★★★★☆ Buck Model 74

Discussion in 'Wood Stoves' started by Wes, Sep 21, 2014.

  1. Wes

    Wes

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    this will be my third winter with it, so i guess it's about time for a review. for buck to be a common name for so long, they don't seem to be common on the forums. this thing is a behemoth for its dimensions at 460 pounds. luckily for me, when i (and one other person) was moving it into the house and getting it into place, one of the nosey, but will help you with anything, neighbors was passing by. i'm using it as a hearth stove, and due to my lintel being a limiting factor, i'm not using a pedestal or legs.

    you never see burn times listed for it, but a light to moderate load can provide 4 hours of heat, and up to 8 hours with a larger load of oak. north carolina isn't particularly cold compared to the locations of most people on the forum, so keep that in mind. i can run a medium sized load and get the temperature of the house up to 74-76, and by morning the temperature will be around 68. time frame on that would be from 9 or 10 pm till 7am. i tend to use a mixture of oak, and a little bit of shoulder wood to get it going quick, and have moderate burn time, and get around a 6 hour burn of useful heat with that. i like to get the temperature in the house up and let it taper off. with a large load, and the same time frame, i could either get the peak temperature a couple degrees higher, or pipe it down and keep the same peak temperature and maybe be a couple degrees warmer at the end of that time frame. i heat about 1000-1200 sq ft with it, as we keep the extra rooms that we don't use closed in the winter.

    it's a fairly user friendly stove i'd say, not particularly difficult to get going or deal with. i use super cedars to start, and use an unconventional method of lighting. it's in one of the user manuals of another stove (lopi, jotul, don't recall) but i'll place the wood in, light the super cedar, and leave the door about 10% of the way open, works like a charm in getting a quick start. with the blower off, i don't get any smoke in the house with the door open at any time, except for maybe the first minute or two occasionally. i once made a mistake, and now part of my stainless steel liner is purple... i got home from work at about 07:30, scooped the ash and remaining coals, and remade the bed of ash (i like to leave 1/4" or so) and there didn't appear to be any embers left, the ash was maybe 10 degrees above ambient going by touch. loaded the stove up for my wife to use that night, 2 e/w splits, and 2 n/s splits on top of them, and drop the super cedar in between the splits. well, after a little while i wake up in my bedroom across the house feeling very warm. i go into the living room to discover it had lit itself, with i guess some tiny stray ember i missed. i think the two main factors that helped this happen were leaving the primary wide open, and placing the super cedar 1/4 in the stove. lesson learned, but also learned how easily the stove can light.

    the user manual is a little lacking, no specs like fire box dimensions in it, or tips, mostly just what not to do with it, and distances to combustibles etc. the people at buck do seem fairly helpful, though i haven't spoke with them directly, the were very helpful whenever my dealing had inquiries before and during my purchase. the quality and craftsmanship of the stove is excellent, nice welds, overall seems very solid. it's not going to win any beauty pageant, but it seems to do what it's supposed to do pretty well.

    the reason i'm giving it 4 stars instead of 5 is due to the advertised firebox size. the advertised size is 2.6 cubic feet. the realistic usable space comes out to 2.23 cubic feet... 22.75" x 15.75" x 10.75" with the rear of the firebox having a height of 9.75" and the front 11.75". i believe the advertised cubic feet may be either without the primaries in place, or getting creative with how to load n/s splits. the 15.75" depth is due to the primary in the front center and lip that extends from it for most of the width of the stove. the primary and it's lip extend up close to 4 inches, and above that, the depth is 16.5" from the back of the stove to the glass.

    i paid $1400 for the stove and blower (i believe it's around $200 by itself) at a local store, which seems to be $400-$500 less than i would have paid ordering at an online store. not sure if the online places like to keep them marked up, or if my dealer just has really good pricing on it. i'd say the stove would be sufficient to heat maybe 1500 sq ft comfortably if done in a decently insulated house, with good seasoned wood, and the stove set up correctly.

    i did a lot of cutting, pasting, and adding information as i proofread, so lets hope everything makes sense, and doesn't need to be proofread again.
     
