Gekko wrote:I agree....I think the market is not there BECAUSE a top quality new one is not made.
Re building an old one would be childs play for me , (I've been a jet aircraft mechanic for over thirty years) but the thought of a 100 year old casting that has been heat cycled thousands of times, with no documented provenance, scares the *censored* out of me.
that's the key note, casting vs. rolled steel or forged steel- you hit the nail there !
I have a minors in basic electronics and automotive technology, and a bachelor's in business. I was a mechanic for 20 years, had my own drivetrain rebuilding garage for 7 years. Rebuilt more American V8 engines than I can count. Did a few body-off restorations, rebodied/painted/re-wired cars, changed transmissions, rear axles, glass, interiors, steering/suspension, frames, you name it. Later worked in manufacturing making jet engine rings, these went in modern military fighter planes for USAF. We took straight bars of high heat alloy steel, bent them in a ring, flash welded them, rolled the rings in a huge press to lampshade-like venturi shapes, machined them in CNC's, then these were shipped to GE and Pratt & Whitney, to make F14 F15 F16 etc. jet engines, and welded all together. Later I worked in electronics where they made microwave TV transmission and reception systems to be sold worldwide.
Like you said, a stove is child's play in comparison. Being a technician you realize that. It's obvious to anyone with some engineering design, materials, marketing, and manufacturing experience, why they make stoves the way they do today.
What most don't realize is, ANY old stove is cast iron, a fragile brittle casting.
I worked in the metallurgical lab where we did grain structures, tensile test, heat treat tests, pullman tests on the aircraft rings we made. My boss was a metallurgist with a Masters Degree. In these labs they'd take a piece of steel, machine it into a small length, then put it apart in a huge machine, and when it broke in half, the machine records the pressure at which is snapped.
About half our work was military, the other half was commercial.
There's no doubt, a modern stove with steel plate, has far better grain structure, and pullman numbers, and tensile strength, etc. than any old cast iron ever had. No comparison. If I brought a piece of cast iron to the lab from an old stove, and asked my boss to test it, he'd laugh me out of the lab. May as well ask him to test a piece of play dough, or a wooden stick. We were testing TITANIUM there, and machining it. That's what the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane was made from. These alloys were made to take 1000's of degrees in the plane's engine.
Metallurgy has come a long way since then. Wanting to build it that way, today, is taking a big step BACKWARDS.
The old stoves have nowhere NEAR the strength of a steel welded stove. Cast iron stoves crack often from rust jacking or heat cycling. I've looked at quite a few, and own 6 of them myself. 5 of them I got for free, and the only one I bought was $25. But I run a modern stove to heat my house. Why ? My new Harman stove is welded 1/4" and 5/16" plate STEEL. Way stronger than any casting, it won't crack - ever. You would shoot it with a 38 or 45 or 9mm pistol and the bullet would BOUNCE OFF the steel. Try that with an old stove, see what happens. The welds on it are aircraft quality, you can barely see them.
Making these great vintage designs, today, is a matter of economics. There's a market, but it's small. The availability of coal is also limited to area. Out west in some states like Oregon, it's illegal to burn coal in many counties, even though it's in their back yard, and can be dug for free. Labor and overhead costs are too high, to build a complex design with this limited market. It would be such a small niche market, there would be no profit margin. The temptation to take the factory overseas to China would be great. Then the stove design would really be bastardized over there, like everything they take overseas to make, i.e. Daisy BB guns, Lionel trains, Flexible Flyer snow sleds, TV's, stereos, etc. Today they're all throwaway. They just can't stay in business and compete paying labor $15-$25 an hour here, when the Chinese work for $15-$25 a day over there. We're being undercut on everything.
The answer would be wall off the markets with tariffs, that's how it was back in the boom years of the USA. We could not compete with cheap foreign labor in the 1700's and 1800's and 1900's either, but our manufacturing base was protected with tariffs. Today tariffs have been removed, with NAFTA and GAAT and other agreements, so our manufacturing base it being destroyed in the USA..
see there's a lot to this issue
finally, they ARE building very efficient stoves today. The Coal Gun stoker will heat your house and hot water for about $4-$5 a day, self feeds, self rakes, on a T-stat, hopper fed. The modern free standing, hand fired stoves will heat your house for the same price, I've been doing it that way for nearly 20 years. It's not like the old stoves use one pail a day, and the new stoves use 2 or 3 pails a day. They are equal for all practical purposes, and the new stoves have a fan in them. Harman, Hitzer, Coal Gun, many others ARE made in USA. We're there already. Hitzer is a paying sponsor of this board, how 'bout give the sponsor's product some credit and recognition ?
Even the modern woodburners are made of heavy gauge welded steel, they have been since the 1970's. Do you realize how much time/effort/cost/labor, it takes to make a mold, and pour cast iron into it, to make every part ? It's not feasible today, and the resulting product, is inferior. It's a lot easier to roll the steel out, cut it, then weld it together, and it's much stronger and durable.