The slots that you're seeing FB, is the bottom of the aprons or skirts. Here's a pic of the grates W/O the skirts installed
The hopper height is set by the designer, and you'ld think it would be placed "practically" or efficiently(?) At the rate it's deteriorating, it won't be long before its bottom edges will be raised and opened up anyway, allowing a "taller" bed.i purchased a duplicate parts stove last yr, and it's hopper was worn 3 times worse. I've been accused of running the stove too hot, but if this is the case, what is too hot? I've got a temp indicator that just rests on top of the heat exchanger (the hottest point accessible and external.) when the coals are almost out, and residual heat is still retained, it'll register about 200* or less. When the stove is running normally, (in my eyes), it's showing 400. the hottest I've cranked it is 500*. Never maxed out the gauge to 600. Is this "too hot"? and many times, when the hopper uses up its supply, the bottom of it will glow till i refill it with fresh coal. I've been told on this site, that's what causes this deterioration. If I had to keep the thing 1/2 full at all times, it would have to be loaded every couple hrs or so. (I'll never be able to keep up with that. especially overnite)
If I set the thermostat to "0", the damper doesn't open, and the fire goes out. I agree the calibration is off, but still don't see how it will affect the problem of excessive ash build up which is restricting air through the grates. As mentioned, I can slow the stove down with the thermostat and the MPD.
and yes, the slots for the poker have little flapper doors that close to cover the holes, and I always make sure nothing obstructs them when I'm done poking and scraping.
It may appear to all you readers, that I'm totally disgusted with this stove. In reality, I'm just learning its limitations and getting to the point of acceptance. It didn't cost me but a couple hundred, (about 15 yrs ago), and it does supply decent heat for my little home to keep us comfortable. it's apparent that a little more work is involved to maintain operations compared to other stoves, but at this point, I'll live with it. Just trying to fine tune it as much as possible, and I'm extremely grateful for everyones patience with me and all your advice. Thank you.