Welcome. Wyoming must be a great place to live!
I have the same problem with my stove. I too have put bricks in the firebox to make it smaller. I have had some great burns with loading the firebox up all the way initially, and leaving it alone. I use stove anthracite but have a lot of sizes mixed in my supply of old basement coal. My biggest problem is I'm afraid to cut the air coming in for fear of putting the fire out. Then I have to dump it all and start over again. I don't like it when the whole load catches fire, I hope to learn to get it to burn slowly from the bottom up.
I'm working on the stove now, and plan to put another layer of firebrick inside the first one. Maybe even a third. My firebox is 14" round x 9" deep, get it going too hot and it bakes me out of my small place every time..
I stopped shaking the grate because it's busted in two ( another story); I've just been removing ash by poking from the bottom.
Good luck, can't hurt to try and make the firebox smaller.
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