BK Ashford 30 vs 30.2? What to look for when buying used?

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old_

New Member
Jun 20, 2022
6
Midwest
Hello, I came across a used BK Ashford 30 for sale. I have not looked at the stove in person yet but in the pictures the seller included a pic of the original manual that states it's a model 30 and the date on the manual is October 2013 so I assume it is an older unit. I also do not see an ash drawer in the pictures. I am wondering what the difference between the 30 and 30.2 models are. It looks like the 30 does not have an ash drawer and the 30.2 does but other than I'm not sure what the differences are. Does anyone know if there were other changes made between the model 30 and 30.2? I have read about the smoke smell issues with the Ashford, were there improvements made on the 30.2 to address this?

Is there anything specific to BK stoves or the Ashford that I should be looking for when looking at a used stove? If I buy this I will probably install a new cat and maybe door gasket just to have clean slate to start with.

I have read a lot about BK stoves, I am aware of the need for dry wood, how to check for moisture, chimney height, etc.

Thank you!
 

Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,815
Fairbanks, Alaska
@old_ Not sure how much help I can be. I was an early adopter, with a BK A30 ".0" mfr 12-13 and installed 05-2014. Running great, mine has an ash drawer. I think I remember reading the drain plug in the firebox floors of the 30.1s was not so good, emptied too close to the back of the drawer, and that (I think) got remedied in the 30.2s.

As far as I know the Ashford 30s, 30.0, 30.1 and 30.2 all come with ash drawers. I could be wrong. My wife said we could get an Ashford 30 in Dutch Blue, or she wanted to look at stove from other makers. So I whipped out my visa, Dutch Blue went away, and we got an A30.0 in Chestnut brown. I don't know how many blue A 30.0 actually got shipped, they may have only made one or two of them, I think there was a paint problem with the blue ones.

The main difference I know of between the 30.0, 30.1 and 30.2 is the later models got better and better emissions ratings. If you are a regulated burner in an EPA regulated "non attainment area for air quality" that might matter to you. So far, local, in a special double secret probation area for AQ I am still under the radar with my 30.0

As a tire kicker, you may lift the cast iron top off to look at the stop of the steel firebox, but it will be discolored. I run about 8 cords annually through mine, and I beat on it like a rented mule or redheaded step child. You know chrome exhaust pipes on motor cycles get discolored up near the cylinder head? Completely normal, only on black steel. Look for rust, though I have never seen any on mine.

The smoke smell thing seems to be, well it is a thing for some people and I haven't figured it out, but I suspect it is fairly uncommon. Yes it does happen, but we are talking about, even with the 8 year old 30.0s, one of the top 5 most efficient stoves in the country. I don't know how many A30.0 BK sold, but it was a lot, and they are still several weeks pout if you want to order a 30.2. 1:100? 1:1000? 1:10k? I have no idea.

Here is what to look for really, the discoloration in the black steel over the combustor is normal. Take a dollar bill with you. If you can afford to lose a Jackson or a Benjamin I am happy for you, but I use a George.

On a cold stove open the loading door. Clamp our hands on the glass, one inside and one outside the stove. Try to move the glass. The window gasket is a wear item. You can either move the glass in the door or not. If you are thinking about some motrin or Guinness later you are working plenty hard at moving the glass. If you can't move the glass, the stove passes. If you can move the glass you want the current owner to have the window gasket replaced, and then try the test again before you buy.

If the window passes, next is the door gasket. Look at the gasket on the door and see where on the gasket (L-R, up-down) the mouth of the loading door is pushing on the gasket. It doesn't have to be perfectly centered. In the areas where it is a little off center, look to see if there are smoke stains on the gasket both inside the stove (there will be) and outside the stove (there should not be).

If you don't see any smoke stains on the door gasket outside the mouth marks of the firebox, next is the dollar bill test on the door. You especially want to check the corners, at the hinges and at the latch, but check all the way around. With the door latched shut on a dollar bill (or a Benjamin), you should not be able to pull the bill out of the stove without tearing the bill. This is why I use a George, and not use a Benjamin.

So far so good? Great. Next the bypass door. Dollar bill check, every centimeter of the perimeter. If the previous owner left the loading door and bypass door open too long, the steel at the bypass door is going to warp. The window gasket and door gasket are wear items. If the bypass door doesn't seal, it MIGHT me a warped firebox and a (not repairable) piece of junk. The bypass door to firebox seal MUST pass the dollar bill test, every centimeter of the perimeter, before purchase. If the bypass door can't clamp a dollar bill hard enough for the bill to tear don't walk away, run. If the seller says "it may need a bypass gasket", ask them to replace it before you even drive over there.

