Hitzer 503- mediocre quality, good stove

Hitzer 503- mediocre quality, good stove

PostBy: keithonline On: Sat Jan 31, 2009 6:47 pm

Just thought I'd post my opinion on the Hitzer 503 I installed this fall. I have to say that this forum was great to inform me an what I should get, and I'm happy with the stove. I was hesitant to go to coal, but with the 503 design, I can do wood if I want (although 2 tons down, I've burnt wood maybe 5 times). However I am a bit disappointed with the quality. I know Hitzer's got to be busy, but I don't think their quality should suffer, or maybe it's always always been this way. I've seen better welds from Chinese welders who don't know how to read a weld symbol. I go to China for fabricated parts, and I know. Hitzer's welds are adequate, but the big start-stops, cold lap, and general inconsitency in size and bead is sad, especially in visible areas. The craftsmanship should be better on the front, but it's much. I looked forward to buying a good American product, but when you get something made here that is worse than typical Chinese, it makes you feel like your purchase was somehow charitable. Beyond the welds, the fans both rattle and you have to wedge something in the grate to keep the vibrations down. My door gasket stuck to the frame when I fired it up, and when I opened the door, it tore. I called Hitzer, and they said they'd send a replacement. I haven't gotten it. I sent an email to check up, but haven't heard back yet (over a month ago). Mine still works, so I don't worry too much, but it's another annoyance. Other small annoyances are that the hopper bolt hole to hold the hopper in doesn't line up, the front vent grates that are nickle plated are so thin they look, well ,thin and cheap, and my cast iron shaker grate had an inclusion in it so that the end that you slip the handle onto chipped. Again, it works, but not worth messing with changing out, but annoying none the less.

Overall, though the design is good, and I love it's functionality. It does what I want, and should last, although I'd do a few changes. I'm not sure if the quality is typical of all the fabricated stoves out there, and for what this stove does, there doesn't seem to be any comparable stove, and the price was fair-good. I would like to add an additional vent on the surround though, and was wondering if anyone has any recommendations? Hope I don't upset anyone too much, and possibly if it wasn't me, no one else would notice, because in reality, these are relatively small issues, but it's what I notice, and I thought I'd give an honest opinion/assessment on this forum.

Keith
keithonline
 

Re: Hitzer 503- mediocre quality, good stove

PostBy: bksaun On: Sat Jan 31, 2009 7:11 pm

Must have been made on a Monday, after a three day weekend! :cheers: :lol:

Bk
bksaun
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Hybrid, Gentleman Janitor GJ-6RSU/ EFM 700
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 503
Coal Size/Type: Pea Stoker/Bit, Pea or Nut Anthracite
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer/ EFM-Gentleman Janitor
Stove/Furnace Model: 503 Insert/ 700/GJ-62

Re: Hitzer 503- mediocre quality, good stove

PostBy: grizzly2 On: Sat Jan 31, 2009 7:22 pm

Welcome to the site here Keith. Man am I surprised to read your post. You clearly know what you are talking about, but unfortunately your experience was very different from mine. I bought the Hitzer 30-95 just under one year ago. The welds and overall build quality on mine are excellent. Good fits and finish appearance. I've had a couple questions and emailed Hitzer and got responses withing 24 hours both times. I ordered a new door glass and had it in 3 or 4 days. One experience we seem to have in common is the good designs. When I read of all the problems that people are having with their stoves and keeping them running, I am thankful I bought the Hitzer. Once the knowledgable folks on this site taught me how to start and maintain a coal fire, I have had not problems at all.

It is good to read your review of your stove. It is this kind of input for people's consideration that makes this forum so valuable to we who are heating or thinking of heating with coal. I hope we here more from you.

grizz :)
grizzly2
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 30 - 95
Coal Size/Type: pea and nut/ anthracite
Other Heating: Jotul #3 wood stove in garage. Oil backup in house. Electric backup in house.

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Re: Hitzer 503- mediocre quality, good stove

PostBy: Jim503RI On: Sat Jan 31, 2009 8:22 pm

Sorry to hear. Sounds like my new Ford Focus. Happy with the car ,But it has issues. I purchased my Hitzer 503 because of all the info from the members here. I'm glad I did.
In my case they were right. I have a good neet weld above the ash door with one stop.
After 30 yrs. of wood and 2 months with a 30 yr. old Chappee' I couldn't ask for anymore.
Good luck with the stove.
Jim503RI
 
Coal Size/Type: Nut & pea
Other Heating: none
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 503

Re: Hitzer 503- mediocre quality, good stove

PostBy: Uglysquirrel On: Sat Jan 31, 2009 8:48 pm

Did Hitzer recently go to a cast iron ash pan door instead of the sheet metal version ?
Uglysquirrel
 
Stove/Furnace Model: Pocono

Re: Hitzer 503- mediocre quality, good stove

PostBy: tsb On: Sat Jan 31, 2009 9:10 pm

" The craftsmanship should be better on the front, but it's much."

