First off, I grew up with a Dickinson
diesel stove, and for the right cruising area, they can't be beat. There is a reason they are found in 90% of small commercial fishing
boats--even if they are old.
A couple of considerations, however:
1. They should only be considered for a boat that will not be used in warm climates as they are not something you want to light/extinguish all the time, and they function as a cabin
heater in addition to a stove. It is perfect up here in Alaska
as they keep the cabin
warm, and produce a dry heat to drive out the humidity.
2. Cooking on them is a practiced art. Heat control is not fast acting, or extremely precise, so they take some practice to use. Generally ours would be set at the same heat setting all summer, and then changed in the fall/winter as we needed more heat in the boat to keep it warm. They do have different heat zones, with a very hot spot right over the firebox, and a much cooler section over the oven. The trick is to learn to move the pan from warm to hot as needed to regulate temperature.
3. The inch thick solid cast iron top can't be beat. My grandmother used to clean hers up and cook pancakes directly on the stove top.
4. They only stink if you're not using them right. The only times I can remember a smell is when the stove carburetor developed a diesel leak and when the top of the chimney blew off in a storm, causing the wind
to blow down the stack and make a mess.
5. Ours worked without complaint for over 20 years heating
a 47' fishing
boat summer and winter in Alaska
& providing an oven and stove--that's reliable service
6. I have seen many successful installations for fuel delivery either using a diaphragm
pump (makes it sound like the boat has a heartbeat), or using a day tank you fill whenever needed from your main tank and gravity feed to the stove).
6. We never had a problem with soot. It helps that we burned it all the time, and kept it hot. This is one of the main reasons to only use one in a cooler climate.
Just my experiences. I lived with one (live aboard) for 15 years growing up.