Force10 Stove (Cooker), Problems

After much agonizing, we finally made the decision to replace our Broadwater stove (cooker) that has given us so much trouble since we bought it seven years ago; mainly because the manufacturer seems to be, after several fits and starts, well and truly defunct (more on the Broadwater).

The Problem

To replace it we ordered a Force10. On unpacking the new stove, the first thing that jumped out at us was the chintzy nature of the mounting brackets stamped and formed out of 1/16” (1.6mm) stainless steel plate (circled on the picture below). On reading the manual we were shocked to find that after installing the stove in these mounts, we were supposed to bend the small tab, circled in the picture, over the pivot bolt to prevent the stove jumping out of its mountings in a rollover.

They’re joking right? Two pieces of 1/16” gauge stainless steel, ¼” (6.35mm) wide, already bent at 45 degrees, are going to stop a stove weighing at least 50lb (22kg) from flying across the cabin in a knockdown or rollover? I don’t think so. Maybe, just maybe, it would work if the retaining tab was in compression, but it’s not. All the stove needs to do to come free is to continue bending the tab that the installer has already formed. (I was easily able to bend one of these tabs with a small pair of needle-nosed pliers.) Worse still, the tabs will be weakened each time they are formed to allow removal of the stove for cleaning or service. In my opinion this bracket is junk and has no place on an offshore boat. This is not trivial: a stove that weighs as much as this one does and that has its sharp edges flying across the cabin in a knockdown has the potential to maim or even kill.

Note that this does happen: one of the gimbal screws on the cooker on S/V Barrabas sheared off during Adrian Flanagan’s single-handed vertical circumnavigation (p. 117).

Manufacturer’s Response

I called Force10 and left a message stating my concern. Brad Clark, President of Force10, returned my call within three hours. He was courteous and listened to what I had to say; however, his position gave me little comfort. His first defense was that they had been using this bracket for 25 years. Sorry, but I fail to understand why, when a manufacturer makes something cheaply and poorly, having done it for a long time makes the defective part OK. He also pointed out that the stove is fitted with two substantial bolts, intended to stop the stove from swinging when not in use, that would help keep it in place in a knock down. Fair point, but it presupposes that both bolts are in the locked position when the knockdown occurs. One bolt won’t help since the stove will simply twist a single bolt out as it comes clear of the opposite mount.

The Outcome

To solve the problem, we had a machinist make two custom brackets from ½” aluminum plate with a retaining stop, as shown in the photograph above. This cost us over $200, not unreasonable for a custom job. (A comparable mass-produced bracket would only cost Force10 a few dollars.) I’m incensed that we have had to spend this kind of money to make what is supposed to be a quality product, costing $1300.00, safe.

Conclusions

  1. We can’t recommend this stove for offshore use until Force10 provides a properly designed bracket.
  2. We would recommend, even with custom brackets like ours, that holes in a strong area of the surrounding cabinetry be provided for both swing retaining bolts as a backup to the pivot, not just one as called for in the manual.
  3. The poor quality of the bracket has shaken our confidence in the entire stove; we will be watching it carefully for other problems and safety issues. The pivot bolt itself is next on our list for a good look.

Lessons Learned

  1. Even a piece of marine equipment that has been sold for many years can have glaring safety issues that must be fixed during installation.
    Sadly, this is by no means the first time this lesson has been brought home to us.
  2. Going offshore in small boats requires constant vigilence.
    Watching out for this kind of thing is just another aspect of the constant vigilance that going offshore in small boats requires.
  3. We should have inspected several stoves in person before purchasing one.
    It would have been much better to make this purchase decision at a major boat show where we would have been able to inspect several stoves before laying any money out.

{ 27 comments… add one }

  • Gus Beare November 14, 2010, 3:43 pm

    I’m amazed and appalled but not surprised by the attitude of Force 10. You take the trouble to point out a serious defect in their product which could destroy the company and they ignore it and treat you with contempt.

