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Jacqueline

Kiln comparisons

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Jacqueline    0

Need some kiln expertise....I am looking for a larger electric kiln with a digital controller. Probably about 10 cubic feet( approx. 27" diameter x 24" deep) that fires up to at least cone 6 . I live in the Northwest where Crucible, Skutt and Olympic kilns are quite common, but I'm having trouble differentiating between the different brands because they all seem to have 3" brick, lid-lifters, and red digital controllers. What is the quality difference I should be looking for in these kilns. Are the digital controllers all made by the same Dawson company? I am going to the NCECA conference to look at them first hand, but I would like some unbiased opinion before I talk to the salesmen.

Thanks, Jacqueline

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Mark C.    1,807

I have had 3 Skutts over 39 years and if I ever buy a NEW one again it will be and L&L

I feel they are worth the extra cost-I like the engineering -all the features are what others copy over time and I'm tired of manufactures saving a few dollars and it costing me time to fix simple things like say using stainless screws or cheap stainless that rusts or -----bad designed lid hinges-the list is long my friend.

OK rant over

Its all L& L if I get a new one-yes Skutt is closer/cheaper but thats not enough anymore.

A friend just got a new cone 10 zonal control skutt so I'm experienced with the latest Skutt-The pyrometer probes are ridiculously thin long and fragile-worst design I have yet seen.

My 25 year old Skutt is less rusted next to my 10 year old Skutt as the new Stainless in the 10 year old which is very poor quality.Again save 3 dollars upfront in cost and I will have to fix it in a few years.

Get a 3 inch (L& L had them long ago) wall with zone control

Thats my 3 cents

Others will have a their own take

Mark

Edited by Mark C.

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Marcia Selsor    1,301

They are all good brands. I had crucible for years when I taught in Montana. I have a crucible test kiln that is pushing 20 and only had to replace the switch so far.

I would say find the one that fits your needs the best...size , height, capacity, etc.

Marcia

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Jacqueline    0

I have had 3 Skutts over 39 years and if I ever buy a NEW one again it will be and L&L

I feel they are worth the extra cost-I like the engineering -all the features are what others copy over time and I'm tired of manufactures saving a few dollars and it costing me time to fix simple things like say using stainless screws or cheap stainless that rusts or -----bad designed lid hinges-the list is long my friend.

OK rant over

Its all L& L if I get a new one-yes Skutt is closer/cheaper but thats not enough anymore.

A friend just got a new cone 10 zonal control skutt so I'm experienced with the latest Skutt-The pyrometer probes are ridiculously thin long and fragile-worst design I have yet seen.

My 25 year old Skutt is less rusted next to my 10 year old Skutt as the new Stainless in the 10 year old which is very poor quality.Again save 3 dollars upfront in cost and I will have to fix it in a few years.

Get a 3 inch (L& L had them long ago) wall with zone control

Thats my 3 cents

Others will have a their own take

Mark

 

 

Thanks Mark. I never thought about the quality of the pyrometers...but that is important to me. Do you know if the digital controllers are all made by the same manufacturing company? My husband and I have had a run of bad luck with digital controllers on everything lately, including our gas stove, furnace thermostat and eliptical machine!

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Jacqueline    0

They are all good brands. I had crucible for years when I taught in Montana. I have a crucible test kiln that is pushing 20 and only had to replace the switch so far.

I would say find the one that fits your needs the best...size , height, capacity, etc.

Marcia

 

 

Thanks Marcia.

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Pres    896

Need some kiln expertise....I am looking for a larger electric kiln with a digital controller. Probably about 10 cubic feet( approx. 27" diameter x 24" deep) that fires up to at least cone 6 . I live in the Northwest where Crucible, Skutt and Olympic kilns are quite common, but I'm having trouble differentiating between the different brands because they all seem to have 3" brick, lid-lifters, and red digital controllers. What is the quality difference I should be looking for in these kilns. Are the digital controllers all made by the same Dawson company? I am going to the NCECA conference to look at them first hand, but I would like some unbiased opinion before I talk to the salesmen.

