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A couple years ago, I got a  Duncan EA-820 manual kiln off of Craigslist. Paid about $50 for it. My garage was already wired with a 240v outlet, so I was excited to start exploring pottery. However, when I turned the kiln on, I heard a clicking so rapid, it would more aptly be described as a chattering.  After some basic troubleshooting and Googling, I found it was the relay which was clicking. Thinking, perhaps the relay was bad, I replaced it. The new one not only clicked repetitively, but promptly began to melt.

Frustrated, I moved on to another project and then life got in the way. My kids have recently developed a huge interest in pottery, so I'm giving the kiln another go. 

I've been able to find wiring diagrams online and everything internal to the kiln appears to be wired correctly. I've got a 240v outlet on a 40amp breaker with 8 guage wire, so that seems to be in line as well. 
 
Any idea what could be causing the relay to act this way? I'm stumped and before I go down a rabbit hole, I thought I would check to see if maybe I was missing something obvious or if anyone in the forum had gone through a similar experience. 
 
 

 

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Manual kiln with relays eh?  I don't think you need any relays if you've got a manual kiln...  At least my manual kiln didn't have any relays until I installed a controller.

I'm guessing the relays are burning up because they're getting juiced with 240v and they're meant to handle 12v, thats just my guess.  If you can post pictures of the circuitry it would be helpful

Edited by liambesaw

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I found a wiring diagram online

https://www.paragonweb.com/files/wiringdiagrams/W EA and DA 820-2 -4.pdf

Maybe compare to what you have... It.does have a relay.  Looks like it might not be the same as a typical kiln relay though which are powered by lower voltage.  If the original relay was clicking rapidly though, I'm thinking it might be an issue with the timers that control it?  Something to think about anyway

Edited by liambesaw

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8 hours ago, liambesaw said:

Manual kiln with relays eh?  I don't think you need any relays if you've got a manual kiln...  At least my manual kiln didn't have any relays until I installed a controller.

Thanks for the quick reply. My kiln may not technically be considered "Manual"...to be honest, I was just trying to throw in a little more jargon to sound like I knew what I was talking about.  :)  

8 hours ago, liambesaw said:

I found a wiring diagram online

https://www.paragonweb.com/files/wiringdiagrams/W EA and DA 820-2 -4.pdf

Maybe compare to what you have... It.does have a relay.  Looks like it might not be the same as a typical kiln relay though which are powered by lower voltage.  If the original relay was clicking rapidly though, I'm thinking it might be an issue with the timers that control it?  Something to think about anyway

Yes, that's the wiring diagram I've been working with and my kiln is wired to its specifications.  My next guess was that one (or both) of the timers might be malfunctioning.  Unfortunately, since Paragon has largely phased out Duncan parts, the replacements I'm finding online go for anywhere between $200-$350! 
I had hoped that maybe I was making some obvious mistake and that someone on here would tell me the equivalent of "No, you have to actually put the car into gear if you want it to drive." 

Oh well. I guess I"ll see if I can find some information about testing the timers.  

Thank you for your insight.      

Edited by TerryBerry

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5 hours ago, Mark C. said:

Duncan was bought up by Paragon kilns-call them and talk story-they are in Texas which may have 5  time zones as I heard its a BIG place

Yeah, it probably wouldn't hurt to give them a call. 

Luckily I'm from Arkansas so I don't need an interpreter when I talk to someone speaking Texan.  

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9 hours ago, TerryBerry said:

Yeah, it probably wouldn't hurt to give them a call. 

Luckily I'm from Arkansas so I don't need an interpreter when I talk to someone speaking Texan.  

It looks like later in life they got rid of the timers in favor of infinite switches. In the manual mode the 4300 timer is jumped out and the 4600 timer controls the double pole relay and top element be way of the relay. The 4600 timer  powers the double pole relay which disconnects power to the elements. Yes, you heard me right, disconnects. This relay has a high voltage primary and when Off provides power to the infinite switch and bottom elements, sort of. 

so no idea of what the sequence of operation of this was but scanning through their later models all of the timer and relays were replaced with simple infinite switches and pilot indicators (hooked to the “P” terminal). The manual and automatic switch seems to have gone away as well.

my best idea, talk to the Paragon guys and likely replace most of this mess with an infinite switch for the bottom elements.

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The only time I've heard  a relay chatter is when the 240 volt element feeder wires were connected to the relay where the low voltage control wires should have been connected. It would account for the melting, too. Make sure your wires are on the correct terminals on the relays.

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2 minutes ago, neilestrick said:

The only time I've heard  a relay chatter is when the 240 volt element feeder wires were connected to the relay where the low voltage control wires should have been connected. It would account for the melting, too. Make sure your wires are on the correct terminals on the relays.

His relay is a 240 v contactor style relay. This thing has two cycle timers, never seen anything like it. No 12v low voltage in this thing.

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2 minutes ago, Bill Kielb said:

His relay is a 240 v contactor style relay. This thing has two cycle timers, never seen anything like it. No 12v low voltage in this thing.

My bad. I didn't have a chance to read through all the specifics. Just got back from vacation. Could have the wrong relay, then. @TerryBerry what is the model of relay you're using?

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@Bill Kielb @neilestrick @High Bridge Pottery @liambesaw and @Mark C. 

Thank you all for the advice! I actually got it working!

I ended up disconnecting everything, testing the controllers, relay, even the continuity of the wires. Everything seemed to be in order, so I put it back together using the wiring diagram.  I also switched back to the original relay (since the new one had melted). And... magically it started working.

My best guess is that a wire was crossed somewhere or a connection was loose to begin with, and then the new relay wasn't a perfect match. Magnecraft no longer makes that exact relay, and it looks like the new one I bought from Schneider Electric was a little off in the percise specs (even though it was listed as a replacement for the older relay). 

