Wow, never knew about the front center bottom air hole! I'd guess it was blocked since the ash bed was a least 3-4 inches deep and I didn't make a point of pushing ash away from the front window. So to reply - i'm assuming " that the air supple WASN'T available from that source before I got the ash pan". BTW - emptied the huge ash pan after only six days of burning just tonight. Ash was clearly not falling through anymore, an the whole pan was topped off and level all the way across. Re: the stove color - not custom, it is the stock 'metallic brown', but has a lot of silver glow to it. One of the gals at Woodstock described it as 'kinda like champagne'.