Thanks, Jacqueline

 

 

I have to agree with Mark, my next one will be an L&L, and for many reasons. I have used over 5 of them in 36 years at home, in college, and in the HS I taught in. I also had to service them-replacing elements, and on occasion leads. The element holders are bar none a great innovation. Never had bricks spall out because of element pins or elements expanding out. I use my present one without a hinged lid so that I can fire the sections separately. I just put an extra handle on it and lift it on and off. L&L really is worth the money for years of problem free firing.

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Mark C.    1,807

I think most kiln makers use other 3rd party components for many items. As far as controllers I do not know what or who uses what. Thats a small market

I know the skutt pyro was fine just the probes were toothpick thin about 4-5 inches long-with 3 sticking into the load its just a matter of time before one bumps one with a shelve or pot and that needs fixing.

None of my electrics have digital pyros-I'm old school- they do have back up timers and I wired an auto turn up controller on my main electric (old school fire right)

So they have a cone setter and timer for dual shut off-I just bisque in them rarely at best-gas is cheaper for me.

Look at all the models and think durability-I'm really not an electric guy just feel like I have spent to much time fixing poor or cost saving designs.

Also look at warranty's that will shed some light as well- its really hard these days for anyone especially a magazine to give equipment reviews that are real as the ad dollars keep that part from happening .Back in the day the only ones I have read were the old studio potter mag. that reviewed stuff but that was long ago.

Mark

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Nelly    16

Dear All,

 

Mine is a Tucker's Cone Art Kiln. You may want to check them out at NCECA. While I am still trying to master the digital aspect of the kiln, it does seem fairly strong. The little nobby pyrometer does bother me a bit. You have to work around it when setting up your shelves. But so far, so good.

 

Nelly

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Nelly    16

Dear All,

 

Mine is a Tucker's Cone Art Kiln. You may want to check them out at NCECA. While I am still trying to master the digital aspect of the kiln, it does seem fairly strong. The little nobby pyrometer does bother me a bit. You have to work around it when setting up your shelves. But so far, so good.

 

Nelly

 

 

 

Dear All,

 

Not sure if this will help you but here is a sales video on the Cone Art kiln. Thought it may provide you with some tips??

 

 

 

Nelly

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Thanks Mark. I never thought about the quality of the pyrometers...but that is important to me. Do you know if the digital controllers are all made by the same manufacturing company? My husband and I have had a run of bad luck with digital controllers on everything lately, including our gas stove, furnace thermostat and eliptical machine!

 

Skutt, L&L, and Olympic use the Bartlett Instruments controller. Paragon uses the Orton controller. In 1987 we introduced the DTC 100 controller, which we designed. In the early 1990s we gave that technology to Bartlett Instruments. They improved upon the DTC 100 for us by adding segments and controlled cooling. We introduced their updated controller as the DTC 600, which later became the DTC 800 and DTC 1000. In 2001 we switched over the the Orton controller, which we call the Sentry.

 

By pyrometer, do you mean thermocouple? The S-type is the best thermocouple for potters. The thermocouple wires in the S-type are extremely thin, but as long as the thermocouple is not jarred, it will last for many years, and without temperature drift. If you bump the S-type thermocouple and break the ceramic protection tube, you will most likely destroy the thermocouple, which is quite expensive. The K-type thermocouple is standard throughout the industry because of the cost, but the S-type is far superior. It is optional on both the Orton and the newest Bartlett controllers. If you change thermocouple types, however, you must configure the controller for the new thermocouple.

 

Sincerely,

 

Arnold Howard

Paragon Industries, L.P., Mesquite, Texas USA

ahoward@paragonweb.com / www.paragonweb.com

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Jacqueline    0
Thanks Mark. I never thought about the quality of the pyrometers...but that is important to me. Do you know if the digital controllers are all made by the same manufacturing company? My husband and I have had a run of bad luck with digital controllers on everything lately, including our gas stove, furnace thermostat and eliptical machine!

