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yappystudent

Shopping for My First Kiln

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Without much experience or knowledge, and a call to Georgie's (skutt is closed on wknds! arrgh) I've narrowed it down to what I think I should get, with two other small kilns that require 240 voltage as runner ups. Until I call Skutt and ask for further advice I won't be giving anyone any money. At this point cone 6 would be like manna from heaven compared to the low fires done by the shop I go to. Just to complicate matters I picked up a truly ancient Paragon for $200 bucks which seems restorable and almost certainly fires off 240 voltage and who knows what else, and if I can get it running someday, not now, supposedly will fire to cone 10. However I'm not going to invest that kind of cash at this point for various personal reasons. 

Anyway here's what I'm looking at ctl+pasted off the Georgie's site. As I mentioned it's pretty much down to Skutt because otherwise I'll have to go hundreds of miles further to get parts service for any other brand, and I like Skutt's customer service and reputation: Any experience with 120 volt kilns? Do they really work or have problems?  Thanks. 

KM614-3

Handy for artists with limited space, and also a true precision device for jewelers, metal workers and dollmakers.

The only kiln in the KM series that runs on common household 120-volt power (with a 30 amp breaker and outlet required).

Reaches cone 6.
Chamber size 11" x 13-1/2".
Capacity 0.8 cubic feet.
Uses 120-volt power with a 30 amp breaker.
Georgies price does not include freight or delivery charges to your location. Shipping weight is 88 pounds.
KM614-3 Skutt KM614-3 KilnMaster Electronic Ceramic Kiln skutt-km614.jpg Skutt KilnMaster KM-614-3 KM-614-3 Skutt KM614 electronic ceramic kiln fires to cone 6 with 0.8 cubic feet capacity. Chamber dimensions 11" wide by 13-1/2" deep.
Skutt KM614-3 KilnMaster Electronic Ceramic Kiln

 

Edited by yappystudent

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i really dislike  getting advice when i have set out a limit, as you have about your paragon not being suitableas a current project.  consider this post as simply background knowledge, just to think about.  not suggesting you do anything right now except think.

yappy,  "truly ancient" is a relative term.  i am a relative who is pretty ancient.   a truly ancient kiln will have cloth covered wires or old connections, each of which can be replaced.  your paragon has a serial number which will identify its age.  paragon is a very reliable firm and will help you with any question you have.   photos of it's inside and outside would help any of the real kiln gurus here tell you whether it is worth working on at some stage.  and the label with all the electrical info.

the kiln you are considering is  very small, i have one that size as a test kiln and it really does not hold much.  if you intend to fire to cone 6 all the time, except for bisque if you do that, you will be stressing the kiln each time you take it up to cone 6.    

what is the problem with getting 240 volts for the kiln you buy?  do you rent the premises in a temporary situation?   is there a 240 volt dryer in the space you use?

the excitement of finding just what you want is sometimes hard to suppress.  think hard and check out older posts about this subject, it has been discussed here often.

 

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Cone 10 kilns need to be at least 3 inch thick brick wise, is yours?. At cone 10 the elements die quicker .Cone 6 is hard enough on them.

I would steer clear of 110 volt kilns unless it a super baby small small test kiln .

Edited by Mark C.
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That kiln will run on 120 volts, but requires a 30 amp circuit. You can't just plug it into your regular household outlet. The issue is not the voltage , but the amps. Regular outlets in your home are only 15 amps, maybe 20 amps in your kitchen or garage. You're going to have to have an electrical line run anyway, so you might as well go with a 240 volt kiln and get something a little bigger. That kiln is tiny, you'll only be able to fit 3 or 4 mugs in it. It would be a good test kiln, but not good for regular production. Do you have an electric clothes dryer? You can run most 18x18 kilns on a 30 amp clothes dryer circuit.

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22 hours ago, yappystudent said:

At this point cone 6 would be like manna from heaven compared to the low fires done by the shop I go to

If you are wanting to fire ^6 then one that is rated ^10 or even ^8 would be a better choice than one rated ^6 like the one you referenced. As elements wear it will struggle to reach ^6.

