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Old 27-03-2011, 18:03   #1
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Dickinson 2 Burner Stove Woes

Greetings all.

About a year ago I installed a nice shiny stainless 2 burner cooktop from Dickinson Marine. For several months it was a joy to use.

But at about the 7 month point the self-igniter stopped working (both burners). Dickinson kindly sent me a replacement igniter box, which I blush to admit I have not installed -- because I am swamped with other boat projects and using matches to light the stove makes more sense right now than putting a day's work, realistically, into ripping the galley counter apart again. (and isn't it rather annoying that you can't get at the stove innards from the top?)

Anyway, I've been getting by OK on matches and planning to replace the igniter box "one of these days". But lately the stove has started failing in an exciting new way. The sensor that detects adequate heat and delivers continuous gas flow to the burners has failed (both burners at once). At first I only had to hold the knob down for a few extra seconds. Then it was 20 seconds, then 30, then a minute... and now even 2 minutes is not long enough. It never senses heat and will not leave the gas on.

So I have to cook with one hand -- left-handed no less! -- while holding down the knob continuously with my right hand. This is obviously not fun.

My question for the community is... are Dickinson stoves notoriously unreliable or shoddy in workmanship? I bought it because I thought they were a reputable name -- was I wrong? It's been a lovely stove to cook on, but I'm alarmed that more than one thing has failed within the first year of use. Should I pursue replacement parts with Dickinson, or just cut my losses and get a better brand of cooktop?

Things I have already tried, btw: cleaning all the visible bits of the stove (no globs of crud on the thermo sensors); replacing the 9v battery in the igniter box w/a fresh one; replacing the propane bottle with a topped-up one. No luck. Living mostly on cold food until I can get this resolved...

I'm all for safety mechanisms that prevent my bilge from filling up with propane. But when they go wrong (so soon!) and disable the appliance it's a bit annoying.
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Old 27-03-2011, 18:20   #2
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Re: Dickinson 2 burner stove woes

as a one time gas engineer,i would take this up with the manufacturers,the mormal life of a thermo couple is 5-10 years or longer.

the stoves were probably assembled with a bad batch of thermo couples so this fault will be known buy them and as a buyer you shoud be able to get it replaced or refunded.
,did you pay with a credit card? as this provideds a recipt and covers you by consumer protection policy(in the uk)
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Old 27-03-2011, 20:00   #3
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Re: Dickinson 2 burner stove woes

We also bought a new Dickinson stove last year(three burner with oven and broiler-Mediterranean model) based on their reputation for building a quality product (their diesel fired stoves are almost universally used by the commercial fishing fleet here in the PNW). I talked to the factory and was assured that this was "commercial" quality. Based on the high price I assumed this was true. Major disappointment. After installing the stove I discovered that the sides of the stove where the gimbal mounts attach were not reinforced, it was just the sheet metal that the mounts were bolted to. The stove would start flexing and moving enough to hit the walls at the slightest touch. On top of that, the wires from the ignitor box had fallen out of their connections and the tiny little crimp fittings couldn't be made to hold them no matter what I tried. I called the factory and they agreed to send me a new stove with the problems resolved which they did. Take stove #1 out and install stove #2. The gimbal mounts were reinforced but the way they "solved" the wire issue was to put a little dab of sealant on each one which doesn't fix the poor connection problem. Two of the top burners have no ignition.
The factory says that they discovered that those ignition wires can't touch any metal or they short out. They offer to send me some wire loom to cover them and some clamps to re-route them away from metal. At the same time they tell me that the big burner on the top needs to be raised up a bit (no explanation why) and send some small bolts and nuts (no instructions). I have not fixed the shorting problem as it entails taking the stove apart and I'm not convinced that it's going to fix anything. Next I realize that everything we cook in the oven burns on the bottom. With two oven thermometers I do a temperature check at various "thermostat" settings. Hmmmm, the lowest temp attainable with the t-stat set at 250F is 350. When set at 350 it is actually 450. After being at 450 and then turning it down to 250, an hour later it is still at 360. The problem is that there is no "thermostat", it's just a burner that is on all the time and the control knob just turns it from low to high. Needless to say, this thing is a piece of junk and I wish I had just demanded my money back instead of agreeing to the second stove. I wouldn't buy anything from Dickinson again after this experience and I hope by posting that I can help someone else avoid the same frustration and disappointment. Sorry for the rant, hearing that the OP had some of the same problems just got me going.
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Old 27-03-2011, 20:27   #4
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Re: Dickinson 2 burner stove woes

Quote:
Originally Posted by jrd22 View Post
We also bought a new Dickinson stove last year(three burner with oven and broiler-Mediterranean model) based on their reputation for building a quality product (their diesel fired stoves are almost universally used by the commercial fishing fleet here in the PNW). I talked to the factory and was assured that this was "commercial" quality. Based on the high price I assumed this was true. Major disappointment.
I am sorry to hear of your troubles. No, really I am because I just bought the same model (not installed yet). The Dickinson reputation is very good, and I have heard of others with good experiences which is why we went for the product. I am now wondering if I should return it although the alternatives don't seem that good either.

