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Mark C.

Price Of Fuel Slowing Anyone Down?

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The news every night is about propane prices to the moon in the eastern 1/2-now down to Florida.

Wonder if inflated fuel prices is keeping anyone from firing propane kilns now?

Well maybe its to cold to be firing propane kilns now?

Mark

ChenowethArts likes this

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Mark, Count me in as seriously interested in the responses here.  I am in the planning stages of a kiln build and firing costs may impact the size of the build and even more consideration to a shift from cone 10 to cone 6 glazes.

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I'm considering doing some bisques with wood in the noborigama.  I used to do that .... but it is a "thankless" task.  The real issue is that the wood ash settles on the work, and it sticks JUST enough thaty you have to scrape/dust off all of the pots before glazing.  LOTS of extra labor.  Really... propane is likey cheaper when the labor is considered..... but filling that big tank HURTS!

 

The noborigama is VERY efficient in the use of fuel if I want it to be...... so a bisque uses very little wood for a lot of ware.

 

I for sure will try to hold off on bisquig as long as I can so that I can hold off on refilling the tank as long as possible ion the hope that the price will go down a lot before I have to do that.

 

best,

 

.........................john

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I'm hoping the price will ease when the weather warms. It takes about 756 gal to fire my cone 10and the glazes are what sells my work. I don't see going to all electric or ^6.

It only takes about another 1.5 hrs after ^6 down to get to ^10 so I'm not seeing a 35 gal use in the last 1.5 hrs, I wish it were.

The local cafe just bought proPAIN last Saturday at $2.95/gal and maybe $4/gal soon. The last I bought was $1.75.

I've got 2 firings supply in my tank now, I'll hold off till warmer weather and build up a bisk stockpile for spring to fire & rebuy.

Wyndham

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Not to stir up to much jelsouly, but I work for a not-for-profit healthcare organization and get to buy my personal propane at the hospital rate... $1.35 /gal. Maks the 200 gal fill not to painful. The tanks lasts for 5-7 firings in my 27cf kiln. Cheers!

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I too am not seeing a huge difference between cone 6-and 10 in my kiln-its about another 2-3 hours max.Now I'm on Natural gas so I start with a lower cost than propane. Out west  here we have not seen any price spikes yet.

With fuel costs on the rise I posted this to see what those affects may be.

JBaymore likes this

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I was reading a Ceramics Monthly oct. 1980 Price$1.50. Oneof  the questions answered was on moving from C9 to C5/6 firings due to firing costs.

Joe Cooper Pincherry pottery wsas cited and a couple of his recipes.. nothing changes!

ALso in anothe CM there was Hal Reigger, sp??, firing up a kiln with siscarded tyres form the desert highway!

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john, since I am totally nieve about wwod, can you one fire a norigama for your wares?

 

Pres,

 

Some of the wares I make I do already single fire in the noborigama.  All of the yakishime (unglazed) shizenyu (natural ash accumulation) pieces go in that way for sure .  A COUPLE of my local materials glazes are formulated to green-glaze....mainly for chawan.  But the majority of my glazes /effects/ surface treatment are based around bisque wares.

 

I am not enough of a glutton for punishment to want to try at this point in my career (and ...ahem..... "mature" age) to shift over to once -firing everything. 

 

Afditionally while we all complain about fuel prices and electric prices (the OTHER fuel), materials are really a small part of the costs of doing business when compared to the labor costs.  So likly all of us will juet "bite the bullet".

 

best,

 

....................john

 

PS:  Sometime I do bisque in the last chamber......... no stoking required at all.  In fact have to let cold air into the flow hold it back.

Pres likes this

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Kind of off-topic, but has to do with fuel prices....

 

Yesterday, Jeff Chown from Blaauw Kilns came to our class and did a powerpoint regarding the innovations in kiln firing tech that they are now implementing in industrial ceramics (since all of our current ceramics-related tech has been passed down to us from industry).  I was very surprised to see that with the way these kilns are being designed these days, energy/fuel consumption will be drastically reduced.  

 

Jeff gave some examples comparing old, updraft hard-brick kilns to the new fiber kilns and there was something like a ridiculous 75% fuel savings for the same firing results.  Some of these kilns in industry (depending on what's inside) can be fired (AND COOLED) in a 14hr period to ^10!!!!!  

