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Older Electric Kiln - To Buy Or Not To Buy

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I have the opportunity to purchase an older Knight electric kiln - condition ultimately unknown. Here's the specs the seller sent me:

 

The top kiln section has a Sitter Brand model LT-3K, by W.P. Duncan, timer and thermostat

The bottom kiln section has a plate on it that says Knight 103-T, 2300 degree, cone 10, 350 watt, 230 volt, 45 amp

Comes with some furniture, 1 whole round, 2 half rounds, some posts

 

So, this fellow really doesn't know anything about the kiln, it's been in storage and now it's just in his way, but he only wants $100 (I attached the pics I was sent). It's been taken apart in the middle and looks to be flipped as well, and looks like there's some damage to a couple of the bricks also. I've had experience firing an older electric kiln w/kiln sitter, but it was mainly for bisque. I'm trying to set up a home studio (at last) and this would be my first kiln. Does anyone know if I can get parts (elements, etc.), from another company? Is it worth the gamble on repairs/firing efficiency? Hate to pass up a bargain, but I know most of the time you get what you pay for, so any advice is much appreciated - thanks!

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I have the opportunity to purchase an older Knight electric kiln - condition ultimately unknown. Here's the specs the seller sent me:

 

The top kiln section has a Sitter Brand model LT-3K, by W.P. Duncan, timer and thermostat

The bottom kiln section has a plate on it that says Knight 103-T, 2300 degree, cone 10, 350 watt, 230 volt, 45 amp

Comes with some furniture, 1 whole round, 2 half rounds, some posts

 

So, this fellow really doesn't know anything about the kiln, it's been in storage and now it's just in his way, but he only wants $100 (I attached the pics I was sent). It's been taken apart in the middle and looks to be flipped as well, and looks like there's some damage to a couple of the bricks also. I've had experience firing an older electric kiln w/kiln sitter, but it was mainly for bisque. I'm trying to set up a home studio (at last) and this would be my first kiln. Does anyone know if I can get parts (elements, etc.), from another company? Is it worth the gamble on repairs/firing efficiency? Hate to pass up a bargain, but I know most of the time you get what you pay for, so any advice is much appreciated - thanks!

post-1594-12722495758329_thumb.jpg

post-1594-12722495905589_thumb.jpg

post-1594-12722496040703_thumb.jpg

post-1594-12722496159167_thumb.jpg

 

 

Don't know the particulars of this kiln, but my personal opinion is that if I was given this opportunity of purchase, I would do it... as the channeled insulation refractory and stainless shell would be worth it... for me! One could always purchase a digital controller if the Duncan timer didn't work on it and of course new elements of the appropriate size can be purchased from anybody that repairs (kiln service technicians) kilns. Just my opinion... I try to personally scrounge for items like this to keep purchase prices to a minimum.

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I think you should go for it too. The brick damage is not too bad, and $100 is a steal. The only risk for you is the condition of the elements, you may need to spend a few hundred bucks on elements too. But try to fire it first, you may not need them yet. You'll need to buy elements every few years anyways, so its not like you will avoid that expense with a newer kiln.

 

I believe you can buy elements for any make/model kiln from Euclid's. http://www.euclids.com/elements.htm

 

-Mea

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a bargain is great however, the elements seem to be on the floor of kiln and bricks are broken at the top edge. Will the top close all the way ? Are you able to turn kiln on ? Does the kiln sitter work ? Replacement parts can be expensive and sometimes hard to find . Some things to look at... i have purchased used kilns without broken bricks or bottoms. The elements can be put back in and held with pins if they are all in working order. Good luck !!

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a bargain is great however, the elements seem to be on the floor of kiln and bricks are broken at the top edge. Will the top close all the way ? Are you able to turn kiln on ? Does the kiln sitter work ? Replacement parts can be expensive and sometimes hard to find . Some things to look at... i have purchased used kilns without broken bricks or bottoms. The elements can be put back in and held with pins if they are all in working order. Good luck !!

