Watty, good job so far in learning this art of burning Coal!
One suggestion that may help,, for reloading.
Open your ash door a few minutes before you shake/load
the stove. I do this every time (if I have the time) and then
a quick vigorous shake, and as the temp starts coming up I
layer in some new coal. (I do close it while I shake this year, less dust
flying about) In a few minutes, that batch starts
burning blue, and I can usually top it off at that point. If I
think I have smothered the fire, I leave that bottom door open
a few more minutes, and watch and see what my stack temp
does. If it stays put, and doesn't start to drop, I can then usually
close that door and leave it be.
I think the key here is don't shake unless you have a vigorous fire,
and don't load too quickly on a slower burning fire.
I am also still new at this, and have been trying to learn even
more tricks,, especially with this milder weather this winter.
These stoves seem to love to burn hot, and I'm finding it a real
learning experience to tone it down, and not go thru so much coal
and keep the home more comfortable. (not so warm)
good luck, and keep posting back with your progress. you'll be
a pro in no time!