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.