Force 10 two burner gas cooker. Long term review

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Still looking good after 6 years of constant use. Oven door cleverly stows under the cooker. This is the American version which is slightly larger than the European version.

This cooker comes as standard equipment on the Pacific Seacraft Dana 24. It’s an expensive bit of kit this costing about £1200 which is a lot for a stove but if you live aboard and care about cooking then it’s money well spent.

The two burner model comes in two sizes, an American version which is a couple of inches wider and more voluminous that the European version. The Dana is an American boat so has the larger cooker fitted. Normally one does not associate looks with a cooker but it must be said that the Force 10 looks the part with it’s brushed stainless finish. It’s obviously well built. Looks are important because we live with it. The Dana is not so big that it can afford to have a separate galley so we’re never more than a feet away from it. It takes up a lot of space in the galley so I’m glad that I don’t mind it’s presence.

The oven door has a double glass window in it and an elegant curved teak wood handle. (note that most websites are using a very old picture of the Force ten. It used to have a straight handle. The curved one gives more room for your hand to get behind it without burning yourself). Lift the handle to open the door and it cunningly slides under the cooker leaving only a few inches protruding so that it’s out of harms way. It also leaves the stove more or less level on it’s gimbals. Clever, a really nice feature.

The oven itself is a box within a box so that it is insulated. The oven is thermostatically controlled. The flame is at the bottom and a metal plate is fitted just above it to deflect and spread the heat evenly. It works well. The grill is ceramic and quite excellent once warmed up. The oven door needs to be kept open when grilling. It can be left ajar or it can be stowed under the cooker.

The two hobs are different sizes and they both work very well with good clean regular blue flame and have excellent adjustment. All the burners on the Force 10 have flame failure devices and each burner has an automatic spark to illuminate it. In principal lighting any part of the cooker is a one handed operation.

The stove grate is made from solid stainless bar welded into a very strong support for any weight of saucepans and their contents. The whole grate lifts on hinges for easy access for cleaning the top of the cooker. The stove was supplied with one pair of pan clamps.

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The grate is made from substantial rod and apart from changing colour with the heat is excellent and are so designed that even a small Italian espresso Coffee machine can fit on it. Often this is not the case.

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The grate hinges up for easy access. The Force 10 is an easy stove to keep clean. It’s 6 years old and still looking good.

The Force 10 gimbals on narrow stainless brackets. The stove can be locked in place with two bolts, one on either side above the oven door.

There are a few issues of course and this stove could certainly benefit from a few improvements but overall it is an excellent cooker. It is now 6 years old, is used more than once every single day and has proven efficient and reliable. We are very happy with it. It is a well made quality product and that in itself is rare enough these days!

 

What’s wrong with it?

I suppose the worst, or perhaps the most potentially dangerous problem are the gimbals. Considering that this not unsubstantial cooker rests on them I do feel they could be a bit chunkier and I also feel that the locking tabs which are supposed to stop the stove flying across the cabin in the event of a knock down are a bit ‘Mickey Mouse’ and really does need to be improved. But worse than this perhaps is the fact that the thin gimbals cut into the bolts on the stove. It’s a slow process but after 5 years of use the bolts which must be about 1/2” in diameter are almost sawn half way through! They are turned regularly to spread the wear but soon they will need to be replaced. Perhaps it’s not unreasonable to expect to have to change a couple of inexpensive bolts every 5 years or so.

I’m not alone thinking that these brackets are not suitable. Here’s an article about one sailor who had new and more substantial brackets made. This is much more like it.

The supplied pan clamps are straight but personally I feel that they would be more useful if they had a bit of shape because it only holds the pans in one direction where as with a kink the pan is properly held no matter what the stove is doing. I had a mate make up a second pair with a kink in them. They work much better. I suppose they are straight as they are cheaper to make like this. Normally the pan clamps would clamp to the sides of the grate but our stove is such a tight fit that we can’t use them like this so are forced to attach them to the front of the stove. There’s no problem doing it this way except that the screws in the clamps leave marks on the stainless that normally wouldn’t be seen.

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The standard pan clamp, as supplied with the Force 10. Being straight means that the pan can move about.

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These are the pan clamps I had made up. They work much better and hold the pan no matter what the stove is doing.

The sparking system doesn’t always work and needs careful adjustment. The hob burners have switches behind the knobs that operate the spark when you push the knob in. I’ve had to take these switches apart a few times now and slightly bend the contacts to keep them sparking. The spark for  the oven has a more intelligent system, using a micro switch which is much easier to adjust.

If the problem is not with the switch it’s possible that the knob is touching the stove before operating the switch. The cure here is simple, remove the knob and stuff a small bit of paper into the hole at the back. This will allow the knob to operate the switch before it bottoms out on the front of the stove.

The spark is created from one AA battery which lives under the stove on the right hand side. Getting the battery in and out can be a bit tricky but one battery will last a good 6 months so it’s not something that needs to be done too often.

The grill element is a ceramic plaque and it needs a little while to warm up and become efficient. During use the stove gets very hot and even changes shape considerably. Force 10 suggest not using the grill for more than 20 minutes at a time. The heat comes out of the grill and makes the knobs very hot indeed. It’s not ideal but a small price to pay for such a good grill. The grill plaque could be larger as it is too small to even toast two pieces of bread side by side but it is at least economical on gas being smaller.

The oven takes a long time to warm up and doesn’t get much hotter than about 220 degrees no matter how long you let it warm up. This could be a problem with the thermostat but it’s always been like this despite attempts at adjustment. In reality it gets hot enough to cook most things. The heat is even in the oven and it works very well. There is one tray which has three positions which are well placed.

The Force 10 is made from stainless steel and the panels are generally riveted together. This is fine for making a good strong stove but makes taking it apart for cleaning a bit annoying. After 5 years of use I see that the glass in the oven doors could do with cleaning between the two layers but with out drilling out the rivets and dismantling the door, I can’t get at them to do this.

There is no light in the oven so if you want to know how your roast is doing you have to use a torch to see. This would be no problem normally as we keep any number of torches around the galley area but the problem is that the door handle is in the way! The trick is to operate the handle without opening the door. This gives just enough space to look in and see how the roast is doing.

We use the Force 10 cooker every day and it has been excellent. As mentioned, it could be better in some ways but the bottom line is that it continues to work as well as the day we bought it and with a little effort cleans up like new. Over the years I have had and used a number of other cookers but not one of them comes close to the Force 10 in usability or quality.

Conclusion:

If you can afford it and have the space for it, I believe it’s the best marine stove money can buy. In the long term it might well work out cheaper. I have had cheaper stoves before but they rarely lasted more than 5 years before needing replacement. The Force 10 will last decades so will eventually work out to be the best option. I really am very happy and proud to own such a top quality and classy cooker. Expensive but very good value.

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