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10 hours ago, High Bridge Pottery said:

I still don't understand why you get 240v coming into premises and then use it as 120v.

As usual, Stack Exchange has a variety of answers to choose from. Pick the one you like, and go for it! (The 'links out' are probably more informative, to be honest...)

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It is always a lot cheaper to refurbish a kiln than it is to buy even a tiny new one.  You need to call Paragon and talk to them, there is videos on line on how to replace your elements.  When I rewired my Skutt recently I found a great deal on a cord at the Menards Building Center and replaced it while I was working on it.     Denice

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6 hours ago, Sputty said:

As usual, Stack Exchange has a variety of answers to choose from. Pick the one you like, and go for it! (The 'links out' are probably more informative, to be honest...)

But they do have 240v coming into the building just in two different wires that each have 120v potential to ground. Going between the two they get the full 240v.

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36 minutes ago, Denice said:

It is always a lot cheaper to refurbish a kiln than it is to buy even a tiny new one.  You need to call Paragon and talk to them, there is videos on line on how to replace your elements.  When I rewired my Skutt recently I found a great deal on a cord at the Menards Building Center and replaced it while I was working on it.     Denice

Indeed.  There are multiple "Surplus" websites, where schools and such sell items they are getting rid of/ replacing.  Sometimes, bigger programs will have multiple kilns, wheels etc. they are selling. 

A couple years ago, a school district a couple hours from me, was selling a very nice computer controlled Skutt.  I bid on it a couple times, and it ended up selling for a little over $400.   Pretty good deal for a relatively  new kiln, that had nothing wrong with it. 

Older kilns, with cone sitters are even easier to find, and waaaay cheaper.  Some people just want to get them out of their house.  My current kiln was free, from one of the teachers I student taught with.  She actually contacted me, into my first year teaching, asking if I would be interested in it.  It just needed some new elements and brick repair, but over all, it was in good shape. 

I realize you are eager to get a kiln, due to your studio(former studio?) situation, but  take your time on choosing a kiln.  Think about what you want to be doing here in the next decade, and get a kiln that will still be able to accomplish that.

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31 minutes ago, High Bridge Pottery said:

But they do have 240v coming into the building just in two different wires that each have 120v potential to ground. Going between the two they get the full 240v.

Indeed. And as I understand it, the full 240V is used for some appliances. In fact, I think  I'm right in saying that some appliances use both 240V and 120V - a washing machine, for example, which might use the 240V feed for the motor, heater etc., and the 120V feed for the electronics. (Americans - feel free to shout, "no, no - you are wrong" at me.)

I think if pushed someone will tell you that the 120V is used where possible because it is 'safer'. My own take on it all is that it's a muddle with historical roots, which is then rationalised into some sort of ad hoc re-alignment of the facts because that's simply what people in general do to make themselves feel better once they've made a choice about... well, anything, really. In other words, looking too deeply for some truly technical answer will get you nowhere. It's just what is.

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Ok, 

Included some pictures of the Paragon. 

The electrical work in place is very dicey and not to code, but yes there is a 240 outlet for a dryer, but the kiln says it's a 230, perhaps that explains why it looks like it's been moved around a lot and seldom used. 

The nearest Paragon technician according to the website  is in Portland, that's a 450 approx round trip, the other in Bend only saves 20m. 

Looks like pretty much all it's controls need replacing. 

Mice got at the handbook envelope but the directions are still there, it looks like. 

More photos which I'll put in my gallery since I can't attach that much here. 

Paragon w yardstick.jpg

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Depending on what it needs, after emailing this stuff to Paragon, if they'll listen and are interested, I still may decide to get a new kiln that will actually work. I'm not sure I'm up to restoring this thing with so little knowledge. However I will take the advice about the 240 volt and a somewhat bigger kiln over the 120. However I'll still have to have electrical work done and plenty of other things. 

This kiln kind of brings back memories of the first rusted out car I was given by my mother in law, I really wish I could have started driving with something decent that didn't try to kill me constantly. 

