pjb153 wrote:I have a few questions: The wing-nut to adjust the distance between the carpet bracket and the end of the rotating motor arm... what is a good setting to ensure that I do not push the hot coal off the shoot.........
I believe you have the Alaska fireplace insert model, if the grate is 5.5" wide you have the 5k to 38K btu unit (the 5k to 85k unit is 7.5" wide). For the unit to work properly the carpet must be whole, you have one that appearsto be at the end of it's life.
In my experience there should be around 5/8" space between the adjuster and the carpet when pushing coal, then you can use the rheostat to adjust the heat output. Since the carpet is extremely worn you will have to play with that. I have found the best way to adjust it is to start with a small fire and then gradually increase it to the point of just having burning coals go into the ash pan and then back it off a tad. Also you didn't mention what rheostat setting you have been running.
Additionally I usually take the end nut off when lighting the unit so that no coal is pushed until it gets going (this allows the blower to run withut pushing coal). The drawback of this unit is that the ratio of combustion air to stoker operation is not linear since they are operated off the same motor. 1/2 speed on the motor results in only 1/4 the air and so on. I have been using a Broan 688 bathroom fan turned on it's side so that the outlet adds combustion air at low fire settings (it feeds the combustion fan inlet).
I'm no expert since I only starteds burning coal in Sept 2006, but I have several of the old style Alaska stokers I have been playing with and have figured out a few things.
Hope this helps, keep posting your results and don't give up till you get the stove running right.