I'm a hobby level smith in North Georgia, with a small brake disc forge I made by modifying a lawnmower. It works great, but I have trouble getting coal. The closest blacksmith coal, (pea size anthracite) takes around a 3 hour trip, and is around 20 bucks for a fifty lb sack. Or I can go 25 minutes away and get a 40 lb bag of heating coal (also anthracite) for less than 7 bucks.
First thing I learned about lighting coal, is that it's hard as all get out to light heating coal and keep it going. So, I usually end up buying the heating stuff and busting it up with a hammer and a boulder. Grant you, I've learned tricks to get faster, but this sucks.
I've played with making charcoal, but it's time intensive, and burns up a lot more quickly (although I love to use it to start the fire). I've made gas burners, (mostly for casting) but had trouble getting past 2200 degrees.
What do you do? Does the bigger stuff work for you?