It's great to hear from everyone! As for me, I'm still in my daily routine without many changes. I'm still searching for the right restrictor/damper setting for keeping the house at the same temp depending on the weather. So far I've been having good results with the restrictor at 1/2 open and the damper at 1/3 open and/or the restrictor at 2/3 open and the damper at 1/4 open for "average" winter weather around here (20s and 30s). Either of these settings will keep the stovetop at around 300* give or take. When the outside temps dip into the teens or single digits, I'll leave the restictor at 2/3 open and open the damper to 1/3 or 1/2. Of course these settings don't come close to pushing the stove to its limits, which is nice. I do go through more coal than I probably could if I toned things down a bit and/or ran a ducted cold air return, but with things as they are currently, in order to keep the back bedroom at 64*, I have to keep the living room at 80*, and that means running the stove at 300* or so. If/when I get the cold air return done, I imagine I'll be able to turn things down a notch or two.
I've also been poking/raking like others to keep the back corners going. The gravity feed works okay with normal shaking, but to get things nice and leveled out, I'll move the grates up and down as well as the normal left/right rotations. I've found that lifting them up and letting them fall down makes MUCH more fresh coal fall down from the hopper. It seems as though this up/down shaking will collapse the air pockets underneath and allow more room for the fresh coal more than just plaint left/right rotational shaking. I've tried pushing down on the front ends of the grates to get the back ends to rise up and fall down, but it's not as easy as lifting the front ends, and the backs tend to get jammed up with ash/coal quicker (2-3 lifts), requiring some left/right shakes to free them up. So after a bunch of left/right and up/down shakes, I'll poke and rake to even things out. Most of the time this results in a more even and hotter burn.
I've gone through about 2.16 tons (108 40-lb. bags) out of my original supply of 4.8 tons. I had two "test burns" early on which used seven bags, so since 10/16/08 I've been burning continuously and used 101 bags out of 240. So I've got 132 bags (2.64 tons) left to get me through. Looks like I'm averaging just a hair under one bag a day (0.94 bags per day). Not bad! I had estimated a bag a day overall, so that's right on track. In theory, I can go through 6/12/09 with what I have left. I imagine it will get warmer long before then!
Odds are I'll have a bunch left over, which will be nice.
I hope all the other 503 owners out there continue to enjoy their stoves as much as I have!