I too burn Ohio lump coal in my hotblast. And like you, it is my first year burning coal, with absolutely zero intentions of going back to firewood! $75 a ton which lasts roughly 3 weeks, not many other fuels can compete...
I know from first hand experience that our grates have quite the reputatation of getting broken easily. Keep that in mind when you are stabbing or poking around at a klinker stuck in them... Someone mentioned the size of lumps. They were indeed correct, the bigger the better it seems. Smaller more fine lumps will tend to burn off quickly and release gasses very quickly. Whereas a larger lump is a little more "relaxed" in my opinion. I run a manual pipe damper in my flue. Most people I've found prefer a barometric damper, but to each their own. I have a draft probably strong enough to make a small child disappear! Hahaha
Keep lurking around here, and prepare to spend hours searching and reading. This place is rather addicting.
Whereabouts are you located? Where are you getting coal from?