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Member Since 04 Oct 2011
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#107077 2 Chambered Kiln?

Posted by neilestrick on 17 May 2016 - 01:54 PM


The Minnesota Flat Top design is not any simpler to build than an arch. In fact, I would say it's more complicated and requires more maintenance in making sure everything is staying tight. There's nothing stronger or longer lasting than an arch.


I wasn't going to come right out and say it.  ;)







Wimp. ^_^

#107073 2 Chambered Kiln?

Posted by neilestrick on 17 May 2016 - 11:39 AM

The Minnesota Flat Top design is not any simpler to build than an arch. In fact, I would say it's more complicated and requires more maintenance in making sure everything is staying tight. There's nothing stronger or longer lasting than an arch.

#106766 Installing The Second Kiln... Pointers, Opinions, Suggestions Anyone?

Posted by neilestrick on 12 May 2016 - 11:58 AM

I would have them much closer to the wall and each other :-)


My kiln said a minimum clearance of 12" (18" in California) was needed to combustible surfaces. I have wooden shelves 12.5" inches from it and complete peace of mind.


I wouldn't put wood shelves that close. 16" minimum for my peace of mind.

#106765 Replacing Kiln Power Cords

Posted by neilestrick on 12 May 2016 - 11:53 AM

There's often talk here on the forum about replacing power cords on kilns. This may be because the prongs on the cord don't match the outlet, or a longer cord is needed. It seems like a simple thing, but there are a few things you need to look for:


1. If it's a new kiln, replacing the cord on a new kiln may void the warranty unless it's done by an approved technician or with a cord from the manufacturer. True, it would be tough for them to ever find out, but it could happen if you need a tech in the future, and karma can be a real bugger. Plus it's usually easier to replace the wall outlet than change the cord. Also, changing the power cord to one with a different plug configuration or length length may void the UL listing (if the kiln has one), which may affect how your insurance company feels about the kiln. In all cases, you should check with the manufacturer first before making changes.


2. Make sure the new cord is rated for the same amperage as the old cord. Too small and you'll have a major safety issue on your hands.


3. Make sure it has the same number of prongs. Single phase kilns usually have 3 prongs- two hots and a ground. 3 phase kilns have 4 prongs- 3 hots and a ground. Some single phase kilns also have 4 prongs- 2 hots, a neutral and a ground. You cannot change this! Never snap off a grounding prong! It is very dangerous to fire a kiln that is not grounded.


4. Make sure the cord is rated for 105C/220F. This is the one that everyone overlooks. Most power cords you can get at the hardware store are only rated for 90C, which could overheat.


5. Wire it up properly. That means putting the hots, ground and neutral in the right places, as well as using the proper strain relief to hold the cord tight in the control box. Make sure all the connections are good and tight!


6. Building your own cord is often the best way to go, especially if you need a longer than normal cord. SEOOW type cords are wonderfully flexible and easy to work with. They can be purchased online from McMaster Carr or other sellers. You just have to attach the appropriate plug to the cord, which isn't all that difficult. I have found that plugs from McMaster are pretty pricey, so I usually get the plug from Ace, Lowes, etc. If ring terminals are required for the kiln connection, I recommend using high temp terminals. If the old wires have heat resistant sleeves on them, you can reuse them on the new cord if they're in good condition. Otherwise get new sleeves.


Happy wiring!




#106687 Stain Percentage To Make Colored Slip

Posted by neilestrick on 11 May 2016 - 12:19 PM

With most things in ceramics, percentages are by dry weight.

#106480 Metal And Arcing In An Electric Kiln

Posted by neilestrick on 07 May 2016 - 04:52 PM

I used to heat treat a ton of banjo brass drum rings with zero issues and they where piled fron the bottom of kiln to top.
My friend is the owner of Wildwood Banjos and used to live on my hill.


Those are beautiful banjos! See if you can get me one. They're out of my price range, so I had to build my own.

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#106414 Got A Brand Shimpo Aspire....aaaand It's Clunking. Normal?

Posted by neilestrick on 06 May 2016 - 02:01 PM

If you feel handy, make sure everthing is tight, especially where the bearings attach. There's a chance the screws are loose, but I'm betting it's the belt. Take off the cover so you can see the belt run, and check to see if the clunk is when the seam on the belt hits the small drive wheel at the motor.

#106411 Got A Brand Shimpo Aspire....aaaand It's Clunking. Normal?