 

I know that I personally will never be able to afford one of these beauties, but man has kiln tech come a LONG way in the past decade or two.  If you're looking for a serious way to save on fuel costs, cough up some dough in the beginning and watch the savings add up with each firing!

 

I'm still in amazement with what was presented to us...

Karen B likes this

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Fiber is pretty amazing -I lined my side walls with it as well as the car kiln door-but it also has some downsides for us potters

My experince is that if you line your lid and it fails or flakes thats a disaster on glaze ware.

I lined my arch once and now its back to soft brick.

Fiber once fired is stiff and cannot be moved without some damage-so if you have a fiber kiln and need to move it in your lifetime expect some issues

The button system that holds fiber to walls  is the weak link and tends to fail 1st before any fiber issues.

so get this part done right.

 

and last its not good for areas that get touched like wood or salt or soda kilns-It abrades easy so its use is linmited in some of or uses.

It excells in tunnel and large car kilns for fast up and down cycles.

Mark

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Fiber is pretty amazing -I lined my side walls with it as well as the car kiln door-but it also has some downsides for us potters

My experince is that if you line your lid and it fails or flakes thats a disaster on glaze ware.

I lined my arch once and now its back to soft brick.

Fiber once fired is stiff and cannot be moved without some damage-so if you have a fiber kiln and need to move it in your lifetime expect some issues

The button system that holds fiber to walls  is the weak link and tends to fail 1st before any fiber issues.

so get this part done right.

 

and last its not good for areas that get touched like wood or salt or soda kilns-It abrades easy so its use is linmited in some of or uses.

It excells in tunnel and large car kilns for fast up and down cycles.

Mark

There is fibre board but I guess you're talking about curved spaces, again it doesn't travel well. Fibre blanket gets pretty dangerous forthe potter as it ages, prob a treatmetn you could paint/spray onto it.

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Fiber and low mass refractories have been in use in industry for YEARS. As have high velocity burners.

 

These Blaauw Kilns are certainly fantastic.... but the pricetag is also huge. John Neely just put in one of these units out a the college in Utah.... got a grant for it ... and he mentions the pricetag came in at around $40,000.00.

 

You have to do a LOT of firing to get the payback, even with rising fuel costs. For induistry and schools with large programs.... makes sense.  Do the math before jumping in.

 

Also.... the "bad rap" that fiber gets / got with craft potters is that they tended to try to use fibre to build stoneware kilns based on their experiences with brick kiln units...and also the fast firing little wire mesh raku kilns that work so well in THAT context. They are compeltely different beasts. One KEY aspect of fiber is that it is gas permeable to AIR. So unless you seal the kiln casing to be airtight with high temperature epoxy coating on the steel sheet jacketing...... air leaks in and hot gases leak out. Cools like a rock falling off the cliff. Partiicularly when you add in the lack of very much heat energy stored in the thermal mass of the kiln walls.

 

This general type of kiln was available to craft potters back in the 70's. Look up a unit called the Kkiln (I think it had the two K's there.... or it was two Ls..... or two N's). Fiber lining and a single high velocity burner fired down from the top. Great instrumentation. Beautiful kilns.  It never took off........ potters would not PAY for it.

 

Also look in Regis Brodies old book on "Energy Efficient Kilns" from the 70's.  Same concepts shared there.  Great book.  Few paid attention then.

 

Another "bad rap" fiber got was the linings deteriorating. Fiber kilns these days are not typically build of layers of blankets. They are made out of compressed fibre modlue blocks that do not shrink the same way that blanket does. SOmetimes they have fiber board hot face linings. They also are made out of higer rating fibre than potters tried to use; the old trick of using 2300 F insulating firebrick for cone 9 and getting away with it caused potters to try to use 2300 F fibre for kiln linings. It doesn't work for cone 9.

 

best,

 

..................john

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Thanks John.

My old gas kiln, buikt in the  80s, a Kamel kiln ,was built with ceramic fibre blanket, top loading and as Mark menitoned the porcelain studs holding the blanket didn't, the lid and wall fibre sagged and flaked onto the pots, Had to pack welll away from sides,and fire with an empty top shelf to hold fibre in place. one burner, downdraught

Could never slow it down enough in the initial stages to bisque any platters or large stuff, and it cooled rapidly, not so worrying here in Aus, but did get my fair share of dunting in plates and platters.

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