Tending to the fire if you are home is fun. Satisfies my curiosity. I just HAVE to stop by the boiler whenever I walk from the shop to the house or back.
When I'm home [only about 10-12 days a month] I usually shake the fire several times a day, to keep the ash from clogging the grate.
But when I'm gone the caretaker tends the fire, once in the AM, once when he gets back here from work, and then again at about 10PM. Often he finds the fire choked by too much ash under the fire. It takes a lot of shaking and poking to get 12 hours of ash to fall into the ash pan. He gives me feedback every day on what the boiler is doing, and what he is doing to tend it
My hand load firebox definitely is not a shake, load coal and dump the ashes every 12 hours unit YET. As I build experience and techniques and proceedures to follow to deal with it, it's getting better.
But definitely not a 'no-brainer' yet.
Of course my boiler was designed to burn both wood and coal, I follwed the design of several comercially available units advertised as wood AND coal burning. I should have looked at coal only burners instead. But I didn't know I'd get hooked on burning coal. After all I have dozens of acres of woods. [just no ambition to cut and split wood]
Living and learning: problem is I'm running out of living before I get enough learning!!