Andrew
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Old 27-03-2011, 20:39   #5
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Re: Dickinson 2 burner stove woes

ADMPRTR- I would check to see if they have made changes to the oven (is there a pilot light and true thermostat?). If not you will be eating a lot of burnt food. I would also look at the ignitor boxes on the bottom of the stove, are the wires held into the connectors with some reddish looking sealant? Unless they have re-engineered the whole thing I would seriously consider sending it back. Oh, one more thing; the sliding rod that locks the stove from gimbaling is a joke and releases on it's own from vibration. Sorry I didn't post this sooner for you.
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Old 28-03-2011, 03:06   #6
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Re: Dickinson 2 burner stove woes

It is too bad that these Dickinson stoves have had so many problems. We bought the Mediterranean model in late 2009 and I just love it. I do a lot of cooking and baking, so it has been thoroughly "tested". I even doused it with salt water (open port, several gallons right on top of the stove, oops) while underway and everything (yep, everything) still works.

I had a very hard time finding reviews when we were looking for a new stove. We bought it based on reputation of their diesel heaters (which we also have and love) and all of the negative reviews on the competition.

Our stove/oven has not had the issues described in this thread. Maybe we got the only good one to come out of the factory. Or maybe the saltwater helped
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Old 28-03-2011, 06:20   #7
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Re: Dickinson 2 burner stove woes

Quote:
Originally Posted by jrd22 View Post
ADMPRTR- I would check to see if they have made changes to the oven (is there a pilot light and true thermostat?). If not you will be eating a lot of burnt food. I would also look at the ignitor boxes on the bottom of the stove, are the wires held into the connectors with some reddish looking sealant? Unless they have re-engineered the whole thing I would seriously consider sending it back. Oh, one more thing; the sliding rod that locks the stove from gimbaling is a joke and releases on it's own from vibration. Sorry I didn't post this sooner for you.
Hi John:
To tell the truth, I haven't even taken the oven out of the box yet so I can't answer those questions. However, I know it does not have a pilot light (do any these days?) so most likely I have the same model that you are having problems with. I spoke with my significant other regarding your post and we are going to go ahead with our current purchase as there is no guarantee that moving to another product would be trouble free. We will keep our fingers crossed, however.

As I understand it, Dickinson have only been making the propane stoves for a couple years so perhaps you are experiencing design flaws that haven't been worked out.

Anyway, thank you for your input and I hope you are able to resolve the issues you are experiencing.

Andrew
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Old 28-03-2011, 06:30   #8
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Re: Dickinson 2 burner stove woes

Hi John:

The specs for the oven indicate that it is thermostatically controlled. Is that not the case or perhaps you have a defective thermostat?

DickinsonMarine.com - Propane Fireplaces

Andrew
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Old 28-03-2011, 10:44   #9
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Re: Dickinson 2 burner stove woes

if you have the 2 burner drop in stove than I would tell you it has inherent excessive heat issues. I believe the failures you are experiencing are directly related to excessive heat. I returned my stove directly to the retailer after experiencing major issues and terrible customer service from dickinson.

You can follow my posts and check for details. also you can PM me and I'll reply with more details.
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Old 28-03-2011, 11:54   #10
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Re: Dickinson 2 burner stove woes

ADM- That is the same ad that I looked at when we bought ours. The "thermostat" knob is labeled with degrees (250F-500?) so I assumed it was a true thermostat and it was regulated by the actual oven temperature. To some degree I think that it does that, but not entirely, or accurately. The burner in the oven looks just like the small burners on the cooktop and it basically has a high and a low flame setting that is controlled by the "thermostat". It seems to me that the basic problem is that even on the lowest setting with the flame as low as it can go, the oven's lowest actual temperature is around 350F and with the burner constantly on, the temperature directly above the burner is much, much higher (I would guess)and that is exactly where whatever you are cooking is located (hence the bottom burns). There is a heat deflector that I am sure helps but the fact is that my wife is an avid (and excellent) baker and it's frustrating for everything to be charred on the bottom. I am going to call my contact at Dickinson and ask if they have changed it since we bought ours and will report back. On the positive side, the large burner on top heats a kettle of water quickly (after I light it with a lighter because the ignitor doesn't work) and the stove top is easy to clean with the grate just snapping out. My only comparison is the 20 year old Seaward Princess that we took out; all the ignitors still worked and the oven was right on temp no matter what the setting (we decided to replace it because the oven door was twisted and leaked a bit, the oven was hard to light and it was starting to look pretty shabby). I have to say that overall the quality of the Seaward was definitely above the new Dickinson.
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Old 28-03-2011, 12:13   #11
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Re: Dickinson 2 burner stove woes

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Originally Posted by jrd22 View Post
ADM- That is the same ad that I looked at when we bought ours. The "thermostat" knob is labeled with degrees (250F-500?) so I assumed it was a true thermostat and it was regulated by the actual oven temperature. To some degree I think that it does that, but not entirely, or accurately.
If that is the only form of control of heat then it is very crudely implemented.

