Need advice on a new stove -- Hitzer? Harmon? Alaska?

Need advice on a new stove -- Hitzer? Harmon? Alaska?

PostBy: MarkV On: Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:58 pm

Well, I think I'm in the market for a new stove.

I have an old Franco-Belge Normandie model 10-175, that I bought used about 8 years ago when it was 5 years old. Have it installed in the basement of my two-story home, 2200 SF above ground, another 800 or so in the basement. I have a hood installed over the stove that's tied into my heat pump return duct, so the heat pump blower circulates air through the house. This works pretty well--heat pump doesn't even come on till it's about 25 out, and the backup heat won't run until its down to around 10. If the temps stay above 25, the whole house is heated by coal.

I've had a few minor repairs and parts replacements done but nothing major--until now.

I intended to fire it up tonight and thought I'd give it one more lookover to make sure joint seals and such looked good. I don't know if I missed this during my spring inspection, or it developed over the summer, but I found cracks in each side of the rear of the stove. These appear to be in the flanges of the cast iron back, where it's bolted to the sides. They also don't appear to go all the way through (as of now), as the iron on neither side of the crack feels loose. More serious is that one of the flanges where the two parts of the rectangular rear exhaust port bolt together is cracked, meaning the bolt can't hold the two parts together and you can see the pieces are spreading apart.

Knowing the price of the smaller F-B parts, I'm not even gonna think about replacing these major components on a stove this old. I want to stay with a hopper feed because I don't want to be dependent on electricity to burn it. We live in a rural area near Harrsiburg, and between hurricanes, tornadoes, and ice storms the last two years, our electricity has been out three or four days on several occasions.

AES Hearthplace, where I get my F-B parts, handles Harmon, and I've casually looked at them when I'm in. Also stopped at the Alaska factory in Bloomsburg to check out their stoves last year while visiting family. I wasn't that impressed, but I don't know anyone who has one.

I've done a little reading of this forum tonight, and there appear to be more than a few Hitzer stove lovers posting. Based on the comments here, and checking out the Hitzer site, it looks like the 50-93 would work well for me.

But I'd really appreciate any thoughts, comments, and experience you guys can offer on these brands, or others. Also anything you can offer about dealers within a reasonable drive of Harrisburg, and especially any idea you can provide about installed cost. Thanks!

p.s. I have a coal bin filled with two tons of Blaschak nut, so I need something that will burn it!
Last edited by MarkV on Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
MarkV
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine DS-1500WH
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak bulk nut

Re: Need advice on a new stove -- Hitzer? Harmon? Alaska?

PostBy: buffalo bob On: Wed Dec 19, 2012 9:22 pm

i have a hitzer 354 hand fed, no hopper and i luv it, but if i had it to do over again i would get the 50=93 the hopper is removable for wood burning fall and springand if u talk to freetown fred you will be buying the hitzer...what really convinced me to buy hitzer is i called hitzer factory talked to the top man , he was very patient with me answered all my questions and then some...and if u need service they are there for you...good co. good stove, good svc. he(( freetown even has hitzers phone number...oh yea welcome to the fourm...any dumb question is the one u dont ask...and put your location (closest town) on your profile.no one will steal ya...
buffalo bob
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: hitzer 354
Coal Size/Type: anthracite nut

Re: Need advice on a new stove -- Hitzer? Harmon? Alaska?

PostBy: freetown fred On: Wed Dec 19, 2012 9:29 pm

Soooo markv, if you want to talk to the Hitzer people---260-589-8536--ask for Dean & tell him what you want to do.He loves talkin to people about his stoves. I wouldn't swap my 50-93 for the world--like bb said, the hopper makes all the difference in the world. 12 hr tending but she'll go a good 36--real controllable in the fall & spring.
freetown fred
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: HITZER 50-93
Coal Size/Type: BLASCHAK Nut/Stove mix

Visit Hitzer Stoves

Re: Need advice on a new stove -- Hitzer? Harmon? Alaska?

PostBy: 63roundbadge On: Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:17 pm

I went from 22 years with an EFEL Kaminar (Franco-Belge similar) to a ALASKA KODIAK for the last 4 years.

Hopper fed, simple window, clean, efficient. I couldn't be happier. After reading lots of Hitzer posts, a Hitzer would be my second choice.

