Well, first I want to thank everyone for all the posts on this site. I bought a Vermont Castings Vigilent II this summer. And with everyone's help I finally got a coal fire going in four tries. Let me just tell everyone how I did it and what I was doing wrong.
First of all I open the internal damper and crack the ash pan door, then I put about 10 pieces of regular charcoal on the grates. Not the fast ignite stuff, just plain old Kingsford. I then pour about two inches of fresh coal on top of it. Then I roll about fives pieces of cardboard into a tube shape. On top of the cardboard goes about 6 pieces of kindling. Coal is sprinkled on top of the wood. Not much, just a few pieces.
Next I light another piece of cardboard above the damper in the flue. This is to ensure I get a strong draft going. One time I didn't do this and I was feeding the fire FROM the flue. My house was filled with smoke. Never again!
Once the draft gets going in the right direction I use my propane torch (the kind you use for sweating pipes) and light the cardboard from the front of the stove through the grates. I try to light it on both sides and the middle. At this point I close the front doors and just let it burn. In a few minutes, about 15 - 20, I can actually hear the draft feeding the fire.
In the first three attempts, this is where I made my mistake. I would put some coal on top of the wood and shut the ash pan door. Needless to say, the first three fires would just die down and go out in about an hour.
Now at this point I figured out NOT to shut the ash pan door. I add coal to one half of the stove and let it alone. In about 10 minutes blue flames appear over the new coal. Then I can add fresh coal to the other side and wait. I repeat these steps until the stove is loaded is coal with blue flames dancing over top of them. Only at this point do I now shut the ash pan door.
This seems to work for my stove. Hopefully it will help others in their attempts to start a coal fire.