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Step Two: Buying A Used Studio


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#1 Bradleysonofhagen

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 05:39 PM

First, I must say thank you to all who gave sound advice a couple of weeks back about my brent vs. bailey wheel decision. I actually held back on both and was blessed with the opportunity to pick up a steady 6 yr. used thomas stuart legend wheel for a song. Now I am looking to answer my kiln needs. Seeing how I am starting my first studio I am sticking to my guns with used equipment. I am on the hunt for a good size electric or gas kiln. I am currently not going to be going any higher than /\ 6, but I would rather not be limited, although I can't be to picky about used equipment. I know a few questions to ask like age of kiln, last time fired, last time elements were replaced etc. What I don't know is the severity of certain issues. For example: if an electric kiln hasn't been fire in 3 to 4 years, then what are the impending problems to come? If a kiln has quarter sized chips in the brick and no cracks, then what kind of problems could happen and what is the cost of repair?

I ask this specifically because I might have found an exceptional opportunity. I met a fella looking to get rid of a slew of potter's equipment and resources. He wants to clean out his basement and isn't looking to line his pockets,vjust wants to make a little scratch. From what I have seen through photos he has: large oval top load electric kiln, pug mill, fat stack of bats, foot pedals for wheels, motors for wheels and few clay and glaze resources.

I should find out soon what the brands are of the equipment. None of the items look to be in great shape, but for the right price they might be worth snagging. So I ask you kind people for some smart buying advice. I am cool with you all saying I am dummy for going strictly used, just make a sound point for it.

BradleysonofHagen

#2 TJR

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 06:08 PM

Bradley;

I would stay away from the oval kiln. They are large and have a tendency to have cold spots.

2. Do not buy any foot pedals or motors.

3.Stick with what you know..

All you need at this point is a used kiln for around $700.00.

4.Bats would br good if they fit your wheel, otherwise more kaka to take up space.

5.A bargain is only a bargain if you know the value of something and can use it.

6.No offence, but it sounds like this guy wants to off load his junk on you.

7. Been there man. I am now cleaning out 15 years of junk at my mother-in-law's garage. All my stuff. Three unworkable wheels, 3 different wheel heads, broken electric kiln ,kiln shelves.

8. Save your back, and say "no!"

TJR.



#3 Bradleysonofhagen

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 06:42 PM

The other side of me is saying what you are saying TJR. For all of my adult life I have avoided taking on excess "stuff." By the way TJR, are you the fella on craigslist who is trying to dish this stuff out. Similar story. Just saying.

Seriously, thank you for your wise and practical words.

#4 TJR

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 09:00 AM

The other side of me is saying what you are saying TJR. For all of my adult life I have avoided taking on excess "stuff." By the way TJR, are you the fella on craigslist who is trying to dish this stuff out. Similar story. Just saying.

Seriously, thank you for your wise and practical words.

Bradly;

I am not the same guy. I do not look at craigslist or go to garage sales. I am a bit of a packrat-so must avoid purchasing any projescs.

I have never walked past a 2x4 in a back lane that I didn't pick up with the hopes of finding a use for it.

T.



#5 neilestrick

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 09:29 AM

Don't necessarily avoid the oval. It may or may not have cold spots. My electric is twice the size of an oval and it doesn't have cold spots. The biggest problems with oval kilns can be the lid. Make sure it has good supports when open, and make sure the hinge is large enough to support it well. Some brands have ridiculously small hinges for the size of the lid, which makes the wall bricks shift and crack. You can beef up the hinge attachments with sheet steel, but it's a couple hours work to do so.

 

Whatever kiln you get, make sure it's set up for the same voltage and phase you have at your studio. If the elements look good, they probably are. If the look at all corroded from sitting unused, or the coils are starting to lay over, then they probably need replacing. That's not necessarily a deal breaker, though, if you get a good price on the kiln. Open up the control panel and check the wiring connections for corrosion, and bend some wires to see fi they're still soft. If they're stiff or crack when you ben them, they should be replaced. Again, not a deal breaker, since a new wiring harness is pretty cheap on most kilns. If the bricks look clean, aren't turning dark/ orange, then a few small chips are not a big deal. Large breaks where the elements can flop out are an issue, and those bricks should be replaced when you change the elements. New bricks are around $11 each.

 

It all comes down to how much it's all worth to you.

 

TJR is right about the 'stuff'. If you don't need it right now, don't get it. Every year a purge a bunch of stuff from my shop that I swore I would probably need at some point.


Neil Estrick
Kiln Repair Tech
L&L Distributor
Owner, Neil Estrick Gallery, LLC
www.neilestrickgallery.com

neil@neilestrickgallery.com

#6 Mark C.

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 03:36 PM

(foot pedals for wheels, motors for wheels and few clay and glaze resources. )

just remember-he did not need or use this stuff so you most likely will not either.

Just be real selective to get only what you need and plan on using. Any of those foot pedels old brents??

Mark


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#7 Stephen

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Posted 19 August 2013 - 10:27 AM

It sounds like you might be getting a little ahead of yourself. All of your purchases new or used really should involve research on each individual item before you start looking. 

 

As an example, you mentioned gas or electric kiln, either would be considered. IMHO,  there are a lot of considerations and a lot of research that needs to happen if you are going to run a gas kiln. You may well ultimately want an electric for your biscuit ware and gas for glazing. Electric is much cheaper to fire so this is a common setup. I think often folks will start electric for both bisque firing and cone 6 glaze and then may switch to gas for glazing down the road but of course you could just as easy start there and save a lot of trouble re-outfitting but how does it match up with what you plan on doing. Gas is usually cone 10-12 and electric is generally cone 6 or lower. Although a lot of electric kilns are rated to cone 10 they usually need to be outfitted with some heavier elements and such to really fire to cone 10 on a regular basis and hold up and even then wear out much more quickly at cone 10 so this means that this decision involves two different glaze choices. Do you want it outfitted with a kiln sitter? Do you want an electronic controller. Older kilns may be able to upgraded to this but at what cost? If gas, front load or top load? Updraft or down draft? Gas is usually reduction and electric is Oxidation, here's a good link on the site discussing this:

 

http://ceramicartsda...-electric-kiln/

 

and there is a difference in how you do everything based on these choices.

 

You have made your wheel choice but some other considerations will be things like using or not using a pugmill. If you decide to use one then should it be de-airing? How big should it be? Should it also mix? Slab roller or dough pin? Are you going to do any slab work? What about an extruder? If yes, wall mount or hand unit? My point is everything should get some consideration. We are currently reviewing our bat system. Plastic, plaster, wood composite etc.

 

Each decision about everything seems to affect something else so I guess I think just buying out a bunch of used stuff from a basement, even if everything turns out to be top notch and usable equipment will just plop a bunch of stuff in front of you and essentially all decisions will just be made for you.

 

I think you should pass and work more on your list and then shop them instead of just picking up whatever.

 

Could very well work out just fine of course and since its all used you can just change it later, but will you? Also, at least to me, a lot of the fun in this is tailoring the approach to fit you and you're aspirations as a potter. 

 

Anyway just a thought, either way good luck with it all and enjoy!



#8 Stephen

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Posted 19 August 2013 - 10:33 AM

As far as new versus used, well you get exactly what you define as your needs if you buy new and as you mentioned you might have to make concessions if you can't source the used item you want in the time frame wanted.

 

It will likely last longer as well.






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