I think you guys would benefit by keeping the ash door open for the entire process & only closing it AFTER you stove is full, at the temp you want to maintain & with the temp still climbing.
The problems you are explaining show that it's taking a long time be cause you aren't giving the fire enough air.
I've been burning coal for 26 years & I think the books will tell you NOT
to keep the ash door open. This is overkill from a safety standpoint, IMO. While loading with just the air controls open will eventually work, it will take much too much time (as you explain) to fully load your stoves.
That being said, one of the most dangerous things you can do is forget to close your ash door with a full load of coal!
Either stay at your stove until you close the door OR
carry a little egg timer (like this one http://www.radioshack.com/product/index ... age=search
) if you walk away from it. It' way to easy to get distracted & forget the ash door is open!
I think if you try this method you will be amazed at how fast you can fully load your stove. I typically shake down & fully reload my TLC in less than 15 minutes...between opening the ash door & closing it when done. The colder out & the hotter the fire....the faster for the shake down & reload, due to better draft.
I missed this point when you said: "but if i fill it to the top of the fire brick it suppresses the fire and i loose the heat until it catches back up"
Try leaving a section of your fire uncovered & just load the the other side up. Always leave a section still flaming. When the newly covered side starts to flame...then cover the other side. Try doing 1/2 of you stove at a time till you get a feel for it....But leave your ash door open until you are done.