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49 minutes ago, yappystudent said:

Depending on what it needs, after emailing this stuff to Paragon, if they'll listen and are interested, I still may decide to get a new kiln that will actually work. I'm not sure I'm up to restoring this thing with so little knowledge. However I will take the advice about the 240 volt and a somewhat bigger kiln over the 120. However I'll still have to have electrical work done and plenty of other things. 

This kiln kind of brings back memories of the first rusted out car I was given by my mother in law, I really wish I could have started driving with something decent that didn't try to kill me constantly. 

First thing you'll want to do is replace all those cloth wrapped cords with new cords. Chances are all the wiring inside is also cloth wrapped, and will probably need replacing, too. Find out from Paragon what the amperage draw of the kiln is. Your circuit/breaker will need to be rated 25% greater than that. Any elements that are flopping out can be pinned into place.

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1 hour ago, yappystudent said:

The nearest Paragon technician according to the website  is in Portland, that's a 450 approx round trip, the other in Bend only saves 20m. 

 

If you go to the Community Bulletin Board at Georgies and  scroll down to kiln and wheel repair services there is a woman in Eugene, someone in southern OR and 2 others doing kiln repair. Would those be a shorter trip?

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@Min, they would but, the Portland one was on the Paragon's own website, so I give those technicians some authority as being knowledgeable over someone that is not on it. Otherwise I don't personally know of anyone, even the ceramics store owner I've spoken of before talks to a repair online through the Georgie's site in Eugene, she might be the woman you're referring to. Coos Bay is a sort of weird place, smaller than ppl think, and short on amenities unless you want to buy weed, I'm serious. 

 Also, I'd probably want this thing more or less rebuilt at least from the control box standpoint, or have one added, or whatever? If someone decided to take me for a sucker or do a sketchy job I wouldn't know the difference, yet.  

Edited by yappystudent

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yappy, you are right, it is truly ancient.   it looks like it predates my first kiln which i got in 1972.   it also looks as though it has not been mistreated, perhaps it has spent years being ignored in some corner.    the lid has no problems, and it looks like only a few bricks are damaged, probably by someone who tried to move it.   

neil is the expert, believe him that it can be brought to life.   arnold howard, a member here, works for paragon.  if you send him a private message, i am sure he will help you out.  

yes, it is very scary to consider electrical modifications when you do not understand anything about it.  it is good to be cautious but everything is straightforward and you will probably surprise yourself with your ability once you know enough facts to start renewing that kiln.    i was terrified and angry when i replaced the elements in my much larger kiln for the first time.  that was when i was about 73 years old and i survived it.  

remember that any work you do will be with the kiln turned off and unplugged.  it cannot hurt you until you are positive you have done it right,  send photos of what you are working onand  get approval before plugging it in and throwing the circuit breaker that an electrician has installed for you.

 

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I looks like those broken bricks will be easy to replace since they are on the top edge of the bottom section.  I wouldn't  take that section apart you could probably loosen the outer metal a little.  The bricks are really fragile,  I would just try to fit new bricks in and adjust them with a saw.  Your wiring will also be easier because your kiln is in two sections.   Do you have a 50 amp breaker for your 240 outlet, that is what I have always fired my Paragon with.   Does your Paragon have a kiln sitter on it?  If you don't have one you might as well spend a little extra money and get a computerized controller.   I am not one of those people who have rebuilt a lot of kilns so someone on the forum may have some better advice.  I hope this helps.    Denice

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1 hour ago, Denice said:

Do you have a 50 amp breaker for your 240 outlet, that is what I have always fired my Paragon with.   

Breaker and wire size depends on the amperage draw of the kiln. The breaker and wire must be 25% greater than the draw of the kiln, but not more than 50% greater. For example, an 18x18 inch interior kiln usually pulls 24 amps, so that means it needs a 30 amp breaker, but not larger than 40 amps.  Many kilns come with a 50 amp plug because it can be used on most kilns regardless of their actual draw. But just because you have a 50 amp plug doesn't mean you have to have a 50 amp breaker. The breaker should be sized to the amperage draw of the kiln, the plug can be any size as long is it's as big or bigger than the breaker.

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