cmachinetool, HI! I'm new to burning coal this year too, I have the Clayton 1537G - very similar to yours but no powered drafts or anything. I too struggled in the beginning, but within a few weeks I've learned a huge amount about burning coal. I had a hard time keeping a coal fire alive - like you are describing. Then I built the coal bed up and gave her some more air and it was like magic. Everything you describe leads me to think that you just aren't getting enough air to the bottom of that fire. I'm not using a baro damper. There is a huge amount of controversy between fellow coal burners here about the baro damper. I don't know if the baro is causing the grief or not - but my first step in isolating the problem would be to take it off or seal it up. I will most likely get a ration of hell for suggesting that
I'm using a manual damper. Its usually open or cut in about 2/3's. I'm still fiddling with it. I have 26 feet of single wall stove pipe (temporarily) and I'm getting so much draft sometimes I wonder if it will carry chunks of coal right up the chimney. Well I'm sure that won't happen lol. Don't give up! You will be glad when you get it to do what your looking for. I drive by groups of people slaving away cutting splitting stackin carring wood wondering why
Yes thats it! The prior owners put a second hole for draft on the ash pan door. You need more draft partner!