Glad you found the thread and weighed in! Thank you, and mellow, for posting the useful info. Maybe my cat isn't that tired, after all. It appears that we've all found a similar effective way to ramp up the stove...get the cat involved early, at lower-than-recommended temps. I discovered this when I had a start-up load going, then left for a while with the cat accidentally engaged. When I came back...900 on the probe. Hmmm... But you've cut out the extra step of a separate small start-up load with a few kindling splits, and have saved time there. [400 to 800 in six minutes...impressive.] I've been cutting back to cruise air at a little lower temp than you do...like 1100 or a little over. Like mellow, I've been bypassing until about 600 on the probe. Flame is starting to diminish on the start-up kindling at this point but the cat rises steadily, and I figure there's not all that much smoke coming off what's left of the start-up load, possibly minimizing unburned smoke going through the cat. I might be worrying for nothing though; Manual sez "Even though it is possible (and likely) to have gas temperatures reach 600 F within two to three minutes after a fire is started, if the fire is allowed to die down immediately it may go out or the combustor may stop working. Once the combustor starts working, heat generated in it by burning the smoke will keep it working." So it may be that the combustor is already burning the smoke, even starting from 400. However, I can go out, look at the stack, and still see smoke until the probe is over 1000, so... If you fall asleep during the start-up fire, like I did this AM, cat probe will go over 1100. When I get 800 or so on the probe, I load. I can tell the cat is burning if the probe temp doesn't drop much when I have the door open to load up, so I'll experiment with that and see if I can get it burning at a lower temp. As I've mentioned, I've had the probe approach 1800 a couple of time, which I want to avoid. I think that has happened because, in trying to get from 600 to 1000, I've gotten too much of the load burning. Also, the air coming in from the ash drop lid really makes the left side of the load take off once it gets burning. To keep most of the load from getting involved early, when I load I'll push the coals to the middle N/S. Then I grab two big split and, using the fat sides as 'walls,' push the coals into as thin a N/S line as I can. I then build up the far left and right sides with big splits. Lastly, I put a few smaller splits in the center on top of the coals. I then clear out any coals/ash in front of the 'shot gun air box.' To get some flame going and the cat chewing, I use mainly shot gun (doghouse) air (left slider,) with little or no air coming into the air wash and the other channel half way back in the top of the fire box (right slider.) I figure this sends hotter air to the cat. It also keeps the load burning in the very center instead of getting more wood involved like the air wash does. I cut the shot gun air and cruise it with the air wash closed, or slightly open. I think this method may allow me to cruise with the air open a little more when I need more heat, with the load burning in a more even, controlled manner. It might put out more heat later in the load. Up 'til now I've been having my MIL open up the air a bit in the afternoon to get more heat and burn the coals down for the reload. Yep, pretty nice to have a half-cord or so stacked up next to the stove. Those Appalachians look almost identical... Wow, that looks great. The elevated hearth accents the free-standing look. And you don't have to crawl around on your knees! What's that leaning up in the corner, a bong? Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "That cat is lit off."