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JesseGolden

Cress - Change Thumb Wheel Relay for Automatic Relay

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Hi Team,

I purchased an old Cress B-1411 with 2x Thrumwheels and a kiln sitter. I went to bisque fire to cone 04 and after 14 hours and fully cranked it did not hit temp. 

I cranked the bottom thumb wheel, and see the indicator light on, and see the bottom coil become red hot. I also here the relay pulsing. When I crank the top thumb wheel the indicator light comes on but none of the coils become hot. I had an electrician friend come by and check the pulses. The top relay does not produce much of any output. I do not see any visual breaks in the coils. 

My first question is, based on these observations, can I accept that the top relay needs to be replaced? Why is only the bottom most coil getting hot vs. the bottom 2 or 3 (6 rows total)?

Ideally this kiln automatically increases its temperature vs. a thumb wheel. If I am going to have to replace one of these relays I would rather replace it with an automatic firing relay that has firing speeds. Is this an easy change or is adding a dial that has a firing speed complex and pricey? 

Any information / help would he great. Also, if you could let me know the best product to replace the broken pieces that would be amazing.

Thanks,
Jesse

Kiln_1.jpeg

Kiln-2.jpeg

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Call Cress. The thumbwheel complicates diagnosing problems on those kilns. And without a wiring diagram it's impossible to tell what's going on.

You cannot replace the relays with ones that will control the rate of climb. The relay is just a switch, something else has to tell the relay when to switch. If you want to go with an automatic/digital setup, then you'll need to invest in an external digital controller system. Those run $600-$800 depending on what brand you choose and what size kiln you have.

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50 minutes ago, JesseGolden said:

Thanks for the quick reply!

So the problem could be deeper than changing out one of these relays? I should call cress? 

I will stray away from the external digital controller system. That is too much.

It could be the thumb wheel, it could be the relays. Without being able to put a meter on it I can't say. As to why some elements come on and others don't, it could be because they're not getting power, either because of the thumb wheel or because of the relay, or there could be bad connections or the elements themselves could be fried. Without a wiring diagram I don't know what's hooked to what. It could also potentially be a problem with the sitter.

You need to trace the electrical path and see where the flow stops. If there's power going to the thumbwheel but not coming out, then it's a thumbwheel problem. If the power is getting to the relay but not coming out, then it's a relay problem.

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O shoot, I misnamed the dials. The kiln does not have a thumbwheel. It has two dials that go from zero - 100. 

I tracked the electricity and no electricity is coming out of the top dial - which I believe to now be called a relay? 

If I have seen that the power does not come out of this this piece. 

I was thinking of buying one of these $35 12V relays and swapping it out. Do you think that could be a good way to go? 

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15 hours ago, JesseGolden said:

O shoot, I misnamed the dials. The kiln does not have a thumbwheel. It has two dials that go from zero - 100. 

I tracked the electricity and no electricity is coming out of the top dial - which I believe to now be called a relay? 

If I have seen that the power does not come out of this this piece. 

I was thinking of buying one of these $35 12V relays and swapping it out. Do you think that could be a good way to go? 

I think you're just dealing with switches. Based on what I'm seeing on the photos that seems accurate. Call Cress and get the right ones. There are a lot of different versions out there.

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These look like infinite switches and match up to early Cress wiring. The pilot lights are wired to come on if the sitter is set and the timer is as well which is consistent with your pictures.

The switches are actually rheostats that allow you to slowly increase or decrease the power in the section (like a volume control  on a radio) Hence the zero to 100 on the front panel indicating  0%  - 100%. Power.

Neil is absolutely correct, call Cress and get the correct part. This kiln with near certainty, does not have any relays in it unless they were installed downstream of what I am seeing.

Edited by Bill Kielb

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16 hours ago, Bill Kielb said:

This kiln with near certainty, does not have any relays in it unless they were installed downstream of what I am seeing.

That was my thinking, too. When 'thumbwheel' was mentioned, that's a Cress thing for sure, but not visible in the pics. When 'relays' were mentioned, I just assumed we weren't seeing the whole thing. I think it's just switches, which is rare for Cress. They tend to put a lot more stuff in their control boxes.

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56 minutes ago, neilestrick said:

That was my thinking, too. When 'thumbwheel' was mentioned, that's a Cress thing for sure, but not visible in the pics. When 'relays' were mentioned, I just assumed we weren't seeing the whole thing. I think it's just switches, which is rare for Cress. They tend to put a lot more stuff in their control boxes.

I still think your post is best advice. If I look at the Cress B model manual and a typical picture from that era Cress used infinite switches  which are reflected in the picture and the cut from the general operating manual for the B series kilns. Call Cress or a Cress distributor seems like  extremely sound advice. Just an add, and I am sure you have replaced these in the past but I inserted a typical infinite style switch picture below. Very common on all types of early resistance heat stuff.

