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Buying A Gas Kiln

gas kiln

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#1 Lisl

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 10:06 AM

I have decided to take the leap and build my own studio. I want to put in a front load gas kiln and would like input. I searched the forums and unless I missed it, I couldn't find much on gas kilns, so forgive me if this topic has already been addressed. I have been looking at the Olympic DD12 and the Bailey Front Load Standard 18/12 and I have also talked to Seattle Pottery about their Crucible front load kiln. The Bailey is about twice the price of the Olympic and the Crucible. My plan is to have an attached shed on the studio in which to put the kiln. I live in Montana so it will need to be protected from the weather. I figured it would be better to decide on the kiln so I can know what size to make the shed - area and ceiling height. I would appreciate any thoughts, experiences and ideas. Thanks.



#2 JBaymore

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 11:34 AM

The Bailey is about twice the price of the Olympic and the Crucible.

 

There is a reason for that. "You get what you pay for". The Bailey is a better commercial unit.

 

You'll get the most "bang for the buck" with a site-built unit .......... but if you don't know how to do that you'd be best off hiring someone to build it. It'll still be 'more for the money'.

 

best,

 

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


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#3 Lisl

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 12:34 PM

If having a kiln built is not an option, what would people recommend? I live out of city limits with grass fields all around and neighbors not too close, but close enough if a fire got started - thus I am a bit paranoid on the safety aspects. 

 

Thanks for any and all comments.



#4 neilestrick

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 12:56 PM

In addition to the cost of the kiln, you'll need the proper venting setup for a gas kiln, at the very least a hood and natural draft vent. These are usually custom built and can cost several thousand dollars, although some kiln manufacturers have the hood available with the kiln. Also remember the cost of either plumbing the natural gas lines or the cost of a large propane tank.

 

It should sit on a reinforced concrete slab. Kilns are heavy, and on commercial kilns most of the weight comes down on the four corners of the stand, not spread throughout the entire base of the kiln like a built-on-site model. Make sure your slab can handle it.

 

Also realize that shipping is going to cost a fair amount, like maybe $800 or more, and you'll need a pallet jack, or possibly a forklift (depending on the size) to unload it form the truck and move it into place. Make sure you can get it from the truck to its spot in the studio. When I sell large front load L&L kilns we go through a 4 page checklist before ordering and measure every doorway and hallway from the truck to the studio to make sure the kiln can get to it's new home. It'll cost you a fair amount to send the kiln back or modify your structure to fit it in.

 

Bailey builds a nice kiln, although I think all their little fume collection covers are mostly just a marketing gimmick. But they fire well and seem to last a long time.I would go with a single large hood that extends beyond the kiln and captures waste heat as well as fumes. 

 

Personally, I'm a big fan of power burners. They don't require tall chimneys and have fewer draft/air problems.

 

From a safety standpoint, any commercial kiln is going to have safety systems that prevent overfiring. You'll just have to make sure that there's enough space around the kiln and adequate venting to keep it from overheating your space. 


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#5 Mark C.

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 01:20 PM

Before talking brands I would like to know your planned use
Full time potter
Just having fun
Or something else?
This will help me recommend a brand
Also how large cubic foot wise are you thinking?.
Mark on Molokai
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#6 neilestrick

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 01:51 PM

Make sure you're allowed to have a gas kiln where you live. Don't try to do it in secret- it's a big investment wasted if you get shut down. Follow all the zoning and building code rules. If you're planning on selling the pieces you make, then the zoning rules change as soon as you make enough from it to count it on your taxes. Hobbyists are often allowed to have things at their house that businesses aren't, like big gas kilns. It'll all depend on where you live, so do your homework and make sure everything is legal. Being outside the city limits there may not be any rules, but make sure before you invest any money into this project.

 

Being in Montana, you should have no problem finding someone to build a kiln on site. Just call the Bray. I know a couple of folks in Bozeman that may be able to help you out if needed. Brick and steel work can be done in a couple of days, and just buy the burners from Ward and you're good to go.


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#7 bciskepottery

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 02:20 PM

If you are looking at building your own, or someone building for you, you might take a look at Mel Jacobson's book/dvd, 21st Century Kilns. Includes plans for the Minnesota Flat-top kiln. Good resource.

http://www.21stcenturykilns.com/

#8 neilestrick

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 02:50 PM

If you know how to weld, you can build a kiln. If you don't know how to weld, you can learn the basics in an hour with a $200 welder.