    I hope it’s not something they live to regret at some poor sailor’s expense.

    Gus

    Reply
  • Claude Appaldo January 11, 2011, 3:17 am

    To whom it may concern.
    In 2010 while sailing in relatively heavy weather, and while I was boiling water on my gimbaled Force 10 stove, one of the 6mm bolts sheared. As a result the stove hit me, landed on the other side of the boat, and in the process I received boiling water on the arm and thigh. The stove narrowly missed a crew member sitting at the chart table.
    I spent more than a week in the emergency burn unit of Mauritius with 2nd and 3rd degree burns on 10% of my body.

    While trying to replace the sheared bolts at sea, I had to saw through the burner bolts, seized by oxidation.

    I wrote to Mister Clark. He eventually answered that the bolts were of a sufficient diameter because calculated by his engineers and that the company had NEVER had a complaint in 25 years…
    Upon reading the comment on the accident in 2009, I am really curious to know if other complaints had been received by Mister Clark and his company. Please contact me if you have had a similar problem…and if you have not…just be careful…

    Claude Appaldo.

    Reply
  • John January 11, 2011, 10:05 am

    Hi Claude,
    What a terrible experience. To be badly burned at sea, and in heavy weather too, must have been truly horrible.

    When we published the post above on the old web site we received an email from another Force 10 user who had the pivot bolts on his stove wear through from the action of the thin stainless steel mount bearing on the bolt. I’m guessing that this may be what happened to you.

    The point is that even if the pivot mounting bolt is strong enough when new, the poor design of the mounting system results in wear that eventually weakens the bolt resulting in failure.

    Do you have any photographs of the part that failed? If so, we would be interested in seeing them. Please email to me directly at info@morganscloud.com.

    Also, be aware that Practical Sailor Magazine expressed concern about the safety of the mounting system in their review and went as far as to reprint a summary of our post above.

    Reply
  • Greg Krisinger June 9, 2011, 11:40 am

    John – do you have the name and number of the machinist that made the brackets, I need a pair.

    Thanks,
    Greg

    Reply
  • Derek Hillen June 10, 2011, 9:59 pm

    I really love your website and have been reading it on and off for several years. There are so few reliable sources out there for offshore sailors and I find your views, always well phrased and balanced, to be very refreshing and thought provoking.

    During a refit of our last boat, a Tayana 52, which we sailed from Asia to Europe, we installed a new Force 10 stove. When I saw the bracket I said, “Well, that’s crap.” We also had a new one made by a machinist. A hot metal stove is just about the last piece of equipment you want flying across the cabin in weather. We also found that the sparking function to light the stove fails in pretty short order. Also, the thermocouples need regular adjustment. Other than all that, we were pretty happy with the performance and my long suffering wife was able to bake many a lopsided cake on our 3-year trip depending on which tack we were on. Enjoy.

    Looking forward to your safe return from this trip and future intelligent posts.

    Cheers.

    Derek

    Reply
  • Al Livingston June 22, 2011, 1:15 pm

    We had a bad thermocouple on our Force 10 Stove. After waiting a month for the part it was the wrong one. This stove was not intended to be serviced. You have to remove the stove and take out a dozen screws to gain a 4″ space in which to make the part change. Unfortunately we did not know we had the bad part until we removed the old one. Then when we contacted Force 10 they sent photos of one end of the thermocouple of several different types and asked us to choose. We wrote back and said we needed pictures of both ends. This was after we took pictures of the part we removed thinking they would do the grunt work. I may buy another stove since when we removed ours the brackets you speak of were not bent into the locked position. The gimbal locks are lame at best.

    Reply
  • doug cusick August 13, 2011, 10:10 pm

    I have had problems with the spark igniter, having to replace it when the stove was only 3 months old. While I applaud your bracket it is only as good as the bolts and cabinetry it is mounted into on this stove. The sharp stainless steel sheet metal edges have shredded my hands during cleaning many times! Servicing the burners is a disassembly nightmare.