Search on my name for posts praising my Kodiak. I never burn wood, only pea and now I'm trying nut coal. Either one works really well, 12 hour burns with no fussing at full throttle.

Primarily I bought it because it is made up the road in Bloomsburg, PA; in the U S of A! I didn't do any research at the time, I took the dealer's advice and I'm glad I did!

Best of Luck,
John
63roundbadge
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Alaska
Stove/Furnace Model: Kodiak

Re: Need advice on a new stove -- Hitzer? Harmon? Alaska?

PostBy: CapeCoaler On: Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:45 pm

Hopper...
Hitzer or DS Machine...
CapeCoaler
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: want AA130
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine BS#4, Harman MKII, Hitzer 503,...
Coal Size/Type: Pea/Nut/Stove

Re: Need advice on a new stove -- Hitzer? Harmon? Alaska?

PostBy: MarkV On: Thu Dec 20, 2012 12:09 am

buffalo bob wrote:i have a hitzer 354 hand fed, no hopper and i luv it, but if i had it to do over again i would get the 50=93 the hopper is removable for wood burning fall and springand if u talk to freetown fred you will be buying the hitzer...what really convinced me to buy hitzer is i called hitzer factory talked to the top man , he was very patient with me answered all my questions and then some...and if u need service they are there for you...good co. good stove, good svc. he(( freetown even has hitzers phone number...oh yea welcome to the fourm...any dumb question is the one u dont ask...and put your location (closest town) on your profile.no one will steal ya...


Thanks bob. I updated my profile--missed that when I signed up last year. I'm in Mechanicsburg.

The F-Bs wouldn't burn wood, I don't think...firebox too small...so i've never been able to do that. But it woudl be nice to have that option--many's the cool fall night I've envied my neighbors with wood burners, where I could only turn on the ol' heat pump.

freetown fred wrote:Soooo markv, if you want to talk to the Hitzer people---260-589-8536--ask for Dean & tell him what you want to do.He loves talkin to people about his stoves. I wouldn't swap my 50-93 for the world--like bb said, the hopper makes all the difference in the world. 12 hr tending but she'll go a good 36--real controllable in the fall & spring.


Thanks for that fred...I'll call them tomorrow morning. I have an unusually low crock to connect to--only 15" vertical rise center-to-center from the flue on the 50-93, and would like to hear their ideas on that. I'd want to get a manual damper and bari damper in there somewhere. This was never a problem with the F-B because they're sorta "low riders" anyway.

How long to you burn coal in the average year, and about how much do you use?
Last edited by MarkV on Thu Dec 20, 2012 12:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
MarkV
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine DS-1500WH
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak bulk nut

Re: Need advice on a new stove -- Hitzer? Harmon? Alaska?

PostBy: MarkV On: Thu Dec 20, 2012 12:15 am

63roundbadge wrote:I went from 22 years with an EFEL Kaminar (Franco-Belge similar) to a ALASKA KODIAK for the last 4 years.

Hopper fed, simple window, clean, efficient. I couldn't be happier. After reading lots of Hitzer posts, a Hitzer would be my second choice.

Search on my name for posts praising my Kodiak. I never burn wood, only pea and now I'm trying nut coal. Either one works really well, 12 hour burns with no fussing at full throttle.

Primarily I bought it because it is made up the road in Bloomsburg, PA; in the U S of A! I didn't do any research at the time, I took the dealer's advice and I'm glad I did!

Best of Luck,
John


Thanks, John. That's good to hear. There are a couple Alaska dealers close by here so I'll probably check them out. Bloomsburg is my hometown and my siblings all still live there. My brother knows a few guys who have Alaskas and he told me awhile back they all like them.
MarkV
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine DS-1500WH
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak bulk nut

Re: Need advice on a new stove -- Hitzer? Harmon? Alaska?

PostBy: fastcat On: Thu Dec 20, 2012 1:18 am

Take a look at the Hitzer FA82, they have a enclosure with blower you can add on and will help with getting the heat into your system and use less coal and if the electricity goes off your system may suck the heat from the stove. And if you found this to be true you wouldn't need to add the blower. The 50-93 with its double back and top are not suited to radiate heat straight up into your heat catcher.
fastcat
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak Nut/Stove Mix

Re: Need advice on a new stove -- Hitzer? Harmon? Alaska?