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I am going to call my contact at Dickinson and ask if they have changed it since we bought ours and will report back.
Yes, please update us on what tech support says. You can mention that you have a number of potential customers who are expecting a response...

tararenee: did you not mention in a previous post/PM about placing a ceramic heating tray in the bottom of the oven to help distribute the heat better?

Andrew
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Old 29-03-2011, 22:40   #12
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Re: Dickinson 2 burner stove woes

So far no response from local Dickinson rep.

I ripped -- well, pried -- the cooktop out of the galley counter (the caulk I used to bed it with was advertised as "removable" which was a bit misleading, it gripped like adhesive and it was a nasty job getting the flange separated from the counter). Hauled it to a workbench and replaced the igniter box, then reinstalled (temporarily, no caulk or screws).

The result is odd. The self-igniter works again, and *one* of the burners will now stay lit. The other one (the smaller one which I use every day) will still not stay lit. So now I'm puzzled.

Why did *both* burners refuse to stay lit before, and why has one miraculously recovered when the igniter (which has nothing to do with the thermocouple as far as I know) was replaced?

Is it possible to hotwire the thermocouple so as to defeat it -- temporarily anyway, so I can continue to cook while arguing with Dickinson and/or shopping for a new stove? I mean, I can cook now -- sort of -- but the big burner is so large that the only pan I have that will work with it is the wok. Cooking everything in a wok (and wasting all that propane on the big overly-hot burner) is rather annoying.

Is it the thermocouple I wonder, or the solenoid and gas valve that are malfunctioning? where does the voltage come from for the solenoid? the same 9v battery? I wish I understood better how this all works... For most of my life on shore before moving aboard I had a 1950-something Wedgwood gas stove with zero safety features which worked perfectly all the time -- for the 30 years that I owned it anyway! It had pilot lights (yes, very wasteful and inefficient but the oven was great for making yogurt and rising bread dough). I miss it :-)

And now I have to sand down and refinish the galley counter which got a bit scarred during the stove removal (which involved a heat gun, chisels, wooden wedges, utility knife, etc). I'm really not Dickinson's happiest customer this week.
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Old 30-03-2011, 06:08   #13
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Re: Dickinson 2 burner stove woes

The solenoid should derive it's power from house bank and you should have a switch to enable it. Do you have a low pressure regulator installed?

Weird about your new issues. The only thing I can suggest is perhaps when working on the other burners you jostled the small burner and caused it to fail. Perhaps take a second look to see if there is anything you missed. I wouldn't recommend disabling the safety features, even temporarily.

Good luck,

Andrew
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Old 30-03-2011, 14:53   #14
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Re: Dickinson 2 burner stove woes

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tararenee: did you not mention in a previous post/PM about placing a ceramic heating tray in the bottom of the oven to help distribute the heat better?
Yes, a baking stone will help to distribute heat more evenly. I'm sure the person who posted about baking has heard of them. I had never used one in my home oven, but it seems to help the heat with the open flame burner. I did have a few burned bottoms before and this seems to have helped.

You can buy stones at kitchen supply stores or have a tile shop cut an unglazed ceramic tile to fit. I've read that you should be careful about using tiles that aren't rated for cooking. Apparently they could have a higher lead content, but I believe this is avoided if you use UNglazed quarry tile. Do your own research though. You can buy expensive baking stones at kitchen supply stores (though you'll likely have to get it cut to size) which are rated for cooking. Another alternative is a pizza stone which usually comes in a kit for $15-30. It is round so won't fill the oven, but the concept is the same.

The stone should be not more than 1" from the sides of your oven all the way around. It should be about 1/2" thick; thinner is fine but may break easier. Mine stays in the oven all of the time, during preheat and all. Be careful while underway if you don't have a way to secure it to the rack (I use metal binder clips to secure it to the rack). I'm not sure how effective the stone would be if you placed it over the existing heat dissipator at the bottom of the oven.

I also found that metal baking dishes were difficult to use so I switched to ceramic for all but baking bread.
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Old 30-03-2011, 14:56   #15
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Re: Dickinson 2 burner stove woes

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Yes, a baking stone will help to distribute heat more evenly. I'm sure the person who posted about baking has heard of them. I had never used one in my home oven, but it seems to help the heat with the open flame burner. I did have a few burned bottoms before and this seems to have helped.
Thanks. It is a shame that the end user has to make these changes but at least there is a potential solution. Thanks for the information.

Andrew
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