed again (no holiday this time, just COVID-19). Upon looking inside, the lower oven element (bake unit) was clearly in bad shape:

The good news is that this is a very easy DIY repair if you can find a compatible part. Given the age of the stove, this wasn’t very easy as the range does not show up in online databases and documentation is hard to come by. The manual we do have, while very 1950s and hilarious, is basically useless:

To find a compatible part, I looked at the following criteria:

  • Element [and oven] width
  • Element [and oven] length
  • Distance between element connectors
  • Distance between element attachment screws (3.5″)
  • Style of bake unit attachment (hinged)
  • Terminal types (1/4″ push-on/spade)
  • Wattage rating (the installed unit listed 3000W)

I then did a bunch of image searching, restricting myself to GE parts, to find the best match, a GE WB44X10009, and ordered one on Amazon (the local appliance part store was out of stock).

This is actually a slightly smaller part with a lower wattage rating, but that basically means that things may take a bit longer to warm up. I’m not sure what the wattage rating of the original part was, so it’s possible this is actually closer to the specified part. I purchased a GE OEM (original) part as the quality control on third-party manufacturers is variable and the cost difference (< $20) wasn’t worth it; the entire repair cost of approximately $40 won’t even cover an appliance repair service call, let alone parts and labor.

To perform the replacement:

  1. Turned off the circuit breaker for the range. If a professional electrician has worked on your house, the appropriate breaker will be labeled on the door of the breaker box. We live in an approximately 100 year old house that has been rewired at least twice… so the labels we do have are suspect, and many are missing. The good news is that an electric range will be a large (40 amp, often double-width) breaker making it easy to find. Verify that you’ve found the correct breaker by turning on burners, lights, etc… and verifying that the range is indeed off before performing maintenance. Remember to turn everything off so you don’t inadvertently leave a burner on after you complete the job.
  2. Remove the old oven element. This is as simple as removing the bottom oven rack, lifting the element up a little bit, and using a 1/4″ nut driver to remove the two sheet metal screws holding it in. As mentioned previously, our oven element uses push on terminals, so the wires disconnect with a simple tug (a standard screwdriver might help if you need some leverage on the terminal). Make sure the wires don’t fall back into the oven… ours are of generous length, see my note above rewiring above.
  3. Clean the oven a bit, you might as well.
  4. Insert the new element reversing the steps in (2)
  5. Turn on the circuit breaker and test things out.


It’s a Girl!

March 7th, 2010

Early Monday morning, Rebecca and I welcomed our daughter into this world… and she is everything that we hoped for and more.


  • Girl
  • 7 lbs, 6 oz
  • 19″ long
  • Name: Yael Scherba

Now I’ll have something more fun to write about…

Camera is Back!

August 15th, 2008

So, my digital camera (Canon PowerShot G3) is back!  I had accidentally dropped it in the middle of our home inspection and had dislodged one of the lens groups.  Fortunately, nothing major was broken and the good folks at MCVR were able to repair the camera for less than $100.00–I would highly recommend them to anybody looking to repair a digital camera.

Urbana Hawk_4.JPGAnd just in time.  This guy was greeting me at the end of my bike ride. With dinner.

Moving [back] to Urbana, IL (Part I)

June 23rd, 2008

Rebecca and I are moving back to Champaign-Urbana, IL to allow Rebecca to pursue a Ph.D. in Human and Community Development/Family Studies at UIUC.  I will be sticking with Qualcomm who, conveniently, opened up a C-U office last year!  Should be a fun and interesting experience, if nothing else.

But, it involves moving, which is never fun.  We have good friends in both locations, so we have the bitterness of leaving contrasted with the excitement of being able to see old friends again.  We will be driving starting tomorrow with the two cats in the back seat.  This will be Henrietta’s first road trip, so we’re hoping she takes well to it.  Additionally, we have the excitement of our first house purchase (we close this Friday).

We got our townhouse packed (partially by movers) this afternoon.  I’m taking a break from cleaning out our place and ‘borrowing’ our neighbor’s WiFi to catch-up on news and email… fortunately, nothing else seems to be going down.

Stay tuned…

Henrietta and Homer are Friends!

May 27th, 2007

Homer and HenriettaHenrietta and Homer and friends! Check out some new photos

Introducing Henrietta Pussycat

May 12th, 2007

We (I) finally broke down and said yes to another cat. Meet Henrietta Pussycat Scherba Swartz Murmelstein (‘Henni’ for short):

Henrietta Pussycat

We tried to keep Homer away from Henrietta (3+ pounds his junior) as best as we could, but eventually she decided that that the guest room just wasn’t her thing. Fortunately, they are getting along quite well–I will upload more pictures as she continues to do cute things.

Sort of back…

February 18th, 2007

So, the old scherba.name server decided to bite the dust without warning and without a recent backup.  No fun there.

Long live the new scherba.name server.  Pictures of the cat, my wife, and our adventures will return shortly.  Until then, enjoy something else.