Thanks for everyone's reply
1) Yes, I filled the stove to the top of the heat sheilds, approx 6 inches from grate to top of heat shield. I even had blue flames coming from the top during the first hour.
2) I did have the top and bottom vent open full at all times. Manual stated top vent open to keep window clean.
3) Yes, It is the the coal version, shaker is bottom right, small rod with hole to attach a handle to shake the ash.
4) Perhaps I need to adjust the venting. I want it to burn hot all the time, so i figured open vents full all the time. Am i wrong?