It was 36.7* outside this morning, which was enough of an excuse for me to light up some Blaschak in the new five-oh-three. Gotta cure the paint, ya know.
I guess you could call my first coal fire ever a success, although it was about six hours in the making. I started out at 6:15 AM with a pyramid of a dozen Match Light briquettes on each grate about mid-way back in the firebox. After opening some house doors and windows in case the paint smell was bad, I added a layer of coal all around the Match Light and lit 'er up.
I had some action about 15-20 minutes into it, so I added another layer of coal. I kept this up, adding layers and waiting for them to catch, until about noon. I tried to resist the temptation to shake the grates, but I have to admit I succumbed and shook it a couple of times. As far as I could tell, it didn't help a whole lot, but it didn't seem to hurt it, either. I got frustrated a couple of times and threw a few Match Light briquettes on the bed. Didn't seem to help much, if at all. I knew there was a good layer of coal going on the bottom. I could see the glow in the ash pan through the damper holes.
At noon, I was up to the firebrick under the door with coal and up to my ears in frustration. It just wasn't getting all that hot. I had everything wide open until then--top damper (AKA new restrictor plate), ash pan damper and air wash damper all open. I could hear the air rushing in the dampers, so I knew the draft was good, but the thing never really got hot. It was hot enough for the blowers to kick on for a couple of minutes at a pop, but it certainly wasn't pumping out any real heat. I could hold my hand on the top of the stove but not on the hopper lid. Stove thermometer on the hopper lid read about 125*-150*.
Then I decided to really get things going and left the ash pan door open for about three minutes. I saw my first Blue Ladies dancing towards the back of the firebox, so I closed the ash pan door and PRESTO! The whole bed sprung up with Blue Ladies! I closed off the top damper as far as it would go and adjusted the ash pan damper to about 1/4 open. Now it's been humming along with the blowers running for about 45 minutes. Most of the Blue Ladies are gone--just a few near the back now. But the blowers are cranking out some serious heat. I was starting to wonder if it would ever pump out hot air--now I know it will. Stove thermometer on the hopper lid is reading about 225*.
Now I'll let it die out and wait until we get another cold morning when I have time to play again. The manual says 2-3 small burns before the paint cures, so I'll have to play again a time or two more before I get serious and load the hopper up and let it burn for the season.
It sure is a nice feeling!