First year using our new Vigilant II. Started fire in November, it has not gone out since. Start a good wood fire 500 degrees and get a good bed of coals for an hour or more then slowly add coal. Have learned to crack open ash door a little when you want quick heat recovery ( 5 minutes in lieu of an hour) after adding a pail of coal, just keep an eye on the stove temp. We started using Nut coal for the first couple months but just tried using pea for the past week. WOW!! Allot less work, allot less ash and allot less mess. Nut coal I had to knife the ashes to break them up, shake the grates literally hundreds of times. Pea coal settles as it burns so half the ash is compressed as it burns, a few shakes, poke the knife a couple times, a couple more shakes and your done. Pound usage and heat output seems to be about the same as nut but had to throttle the input thermo open a little more with pea.
The big difference is amount of work breaking up ashes! Just make sure you remove the Anthacite plate as mentioned earlier. No body ever told me about that and the stove would only get to 500 the first week until I called Vermont Castings to find out about plate removal.
I don't think draft is usually a problem with these stoves, I used to have the original Vigilant Coal and only had a 15' chimney terminating 2 feet above roof with 6" pipe (stove had 8" and I reduced to 6 at stove) and never had a problem.
Burning pea coal in lieu of nut with this stove is just like getting a huge stove upgrade. You would think Vermont Castings would explain some of this stuff in the manual.