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Getting My Studio Kiln Up and Running


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#1 Benzine

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 06:33 PM

I am still currently in the process of, slowly, getting my studio set up, in my basement. As my wheel search is ongoing, I thought I'd focus on the piece of equipment, I actually have. The kiln was given to me, years ago, by one of my student teaching, cooperating teachers. It was, in turn, given to them, by a college.

As far as I know, it is in working order, but I have never plugged it in.

The kiln is a Skutt model # 231-18. The elements look OK, no sagging, or anything of the sort. Some of the brick is slightly damaged, and the kiln sitter is missing the "Seats" for the cones, but other than that, it looks to be in good shape.

So I have a couple questions. One, should I bother cementing the broken pieces of the bricks back in? They were saved, and given to me with the kiln. Second, should I take the cover(s) off the control panel and clean it out? The kiln just sat, in a couple garages and sheds for several years, so there is a good layer of dust in there. Third, the current plug end is huge, my Dad calls it "The Plunger", it has a four inch diameter. There is no harm in replacing that for a smaller version correct? Lastly, I noticed that some of the connector prongs, between two of the rings is visible, when they are stacked together. This concerns me a bit. Assuming I have the kiln stacked well, what would be the reason for this?

I had some other questions, but they escape me at the moment.

Thanks for you help.
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#2 AtomicAxe

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 10:25 PM

It won't hurt to cement the pieces back in with a nice refractory paste. The only thing that would overtly effect heating is major cracks in the brick, but you would see indications of that and the ones you would really want to cement back in will be along the rim of the kiln that meets with the lid of the kiln to provide an equal seal in heating. '

as for cleaning the control panel ... wouldn't hurt.

and the prong ... as long as the new plug is rated for the same load it shouldn't be a problem, just make sure it's professionally done ... you don't want to skimp on that.

I have no idea about the last concern.

#3 neilestrick

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 09:01 AM

Cementing the broken pieces probably won't hold well. Old bricks and cement don't generally bond that well, and you're likely to get cement on the elements, which is bad. If they're large enough, use element pins to hold them in place. If they're not big enough for pins, then they're not worth putting back.

Clean out the panel. It won't hurt.

You can replace the the plug with the proper amperage new plug. It's a pain to wrestle those thick wires, but you should be able to do it yourself.

Cone supports are easy to get, and cost about $7 per pair.

The interbox plugs need to be tight. You may have to loosen the boxes from the kiln to push them together. They are the weakest point in the system and often fail, especially if they are not tight. That's why they don't use them anymore. If one fails you'll have to replace them with a hardwired system.
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#4 Benzine

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 06:06 PM

Thanks for the help guys. Another question, the person, who gave me the kiln, gave me a lot of literature with it. Someone, along the line, was figuring out, what modifications they'd have to do to their electrical and such. One of the things they highlighted, was something about converting the kiln, from a three to one stage. If I'm to understand, three stage is the general set up for more of a commercial location, and one stage is more residential. So I'm wondering, if the kiln needs to be converted, for my home. How would I be able to tell this?
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#5 MichaelP

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 12:53 AM

Thanks for the help guys. Another question, the person, who gave me the kiln, gave me a lot of literature with it. Someone, along the line, was figuring out, what modifications they'd have to do to their electrical and such. One of the things they highlighted, was something about converting the kiln, from a three to one stage. If I'm to understand, three stage is the general set up for more of a commercial location, and one stage is more residential. So I'm wondering, if the kiln needs to be converted, for my home. How would I be able to tell this?

I suspect they converted it from 3-phase power to a single phase one. That's the one you'll have at home.

#6 Benzine

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 02:01 PM


Thanks for the help guys. Another question, the person, who gave me the kiln, gave me a lot of literature with it. Someone, along the line, was figuring out, what modifications they'd have to do to their electrical and such. One of the things they highlighted, was something about converting the kiln, from a three to one stage. If I'm to understand, three stage is the general set up for more of a commercial location, and one stage is more residential. So I'm wondering, if the kiln needs to be converted, for my home. How would I be able to tell this?

I suspect they converted it from 3-phase power to a single phase one. That's the one you'll have at home.


That's what I was guessing. I just don't know if a previous owner planned to convert it, or if they did.
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#7 MichaelP

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 03:06 PM



Thanks for the help guys. Another question, the person, who gave me the kiln, gave me a lot of literature with it. Someone, along the line, was figuring out, what modifications they'd have to do to their electrical and such. One of the things they highlighted, was something about converting the kiln, from a three to one stage. If I'm to understand, three stage is the general set up for more of a commercial location, and one stage is more residential. So I'm wondering, if the kiln needs to be converted, for my home. How would I be able to tell this?

I suspect they converted it from 3-phase power to a single phase one. That's the one you'll have at home.


That's what I was guessing. I just don't know if a previous owner planned to convert it, or if they did.

Can you make a close up photo of the kiln plug or read what's written there?

#8 Benzine

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 03:40 PM




Thanks for the help guys. Another question, the person, who gave me the kiln, gave me a lot of literature with it. Someone, along the line, was figuring out, what modifications they'd have to do to their electrical and such. One of the things they highlighted, was something about converting the kiln, from a three to one stage. If I'm to understand, three stage is the general set up for more of a commercial location, and one stage is more residential. So I'm wondering, if the kiln needs to be converted, for my home. How would I be able to tell this?

I suspect they converted it from 3-phase power to a single phase one. That's the one you'll have at home.


That's what I was guessing. I just don't know if a previous owner planned to convert it, or if they did.

Can you make a close up photo of the kiln plug or read what's written there?


The plug says A50 V250.
"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"

#9 MichaelP

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 10:44 PM

Does it say anything like 6-50P? A photo will help.


Is this what you have:

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#10 neilestrick

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 09:59 AM

Generally, if it's single phase it will be a 3 prong plug. Three phase will have a 4 prong plug. There are always exceptions to that rule, of course, especially if they did the rewiring themselves. To be sure of the setup, open up the control box and see how many hot leads are coming in. Two is single phase, and should go directly to the ceramic block on the sitter. 3 leads is three phase, and should go to a terminal strip. You should also have a ground hooked up to the box somewhere.

Kiln sitters only accept two leads, so if a sitter kiln is hooked up to 3 phase the sitter has to be wired to an external relay switch.
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