Hi Steve, Please turn off your CAPs LOCK, typing in all caps is considered YELLING on most forums..
now, about your stove.. since from your username, you must be from West Virginia, and the way you describe the way your coal is burning.. then I'm sure you are burning WV mined Bituminous coal.. maybe run-of-the-mine, or washed stoker or nut sized ??
Bituminous coal likes to get sticky and create crust you describe, and burn under the crust, with little heat getting out. A lot of us call this 'bridging' over the fire, since the coal creates a 'bridge' over the burning part of the firebox..
This 'bridging' characteristic is the result of the 'swelling index' of the coal. Bituminous coals vary quite a bit. If you tell us which mine your coal came from, we may be able to recommend a different source for you to buy your coal from, that has less of a tendancy to bridge.
What I did when I burnt WV Bituminous coal was to put a few splits of wood, or small logs down the center of the firebox, and load the coal on each side of the wood. This way, the wood would burn up first, leaving a gap in the middle of the firebox, and the bridge would have a gap in the middle, and usually it would collapse on it's own.. the coal on each side would still have stuck together, but there was at least a gap in the middle to let the heat and air through the fire.
There are other ways to deal with the 'bridging' characteristic, the best is just to load the Clayton so that you can come back to it in an hour or two and break up the crusty bridge. But I know that often doesn't fit in our schedule very well.
I'm going to move this topic to the 'Using Bituminous Coal' forum for better exposure to the Bit. Burners.