25A1CF75-F8D2-4B39-B96A-8D2A0EA1B7DC.jpeg

BE839E5A-C368-4711-B1E7-F48830CC3554.jpeg

EDA23D63-1350-459C-9848-B5A6E636DEFF.jpeg

Edited by Bill Kielb

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Bill and Neil, thank you both for your advice. I have ordered a new dial from Cress and waiting for it to arrive.

The only thing I am worried is if the elements are also busted. If that is the case I may scrap it.

Have a nice weekend!

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1 hour ago, JesseGolden said:

Bill and Neil, thank you both for your advice. I have ordered a new dial from Cress and waiting for it to arrive.

The only thing I am worried is if the elements are also busted. If that is the case I may scrap it.

Have a nice weekend!

If the bricks are in good condition, it's worth fixing the elements. Element replacement falls into the category of general maintenance, just like changing the oil in your car. You can check the element resistance with a multi-meter. A cheap $15 digital meter from the hardware store will work just fine. You'll just need to call Cress again and find out what the resistance should be.  Not only will it tell you if an element is broken or not, it will tell you how worn they are. Once the resistance is 10% off from factory original, the elements should be replaced.

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Hi Neil / Bill,

I just got the new switch from Cress and installed it. I am having the same problem as before. 

I got a meter to test where I am losing the charge, and it is once again, there is only a faint charge coming out of the top switch.  Do you think Cress sent me a faulty switch or this could be another problem? 

 

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54 minutes ago, JesseGolden said:

Hi Neil / Bill,

I just got the new switch from Cress and installed it. I am having the same problem as before. 

I got a meter to test where I am losing the charge, and it is once again, there is only a faint charge coming out of the top switch.  Do you think Cress sent me a faulty switch or this could be another problem? 

 

With the kiln sitter pressed in and the timer turned on and both switches turned to 100% can you measure the voltage of everything in the picture?

also if you can get me a picture of the nameplate showing wattage and any picture of your element wiring from the back, we likely can show you everything to test and what it should read in the future.

if you are still with this also with all power off, unplugged, infinite switches turned fully to zero,

resistance measured across #5 and resistance across #4 in the picture.

They should be less that 100 ohms if you are looking for a scale to set the meter to.

2019-02-08 (3).png

Edited by Bill Kielb

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@JesseGolden

Sorry have to run out, but I am pretty certain I found your wiring diagram. If this is the correct diagram,  it Looks like your elements are 30.6 Ohms measured at the infinite switches, they are in series. See diagram and picture below. Once you locate the bad set, move to the elements themselves, one is 20 Ohms in series with a second that is 10.6 ohms, totaling 30.6 ohms in series. Just like old Christmas lights if one is out in the set the other will not work either.

power off for all resistance measurements!

 

Good luck!

 

 

2127323198_2019-02-08(4).jpg.24bd6194ec8cecb1f4916f534cd20172.jpg

2019-02-08 (3)_LI.jpg

Edited by Bill Kielb

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I think the orginal thumbwheels had a time feature where one could travel back into the twilight zone. Just dial in the year and get inside.They only made a few of these so they are now coveted very much.The best part is they did not need much power to work only a really good imagination .

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1 minute ago, Mark C. said:

I think the orginal thumbwheels had a time feature where one could travel back into the twilight zone. Just dial in the year and get inside.They only made a few of these so they are now coveted very much.The best part is they did not need much power to work only a really good imagination .

These infinite switches have been used on stoves, quartz heaters, radiant heaters, all kinds of resistive heaters for fifty years everywhere. Still can get them - Robertshaw makes a sort of universal one for stoves. I think they top out at 25 amps, maybe less can’t remember.

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Hi team, I hope you had a nice weekend. I finally had some time to mess around with this thing. I bought the wrong voltage meter, so was not able to test the voltages Bill recommended.

Since the bottom dial was working for the bottom elements I switched the cords to the top element onto the working bottom dial. The top elements still did not work, and the bottom elements did. This makes me think both dials work, but the top elements do not! I have purchased a new set of elements from Cress and will try installing those.

Do you foresee any flaw in my reasoning? Any chance the new elements will still not work? 

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Seems ok, I would just measure and now that you suspect you should be able to see the broken element visually to confirm. Having reviewed your post the timeline seemed a bit off with respect to Cress delivering a switch within hours. Seems like you have it under control I think we have given you everything you will need to diagnose and repair.

Best of luck!

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It looks like a corner pin  to retain the element but the picture is fairly fuzzy. 

A cheap meter would allow you to easily test or if you are not comfortable with electrical diagnosis a quick call to your trusty kiln tech might be a wise choice. 

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