Granite Burner wrote:My current hypothesis is that the coal itself is some how different than what I am accustomed to burning. I think the coal may contain less volatile matter.
Since you have plenty of experience with this and the former stove, I'm also going with your hypothesis that the coal is different. I am switching back and forth this year between Kimmel and Blaschak, and I have noticed the Kimmel is quicker to light off than the Blaschak. (I think of the Blaschak as being "drier" than the Kimmel.)
When I reload, it almost always kills the flames, if there were any. I generally open the air inlet all the way, then I carefully open the load door every minute or so and immediately close it slowly. At some point in the opening or closing the air/volatiles mix is right to kindle the flames, though I may have to repeat a few times before the flames are self-sustaining. As soon as they are, I close the air inlet back toward normal burn settings. Only rarely do I get a puff-back with this method, and so far no severe ones.