Came home tonight to find barb busily cleaning the kitchen. Happy surprise, that. We were talking while she was scrubbing the stove with a mixture of baking soda and water made into a sort of paste.
She was scrubbing on one of the gas valves when a thin wisp of smoke started to rise, and there was the noise of an electrical short, a sort of sputtering. Barb jumped back, and we watched as the sputtering increased to a wild arcing, and a six-inch flame shot out of the valve. Then it went out with a loud POP, but there were still wisps of smoke and the occasional sputtery buzzing sound that continued. The top of the stove was covered with a fine metallic carbonized mist. Then a second switch started the same sputtering.
Barb was freaking out. I fiddled with the gas valve a bit, enough to realize that the switch was beyond repair, and I needed to get to it to disconnect it so I could get a new one.
The screws holding the faceplate on were hidden somewhere, and I remembered that the whole top of the stove had to come off.
I had to take apart the burners to do that. The stove is in theory a sealed surface, but it takes removing some screws to do it. Taking the burners apart showed me that they were not only in need of a major cleaning, they were pretty badly oxidized, and the screws were badly rusted.
So the screws are soaking in penetrating oil now, and I took the burner shells outside and "pickled" them with some muriatic acid. The ceramic sparking posts-- well, two of the four were broken, and that made it difficult to light those burners.
Inside the stove was a load of mouse poop. Got out the Shop Vac and disenmousepooped the internals, and cleaned it up as much as I could without tearing it apart further. Tomorrow if I feel better I'll take out the burner pipes and clean them, and do as much to the surface as I can. Tonight I'm heading to bed to see if I can sleep.
It looks gross, but it's actually some corrosion on the top surface. The stove is 13 years old and has only been serviced once that had the top off. It's due.