    Reply
  • rob and Terry February 8, 2012, 3:31 pm

    regarding the sheared off gimbal bolts:
    We are currently on our THIRD set of bolts. After we noticed that the stove was not sitting even, we removed the unit from it’s mounts and tried to determine the cause. Imagine our dismay when we found the bolts cut 2/3 of the way through. We called Force 10 who insisted that they had never had any complaints before and that the size was sufficient. We replaced the bolts and have since cut through them again. Because we are aware of the problem we check frequently and keep the pins lubricated with grease. We feel that the existing mounting system is insufficient – the morgan’s cloud solution looks like a good modification since the support area in the oem mount is obviously insufficient for usage.
    Another problem with the older stoves is an erosion of the burner caps which causes poor burning combustion, and problems with the oven heat distribution plate.

    Reply
  • John February 9, 2012, 10:38 am

    Hi Rob and Terry,

    Thanks very much for posting on this very scary situation. I’m sure you saw that Claude, who posted further up the thread, got seriously injured by a failure like yours.

    It is beyond belief to me that Force 10 are still denying that they have a problem.

    I’m no lawyer, but it would seem to me that the legal implications are truly frightening, never mind the moral imperative to solve a problem that would seem to be, based on several creditable accounts, endangering their customers.

    Reply
  • rob and Terry February 9, 2012, 7:56 pm

    yep we read about Claude and that’s why we commented…
    We do have to admit that we have about 100k miles on our 36′ boat so that stove has rotated quite a few times. BUT, if we had a penny for every time that a boat mfg has told us or others that we know “we’ve never heard of that problem” we would be, not rich, but wealthy!
    PS Thanks for hosting this website, we have enjoyed “lurking” in the background for years.

    Reply
  • John Pascoe March 4, 2012, 2:33 pm

    Anybody have the problem with the oven making weird noises? A sort of roaring noise after some cooking tome has elapsed?
    Wife says there is a flame coming from the back of the burner?
    Any comments????

    Reply
  • Andrew Troup July 28, 2012, 9:13 pm

    I don’t (and wouldn’t) own a Force 10 stove, but have been shipmates with several. While I haven’t had the misfortune to have a knockdown or inversion (at least, not in a boat thus equipped ;-)
    I don’t understand how they can claim to have a premium product.
    I recall on one occasion wasting the best part of a day improvising a strong enough bending apparatus to reshape the slide rails (which progressively distorted with repeated heating cycles, such as you get when using an oven !!!!)
    I had to do this in order to make the oven usable, because the racks would jam on attempting to remove them, creating dangerous situations when baking on the move. This, in a remote and very beautiful part of Fiordland NZ, was not really how I would prefer to have spent that time.

    I’m never very impressed by the rejoinder “But nobody has ever complained about this before”. I’ve heard that twice from companies to whom I had personally complained on previous occasions! Conversely, I’ve had companies as clients who had little else to recommend them in terms of their management culture, but were spectacularly successful simply because they dealt so well with complaints. One in particular had a monthly prize … a family holiday! for the dealer who forwarded the ‘best’ (meaning, most well deserved and cogent) complaint from an end user.

    I’m not generally the complaining type, but when it comes to “marine” equipment (except — usually but not always — reputable above-decks gear) , it irks me that the first thing one generally has to do is disassemble, redesign, reengineer in marine materials, and reassemble. In short, marinise. Sheesh!

    Reply
    • John July 29, 2012, 8:55 am

      Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for your comment, all distressingly true. I think your point about company cultures is particularly important.

      One thing, it does seem as if Force 10 have solved the warping problem. We use the oven a lot, and hot too, and have not had this problem.

