Well, actually, frustration is too strong of a word. I actually am enjoying this learning curve (as long as I'm still making progress.....which today I am not!)
Generally speaking, I'm having good and bad results with my Hitzer insert. What I DONT like about this learning curve is that often, I need to start completely over after my fire "sours".... Right now, I've got a real lame half...uh...baked fire in the insert and a lot of unburned coal on the grate and not enough hot burning coal to recover from this mess. Now, because I'll be leaving for work in a little while, and because the only solution that I see is to remove everything and start fresh, I'm just going to walk away from this mess and try again tonight after work. By the way, this stove set-up has PLENTY of draft so that's not an issue.
Also, I noticed one or two other "newbies" with 983 inserts. You guys are invited to participate in these threads vigorously. And if any body PM's me with a phone number, I'll call them and share my expeiences. (I've got free long distance). Furthermore, if any of the "old pros" (especially with a Hitzer 983 insert) wants to join in I'm sure myself and other "newbies" would appreciate it.
I'm basically going to shate my experiences (ESPECIALLY my mistakes) so maybe us newbies can learn together. I will put "BM" in the title to make these "newbie" posts easy to spot. As is requested by the forum protocol, I'll try to keep the posts in the right category and start a new post when the subject changes.
I've been burning about a week now, and have already had an INCREDIBLE fire going, complete with dancing blue ladies and a picture-perfect bed of coals.
Of course, it happened by accident (L O L)
TODAYS MISTAKE: (yes, there will be a lot of these...) As I start from an empty stove, I should first get a good wood fire going. Last night I started this by using a little kindling and then some too-large pies of cut and split oak. (Please note: my goal is to not have to go thru this "starting procedure" often. My goal is to maintain one fire all season. But to do this, I need to produce a healthy fire in the first place.) I did not have a uniform wood-coal bed that completely covered the grate. Because of this, I had "good" spots and "bad" spots. I tried to rake and re-distribute the good-burning stuff all around but I did not have luck. I believe OTHER people have done it successfully....but I failed.
NEXT TIME: After this half-burning fiasco dies out, I will completely clean out the stove. I will not throw out the half-burned coal, but I will save it to add to a fire that is burning properly (after I am a little more successful). The MAIN difference this time is that I will use PLENTY of small pieces of hardwood and get a really good fire (wood fire) that completely covers ALL of the grate. This is easy to do...the wood is easy to light and easy to re-distribute without it going out. Next time I want a nice 2" or 3" minimum thickness of robustly burning hardwood. My main mistake last time was LACK OF PATIENCE with this.
Then while I still have flames going on I will SLOWLY add coal in a UNIFORM manner in EVERY PART of the bed. I will be more patient this time... Then I will add a little more EVERYWHERE until I have a good foundation. Once that happens (again, my mistake seems to be impatience with this building stage...... which leads to dead spots..... which is then why I fail)
I know that if I can get a good start (which happened once a produced a GREAT fire) I'll have better luck. Then next time I have a good start, I'll use a DEEP bed of coal. That is the other mistake I made..,..that is why my "great fire" went out. To be continued.....