Last is the flame shield and combustor. The flame shield on a 30.0 is probably warped by now. Mine looks, well, feminine really. Very curvy. Not an issue, it happens. Combustors are either brand new, in use, or end of life. Sorta of like changing the oil on a used car, I would put a new combustor in a new to me used stove. Start with a combustor you know is new, enjoy the hyperactive puppy phase, run it until it is worn out. Spend the $20 for a new gasket to re-install the used combustor that came with the stove, run that until it is worn out, get on with your life. Typical combustor life here is 10-12k hours active time. I get about 8k hours out of mine, but I am an outlier with a smaller stove than I really need. There are plenty of folks here getting 14-16k hours out of a combustor running crock pot mode.

Certainly look at the bricks. A cracked brick that is still in position does not need to be replaced. Missing bricks do need to be replaced. The A30.0 uses several brick pieces at non standard size, but it uses the less expensive clay (as opposed to ceramic) bricks, and all the cuts are square.

I think cosmetics count and run a clay bar over my enameled Chestnut Brown every couple years. I really like the look of the unpainted bare cast iron black A30.0, but my wife does not.

Do look at the stove collar, that short piece of first couple inches of flue pipe. 3 holes is factory. 6 holes I would flinch, 9 holes would raise and eyebrow lower the value in my mind.

There should be a leveling bolt in all the feet with tapped holes. Mine has 4. A little charring on the loading door handle does not concern me as long as the bypass door passes dollar bill. The convection deck fan kit is a really nice feature for a suburban home like mine. I suspect those are still available from BK, a prudent shopper would know the price for a new convection deck fan kit. Install is a breeze, if you can change a light bulb you can install a convection fan kit on a 30.0 with the correct driver bit on hand in less than 20 minutes. In 2014 my fan kit was either #2 Phillips or #4 square, it wasn't a driver bit I had to dig for.

If the bypass door, loading door and window gaskets all pass the dollar bill test, I would be willing to buy the stove at a price based on cosmetics, planning to put in a new catalytic combustor now and run the used combustor in the stove to end of life later. It would be very difficult for me to place a value on the combustor in the stove at time of sale. I get about 20 cords of wood burned per combustor at my house, and kinda feel like I know what I am looking at when I look at a used combustor, but for a n00b a combustor is either NIB (in the actual box, shiny and pretty) never installed in stove or very likely end of life.

If I ever sell mine it will have a used combustor in it with an agreed value of $0.00.

good luck and best wishes.

Edit: Since buying my stove new in 2014, I have replaced the door gasket x1. I am still running the factory window gasket and factory bypass door gasket. I am a 25 year RN well known for putting the hyphen in A-R, YMMV. If the bypass doer gasket does not pass the dollar bill test, run away.
 
Last edited:

Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,815
Fairbanks, Alaska
FWIW if the Air Quality Police were writing a ticket on my front porch tomorrow, I would buy an A30.2 tomorrow for the better emissions, or (if my wife consented) a BK Princess. The BK 30 boxes can go almost toe to toe with the Princess, just the 30s have a slightly smaller fuel tank and the Princess has slightly better emissions. Think of a pocket cruiser or a pocket battleship, and you have the BK 30 boxes. Good stove.
 
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old_

New Member
Jun 20, 2022
6
Midwest
Poindexter, thank you very much. This is fantastic information. You mentioned a few things that I hadn't thought about looking for. I really appreciate your input.

Interesting about the ash drawer, I was looking at the "30" manual from 2013 and the drawer is not pictured. The 30.2 manual does picture the ash drawer so I figured it was a later addition. I guess not!

Fortunately I am not in an EPA strict area so no worries there.

It doesn't sound like there were any fatal flaws with the 30 that necessitated the upgrades made to the later models, that was my main concern.

Thanks again!
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
17,602
Philadelphia
Poindexter's write-up is excellent. I have only one thing to add. There are ash pans on all BK Ashford 30 variants, and they all (to my knowledge) work fine. The issue Poindexter recalls with the 30.1's is that a few stoves (namely, the two I bought in spring 2015), during the transitional period from 30.0 to 30.1 received a new ash plug hole location in the firebox, but shipped with the old ash pan assembly installed. The result is that the ash plug ended up over rear edge of the pan, and spilling hot coals onto your floor when you'd try to use it.

I believe a very small number of stoves shipped with this issue, and BK came out with a retrofit ash pan to correct the issue, which they sent to those of us original owners having an issue with it. I suppose that, in the very unlikely issue you were to purchase one of the few early 2015 stoves that shipped with this issue, you could probably purchase the retrofit pan from BK. In all the years since, I think I've only ever run into one other owner who really had an issue with this, given the error was reported and corrected relatively quickly, and combined with the fact that many prefer shoveling over using the ash plug.
 
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Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
20,005
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
If you find a bad gasket it’s a point of negotiation. I would not demand the seller repair the stove but would reduce the price paid accordingly. Poindexter did a great job.
 
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BKVP

Minister of Fire
Gentlemen,

Yes all Asford variants have had ash drawers. As for differences between each version, very minor.

The reason we migrated to new models designations, EPA requires manufacturers to use a different model number when certification testing in done.

We had 30.0 early, then 30.1 for EPA's 2015 compliance. The 30.2 is the result of certifying for EPA 2020 compliance.

BKVP
 
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