After three weeks of burning the DS 1500 under widely varying conditions, I'm very pleased with this stove. I still scratch my head over a few minor design quirks, but regardless of the weather conditions, with the proper adjustment to MPD and thermostat, it just keeps humming along, doing its thing.
I was seriously intimidated by this stove when I first fired it up, given its size and capacity compared to my little old Franco. I set my alarm to get up every two hours the first couple nights it was burning just to check on it. And I was really nervous the first few days I had to go to work and leave my wife and son home with it. I actually had my son texting me the mag thermometer readings from stovetop and pipe every hour the first two days Once we got into the second week, though, I was lots more confident that the stove was just gonna go on burning without problems. I'm back to the point where I was with the Franco...shake it, fill it, check the settings, and forget it till next time. I do still go and check it now and then, but that's not because I'm worried...it's because the fire is so pretty to watch!
The twice-a-day shaking routine I've used is keeping the fire burning nicely. No problems with puffbacks at all with the twice daily shaking...with just a few minutes of ash door being open, the blues are right back and the fire is going strong. One of these days when I'm home all day, I plan to let the stove go 24 hours and see how that works out.
I'm still trying to get the ash buildup in the back of the firebox knocked down. I plan to buy, or make, a longer poker for that, but it isn't causing a major problem, and seems to be improving since I started doing one slow, long stroke in each direction with the shaker handle, before doing the usual quick, short-stroke shaking.
I did my first glass cleaning yesterday, using a damp paper towel dipped in fly ash. Fantastic results--more about that here: http://nepacrossroads.com/about1163-135.html#p343200
So overall, I'm one happy coal burner again, and a major DS Machine fan. Thanks to all of you on here who provided advice and tips to get me up and running with the 1500!!!