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Sylvia Mondloch

Oxyprobe Axner vs Bailey

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Been firing it for Over a year now.  Firing it today actually (soda) just finished a regular reduction firing in the other kiln yesterday.. They ended up buying a second used Alpine for strictly reduction. I should be there later and will get some pictures of their fired stuff

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Edited by Bill Kielb

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I used to salt fire an old Alpine in undergrad. The wash did a good job of protecting the face of the bricks, but the vapor would get behind the bricks through cracks and gaps and melt them out from the back. Suddenly a hole would open up in a brick that wasn't there before. And the burner ports would melt so bad that the bricks would ooze down and block the burner flame, so you had to clean them out with rebar durning the firing. Beautiful pots came out of that kiln!

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17 hours ago, neilestrick said:

You're soda firing the Alpine?

Pictures as promised. We have two artists that fire soda very differently, Linda Kiepke and Jean Burnett. Linda soda fires cone 6 (Straight Sodium Bicarbonate). Jean fires cone 10 standard soda with reduction. Both lead firing teams and have developed their application methods. As to application everything is injected as dry powder through a blower system. A bit unique! The pictures give a flavor of the work.  They produce many unique interesting pieces.

The old Alpine was converted, patched and coated with ITC 100. From there the worst areas are simply patched as they become an issue. The ITC 100 actually seems to have limited the interior vapor intrusion into the bricks significantly and we are guessing maybe 100 firings before significant rebuild. I believe they have 20 - 30 firings on it right now.

Four injection ports were placed in the sides of the kiln and the front site ports can be used if so desired.

The repurposing of the old kiln and purchase of a used Alpine allowed them to complete the installation including the monitor system, new high limits, new pilot safety on the Soda Alpine, Oxygen probes for both. exhaust blower for the kiln room, combustion air, soda delivery blower, laser, electric throughout, medium pressure gas extension and regulator, and general upgrades for the new (used) Alpine which came from a school and only had a couple firings on it.

Too many things to list for about 20K but well worth it in my opinion. The graphic monitor has allowed them to accelerate the reduction learning curve and believe it or not makes it pretty easy to down fire and grow crystals.

At some point in the future they will need to rebuild the soda kiln or purchase a new one. For now they are firing away and having fun.

Pictures:

  • Linda Kiepke Vase (Cone 6 soda only)
  • Jean Burnett Vase (Cone 10 with reduction)
  • Beginning Body Reduction flame (Today)
  • Beginning Body reduction Monitor screen (Today)
  • Soda Injection (Today)

I think we are pleased with the success of this project at this point. It has been a productive journey for all involved.

 

Vase ^6 soda.jpg

Vase (soda).jpg

Body reduction.jpg

Body Reduction Data.jpg

Soda Injection.jpg

Edited by Bill Kielb

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I would not mess with rebuilding that kiln when it dies. Those kiln have one 4.5" layer of bricks, backed up by something else. If it was made in Elk Grove Village, IL or Sturtevant, WI, that backup layer is vermiculite and Portland cement. If it was built in California, we don't know what it is. Any record of what they used prior to the move to Illinois was lost. It could be the same thing, it could be an asbestos material. Either way, it will be a bear to tear it out, and a bear to rebuild it. Working within a frame is not easy, and the angled walls of that model make it even more complicated. I would have the whole kiln body hauled away, and build a new kiln, re-using the burner system. Plus a new kiln could be built with a hard brick interior and soft brick exterior, which would provide greater durability and improved insulation compared to what you could do inside that frame.

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7 hours ago, neilestrick said:

I would not mess with rebuilding that kiln when it dies. Those kiln have one 4.5" layer of bricks, backed up by something else. If it was made in Elk Grove Village, IL or Sturtevant, WI, that backup layer is vermiculite and Portland cement. If it was built in California, we don't know what it is. Any record of what they used prior to the move to Illinois was lost. It could be the same thing, it could be an asbestos material. Either way, it will be a bear to tear it out, and a bear to rebuild it. Working within a frame is not easy, and the angled walls of that model make it even more complicated. I would have the whole kiln body hauled away, and build a new kiln, re-using the burner system. Plus a new kiln could be built with a hard brick interior and soft brick exterior, which would provide greater durability and improved insulation compared to what you could do inside that frame.

Maybe, Removal is probably inevitable. Bores indicate firebrick front and sides, rear wall is uncertain. Top appears to be standard vermiculite and refractory cement. Pretty simple kiln but select brick replacement is possible should they want to pursue that.  As far as reusing the burners they are the standard Alpine aweful ones imbeded slightly in the ports with no real flame retention nozzle to speak of so reusing these probably not a wise choice.

My guess extend service for a year or so with select brick replacement. At that point they need to debate relocation to a larger building and perhaps their new space would be more conducive and provide more sophisticated choices. Currently if they water inject they would need to add a great deal of designed exhaust and make up air so everything works well together as is  in a tight space and they do get spectacular results.

next change will likely be a large one.

Edited by Bill Kielb

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3 hours ago, Dick White said:

Bill, can you tell me more about the controller program. The picture appears to show it running on a Windows computer.

Thanks

dw

It’s actually simpler than that. We created the monitor using PLC stuff which is an industry staple. Industry has used this equipment for years so there are many really economical ways to do this now. Originally we needed to replace one of the old high limits on the soda Alpine and the quotes we received were in the 1-2k range . Well for less than that we could replace all and digitize the whole room using PLC touch screen stuff so that’s how we ended up creating this.

  • Picture 1 below is a shot of the very economical solo temperature controllers used as high limit and for their communications capability which started the whole thing. These are less than 50 bucks each I believe.
  • Picture 2 is the PLC and touch screen  installed in a simple electrical junction box ( no frills enclosure) all for underm1000 bucks as I recall.

the interesting part was all of these controls could act stand alone so at any point the user could simply fire using the digital temperatures in the picture and the monitor could be completely shut off. This allowed us to build gradually to our budget and even if something failed it was way better than the hand held pyrometer they were using to fire.

of course the monitor has super utility with a web server built in and all sorts of neat stuff too numerous to list. I have a long instructional video below you can  skip through, It is for the members. I am working on a shorter version showing how easy this actually was  to create and should put it up on the Madison Pottery you tube channel  in early January.

 

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Edited by Bill Kielb

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When I worked for Alpine one of the first things I did was change that burner design. I replaced the ceramic tips with a cast iron retention tip, pulled the whole system back, and lengthened the burner pipe. It's something you could do very easily, especially if you rebuild.

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