Thanx for the incite MV. I really didn't thin out the grates too much, so I'm hoping they'll be OK. I've got a spare set just in case. Does sound like the same routine as mine, with your old FB. 'Cept I don't believe my coal fire will be salvageable after sitting around for more than 12 hrs. Maybe 10, on a good day.
Our temps dropped to the teens last nite, so B4 bed, I did a thorough cleaning and refill, and kicked the stove up a notch. I was up 6 hrs later, (temporarily), and the fire was still going, stove temp was still 400*, but there was a little more ash, around the edges, so I gave it a quick riddle and went back to bed.
4 hrs later, it had the same grey ashes around the perimeter, so I gave the stove a good scraping cleaning, and refill, and that's where I'm at today. The opened up grates make it easier to get my poking tool in there for cleaning the ash from the bottom. And they also seem to allow the fire to burn a tad hotter, But as for the clogging issue, i was hoping it would go longer, but am starting to think it's not that much different. Hopefully I'll have a change of thought as the week progresses. I did get a baro, and will install it in January sometime. My last ditch effort of getting these burn times longer.
As of right now, since I cleaned out the accumulated ash around my MPD, I can't get my draft any lower than -.06-07. That's with it slammed shut. With the baro installed, if I can get it down to manufactures rating of -.04, maybe it won't burn as hot, and produce less ash. I can get the draft lower, by turning the thermostat down below 1, but it also chokes the air off. I don't think that's a beneficial way of controlling the draft. Would rather do it from the exhaust side, not the intake.
Just thought I'ld post the pics of the tools I use for cleaning/operating this stove.
From left to right, the 1st one is used for hooking the latch, and opening the hopper door. Along with the 2nd one. The 2nd one is also used for grabbing the hot ash pan, and opening the loading door.. The 3rd one is homemade, and helps poking the grates from below. It goes up higher than the 4th tool, which I believe is factory. The last one on the right, is used for riddling through the 3 port holes. It's not a good pic. I should've shown it laying flat. The blade has the same shape as an envelope opener. It is pretty rugged tho, and should last a while.