 

 

 

 

Nancirose,

I respectfully disagree ... the condition of the bricks is not that bad for a used kiln, and there are years of life left in that kiln body. A kiln sitter is a basic mechanical device and I've never seen one that doesn't work, even when they are really old ... they just don't break down. Installing elements is a routine part of kiln ownership. As for your other questions (does the lid close, does the kiln turn on) those can easily be answered before agreeing to buy it. A $100 kiln doesn't come along very often. And really, an electric kiln with a kiln sitter is a very simple device. There are only a handful of parts that would need maintenance or replacement, and these things need to be replaced regularly anyways.

 

-Mea

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Guest JBaymore

Have the seller swab the refractories near the top edge of the walls above the last bank of elements with a hardware lead test kit, and send an image of he results with the kiln in the background and the test showing clearly. Many old kilns have been used to fire a LOT of lead bearing glazes.

 

In time, lead volatilizes out of the glaze and impregnates the refractories. Every firing it still will vaporize from the brickwork....and get a fine fume of lead onto everything on the cooling phase.

 

If it tests "clean" then for $100... it is a steal. If it lights up the swab.... pass on it.

 

best,

 

...................john

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Have the seller swab the refractories near the top edge of the walls above the last bank of elements with a hardware lead test kit, and send an image of he results with the kiln in the background and the test showing clearly. Many old kilns have been used to fire a LOT of lead bearing glazes.

 

In time, lead volatilizes out of the glaze and impregnates the refractories. Every firing it still will vaporize from the brickwork....and get a fine fume of lead onto everything on the cooling phase.

 

If it tests "clean" then for $100... it is a steal. If it lights up the swab.... pass on it.

 

best,

 

...................john

 

 

 

 

 

For me I would not let a positive indication of lead sway my decision either way. If it did test positive, I would dedicate the use of this kiln solely to the purpose of casting glass (pate de verre), slumping or fusing. But that's because I have the glass knowledge to use it. At $100, I feel the kiln is a steal!rolleyes.gif

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. At $100, I feel the kiln is a steal!rolleyes.gif

 

I have an old Knight kiln that I got 2nd hand in 1995. Looks quite like the one you are considering. I sprayed it with ITC, got new elements from Euclids when the old ones wore out about 2 years later...

Finally had to get a new kiln sitter. It still works just great!

 

Jennifer

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Thanks everybody for the advice, I went for it and picked it up yesterday. The 2 sections are separate and the bottom section has a little more damage to the bricks than the top that was pictured, but not horrible (mostly chipping of the thin lips on the bricks). This weekend I'm going to try to see if I can get it put back together. Does anyone have any advice for repairs to the bricks? The kiln shelves are in good condition too, had a layer of kiln wash on them.

 

I hadn't even thought of a lead test, did you mean one from somewhere like Lowes for lead paint? That's definately a good idea too, one I plan on doing for sure. The man I bought it from got it several years ago from an estate sale and hasn't done anything with it. I figured the kiln shelves and spare parts would merit the $100 gamble either way, and it will be a learning experience.

 

Thanks again for the advice, I will update with the working status after I get it put back together and really assess the condition.

 

p.s. - It came with several plaster molds (a couple of pretty good sized vases, mugs, and a dog bowl) that I will never use - they're in great condition. If anyone has any ideas on how to connect with someone who might have use of them, please let me know as well.

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Guest JBaymore

For me I would not let a positive indication of lead sway my decision either way.

 

Just always have this incurable impulse to share that kind of information with people in case they don;t know. Comes from teaching ceramic toxicology sections at the college level since the 80s and lots of years chairing the Health and Safety committee. I can't help it. wink.gif

 

best,

 

...............john

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For me I would not let a positive indication of lead sway my decision either way.

