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2Relaxed

Olympic gas kiln - to buy or not to buy?

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Hello all,

I am considering to buy a used Olympic gas kiln "in excellent condition", it would be my first kiln (with the exception of my homemade raku kiln). Would appreciate some help and advice. I'm trying to find out the exact model from the seller, meanwhile - what other questions should I be asking?  

Many thanks!

 

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I have had an updraft, 5 burner, 7 cu. ft. Olympic kiln for many years.  It has been mainly frustrating.  I have found it very difficult to get it to reduce evenly.  I have found it to

vary in temperature by as much as 3 cones.   Right now I fire to about a 61/2 and it is still cold at the top and bottom.  As a hobbyist I am not in a position to get another kiln but I would not recommend this one to anyone. Lin

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1 hour ago, LinR said:

I have had an updraft, 5 burner, 7 cu. ft. Olympic kiln for many years.  It has been mainly frustrating.  I have found it very difficult to get it to reduce evenly.  I have found it to

vary in temperature by as much as 3 cones.   Right now I fire to about a 61/2 and it is still cold at the top and bottom.  As a hobbyist I am not in a position to get another kiln but I would not recommend this one to anyone. Lin

Thank you Lin. I don't know if I'm too optimistic because of how new I am to pottery (on my 4th year) or because I don't plan to do a lot of reduction, mainly oxidation. But the difference in temperature is concerning. Have you talked to Olympic about this?

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These are really hard to fire evenly. The more burners the better.(at least 4 but 6 is better) You need to put a top shelve on top of everything and restrict the exit flue on the lid. The stacking needs to be right as well. They will never fire even but if you can live with say glazes that fire cool and out them in the cool spots and hot in the hot spots than maybe you can work with it.

Edited by Mark C.

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That's what I do.  I use cone 6 glazes for the middle of the kiln and cone 4-5 at the top and bottom.  I did talk with Olympic a long time ago.  I don't think they were of much help.  Someone in this Forum some time ago referred to these kilns as hot toys!  I think they got it right. Lin

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Hello,

I am pretty much a newbie.  There are people here who are very very knowledgeable and helpful .   I was recently asking questions on this forum about used kilns.  I was in the same situation as you. There is an entire discussion about kilns and what to ask under the frequently asked questions page.  I also found a list of questions somewhere on the internet that i collected to ask sellers. 

Many of the questions I had were based on my inexperience with owning and firing a kiln.  I have been reading everything on these forums that even remotely related to owning, repairing, buying  a kiln.  Some questions will depend on where you are going to put your kiln--in an attached garage?? inside the basement?? in  a shed just built for the kiln.  It also depends what part of the country you are in.  In moderate climates, I believe  one has more options.  I am not sure how many people selling kilns on craigslist will answer these questions for you.  Some may, but many will not.  I always want to know how old a kiln is so I can determine whether the price they are asking is too much for the age of the kiln.  

I hope this information helps you.

Kiln Questions.

1. What are the measurements of the kiln? height, depth, and width.

2. Did you keep a firing log with details about your firings?  

3. When did you buy it?  Did you buy it new?

      3a. If you bought it new:

              Do you have the paperwork for the sale and the manual for the kiln?

              Can you tell me what cones/s you fired your kiln to and how often you fired it?

              Can you tell me the highest cone level to which you have fired it?

 4. If you bought it use:

          Do you know how old it was when you bought it?

          Do you know if that person bought it new or used?

          Do you know what cones/s the previous owner fired the kiln to and how often he fired it?

          Do you know the highest cone level to which the previous owner had fired it?

         Is it a phase 1 or phase 3 kiln?

        Is it 208 or 240 ?

        What type of controller does this kiln have and do you have the manual or directions for it?

        Does it have a plug or does it require hardwiring?

       Did you use a venting system with this kiln?

       Are the shelves clean or is there evidence of glaze on them?

      Are any of the shelves warped?

     How many shelves do you have and what kinds do you have . whole/half?

     What sizes of posts do you have and how many of each?

    Do you have the peep hole plugs?

    Do you have a stand for the kiln?  Does the stand have a solid sheet on it to help support the bottom of      the kiln?

     Where is the kiln and will moving it involve going up or down any stairs?

      Where did you fire the kiln?  In a garage, basement, or heated shed?

       Did you move it to its current location when you got it or did you have it professionally installed?

 On L and L's website, they have pages and pages of information about kilns and how to pick a kiln. . I do not know the exact link, but here is one that will get you to their pages and you can search them pretty easily http://hotkilns.com/easy-fire-kilns

Here is one link to a discussion on these forums: http://community.ceramicartsdaily.org/topic/5675-choice-which-kiln-to-choose/?tab=comments#comment-52538

 

Here is a link to the frequently asked questions information with all the topics listed in an organized way.   http://community.ceramicartsdaily.org/topic/5736-in-the-studio-forum-f-a-q-listing-frequently-asked-questions/

 

 

Edited by Teala62
duplicate info removed

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Thank you all for the info! 