      Reply
  • Dave Benjamin July 29, 2012, 4:51 pm

    This is another case of a company pursuing consolidation over quality. There simply aren’t many choices of marine stoves in North America. Seems the parent company of Force 10 has acquired some of the competition. When we bought our Amel, the previous owner had removed the entire LPG system and we had no idea if the existing stove, an Eno, even worked. Since the Eno wasn’t really compatible with modern LPG plumbing (the hose was held to a barb fitting with a clap), we chose to install a Force 10. Our choices were limited to the narrower European sized stoves.We installed a Force 10 and have been less than impressed with it in all regards. I suspect we’ll explore Broadwater and other makes once we get “down under”.

    In hindsight, rebuilding and modernizing the old Eno may have been a better choice. Or we should have bit the bullet and imported a quality product from Europe, Australia, or New Zealand.

    Our other complaint with the Force 10 is that if you open the door while the boat is rolling the balance of the stove with a pan or something inside results in the contents spilling out. This point was driven home while cruising the Baja when a pan sprung out. My wife would have been badly scalded had she not been wearing foul weather gear. And a lovely dinner was spoiled and mess that took quite some time to clean up was created.

    Reply
  • Petter August 1, 2012, 5:05 am

    Having a Force 10 stove aboard my Koopmans vessel and seen the comments and issues regarding the Force 10 stoves, there is an issue I would like to air; I am using the burnes on top to heat something, after lighting the oven, the flame on the burners on the top goes out. If I try to relight, the flame is very uneven, just like after a water spill. When I let go of the regulator knob, the flame dies again.

    Has anyone experienced something similar, and in case what may solve this?

    Sailors greetings from Norway,
    Petter

    Reply
    • John August 2, 2012, 11:31 am

      Hi Petter,

      My guess would be either a defective regulator or a feed line that is undersized or contaminated with oil or moisture. What is happening, I think, is that the gas supply is inadequate to feed all the burners and the oven.

      One thing I learned in all my troubles with propane stoves is that regulators only stay optimally functional for 3-5 years and so replacement should be part of routine maintenance.

      Hope that helps.

      Reply
      • Petter ;-) February 25, 2014, 5:53 am

        Have something changed at Force 10? Last time I contacted them, there was no response at all. I recontacted them with the same issue – and hopla – 6 hours late an e-mail is ticking in.
        If more people are having the same issue as my, then for the benefit of more, here is the response from Brad Clarke at Force 10 appliances

        “The issue you are having will likely be rectified with some simple routine maintenance. When was the last time you cleaned the orifices in the top burners?

        The issue you are having is that when the oven is operating, as it vents, the hot air reduces the oxygen level under the burners and the flame is reduces and the thermocouple shuts down the burner.

        The top burner orifices need to be cleaned at least once per year as routine maintenance.

        You will need to remove the orifices, soak them in methyl alcohol and then blow them out with compressed air.

        Enjoy the day!

        Reply
  • Sonia January 3, 2013, 10:34 pm

    We don’t own a boat but have a small Airstream motorhome that is being remodeled. I have been reading boating/yachting forums as the stoves/ovens are a better quality than the units made for RVs.

    I have been debating between the Force 10 and the GN-espace units (UK). Has anyone used the GN-espace ovens?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Dave Benjamin January 3, 2013, 10:56 pm

      The last thing I would recommend for an RV would be spending the premium for a marine stove. I used to own a couple of VW campers. I found the best thing was a portable stove that I’d set up outside.

      Reply
  • Arne Nielsen March 3, 2013, 1:57 am

    We have the following problems with our new (only one season) Force 10 Oven.
    To light the broiler I need to light the oven first, turn it off, then without hesitation put a flame to the broiler, (the automatic ignition does not work). Then for the broiler to continue work the button needs to be pressed in without letting go. This makes making toast inconvenient. The broiler was the deal maker in deciding to get this oven.
    The ignition works well for the top burners but have never worked for the oven and broiler.
    The guards that hold the kettle, saucepans etc in place are cheap and nasty. They do not slide very well when adjusting. On occasions we need to take them off, one has to bend and twist to get them off, nor are they easy to put back into place. The screws do not tighten but that is ok as they don’t slide very easily anyway.
    The top has sharp exposed screws; one has to take care when cleaning.
    I bought this oven online and had it shipped at great expense to Curacao so did not have the opportunity to see it first. Situation now is that it would be extremely inconvenient to send it back for a refund or for repair. We are stuck with an inferior product…If only I had known!