At any rate it's humming right along now!  I just need to do some test firings and read up on kiln wash and all the maintenance I need to do to keep it in tip top shape. 

I really appreciate your help. Without it I'd probably still be staring helplessly at a partially disassembled kiln!  

 

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39 minutes ago, TerryBerry said:

@Bill Kielb @neilestrick @High Bridge Pottery @liambesaw and @Mark C. 

Thank you all for the advice! I actually got it working!

I ended up disconnecting everything, testing the controllers, relay, even the continuity of the wires. Everything seemed to be in order, so I put it back together using the wiring diagram.  I also switched back to the original relay (since the new one had melted). And... magically it started working.

My best guess is that a wire was crossed somewhere or a connection was loose to begin with, and then the new relay wasn't a perfect match. Magnecraft no longer makes that exact relay, and it looks like the new one I bought from Schneider Electric was a little off in the percise specs (even though it was listed as a replacement for the older relay). 

At any rate it's humming right along now!  I just need to do some test firings and read up on kiln wash and all the maintenance I need to do to keep it in tip top shape. 

I really appreciate your help. Without it I'd probably still be staring helplessly at a partially disassembled kiln!  

 

Glad you got it working! I'm thinking that the new relay had the wrong coil voltage, or it's possible that you just got a bad one. I recently had a batch of 12 relays that all died within 5 minutes of installation.

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So,  fun fact: my kiln isn't fixed after all. 

It started chattering again, and a user manual for the kiln that I found online confirmed that the repeat cycle timer is bad.  Both timers are supposed to be changed together. So I'm looking at about $225. Plus these parts haven't been manufactured in 20 years, so they aren't used, but definitely aren't new. 
 
The two timers and the relay work together to put the kiln through a preheating phase. They cause the elements to turn on and off every 60 seconds for two hours. After two hours the elements stay on until reaching temp and the kiln sitter cuts power or the safety timer runs out. 
 
On 3/28/2019 at 5:47 PM, Bill Kielb said:

my best idea, talk to the Paragon guys and likely replace most of this mess with an infinite switch for the bottom elements.

I like Bill's suggestion to get rid of the timers and relay in favor of simply wiring up a second infinite switch directly to the bottom elements. It might take some practice to ensure even firing, but makes more sense to me, and would ultimately provide more control. The preheating phase would be eliminated,  but would starting the kiln on low and gradually turning up the infinite switches accomplish something akin to it?

 
Has anyone tried something similar? Any major pitfalls I should watch out for? Is this great idea or just a fool's notion and I should just fork up the $$ for the parts? 

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I would put together a few shopping lists.  One for fixing it as is, one for doing infinite switches, and one for putting in a Bartlett v6cf and going full control.

You might find that the price difference between the three may be worth going digital (IF YOU ARE COMFORTABLE)

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I think the infinite switches are the relay (less) solution  which you should be able to effect for minimal $$$ and for which you could develop your own simple schedule such as lid propped, bottom on low for 1 hr to dry things out then whatever midfire  and highfire schedules  you prefer such as both sections low for 1 hr, both medium for  ....... then high for .....

At our studio we glaze fire typical stuff in five to seven hours every day  and 04 bisque to  about 14 hrs plus any preheat. Since this is basically a manual kiln  you already have a schedule you are use to so it’s just a matter of coming up with a slow warmup that’s slow and safe enough for your stuff.

As Liam said automating this does have its advantages and I believe he is satisfied with his end result and not having to revisit the kiln every few hours to turn it up. We gave him minimal input but I believe he worked everything out to his satisfaction pretty easily.

automation will require some relays though  so $$$$$$$ and additional future maintenance on the relays.

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19 minutes ago, liambesaw said:

I would put together a few shopping lists.  One for fixing it as is, one for doing infinite switches, and one for putting in a Bartlett v6cf and going full control.

You might find that the price difference between the three may be worth going digital (IF YOU ARE COMFORTABLE)

Coming soon as promised ....... solid state relay design for three zone cone art is done,  Less  than 200.00 per kiln and has redundant lid safety switches! Working on the video right now.

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Thanks for the advice.  I was surprised to find that the cost of a V6cf was comparable to replacing the relays.

Looking at all my options,  I'm going to  go with the 2nd switch for now. I'm one of those guys that still smokes brisket using charcoal and babysitting the dampeners for 9 hours. So Saturdays will just become my Smoke & Fire days-- when I spend all day smoking ribs and firing clay. Plus if I start out with a manual kiln,  then when I finally make the switch to digital,  I'll appreciate it that much more.

I'll update the thread once I get everything copacetic. 

 

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1 minute ago, TerryBerry said:

Thanks for the advice.  I was surprised to find that the cost of a V6cf was comparable to replacing the relays.

Looking at all my options,  I'm going to  go with the 2nd switch for now. I'm one of those guys that still smokes brisket using charcoal and babysitting the dampeners for 9 hours. So Saturdays will just become my Smoke & Fire days-- when I spend all day smoking ribs and firing clay. Plus if I start out with a manual kiln,  then when I finally make the switch to digital,  I'll appreciate it that much more.

I'll update the thread once I get everything copacetic. 

 

Sometimes mastering the manual part is a lost art but provides a deep practical knowledge of what is going on and how it can be achieved. Manual works fine, nothing wrong with that.

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Got the new infinite switch installed and on the first pass it seems to be working.  All the elements come on and heat up just fine. Still got some testing to do,  but it looks like we're on the right path!

Thanks again for sharing your advice!

IMG_20190518_163005_552.jpg

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