Welcome my friend.
I've been burning in a Chubby for the past 5 years. When we purchased our house it had one of Larry's original rear vent stoves in it. It was a nightmare to shake down. I had to open the lower ash door to get to the shaker arm on the grate. You could imagine, ash everywhere. We traded it in for a top vent about 2 years ago. New shaker system is a huge improvement. We're heating a 1200 sq ft ranch with ease. When the temps hit the lower teens the the oil burner kicks one to help out, but it's extremely rare in my area. I burned 4 tons last season. Once I get new windows and tighten up the insulation I'm hoping to drop that number! I couldn't imagine heating our house with any other fuel. I love coal, enough said.
After earning my stripes with the Chubby I've found some problems areas to watch for.
- I've had trouble with warped grates. I've followed all the do's and don'ts, just bad luck maybe! I believe I may have been over shaking the stove allowing too many hot coals to sit of the grate. I started leaving a small layer of ash on the bottom of the fire to help insulated the grates, time will tell.
- Mica getting pretty sooty from burning (well seasoned) wood. I stopped burning wood, problem solved...
- I've had a problem installing my barometric damper. I have a fields control RC which has a male end so it requires a tee with a horizontal female end. Most tees I've seen have a female on the top and males on the bottom and horizontal section. Took a lot of digging before I found a tee that would work with the baro I have.
- Lastly, the shaker nipple. Mine seems to be wearing out pretty bad from the shaker rod. This allows combustion air in around the shaker handle making it tough to idle the stove back on warm days. I'm in the process of fabricating a fix. I'll post pictures when finished. I welded a 3" nipple onto the existing nipple and screwed a cap on the end of it. I drilled a 3/8" hole in the cap to fit the new shaker rod. I bent a 90 on one end of a 3/8" rod and threaded the other end. I welded a barrel nut on the threaded end. The 90 hooks onto the grate and a new threaded shaker rod screws into the barrel nut. I fabricated a spring handle on the outer part of the shaker rod so I could grip it during shaking. There are 2 reasons I made the shaker rod into 2 pieces. One is if the cap wears out mid season I won't need to shut the stove down to change it out. I simply unscrew the shaker rod, replace the cap and screw the shaker handle back onto the barrel nut. The second is the bent shaker rod from Larry simply won't fit through the longer nipple I added, so it needed to be 2 pieces. Hopefully it works good, guess we'll find out this season.
One more note. I burned my stove with and without the metal pot ring. I find a slightly better burn without the ring in, but the ash pan doesn't catch all of the ash. This makes for more shoveling of ash from the bottom of the stove. With the ring in it creates a slightly smaller grate area forcing most of the ash to fall in the pan, less clean up. I use the pot ring. I found it to be a hassle shoveling out ash from the bottom of the stove every other day.
Best of luck.