  2. Joe Seaton

    Joe Seaton

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    Great article. I just put my Buck 74 in and am waiting for cooler weather to fire it up the first time. Do you load the big wood on top of the kindling before you actually light it? Or do you get your kindling going good cirst then add the big wood? I had a fireplace insert before this and I could get it to go pretty quickly by getting the kindling going first then add the wood. I'm new to the stove world so any help would be very appreciated. Thank you.
     
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  3. Wes

    Wes

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    i more or less march to the beat of my own drum. i don't use kindling often, unless something funky is going on with the draft, or i'm burning something random just to get rid of it. i typically start off with 2 n/s (north to south, or front to back) splits on the bottom, with a super cedar between them... i highly recommend you buy a box of super cedars, they make life so much easier, supercedar.com... anyway, a super cedar 1/4 between those two splits. i put those two splits close enough together, so they are touching the edges of the super cedar. on top of that, i load two e/w (east to west/side to side) splits. so, the bottom row is n/s with a super cedar 1/4 between, and the top row is e/w splits. works great for me. well enough that i can set it up when i know i'm going to be gone, and all my wife has to do is hold a lighter to the super cedar, leave the door partially open for a few minutes until it catches pretty well, then close the door, and after about 5-10 minutes (depending on the wood) shut the primary down most of the way, and let it go.

    i guess a shorter answer would be, it lights well putting the splits in on top of the kindling to begin with, rather than having the get it going, then adding the splits. btw, they will give you free samples of super cedars if you ask them. i can't speak highly enough about them.

    due to my method, i cut half of my wood at about 15" and the other half at about 20" or so. as you can see, the primary is dead center at the bottom of the front, so having at least the bottom row n/s with a gap right in front of it works best for letting the air in. you can burn all e/w, but it doesn't take off nearly as well. all n/s would be fine, but i like having the longest splits possible, which is why i compromise, and do half n/s, and half e/w. i tend to put faster burning wood ( such as tulip, or as most people in the south call it, poplar, ash, or softwoods) on the bottom, and oak on the top. if you have a similar liner/stove pipe setup (i have 15 feet of steel liner) i would imagine my method would work the same for you since your temperatures are probably similar to mine. the colder it is outside, the better it will take off due to the draft.

    i will say, if you haven't had an epa stove before, you'll find out the importance of dry wood. any oak, you want to be seasoned for a year and a half or more. most folks here say minimum of two years, but we have warmer weather for seasoning it than the vast majority of people on the site. i've burned a lot of pin, red, and black oak, and a year and a half is adequate, of course with 2 years or more being better. you probably have a lot of tulip-poplar in your area, and it seems to do fine with 6 months under its belt, as long as the summer was part of that time period. pine of course is another one that works well with a short seasoning period. it doesn't cause any problems, outside of just making sure you sweep your liner, which should be done anyway.

    sorry if you know a lot of what i'm telling you, but, better to make sure to give you the information in case you don't know, rather than letting a fellow wood burner find things out the hard way.
     
  4. Joe Seaton

    Joe Seaton

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    Thanks for the info. I'm looking forward to giving it a try.
     
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  5. Locust Post

    Locust Post

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    This will be my 3rd year with the Buck 91 and I couldn't be more pleased. Yes, they are heavy, well built stoves for sure.
     
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  6. Joe Seaton

    Joe Seaton

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    I normally don't like winter because I'm tired of having to keep my thermostat set at 67 and still having a 450$ bill. I want to be able to keep my house around 72 degrees and hopefully never have to turn my heat pump on. I'm hoping to be able to just turn my fan on and circulate the heat from the stove throughout my house. I'm actually looking forward to it.
     
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  7. FastDonzi

    FastDonzi

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    My old Buck 27000 Heated our home since 2001, It used a lot of wood but never let me down. Now I'm hoping to use Less wood and be equally Happy.. And, It IS the Only Heat I Have...
     
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  8. Wes

    Wes

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    i'm glad people are getting these buck stoves. buck was a household name years ago, but it seems like during the epa era the name has fallen into obscurity. they've always had a solid reputation, and it's what i grew up with... more specifically, a 27000 just like you. plus, buck is local to me.
     
