Just came on line a few minutes ago and read all three 3 pages of this thread. Your situation - re. slow, sluggish burns and the fire almost going out when you close the air down - is EXACTLY the same story that I had with my new Oslo - installed last fall. My wood was between 9 and 18%, but I even tried some store bought wood - still didn't work! I kept having folks here suggest that my problem must be poor draft; but I had a hard time believing that! My previous stove was a PE Spectrum with double walled pipe to the ceiling and insulated pipe through the attic and out -for a total of 14 feet (no elbows). this was way too much draft for the PE - I couldn't load it up or it would run away on me (every time!) So... how could draft possibly be an issue with the Oslo? Well...that was the problem. BE Green suggested that I try adding 3 feet of 6 inch single wall pipe to the chimney top. this didn't help much; so I added another 2 feet. Wow, completely different stove- very good draft and from 0 to 550 degrees in 'nothing flat'!! I ended up adding 5.5 feet of insulated pipe to the chimney. Now I have a great stove that heats quickly, burns overnight and looks great. I really think that you have 4 things going against you: 1. Outside chimney 2. 8 x 8 flue - I would definitely stick an insulated liner down there (that will solve problem 1 too) 3. Chimney height - extend it by 5 or more feet - use temp pipe first to make sure it works (you could get some more 8X8 clay liners and stack them on top-keep adding until the stove is drafting well) 4. The elbows are further restricting draft - not much you can do about this, but I think that you will be a 'happy camper' if you extend your chimney and line it. Great looking install BTW. You are going to love the Oslo once you get it working properly!