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Hi all,

I haven't been able to find any firing instructions for my old AIM kiln.  Even the folks at AIM said they didn't have any :huh: .  So I'm left with power dials that go from 1 to 10, and no idea how that translates into temperature.  I'd like to be able to test this kiln without spending money on a temperature gauge/controller only to discover that what I really need is a new kiln.  I have a bunch of different low fire cones, and was thinking of using them as a visual guide for reaching temperatures, but the more I think about it the more I imagine endless permutations of dial-adjustments matched to cone-slumps and time-monitoring.  Am I crazy to think I could do a ramp/soak firing without having even a temperature gauge?

 

Thanks,

Matt

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I assume it doesn't have a sitter? Cones are all you need. Use the cone you're firing to, plus the cone before it and the cone after it as warnings. You could even add in the cone several cones before as a bigger warning. If you're firing to cone 04, use an 08, 05, 04 & 03.

 

The numbers on the dials don't really equate to temperature. The longer you leave it at any one number, the hotter the kiln will get (to a point). Chances are it won't get up to the desired temperature until it's turned all the way up, or very close. For bisque I'd just go on 1 for an hour, then 3 for an hour, then 6 for an hour, then 10 till the cone bends. For a glaze firing you can probably go 3 & 6 for an hour each, then 10 till the cone bends.

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Neil,

Fortunately it does have a kiln sitter, so I don't have to worry about the final temp.  My concern has been about the qualitative need for ramping and soaking.  I've seen many firing schedules emphasizing a specific rate of increase over time.  I'm getting the feeling that there may be a bit of hysteria in those.  Can I infer the same from you?

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M;

If you have a sitter, you are laughing.

For bisquing, I set my kiln on low for two hours. In your case, this would be 3.

After the two hours raise your dial to 6-7 for an hour, then on 10 for the remainder of time.

Usual bisque temp is around cone 06, not SIX! Time elapsed for bisque is less than 8 hours, depending on how densely packed you load.

For a low fire glaze, say cone 04, it's about the same time-eight hours. The slower you go, the better the glazes to a point. No more than 12 hours.

Put witness cones in front of the middle spy hole as Neil suggests.

If your kiln is REALLY slow, you need to replace the elements.

TJR.

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You can guess at  ramping and guess at holding with an old manual kiln. Without a digital pyrometer you are almost blindfolded.

For less than $75 you copyuld get adigital pyro then you would know exactly what the temps are.

If soaking and ramping are what you need to do I suggest another newer kiln-if straight firing  to bisque and low fire glaze temps then your kiln should work fine.

I have no Hysteria about old kilns as I have a few.

Mark

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There is a certain degree of hysteria about ramping times. Everyone has their own schedule and thinks it work the best. Of course, none of this mattered before digital kilns. We just fired till the cone bent and we were happy with that. I find that the cooling rate has a greater effect on my glazes than the rate going up, and that's where a digital kiln is handy. that's not to say that you can't make great work without a digital kiln, though. Work with what you've got until you find it limits you, then think about upgrading.

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I have also recently fired with an old manual kiln. I bisque fired some clayheads made by schoolchildren. I had it on 1 overnight, the next morning I had it on 2 for 2 hours and then on 4,but the control only work at 1 after that on 2 or 3 or whatever I put it it just  keeps on heating up until it reaches the yellow -orange stage and I had cone 04 inside on the top and bottem shelves. I had the lid 1 inch open for the first 2 hours when I went home I closed the lid but I left both peepholes open during the entire firing. When the cone dropped on the top shelf I let it soak for +_ 15 minutes then I switched it off, closed both peepholes and forget about it for about 2 days.Everything came out perfectly even one head with a cracked ear came out with its ear still in place. I was pleasantly surprised. I think the slow heating up is very important.

 

Now I have so much confidence I want to try glaze firing !!

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One thing to be cautious about...going blind. Adelaide Robineau's husband, Samuel, fired her crystalline glazes by eye. He went blind from cataracts. It is hard to judge temperature by eye through safety goggles. be careful.

Use cones, and watch them with safety glass or goggles.

After several firings you will know how often to check and when to expect to be finished.

Marcia

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Get a good printed temp/color gauge. This will help you with the temperatures you are at without a cone. At the same time, I can usually tell how hot the kiln is just by walking into the studio that only has one window. Day or night, I can see a line of kiln light when I am nearing cone 6 that shows around the studio from the small crack between lid and kiln. The color changes to bright yellow orange as I approach cone 6. When glaze firing, if you want to have a little more soak just turn back the kiln a bit when approaching your glaze temp.

 

I fire completely by eye. I use cones angled perpendicular to the length of the cone pack, and place the pack so that all cones can be seen as they fall. Using goggles is really big!

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