    Reply
  • Michel Bour March 24, 2013, 1:55 am

    Well, with respect, something only has to be built to its needs. My Force 10 gimbaled stove has been on my 37′ sailing cutter for 20 years. I have sailed 10,000 ocean miles, a few times in 60kt winds, been knocked down four or five times, bounced around interminable times; I have pots, pans, dishes, books, cushions – almost everything you can think of fly around the inside of the boat, but never, never a problem with my stove and its “chintzy” mounting brackets. It just sits there quietly rocking.

    Reply
    • Arne Nielsen March 24, 2013, 3:57 am

      With respect,
      One can assume that anything produced 20 yeas ago would be of a far superior standard to what is manufactured today.

      Reply
  • Scott Reynolds June 8, 2013, 8:16 am

    We bought a 1999 hunter 310 that came with a force ten gimbaled stove. The oven knob had been broken off. Upon closer inspection it became clear that the shaft the knob turned had been sheared off. I contacted Force ten to purchase replacement parts. They informed me that they could not provide the parts as they no longer supported that model. The oven had never been used and a replacement part could not be purchased from the manufacturer. So we had 60 lbs of junk stainless steel in our newly purchased boat. Force ten would be happy to sell us a brand new stove though. It’s a poor company that does not support their product.

    Reply
  • Matt Foss February 27, 2014, 10:35 am

    We bought a GN-espace. The offshore strength mounting and other build aspects at the boat show were selling points. On the boat and installled issues are the grill does not light with the quartz spark igniter or stay lit without holding the knob down for a looong time. The gas valves for the stove rings are not centered in their holes and jam and we need to pull them off and reposition them to make the rings stay lit. Silly deflector shield to slot in at top of stove opening to keep the hot air from grilling away from knobs.

    Spoke to Julian on the rings and grill not staying lit, and he even came by the boat. But offered no solution other than a duplicate set of knobs.
    Design:8
    Build:6
    After sales call to the boat:10
    Action to resolve:0

    Fair winds,

    Matt

    Reply
  • Captain George March 27, 2014, 10:18 am

    Our force ten was purchased around 2005 and has never gotton much use except for stovetop things. I have had no problems with anything other than the ceramic broiler crumbling into whatever is being broiled. It works fine but drops grit into whatever is being toasted.

    Reply
  • Phil Hogg April 10, 2014, 12:05 am

    Having read this column here is my view. We had a Broadwater. The workmanship and finish was superb, far superior to Force 10, but the oven never worked properly so basically while the stove was a work of art it never worked poperly due to poor oven design. We sailed with the Broadwater for well over 100,000 nm with the only problem (other than the poor oven design) being the gimbol bolts half wore through. I do not see a solution for this with any gimboled stove other than regular inspection and replacement when necessary. The Force 10 stove looks flimsy in comparison to the Broadwater but it works! and that’s important. So far we have only traveled from Florida to Australia with it and it has worked flawlessly other than the spot welds on the heat disfuser breaking but then, even without the heat disfuser it worked so much better than the Broadwater. It is a pity for us sailors that the best of both companies couldn’t be amalgamated into the one product.
    It’s good to come across an intelligent forum and we can only thank the internet and communication between users for bringing the truth to products instead of the standard reply of ‘we’ve never had a complaint regarding this before’.

    Reply
    • John April 10, 2014, 9:34 am

      Hi Phil,

      Thanks for the real world experience based information, always the best kind. We had exactly the same experience with Broadwater.

      Reply

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