M1KEMASS wrote:I've read that I'm supposed to do the shake down until red ambers just start falling, but how can I see that if I'm supposed to keep the ashpan door closed?
If you keep the ash door closed during shake down...you can't. (You have to open the door to see them if still glowing)
Over the years, I have tried it both ways & now keep the ash door open while shaking down,Important thing it to open the ash door first & leave it open until the fire is really lively!
(maybe 5-10 minutes depending on draft) That way most of the ash/dust will be sucked back into the stove instead of all over your floor.
Another thing I do (which always starts a debate among experienced coal burners) is poke a mature fire (say....a fire that has been burning for at least a few days) from the top lightly
with a poker..... Often "Bridging" will keep the top of the coal bed suspended above an air pocket & by poking it, it'll fall like a cake & let you get good coal into that air pocket!