These few lines above here Coldcoal, may just be the root of your problem. You may not have enough draw on that chimney. I have never had a down draft in the set up that I am using, so that may make the burning of coal much easier. What is the height of your chimney relative to what is around it? Do you have trees or higher roofs, or other building causing the down drafts into your place. It may not be easy, but just maybe you need a taller chimney.
Yes if it sits idle I have an incoming cold draft for sure. It's 24 feet, masonry with terracotta pipe. No metal pipe goes to the top, no cap, no liners. It's a stainless corrugated that sorta sticks above the concrete insert at the bottom (if looking down chimney) and bends a little to rest on it, kinda like this.
No buildings, trees yes, massive pines and other types all over but none directly over chimney.
As to barometric dampers on your particular chimney, with down drafts like that at all, not so sure you should use one. I would be curious to see what others have to say, but maybe coal is not such a good idea if you can be getting these down drafts.
Well once it's warm it pulls like a tornado. Any breeze and you hear the spinner whistle louder. I thought when cold downdrafts were more common, hmmm.
You may be expecting to get too much of the ash out. You will never get it all, you just need to get enough at first to liven up the fire for the new coal. Once the new fire gets going it seems it is easier to shack more ash out.
Ah, well I read here you should expect a 3-5" drop in bed when shaken. Perplexing as I never have 5 inches left once I'm shaking anyway, but ok that's good news.
It sounds like your grates are working as designed by harman. Personally I would agree that there have to be better systems for getting the ash out, ...
Me too! Here was mine today to fully clear the beast as it was still full of coal.
Anyway 90 minutes into lighting, and my new avatar says what I always inevitably get no matter how big wood fire is. Lol. 1/2 lit, the other half you can set a candle on for scenic enjoyment. Then add that cold half over hot half... slowly over 90 minutes, and when it's really lit enough spread the pile out and add more. I know this is all wrong but when it's not spreading sideways an hour later...
How anyone gets this to 500 degrees from cold in an hour is amazing!
EDIT: 7:30PM- It's fuller than ever, a mere inch shy of top of back bricks, burning great. I'm just shaking it in the morning, without opening any doors, to see how long a full load can go. This load was officially full and shut by 6:30PM. This should be interesting and helpful to see.
PS, Bear thanks for the advice and info, especially on the drafts, I'm looking into that. Could be on to something there in a big picture kinda way.
Edit 10PM: Avatar changed to swatty creek shot, since no one thought it was funny,