Last night I was exhausted from work and fell out without damping the fire down. I had it at a comfortable mid-seventies. This is the ash spinner open maybe 1/4". I have been happy as hell to be able to idle the fire down by keeping the ash door spinner at 1/8" or a little less. I've been doing this while away for the day. (Glad to be working...) I come home and can revive the fire pretty quickly, and it hasn't peaked and consumed the coal after 8-10 hours.
Well, I woke up in the middle of the night due to it being too hot, but fell out again. Just leaving the ash door open to 1/4" made the coal pretty much consume itself. I can revive it to a point, but the line was crossed this morning, and the addition of a layer of fresh coal was to no avail. There was still orange in there, but too much buildup of ash. I came home to a gone out fire.
The pendulum started when I cleaned out the old dead fire, ash and new coal, through the ash dump. I put a few small cardboard boxes filled with 1" poplar sticks from the woods, cut on the bandsaw to 10" lengths, into the clean firebox; and a few handfuls of coal in there with it. A spritz of mineral spirits and wide open ash door and the fire is off and running.
Then I left the ash door open and the stack temp hit over 500* ! So I throw more coal on and shut the ash door. Not coming back up fast enough for me, so I open the ash door again. Fire comes up hot quickly and the stack hits 500* again. Nasty Lowe's black pipe burning paint smell. I opened the doorstats wide and cleared the place out.
Back and forth like a pendulum until I hit the sweet spot! Now I have a beautiful easy breathing new fire! I only wish I could get a good pic of it! Blue ladies all across the top making that little "puff,puff" sound, a little orange coming up from underneath, stack temp down to 200*. A fresh, easy breathing fire goes a few days almost maintenance free! Very little ash in the pan, no need for much poking. Coal is king!!