PostBy: Rob R. On: Thu Dec 20, 2012 7:03 am

MarkV wrote: Bloomsburg is my hometown and my siblings all still live there.


Alaska makes a nice stove and it is always good to keep your money close to home. Hitzer makes a great product as well. Harman makes a nice stove, but you can forget talking to someone on the shop floor like you can with Hitzer.
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: Need advice on a new stove -- Hitzer? Harmon? Alaska?

PostBy: 63roundbadge On: Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:53 am

Another pro-Alaska item I love---Even in 60 degree days, this beauty idles w/no visible glow to keep the chill out. I can get a 24 hr burn time during those days.

Not exaggerating. Honest.

The only time I need to supplement with oil here is when it's going to be 35/25 for more than 1 day. I've had the oil on 2 days this year so far, I'll probably turn it on again for this weekend's windy days.

BTW the hopper is removable w/4 bolts if you don't like it or want to add it later. Best $100 you'll spend though. Others warned me that it warps? Hasn't happened yet in 4 years. I didn't get the factory blower, as my stove's centered in the house (62X50) and in our family room. I heard the blower is noisy, best alternative is a slow moving 20" box fan behind it. I added a Lutron dimmer to throttle it for day or night use.

Again, search on my posts for more info. http://nepacrossroads.com/member/63roundbadge/topics/

I called Alaska a couple times in the early days, I was surprised at the Mom and Pop feel of the folks there. Sounds like Hitzer's the same way, personal service from a small but dedicated staff who know their products.
63roundbadge
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Alaska
Stove/Furnace Model: Kodiak

Re: Need advice on a new stove -- Hitzer? Harmon? Alaska?

PostBy: freetown fred On: Thu Dec 20, 2012 9:08 am

Mark, I burn from early Oct thru early April--go thru approx 3 1/2 tons of nut --PS--if you were to go the 50-93 route, I would recommend only an MPD--but you can talk w/ Dean on that.For the record--all the previous posted stoves are real good ones--I think customer service was my deciding factor once I narrowed down to 2 or 3 stoves I was looking at.
MarkV wrote:
buffalo bob wrote:i have a hitzer 354 hand fed, no hopper and i luv it, but if i had it to do over again i would get the 50=93 the hopper is removable for wood burning fall and springand if u talk to freetown fred you will be buying the hitzer...what really convinced me to buy hitzer is i called hitzer factory talked to the top man , he was very patient with me answered all my questions and then some...and if u need service they are there for you...good co. good stove, good svc. he(( freetown even has hitzers phone number...oh yea welcome to the fourm...any dumb question is the one u dont ask...and put your location (closest town) on your profile.no one will steal ya...


Thanks bob. I updated my profile--missed that when I signed up last year. I'm in Mechanicsburg.

The F-Bs wouldn't burn wood, I don't think...firebox too small...so i've never been able to do that. But it woudl be nice to have that option--many's the cool fall night I've envied my neighbors with wood burners, where I could only turn on the ol' heat pump.

freetown fred wrote:Soooo markv, if you want to talk to the Hitzer people---260-589-8536--ask for Dean & tell him what you want to do.He loves talkin to people about his stoves. I wouldn't swap my 50-93 for the world--like bb said, the hopper makes all the difference in the world. 12 hr tending but she'll go a good 36--real controllable in the fall & spring.


Thanks for that fred...I'll call them tomorrow morning. I have an unusually low crock to connect to--only 15" vertical rise center-to-center from the flue on the 50-93, and would like to hear their ideas on that. I'd want to get a manual damper and bari damper in there somewhere. This was never a problem with the F-B because they're sorta "low riders" anyway.

How long to you burn coal in the average year, and about how much do you use?
freetown fred
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: HITZER 50-93
Coal Size/Type: BLASCHAK Nut/Stove mix

Re: Need advice on a new stove -- Hitzer? Harmon? Alaska?

PostBy: MarkV On: Sat Dec 22, 2012 2:46 pm

To everyone, thanks for your input on the various stoves.