 

Skutt, L&L, and Olympic use the Bartlett Instruments controller. Paragon uses the Orton controller. In 1987 we introduced the DTC 100 controller, which we designed. In the early 1990s we gave that technology to Bartlett Instruments. They improved upon the DTC 100 for us by adding segments and controlled cooling. We introduced their updated controller as the DTC 600, which later became the DTC 800 and DTC 1000. In 2001 we switched over the the Orton controller, which we call the Sentry.

 

By pyrometer, do you mean thermocouple? The S-type is the best thermocouple for potters. The thermocouple wires in the S-type are extremely thin, but as long as the thermocouple is not jarred, it will last for many years, and without temperature drift. If you bump the S-type thermocouple and break the ceramic protection tube, you will most likely destroy the thermocouple, which is quite expensive. The K-type thermocouple is standard throughout the industry because of the cost, but the S-type is far superior. It is optional on both the Orton and the newest Bartlett controllers. If you change thermocouple types, however, you must configure the controller for the new thermocouple.

 

Sincerely,

 

Arnold Howard

Paragon Industries, L.P., Mesquite, Texas USA

ahoward@paragonweb.com / www.paragonweb.com

 

 

 

Thank you for that clarification. This is exactly the type of information I need to make an informed decision.

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TJR    359

Nelly beat me to it! I just sold my Cone Art kiln, made by Tucker Ceramics out of Oakville Ontario. Very solid construction with a one piece body, not sections. I only sold it because I moved studios and didn't want to take it down a flight of stairs. I have a top of the line Olympic in my classroom at school. I think it is 10 years old. Fired everyday when I am doing my clay units. Neither has the computer, so I can't speak to that.

I have not seen the L&L brand Mark is referring to.If I were to by a new kiln, it would be a Cone Art.

TJR.

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Darla    2

Dear All,

 

Mine is a Tucker's Cone Art Kiln. You may want to check them out at NCECA. While I am still trying to master the digital aspect of the kiln, it does seem fairly strong. The little nobby pyrometer does bother me a bit. You have to work around it when setting up your shelves. But so far, so good.

 

Nelly

 

 

 

 

I just recently bought a new Cone Art 2327... love it. I hmhawed hmhawed back and fourth a dozen times between the Cone Art and the L&L. I decided on the Cone Art over the L&L because of the extra insulation on the outside, meaning I could use my old shelves, over the L&L which has the extra insulation on the inside. I really wish the Cone Art had the L&L element holders thou!

 

 

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Mark C.    1,807

One other thing is I have ZERO experience with Paragon or Tuckers-not seen either so check them out as well.

Mark

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Pres    896

Dear All,

 

Mine is a Tucker's Cone Art Kiln. You may want to check them out at NCECA. While I am still trying to master the digital aspect of the kiln, it does seem fairly strong. The little nobby pyrometer does bother me a bit. You have to work around it when setting up your shelves. But so far, so good.

 

Nelly

 

 

 

 

I just recently bought a new Cone Art 2327... love it. I hmhawed hmhawed back and fourth a dozen times between the Cone Art and the L&L. I decided on the Cone Art over the L&L because of the extra insulation on the outside, meaning I could use my old shelves, over the L&L which has the extra insulation on the inside. I really wish the Cone Art had the L&L element holders thou!

 

 

 

Element holders help to direct the radiant heat into the kiln also plus protecting the brick.

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JBaymore    1,432

The S-type is the best thermocouple for potters. The thermocouple wires in the S-type are extremely thin, but as long as the thermocouple is not jarred, it will last for many years, and without temperature drift. If you bump the S-type thermocouple and break the ceramic protection tube, you will most likely destroy the thermocouple, which is quite expensive. The K-type thermocouple is standard throughout the industry because of the cost, but the S-type is far superior. It is optional on both the Orton and the newest Bartlett controllers. If you change thermocouple types, however, you must configure the controller for the new thermocouple.

