I saw this post today (and your other post under 'newbie frustration...) and I can relate to your experience. I've been having better luck than you, that is until yesterday. My fire had been going about 8 days but yesterday I noticed that, while the fire was not out, it was dieing a slow death. But in my case it was the right half that was going out. (Although in the past I had the same problem with the FRONT....just as you're now experiencing). I ended up calling the rescue mission "fire repair".
First, I opened the ash door and loading door and took my shovel and dug/probed the side that was going out. It was basically dead, with not one glowing coal. What I noticed most was that there was a great deal of ash (powdered, properly burned, ash). Even with my limited knowledge I could figure out that a fire was unsustainable without room for air to feed the fire). I then dug/probed the side that was still burning and sure enough, there was less ash...or at least not enough to completely choke out the fire. Okay, so I "deduced" that (at least in my case) the area that "died" did so because of excess ash. I believe that in my case I did not shake the same amount on both sides, and so cause my own problem on the side that I did not shake enough.
I "repaired" the fire (it was a point of pride to see if I could avoid using another match.... I just wanted to see if I could do it) by digging a deep hole on the side that went out, and by shaking/pushing as much ash as possible (on that dead side) down into the grate. While doing this, I place 2" chunks of hardwood on the GOOD side to get them burning. I also used a piece of bent rod inserted underneath the bad side to force more ash to drop. I got about 60% of the ash removed from the bad side, there was still plenty left. I then placed the burning chunks of hardwood into the "hole" and then tried to "shovel back" without putting the chunks out. This was a little bit tricky and I had to proceed slowly.
By this time, because of the shoveling on top of the "good" side, the good side was going out. This fact re-enforced my theory about too much ash choking the fire. So I just kept adding hardwood chunks, getting them burning, and then half-burying them all around the firebox, all the while shaking vigorously. I got three and a half ash pans by the time I was done. Obviously, I had too much ash in the fire. By adding new coal slowly, I was able to "repair" the fire...I still shook the stove at least a half a dozen times in the next 2 hours, slowly clearing the fire of ash.
I believe, in my case, that the build-up of ash is cummulative.... that the longer the fire is burning the more (if I am not shaking properly) the ash builds up to unacceptable levels.
The whole point of this lengthy explanation is
1) the problem associated with excess ash choking a fire.... and
2) the "cummulative" effect of increased ash over time
I have, in the past, also had problems with the FRONT of the stove, just as you are now experiencing. I was already aware of this issue because of this forum. I had already learned to poke/probe/push the ash way up in front so that the front doesn't die. But I believe the concept is the same. If you don't have a problem with coal quality, this (too much ash in the front) may be some of your problem Hope this helps someone...