What does that mean ? Chinese grammar ?

TSB
tsb
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Binford 2000
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: LL Pioneer top vent
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Saey Hanover II

Re: Hitzer 503- mediocre quality, good stove

PostBy: topper On: Sat Jan 31, 2009 9:17 pm

Sorry to hear your troubles. I hope Hitzer makes it right by you.

I feel my 503 is a good quality stove.
topper
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 503

Re: Hitzer 503- mediocre quality, good stove

PostBy: keithonline On: Sun Feb 01, 2009 3:21 am

tsb wrote:" The craftsmanship should be better on the front, but it's much."


Does sound like Chinese grammar. I guess it rubs off. I forgot the "not" ... "not much".

Don't let me mislead. I think the stove will last, and I'm happy with it. Just personally would've rejected it in China for craftsmanship. There's a difference between functional and per spec. Anyway, just stoked it up after 8 hours of unattended running, and no problems. Probably only 2" of coal/ash on the bottom, and after dumping a full 40lb bag in it, and opening up the vents to 2/3 I bet she'll be roaring by morning.
keithonline
 

Re: Hitzer 503- mediocre quality, good stove

PostBy: Pete69 On: Sun Feb 01, 2009 3:26 am

Hitzer's are all hand made by the Amish. The welding capabilities of one experienced welder to the next often very's greatly. The consistency of welds of one welder will very from day to day depending on if he is in the zone or having a bad day. It is inevitable then, with many different welders producing the same stove, that one stove will have great welds while the other will be questionable. Guess it was the luck of the draw.
Pete69
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Baker/Vermont Castings/Chubby
Stove/Furnace Model: fireside /VigilantII/Chubby

Re: Hitzer 503- mediocre quality, good stove

PostBy: keithonline On: Sun Feb 01, 2009 3:36 am

Uglysquirrel wrote:Did Hitzer recently go to a cast iron ash pan door instead of the sheet metal version ?


I had to go check when I read this. The pan door is fabricated sheet metal, maybe 16 ga or so... didn't measure. The door itself looks good, but the frame to which it seals has a continuous weld, but looks like a bead of caulking with a convex radius in places (cold-lap) instead of a nice blended fillet. I'd guess using a mig welder with not enough heat for the feed rate of the wire, but just a guess.

Did they go to a casting on the door? That would add a nice touch to match the door frame. I'm actually thinking of making some custom vent grates out of stainless and laser cut them to have the vents. Ought to go well with the nickel door. But mainly I'd like to put a vent on the surround to pull air from the back of the fireplace/stove and throw it into the room. Has anyone done this that could offer some advice.
keithonline
 

Re: Hitzer 503- mediocre quality, good stove

PostBy: keithonline On: Sun Feb 01, 2009 3:50 am

Pete69 wrote:Hitzer's are all hand made by the Amish. The welding capabilities of one experienced welder to the next often very's greatly. The consistency of welds of one welder will very from day to day depending on if he is in the zone or having a bad day. It is inevitable then, with many different welders producing the same stove, that one stove will have great welds while the other will be questionable. Guess it was the luck of the draw.


I probably know as well as anyone that you'll never get one welder to admit another weld is good, if he didn't do it. But if you replaced "the Amish" with "the Chinese" or "my friend Bill", in your statement above it doesn't really matter in terms of potentially having good days or bad days. The differnece for what I expect from an American company is first craftsmanship, and secondly, more importantly, the quality control-- which is supposed to filter out the "luck of the draw" factor and let every item represent their standard.

