I had some idle time yesterday at work. That's not usually a good thing for me because my brain tends to wander (Attention deficit disorder is a bitch!). They say "curiosity killed the cat"... good thing I'm not a cat.
Anyway, since I have no experience with anthracite in this type of stove I went back and read Lightning's entire thread "Chronicles of a Clayton" (by the way, great stuff in there Lightning). Believe it or not it consumed several hours. What happened was I would read everyone's posts and responses to what he would write and that would lead me to checkout their threads and/or posts. This forum is remarkable in the accumulation of knowledge. I took notes and compared everything I read to what I have learned about burning bit and I think I agree with Don -
you are in the unique position where you could attempt this and let us all know what happens
Especially with this style of stove. I have easy access to what is probably considered the best bituminous coal in the country and now have easy access to anthracite as well.
As you all have suggested, I think I'll buy a couple of skids of nut anthracite from TSC and a ton of Ky lump. Begin burning the anthracite this fall to see how it works and hopefully achieve some lower steadier temps. Then when outdoor temps start to really dip at night time, maybe throw a couple of big lumps of bit on there and see what happens. My guess is that the bit will tend to smother the anthracite as it turns to ash. I'm curious though, if I only place a couple of big chunks on the back end of the fire or on one side or the other, how the anthracite will respond. Will it go out entirely? Will it continue to burn in the areas where its not covered by the bit ash? Then when I shake the coals down in the morning to clear ash and reload, will the anthracite come back to life? Another thought was to try and maybe "bank" the anthracite by pulling it forward...leaving just enough to cover the grates...then throw some bit in the back to let it burn so as to not smother the anthracite fire. (keep in mind that my Hotblast has a huge firebox. Something like 80lbs so there is plenty of room). As the bit burns down it truns to a very powdery ash...I would think effectively covering most of rear the fire box which would, at least theoretically, keep the primary air flowing through the front of the firebox and feeding the anthracite fire.
I guess the goal of all this would be to benefit from the positive characteristics of both types of fuel (i know, wishful thinking right?). A nice steady fire during the day that doesn't need tending and the outside temps are moderate - Then at night when outside temps cool off, throw the hot stuff in when you get home from work to warm up the house. What's the worst thing that could happen...The fire goes out??? So what...I'll start another!
In case anyone is interested I'll try and document my tinkering around. My analysis skill set is nowhere close to that of Lightning's but I'll give it a whirl. Not sure how much use it will be to anyone but it maybe something for you all to find entertaining... lol