Fred, I did talk with Dean at Hitzer Stoves yesterday and as you said, a very friendly guy, took about 20 minutes to listen to my situation and give me his recommendations. Told him I was looking at the 50-93 and, while the FA-82 would be another option for me, all other things considered he agreed the 50-93 would be the way to go. Also recommended no baro damper, MPD only.

I decided to take a run up-country to Blain Supply, where they handle both Hitzer and DS Machine. They had a DS 1500 in stock, as well as the Hitzer 50-93 (new, but turned out to be an older model without the removeable hopper).

Leonard of Blain Supply was tremendously helpful--unpacked both stoves in the warehouse so I could take a look. His recommendation, given the size of my house was a DS2100WH #4 basement stove (130K BTU). He didn't have one of those in stock, though. The DS 1500 (96K BTU) looked like it would do nicely. One thing I liked about both stoves was the side ports (1500) or air chambers (2100) which direct warm air up--this would work well the the hood I currently use to collect heat and suck it into the return side of my heat pump system.

One issue is my low chimney crock--bottom of 6" opening is 39" off the floor. We measured the flue outlet on the DS 1500 and it would allow enough of a pipe rise from the stove to install the MPD, then a 90 into the crock. This will keep the stove nearly as close to the wall as the current one and fit nicely under the hood. Not sure about 2100 model--Leonard is calling the factory Monday morning to get that spec and then I'll decide which model.

Another advantage to the DS Machine option is that the installer Blain uses is from Lancaster, and can pick up the stove and bring it right to my house--saving a freight charge. I also like that the factory is less than an hour away--parts and advice will be close.

I left a deposit check at Blain Supply so we can get the order and delivery scheduled ASAP. Again, thanks everyone for your input. Any additiional thoughts are appreciated.
MarkV
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine DS-1500WH
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak bulk nut

Re: Need advice on a new stove -- Hitzer? Harmon? Alaska?

PostBy: Bootstrap On: Sat Dec 22, 2012 3:17 pm

Why does he recommend a mpd only? I'm running a baro now but I will remove it and put a mpd in if I had a reason.
Bootstrap
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 30-95

Re: Need advice on a new stove -- Hitzer? Harmon? Alaska?

PostBy: fastcat On: Sat Dec 22, 2012 3:26 pm

Bootstrap wrote:Why does he recommend a mpd only? I'm running a baro now but I will remove it and put a mpd in if I had a reason.


I'm not touching that with a 10' pole, I don't want to get beat up. :P
fastcat
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak Nut/Stove Mix

Re: Need advice on a new stove -- Hitzer? Harmon? Alaska?

PostBy: MarkV On: Sat Dec 22, 2012 3:55 pm

fastcat wrote:
Bootstrap wrote:Why does he recommend a mpd only? I'm running a baro now but I will remove it and put a mpd in if I had a reason.


I'm not touching that with a 10' pole, I don't want to get beat up. :P


Yeah, seriously, I've noticed that's a bit of a sensitive issue on here. :D

Both Dean at Hitzer and Leonard at Blain Supply said pretty much the same thing. On these stoves, the thermostatically-controlled draft will respond quickly enough to any heat-up condition due to a sudden change in the weather when no one's around to adjust things. The draft controls in these stoves are a lot better and more responsive than those used on the old F-B stoves.

I remember when my first F-B was installed the dealer put in a MPD and a baro damper and said both were needed to keep the stove from overheating during high winds. I know from experience, the F-B burned significantly hotter on a windy day, and if you went much past 6-8 hours without giving it a shake unders such conditions, the fire would burn up into the hopper. I replaced at least one hopper and firebox surround years ago, due to warpage from overheating and/or burning up into the hopper.

Another thing with the F-B was, because of how the grate shakers were designed, the stove couldn't really be called "airtight". Lots of loose joints there to allow extra to be sucked in at bottom of fire even when the thermo draft was trying to throttle back. I always assumed the baro damper helped prevent this.

I do want a MPD installed so I have some way of controlling the draft during fireup and coal loading. As for the baro, I'm willing to give the new stove a try without one, and see what happens. I can always add one later if needed.
MarkV
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: DS Machine DS-1500WH
Coal Size/Type: Blaschak bulk nut

Visit Hitzer Stoves