I had a Fisher Grandpa Bear stove purchased about the same year. Fisher made a good, heavy-duty air-tight stove. The big difference between the stove youre looking at and the more modern stoves of today is that the modern stoves must comply with EPA air pollution standards. Consequently, the modern stoves use secondary combustion or catalysts to burn volatile gases that will go up the chimney using the older Fisher stove. The EPA requirement is actually a benefit to woodburners in that it results in a more efficient appliance and a cleaner chimney. At any rate, there is really nothing that can go wrong with the stove youre looking at. If you buy it, and want a copy of the owners manual, send me a PM.
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We had a Papa Bear years ago and loved it. About building a smaller fire, that doesn't work. Our Earthstove right now is too big for our house and to keep the fire small you have to have it damped down all the time and you get a tremendous amount of creosote buildup.
Had several friends back in the 80's .. ..that had those stoves. Seemed to work well for them We had something similiar back then..a Schrader stove..sort of like a Fisher stove. But the only problem I saw with ours and theirs..was when you wanted to empty out the ashes you had no ash pan and you had to allow the fire to almost go out before you could clean it. Maybe there was a trick to this that we never learned..but if the price is right..I'd buy it !!
Helena, buy an ash bucket with a lid. Get or make an ash shovel with big holes in it. It will sift out the big chunks of charcoal for further burning. Put the remaining dust ashes and hot ashes into the bucket with lid, set it outdoors away from the house in a secure area, wait a week or so, and then use the ashes as you wish.
I also bank one side of the firebox with old ashes and build a fire on the side that draws better. By the time the old ashes burn out? I have new, 'hot' ashes to drag to that side... Circular reference...
I have one and I love it - I did get an air handler installed above the stove in the piping so that all that wonderful heat doesn't go straight up the pipe. Runs off a little fan somehow (I can never figure out how it works) but I got in on a trip to Michigan at Meijer's or Menards or one of those foreign places that is like a Wally World...lol..heats 2,000 square feet in no time..
Be yourself - no one can tell you that you're doing it wrong!
Had a Grandpa Bear a number of decades ago and it was one incredibly hot stove - could heat 2000 sq feet with it with no problem. The Papa Bear was the mid-sized stove rated for about 1500 sq ft. Check the stove - the earlier models were definitely NOT certified. I don't believe the last models manufactured were either and if not certified your house insurance carrier will not like you. The clearances were rated at 36 inches under the old standards, but in reality today they would be 48 inches and this stove is so hot that you really do need the maximum clearances. They were a well built unit.