Okay everyone im back and in action. Sorry for the trail off, but im here to update on the current situation. I cobbed everything about halfway through and by then the weather started to warm up and I had to put a hold on the project but as it is that time again and winter is almost upon us I have started back up and plan to finish the cob this week. My previous progress including me cobbing out the whole layout about halfway up just over the pipes.
After I cobbed everything I burned in it occasionally for a few weeks but had some smoke leak issues. I turned off the lights while burning and shinned a light around the heater and noticed the whole area had sort of a fog to it. I did notice some leakage through the top lid of the barrel then I proceeded to remove the gasket I glued in and just sealed it dry with no gasket and it seemed to hold fine.Then I came to the conclusion that it could have well been the paint curing on my barrel so I let the house air out and just continued. I had used a high temperature spray meant for exhaust manifolds.
Then came the crazy amount of cracking that started going on. Mostly on the thinner areas around the firebox. So I plan to change up my recipe a bit and add some more sand with a tad less clay and fill in all the cracks and add maybe a inch or two extra to the parts that are cracking. Even though the cob is cracked in some placed it is still incredibly rock solid. I can kick/stand on a cracked edge and it doesn't even budge so im going to leave it alone and just fill it in. Next came in the mold which as soon as it dried the mold died off but still I didn't like waking up to a mold covered thing in my house so my next go around im adding a bit of borax to the water mixture. I also noticed a big gap around the barrel where it met the cob..which I understand is normal from the barrel expanding but it could also be that I have too much clay so I will fill in that gap with my new recipe. Fingers crossed.
Needless to say it has had its faults and troubles im still confident im going to make it happen and it will turn out just fine. I will update with more pictures at a later time. Again thank you for all your help!