Hey Greg - thanks for the reply. Weather out here has been 50-60 daytime and about freezing at night. Seems to make the coal burning somewhat difficult, and this is my first week trying to burn my new stove.
Seems that I can get the coal fire burning after starting a wood fire, and everything seems OK. I don't have preheated secondary air, but I do have some secondary air coming through a draft slide in the load door. Seems that this Wyoming bituminous burns pretty clean, as nobody has problems burning it with Warm Morning stoves, and they don't preheat the secondary air. Chimneys stay clean and all. 've just been leaving my secondary air wide open, which amounts to about a dozen 1/4" holes in the load door draft slide. Maybe I should close it after the volatiles burn off?
The problem I'm having is that the burn seems very erratic. The first 2 mornings, I woke up and still had a very good coal bed to work with. Now the 2 most recent mornings it was pretty much dead, and had to add wood to get going again. I tried opening the ash door for 15 mins or so, but didn't help much. Then I shook the bed, which didn't seem to do much - and reading some posts here, that may have been a mistake. Also, the fire does not seem to want to spread - If I only get about half the bed burning, it doesn't spread too well to the left or right. Maybe my bed isn't deep enough. I might have about 2-3 inches of bed depth.
Weather was way different too - a cold front had moved in and likely changed the barometric pressure quite a bit. Is that critical during early season?
BTW, the stove I'm burning was inspired by the drawings posted by Berlin on this site. I spent spring and fall building it. As soon as I can get the CAD files cleaned up, I'll post them here, along with some pics.
Still have alot to learn, but this forum is quite helpful. I find I have to be careful to remember that bituminous is not anthracite, and to be careful not to apply all anthracite advice to bituminous.
BTW - maybe this post took a turn and needs moved to the bituminous catogory?