 

Just always have this incurable impulse to share that kind of information with people in case they don;t know. Comes from teaching ceramic toxicology sections at the college level since the 80s and lots of years chairing the Health and Safety committee. I can't help it. wink.gif

 

best,

 

...............john

 

 

And it's good advice that I agree should be said, as well.... there is no such thing as too much knowledge about the chemistry we use in our daily lives and work!

 

And I personally look forward to reading more of your knowledgeable postingswink.gif

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So excited for your purchase! You even got kiln furniture with it! My first kiln cost me $75 and it looked much worse than the one you got. It actually worked great once I understood how to work it to get the results I wanted. Congratulations on a great find!

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Caution should be exercised when buying older kilns. I recently turned down an op to get a free Knight kiln. Now I'm not a rich potter, living on my studio and craft show sales. It was tempting, but....

My reasons for not opting was this:

1. New elements would have to be ordered. And if Knight isn't around anymore then you have to go to an after market manufacturer.

2. The odds of being able to "break loose the old connections to the firing bar without breaking is remote. I rewired an old Crusader, and had to build connector "packs" of stainless screws, washers, locnuts to hold the wires to elements. Many of the old posts snapped off as I was trying to disconnect. The kiln is alive and working for another potter in my area. So it can be done, but hey, what is more cost effective. I figure time at my wheel is better spent than chasing down hardware.

 

this is just my opinion based on personal experience. Do you have the option with your electric company to go to a "time of day" use? I bought a computer kiln, and fire after 8pm til 9am and anytime on weekends/holidays. The savings on that will help convince you to buy a new computer kiln. Whatever you decide to do, good luck!!

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great practical advice: 1.) use of time and 2.) a new idea describing open communication with electric company. question: where do I get copies of user manuals for older kilns? How can I regularly check my kiln's electrical integrity?

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For me I would not let a positive indication of lead sway my decision either way.

 

Just always have this incurable impulse to share that kind of information with people in case they don;t know. Comes from teaching ceramic toxicology sections at the college level since the 80s and lots of years chairing the Health and Safety committee. I can't help it. wink.gif

 

best,

 

...............john

 

 

Thanks for this idea! I didn't even think to check my older kilns, both of which were gifted to me (so grateful). I will get right on that!

 

Korey Averill

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Out of curiosity, when did lead go "out of favor" for potters- both USA store-bought glazes, and home brews? I heard that really low fire lead glazes,- fired in old cars, with tires as fuel- were done in Mexico, back in the '60's.

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I have an older Knight, almost exactly like this. The only thing I'd suggest is to check the wiring right behind the switches... "Wire chase" maybe?

 

By the way, if anyone interested, that same Knight kiln is up for a freebie, in Northeast Kansas. I've taken the lid for my raku kiln, but the rest of it is there and ready for the taking.

 

 

Darla

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Guest JBaymore

Out of curiosity, when did lead go "out of favor" for potters- both USA store-bought glazes, and home brews? I heard that really low fire lead glazes,- fired in old cars, with tires as fuel- were done in Mexico, back in the '60's.

 

 

There are people still using them.

 

However, most stopped for one of three reasons: 1.) "Is there lead in that glaze?" is one of the first questions a potential pottery buyer asks. Potential instant sales stopper. 2.) The US FDA and the State of California instituted strict regulations for the use of lead on any object that could conceviably be used by any consumer for food usage. 3.) The newer OSHA workplace lead standards are so tough that for most potteries that have any kind of employee the cost of compliance is prohibitive.

 

About 15 years ago or so the FDA "went after" the NH Potters Guild mailing list. We all got official forms that required us to list all of our glaze formulasm,amount of work produced per year with those glazes and so on. Pain in the A$$ to do. Appareently there was a complaint from a consumer of some sort.

 

Lead bases were all the rage for "hobby ceramics" for years for the folks firing at cone 06-04. Even after the concerns cropped up about the lead glazes, a lot of "hobby potters" still did not understand the difference between the commercial labeled "lead free" glazes and the "lead safe" glazes (which DO contain lead).

 

best,

 

.......................john

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