By the way, I didn't say the welds were terrible. And if it was just that, I wouldn't mind. But the rattling fans, poor customer support follow-through and other small things were probably what made me decide to write the post, just to inform others of things to look for, or consider, especially if comparing one manufacturer to another, or for that matter, one unit to another unit from the same manufacturer. Personally, I like to take pride in what I design and build, and I expect, or at least desire (but obviously don't absolutely require) that from other manufacturers products.
keithonline
 

Re: Hitzer 503- mediocre quality, good stove

PostBy: Pete69 On: Sun Feb 01, 2009 4:37 am

Sorry, wasn't trying to attack or defend Hitzer or your opinion. Just stating the facts as I see them for anyone's consideration. This will piss off a lot of Hitzer fanatics here but I happen to agree with you. After looking at a lot of Hitzers and noticing the weld inconsistency's and what I thought to be less than desirable design features I bought a Baker. But at that time top quality and design were my main considerations. If I was looking for a good serviceable stove at a more reasonable cost I would have bought a Hitzer.
Pete69
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Baker/Vermont Castings/Chubby
Stove/Furnace Model: fireside /VigilantII/Chubby

Re: Hitzer 503- mediocre quality, good stove

PostBy: tfaath On: Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:43 am

I’m sorry to hear about your problem with Hitzer. I purchased mine in June of last year and I have nothing but good things to say about the company and the customer support that I received. When I fist was looking at purchasing an insert, I called the factory and they spend at least 45 min on the phone with me and answered any question I had in detail. Once the unit was installed, I too had a problem with a noisy fan. I called the factory and within 2 days, I had a replacement motor. The quality and workmanship on my stove is excellent.

I would suggest that you contact the factory and discuss your issues with them. I can’t believe that would not respond immediate. In my book, they are a first rate company.

Tom
tfaath
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Hitzer
Stove/Furnace Model: 503

Re: Hitzer 503- mediocre quality, good stove

PostBy: keithonline On: Sun Feb 08, 2009 6:50 am

I actually heard from Hitzer this week, via email. Curious since it's been about a month since my last request to have a new gasket sent. I suspect they might read this posting, recognize part of my story and dug through old emails. They did mention that they found my email. Just speculation, but quite the coincidence. Anyway, at least they're doing that. I would have to take issue with calling Hitzer as first rate. I cannot believe their other stoves are really that much finely made. Maybe though, as I haven't seen many others. For the customer service, if someone doubts my story, I can provide email documentation, although I couldn't prove the two additional phone calls.

As far as resolving any other issues, that's really impractical. Even if they offered to send another stove that perhaps was fabricated with a bit more quality, I'm not really going to rip it out and send it back. As I've said before, it works, and it's part of our house now. I jumped through some hoops to get this unit, and ended up having the factory ship it to me direct by purchasing it from a dealer that was going to have it sent to him. So based on that, I wish I would've had the chance to see the unit at the store first. Basically, I guess I'd recommend those looking to get one of these, might want to check them out at the store first and compare. If you only want function and form, and can forgo a little finish issues (at least compared to other stoves, if not all Hitzer's), this is the stove. But if possible, maybe pick and choose from the stock in a store. I know that's not the easiest or most practical thing to do, and truth be told, if I was in a store and my stove was the only one, I'd still have bought it. However, due to the mediocre craftsmanship, although I'm glad it was-- I wouldn't brag about it being made in America.

Again, just my opinions. I know when I read everything out there I could find about these stoves before my purchase. It's a big deal. People can only judge on their experiences, and I think mostly folks on this site post of good experiences, and not so much of the not good... or at least the not great. Judge for yourself. I might have a bit more of a critical eye that I should for something's whose purpose is to burn coal, but based on what I read, I had the feeling that this thing was going to be top notch, and I don't think they are. They are good though and no one else seems to notice the issues I mentioned. But when you're in the fabrication business, and buy a fabricated item, you notice these things.... especially since I installed it myself; I tore every part off to lighten it up for the move/install.

Final note. I'm about 1.5-2 tons into it, and it provides about 2/3's of my heat load so far this winter. 3000 sf colonial in CT, and it's been a cold winter it seems. I think I'll go shake the grates right now, although it's already 73 degrees in there! Good luck and happy burning.
keithonline
 

Re: Hitzer 503- mediocre quality, good stove

PostBy: TimV On: Sun Feb 08, 2009 9:16 am

Lok at the bright side!! :D
At least you didn't say the weld missed the joint by an 1/8 of an inch ;)
I would be more concerened about how well the weld penatrated and sometimes switching forma long run with a stick to a new one will change apperance but I cant imagine not using a mig in this day and age but if its Amish it may well be a stick weld.
Pretty or not I would bet my money on the Amish made stove and never on a "Made in China"
The "do it or die" incentive in China may make a pretty weld but a lot of the stuff they send here is TOTAL CRAP
I have an Energy King Furnace (made In USA) and I cant see a single bluber or bloober on any weld or how anything fit or even the sheetmateal cold air return box. These folks take Pride in the product they make!!
I have been running it for 5 years and even the paint is still intact!!
TimV
 
Stove/Furnace Make: Energy King Furnace
Stove/Furnace Model: 480 EK

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