I think any new coal burners will find there will be as many different techniques as there are members here.
Shaking down is definitely more of an ART then a SCIENCE, but once you have mastered it you are Home Free.
I follow the same procedure that Dallas posted but I'll ad a few fine points:First Thing: Open the ash door
Last Thing: Close ash door
Dallas wrote:I open the pipe damper, open the ash door and while watching for red coals, shake it down until I see some red coals.
I think "Embers" would be a better way of describing my technique. As soon as I start to see red "embers" falling down, I stop.These embers will typically be falling from only one side of the coall bed, so I might give it 1 or 2 more gentle shakes to see if I can get embers from the other side too.....but...don't over shake or you will compact the coal bed
so much that you cut off the free flow of air the fire needs. (This is what I did yesterday &, at best it will slow down the shaking down process...at worst you could smother your fire)..When you see Embers...STOP.
Dallas wrote:I then, take the poker and loosen the remaining coal/ash bed and add coal to the top, trying to leave a small area with open live coals.
Me too. I GENTLY
probe the coal bed top to break up any bridging & find any air pockets. (paying particular attention to the side where no embers were falling) You will often see your coal bed collapse like a cake.....which is good. Leave a section flaming (to burn off volatile gases to prevent puff-backs) & fill those sections later.
For new people, try to do 1/2 of your fire at a time: Fill one side with fresh coal but leave the other side untouched & flaming. When the freshly covered side begins to flame you can then cover the side you left uncovered.
Follow this side to side procedure until your stove is totally filled to the top of the firebrick.
Watch you stove thermometer....When you add coal, the temp will drop for a few minutes. Wait for the temp to begin rising again b4 adding more coal & keep the ash door open until you are completely done, at the temp you want & with the temp rising!
The whole procedure should usually take maybe 15-20 minutes. (Faster with colder weather & hotter fires)