Apparently it's a 4-burner kiln that was purchased used and fired only a couple of times by the current owner. Age is unknown. Originally NG but was converted to LP.  I sent a bunch more questions to the seller and started asking my home insurance broker about potential kiln installation. So far have been denied coverage by my current insurer but the broker will look for someone else who may be able to insure me. Anyone out here from beautiful British Columbia who has a kiln installed on their property (and has disclosed it to their home insurance company) ?  :) 

Edited by 2Relaxed
more info added

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9 hours ago, 2Relaxed said:

Anyone out here from beautiful British Columbia who has a kiln installed on their property (and has disclosed it to their home insurance company) ?

I have a rider on our insurance for electric kilns with BCAA. Every few years I try and find somewhere else that is less expensive but they are the only one that I've found that will cover me. I'ld really like to know if you do find somewhere that will cover you with a gas kiln.

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13 hours ago, Min said:

I have a rider on our insurance for electric kilns with BCAA. Every few years I try and find somewhere else that is less expensive but they are the only one that I've found that will cover me. I'ld really like to know if you do find somewhere that will cover you with a gas kiln.

Min, thank you for your reply. I had a quote from BCAA a couple of years back but it was a lot higher than my current policy with FutureGuard. Now that I'm considering installing a kiln (and FutureGuard won't hear of it), it may be the time to look at BCAA again. I will keep updating this thread with info about insurance.

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I have one and agree as said by others, this little hot box is very hard to fire evenly. Always hot on the bottom, at least a cone hotter.

If you need precise coneage for say a commercial glaze, forget it.

I wouldn't recommend one for a beginner. If you've had experience in firing gas kilns it's still a challenge.

For me I've resigned it for doing bisques and crazy reduction firings where everything is an experiment in the kiln.

I've had to modify and experiment with making target bricks, kiln shelf configurations, and firing schedules to get even close to a even firing.

It's real finnicky and needs to be babied and watched closely. That temp will rise very quickly, and even in a bisque can blow up pieces easily.

IMG_4431-X2.jpgIMG_4435-X2.jpgIMG_4434-XL.jpg

Edited by Rex Johnson

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I'm seriously thinking about getting one of these to be able to do some reduction cone 10 firing on the cheap and at home on my schedule. Had dreams of building one of the small wood designs when I had some land in the NW. Now just a neighborhood yard and I was just going to pop it on a rock deck off the patio (covered )and use it occasionally as an event. We have 2 electric kilns (and a small test one) so this would just be an occasional thing. Just the cost per firing would keep me from going all in even if it was hassle free. 

A cone or even two difference from top to bottom wouldn't bother me much as long as that was consistent and it sounds like, from reading Rex's post, that can be tightened up. We just buy commercial glazes these days but I have thousands of dollars in glaze materials and would\could formulate recipes just for this kiln. Would not even be important for the output to be functional really as I could just put together loads of 30-40 vases and such.

Beyond the uneven firing, does it work?

Does it get a good reduction atmosphere?

Hit cone 10-12?

Would it be a good candidate for soda firing?

 

  

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@Stephen Not a good candidate for soda firing, because it's made of soft brick, not hard. The soda will melt the brick. In addition to unevenness, getting consistent reduction throughout the kiln can be difficult. It's possible, but you'll have to be prepared to have a lot of poorly fired pots until you get it figured out.

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Thanks! I might just do this. Since its really just for the experience of working with it. I have always just set the parameters and hit start on a controller so the dinking around with appeals to me. I have seen these pop up at a discount. Converting an old electric has always sounded like a hassle.  

Edited by Stephen

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ya know I also heard it is (or can be) somewhat toxic? 

Regardless, salt sounds like something I will pass on but scoring one of these for cheap and dinking around with it every once in while trying to get reduction sounds fun. Of course I have a ton of things like this I want to do. I miss my acre and don't think I am going to last in this neighborhood for very long.

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On 7/17/2018 at 9:15 AM, neilestrick said:

Even if it doesn't work properly, firing these little kilns can be a lot of fun.

I have been around a few of them and they are blast to mess with.Just do not expect a full nice load. They are fun to play with.

Edited by Mark C.

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Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't recommend these to newbies expecting their commercial glazes to come out like the photo on the website.

To get this hot box to fire evenly is nearly impossible. That said, It's fine for the potter that wants to experiment with all things clay and glaze, (like me).

Just don't expect it to do a nice controlled even burn. It needs close attention.

Yeah, it will reach cone 10,  probably 12.  Heck I've slumped some clay in it...

Reduction? It's actually tricky to get it NOT to reduce.

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