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#9 Lisl

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 04:38 PM

Thanks for all the input. The reason I was looking at a commercial kiln is the safety factor. If hand built kilns are just as safe and reliable, then I will have to rethink my options. Right now I am just a hobby potter - it is how I spend my days when kids are in school. I go to a local studio and work, but I am getting to the point where I want to have more control of things - like the clay I use, the glazes I use and the firing schedule. As far as welding, I come from a farm family - lots of welders available - my 13 yr old son even learned to weld last summer. I am planning on building a little studio, so at this point I can build to accommodate the equipment. If I build a kiln, where is the best place to get the bricks? I think I will have to make a trip to the Bray and pick some brains there also.

 

Again, I appreciate everyone's comments. Please keep them coming. What a great resource this forum is.



#10 neilestrick

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 08:47 AM

The best place to buy bricks is wherever they're cheapest. Start shopping around. Google "insulating fire brick" and you'll find lots of options. If you can get them locally you'll save on shipping. Might be able to get seconds at a lower price. Used bricks work fine if they're not broken.


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#11 Jend3

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 01:32 PM

I also would like to buy a gas kiln. For me it would be a hobby , producing pottery for myself and friends. I also would like a front loader . I wonder what experience potters have had with Geil? I see they have a less expensive fiber kiln that might work for me. I placed a call to Geil to inquire about purchasing a kiln and attending a workshop they were offering and received no response.

#12 schmism

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 04:30 PM

so why don't more people build small ones like Simon leach does out of old electric kilns.   The studio I take classes at uses 2 smaller converted electric kilns to do raku firings in.

 

IT would seem that for that type of setup you could plan for a nice weekend, set it up on the back padio, fire it up under the stars and get a decent cone 10 redux done once or twice a year.  (when your done you roll everything back into the garage and put the patio furniture back)

 

Obviously if your going to do more than that it would make sence to have a "proper" setup.... but for most hobbiest why isnt the above recommended more?



#13 bciskepottery

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 07:18 PM

"plan a nice weekend, set it up on the back padio, fire it up under the stars and get a decent cone 10 redux done once or twice a year. (when your done you roll everything back into the garage and put the patio furniture back)"

Somehow, I get a feeling one's neighbors are not going to be as enamored with the roar of two weed burners cranked up all night long (and Simon uses weed burners in his kiln).

"but for most hobbiest why isnt the above recommended more?"

I would venture to say most hobby potters rely on others to fire their work . . . either at a community studio, classroom environment, or other. For many, the choice between electric and gas (natural or propane) likely comes down to comfort level, safety concerns, and neighborhood relations. Most can come to feel comfortable with an electric kiln (the analogy being it is just a big toaster). You can fire one in your garage and the neighbors are unaware. Raku . . . well, the whole neighborhood is going to find out once the smoke starts (and possibly even before due to burner noise); hopefully you've gotten a permit from the fire department or they will also know once they arrive to put out the flames. Firing a home-based gas/propane kiln . . . takes a bit more skill and has a learning curve to ensure consistent results, people seem to be a bit more hesitant using gas/propane as they see it as a potentially more volatile fuel source. And, again make sure your neighbors don't mind or you'll find yourself dealing with homeowners and the fire department. Plus, some communities (like the county I live in) regulate the heck out of gas/propane kilns -- mostly because they don't understand them.

That said, the medium use Geil fiber kiln sure looks sweet . . . and it comes on rollers. Just the kiln for rolling out and firing it up under the stars . . . neighbors and local government inspectors permitting, of course.

#14 Mark C.

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 03:15 AM

I would avoid the trash can ( round like electric kilns) and get a front loading gas kiln
The small round ones are to hard to fire evenly
Down drafts at least for me are better than up drafts for even firing
Brands like Geil and Bailey are a better designed and made product. Will fire more even and have a higher resale value.
It's as John said above you get what you pay for.
There has been many a thread on trying to fire an even trash can gas kiln
I think in just pure frustration level alone the better brands are worth it

I have never seen a giel that did not work well.
I have a professional potter friend who has the Olympic car kiln and will say he would never get another one if he knew now what he did not know when purchasing it. The way it's made as well as support with trouble issues from poor design.
I do not know a thing about Bailiy other than his slab rollers are great as those kilns are just not seen on the west coast as they are made on the other coast.

Mark

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#15 Lisl

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 11:09 AM

Does anyone have any experience with Seattle Pottery's Crucible gas kilns? They will make to order.

 

Another question I have is whether or not you should insulate the kiln shed? Pros and cons of having just a shed vs having a separate kiln room that is insulated. My plan is to have a room about 15 x 15 ft with a 5 x 7 ft garage door to the outside.



#16 Mark C.

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 02:47 PM

I looked at their web site are these updraft or down draft that was not mentioned
I,m sticking to my 1st post suggestions
Mark
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