hey john, sorry to hear about your bad experience. i have the same stove, bought it last year. i used to be a member to this site, but was inactive too long, oops. i joined back up to help othet hotblast owners who have problems, like i did. i can honestly say i love this unit and got it to burn coal great, thanks to the help from nepa. it is a learning curve, of course to get this thing to burn it, but once you learn it it aint that bad. i have done a few things to it.
1. i used furnace cement to seal off the load door vent and to seal off the "2 holes" on the front face plate. (sorry i cant explain better, im getting a blackberry soon, so pics soon)
2. i cut the back of the ash pan so when i slide the ash pan into the furnace i can scoop the ashes that fall into the back.
3. by drilling and tapping the female end of the shaker grate, i put two bolts into it, making the two shaker grates work as one, making the ashes fall out better.
4. after shaking, i slice between the grate and the grate holder to make the ashes fall out better and get a better draft, make air come in through the coals better, ect.
any questions that people may have feel free to get ahold of me, post a reply, or pm me.