  9. Joe Seaton

    Joe Seaton

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    Hey Wes, I have a question. I fired up the buck 74 today for the first time and I noticed that it smoked my house up some. I did not shut the blower off when I was reloading it and was wondering if that may have had something to do with it. I was wondering if you have ever experienced this and may have some ideas?
     
  10. Wes

    Wes

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    yeah, i turn the blower off whenever i know there's going to be smoke. it always seems to draw it out, but, some of your smoke is surely off gassing from the paint curing
     
  11. Joe Seaton

    Joe Seaton

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    I guess that's a good habit to get into. I will shut the blower off each time I load it. Heck of a smell that paint is when it's burning off. Wow. I honestly think that smoking up a house is sometimes part of owning a wood stove. And thanks for the info. It really helps knowing there is somebody that I can lean on when I have questions.
     
  12. Wes

    Wes

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    it's a little harder to find first hand information on the epa buck stoves, and i'm one of those trial and error people, lol. so, i figured with this review i could save other people some of that trial and error. i think i'm going to light my first fire of the season tonight. yesterday i cleaned the liner, and tonight, after about 10 minutes i'll start hearing the crackling and buzzing of stink bugs on the liner, in the chimney, and in the stove... at which time the dogs go crazy racing each other to eat the buzzing around and already baked stink bugs. one of the dogs loves to eat stink bugs, the other doesn't like them, but, the second one will eat them to keep the first one from getting them.
     
  13. Joe Seaton

    Joe Seaton

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    Yep my stove had them in it as well. My dog however will not eat a stink bug. But my wife's shop vac will tear them up. I just lit mine a few minutes ago and fingers crossed I'm not gonna have as bad a problem with the smell as I did yesterday. I'm not really seeing any fumes like I did yesterday so I'm hoping that is a good sign. Btw, do you happen to know what the thermostat for the fan blower is set at to come on? I know it can't be changed but I was wondering what the actual temp the stove had to get to to make the blower come on?
     
  14. Joe Seaton

    Joe Seaton

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    Hey Wes, another question...ill try to not bother you so much... The external airflow control on the bottom. Do you ever move it around? I have tried moving mine but I can't tell a difference with it opened or close. Just curious if you have any insight on this feature.
     
  15. Wes

    Wes

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    i', going off memory, but i believe it is 350. 350 doesn't mean much as it's when the rheostat senses it, and it's below the firebox, at the front. my best advice on figuring out when it will come on, is if the part of the firebox below the door feels warm to the touch for about 5 minutes.
    are you talking about the the little lever at the bottom shown in the picture?
    [​IMG]
    if so, it's the primary air supply. push it all the way in until the fire gets going. it controls the air coming in the part right in front of the center of the door. no matter where you have it, the secondaries at the top of the stove will function, but, it is the primary source of air. once the fire really gets going, pull it out about 3/4 of the way. when you have a hot fire going, you will notice when you pull it most of the way out, or all of the way out, the secondaries will all light up. when you have a good fire going, play around with it some. you will notice the fire burning hotter with it pushed in, and simmering down when you pull it out. btw, you don't have to worry about asking me questions, i don't mind answering them.
     
  16. Joe Seaton

    Joe Seaton

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    On my 74zc it has another lever underneath the primary air supply. It is suppose to be for an outside air source. I'm not sure if the freestanding 74's have this or not but the 74 zero clearance stoves do have them. I fooled around with it sometime today and I didn't see any difference in the fire.

    I'm still doing the small fires to cure the paint and warm the house just a little. I haven't noticed the secondaries glowing yet. I'm also getting some dark staining on the corner of my door glass. Not really sure why that is either.
     
  17. Wes

    Wes

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    ah, i'm not sure about that lever.

    small fires that aren't very hot will cause the buildup. the hotter you burn it, the less you'll get. so, this gives a little bit of a quandary, in that if you want a fire to burn longer, you'll get that on the glass. same goes for buildup in the liner, if you don't burn hot some, you'll get more creosote buildup, especially if the wood isn't as dry as it could be. a good way to judge it is to go outside and look to see if smoke is coming out of the chimney.