Sorry for the lag in updates - been trying to get everything working smoothly :)

I'm thinking that part of my problem (besides the mental ones :)) is that my insulation was too thin and not giving good enough heat retention - so I went out and bought a bag of actual refractory cememt (Thermal Ceramics Kaocrete HS to be exact) and remade the lid and relined the furnace - it's still kinda drying I think so I haven't fired it up yet - but I'm hoping this will help :)

I may be building my own torch too depending on some answers I get at the forums - I'm afraid that the weed burning torch - while it gets hot enough - might be wasting too much propane... Stay tuned on that one :)

Here's a picture of the new refractory

New Refractory