 

Just wanted to reinforce Arnold's great and accurate information above here. Type K, particularly for the cone 9-10 range, is not very accurate. Check out the ASTM standards for that thermocouple type if you doubt this.

 

As Arnold says... the reason potters tend to use Type K is that they are CHEAP. And as "they" say........ you get what you pay for. Platinum is not cheap.

 

best,

 

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

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JBaymore    1,432

Type K has an upper limit operating range of 2300 F in oxidation, when looked at from industrial and manufacturing sandards. So at Orton cone 9-10 endpoint range.... unless you fire somewhat slowly (about 100 F per hour) the cone heatwork endpoint is going to exceed that temperature. At 270 F / hr. rise, the Orton 9-10 endpoint is between 2336 and 2381 F. Unless the meter is designed to deal with the high non-linearity in the upper range, near the top wend of your firing cycle the readings get progressively unrelaible.

 

It's resolution accuracy at any temperature (what actually IS the temperature) is a bit less too when again looked at from industrial and manufacturing sandards .

 

In reducing atmospheres the Type K should not be exposed to the kiln internal environment at all also when looked at from industrial and manufacturing sandards. It causes deterioration which changes the internal resistance and the emf that is generated... throwring off the temperature readings. The more times it is fired, the more "off" the readings quickly become.

 

best,

 

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

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Mark C.    1,807

Good Pyro info here -I like them both-more info the better for me

Like John said (Platinum is not cheap.)

Mine burned out last year-repair was 325$

Heres a few photos of what I was talking about the newer cheaper stainless-

As my hand is recovering there are some cardboard box's next to kilns which are idle for awhile so please do not store combustibles next to working kilns-do not try this at home please

This is just for us idiots who know better like me

these kilns are in an covered outdoor location that is dry even when it rains 5 feet in a year

 

1st photo 10-15 yr old Skutt that rusted right away

2nd photo is my Car Kiln Pyros

3rd 30 year + Skutt that is stored-not used for past 5 years-no rust

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DAY    8

Another vote for L&L. Parts are still available for ones 30+ years old, and the company manufactures "industrial" kilns ($ gazillion) as well.

TIP: A frequent check of craigslist often turns up used kilns that can be a bargain. The serial number on an L&L is the date it was made.

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TJR    359

Mark C.

As always, great shots![photographs] I have never seen such a rusted out kiln. Five years you say? I think it may be your locale. Also having your kilns located in a shed. You are still getting the moist atmosphere.I am out here on the bald prairie. Twenty inches of precip. a year. No rust problems.I think Skutt makes a good product. I am still going with Cone Art. Frank Tucker is the president of Tucker Ceramic Supply, if anyone is going to NCECA.

TJR.

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neilestrick    1,381

I'm a kiln repair tech in the Chicago area, and an L&L distributor. Any name brand kiln will work just fine, but some will give you more headaches than others when it comes to repairs, user-friendliness, maintenance costs and lifespan. Please feel free to contact me if you'd like specific information.

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Just wanted to reinforce Arnold's great and accurate information above here. Type K, particularly for the cone 9-10 range, is not very accurate. Check out the ASTM standards for that thermocouple type if you doubt this. .................john

 

Thanks John.

 

I have just finished making a video on the S-type thermocouple. You can see it here:

 

 

 

The video shows how to install the S-type and includes the Orton controller configuration for the S-type thermocouple. The S-type thermocouple generates a more minute voltage than the K-type. So, if the controller is not configured for the S-type after upgrading from the K-type, the kiln will overfire.

 

Sincerely,

 

Arnold Howard

Paragon Industries, L.P., Mesquite, Texas USA

ahoward@paragonweb.com / www.paragonweb.com

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