It will burn wood just fine...but not as cleanly as a modern stove that is a wood-burner by design.
The plate you spotted is indeed a "restrictor plate". It is easily removed, but I would leave it there if modifying the stove gives you heartburn.
The paperclip trick is to help prevent puff-backs, otherwise known as "minor explosions of volatile gas". Here is what can happen with this stove and its automatic draft control: If you shake down the stove and completely fill it with fresh coal, the draft control is going to sense the lower temperature and open the inlet damper. It will stay open until the fire starts to burn UP through the layer of fresh coal. By the time the automatic damper "senses" this increase in temperature and starts to close, the fire will be very hot... The damper will close completely, and you now have an airtight stove with 50-60 lbs of fresh coal being "cooked", and the gas collects in the stove. The fire will cool down, and eventually the damper will open...boom! An easy way to prevent this is to always leave an area of burning coal exposed when loading the stove. This acts as a "pilot light" and prevents the buildup of gas. Opening the spinner on the loading door and leaving the direct damper open for a while after the reload will help as well.
The coal will fill the passage by the two slanted bricks, but that doesn't matter. The fumes will get pulled through the bed regardless, check out this picture I took of my Model 82 last fall.
Last edited by Rob R.
on Tue Mar 09, 2010 8:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.