Posted by neilestrick on 06 May 2016 - 12:42 PM

Could be the seam in the belt. Call them.

#106371 Stock Solutions For Glaze Testing

Posted by neilestrick on 05 May 2016 - 08:53 PM

Ha! I just mean using super concentrated solutions of the individual ingredients for a glaze. So if you want to make a glaze with 1% colorant, you make a solution with 10% colorant and use 1/10th of this solution. We did this in the lab all the time--just means you can combine the stock solutions to make a final result much faster. It also means less error because means you don't weigh out very small quantities for a 100ml glaze test.

It seems like the same principle *should* apply, but surprised no one does it, so I figure there must be a reason!


Thank you for the explanation. The problem is that most glaze colorants, being metallic oxides, don't stay suspended very well at all. You could, I suppose, mix them up in a gum solution, but that just adds more steps and probably negates the benefits.


When doing line blends, you can do them as liquid volume measurements rather than weighing out each little portion. You just have to mix each end of the blend to the same volume and go from there. I think that would be similar to what you're describing.

#106286 Bartlett Genesis Review

Posted by neilestrick on 04 May 2016 - 11:45 AM

It's here! I got my new Bartlett Genesis kiln controller today. I still haven't had a chance to go through all the diagnostics info yet, but I did install it and set it up for a glaze firing with a cooling cycle, which it is firing right now.


Out of the box I was disappointed with how small the screen is. I thought it would be bigger. However, after using it for a few minutes it didn't bother me at all. It's plenty big and the 'buttons' are easy to use. The screen and entire panel has some sort of protective overlay that protects it. It feels a little odd since I'm so used to the feel of a phone touch screen, but I get that it needs to be very durable in a studio environment. The screen is very responsive.


The system for setting up a firing is a little different than the controllers we've used in the past, but it's still very simple and intuitive. From the home screen you press 'Load' and select which type of firing you want to do, either glaze, bisque, glass or custom. Then from home home screen you push edit to make changes to the program. You have the usual choices of cones and speeds, as well as a cooling cycle. The cooling cycle is full drop to 1900F, then 150 per hour to 1500F. At this point that cooling cycle cannot be changed, but I spoke with Bartlett and they're open to changing that or adding in a piggyback system where one of the 12 custom programs becomes the cooling cycle. They have actually been very receptive to feedback about programming improvements. So for now if you want a custom cooling cycle, you'll have to do it as part of a full custom ramp program.


For my firing today I just recreated the fast glaze program to cone 6 in a custom user program, with my own cooling segment added to it. Filling out a custom program is incredibly simple because it shows all of the segments on the screen all at once. You can add and delete steps as needed. Very nice. You can store 12 user programs with up to 32 segments each, so those of you that do super fancy firings (glazenerd, I'm talking to you) can do anything you can dream up. You can also put in a name for each program, so you don't have to keep a list hanging on the wall.


During the firing, the screen shows all 3 thermocouple readings as well as the current set point for the ramp. I really like this since before you would have to scroll through each reading separately.


Over all, I think it's a really great first version of a touch screen controller, especially for custom programs. Is it worth $329 to replace an old controller? That's for you to decide. Is it worth $125 to upgrade on a new kiln? Absolutely, especially since more features will be added in the future. It's Wi-Fi enabled, so software upgrades can be done easily. Bartlett said there's also talk of a phone app that will communicate with the controller, but there's a lot of liability issues related to that feature that must be dealt with before it become a reality. Currently, if you want external control then you can invest in Bartlett's KISS software.


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#106202 Relay Life

Posted by neilestrick on 03 May 2016 - 10:53 AM

Whenever I put new relays in a kiln I always write the date on them with a silver sharpie. That way if one fries out I can tell if it was an anomaly, like it happened after only a few months, or if they're old and all 3 should be replaced. While putting the new controller on my L&L E18T-3 this morning I saw the install date on my relays was 4-29-14. I do 150+ firings per year, so they've currently got 300+ firings on them. Not bad!

#106198 What Would Work Best?

Posted by neilestrick on 03 May 2016 - 10:10 AM

I know folks who fire directly on Advancers with no kiln wash, however I have heard that porcelain bodies can pluck if you don't use wash.

#106105 Treadle Versus Electric Wheel - Any Advice Please?

Posted by neilestrick on 02 May 2016 - 10:47 AM

Electric and treadle wheels are two different animals. If you're used to an electric, the treadle will feel quite different. The process may also affect your work, for better or worse, as the process is different. Personally, I couldn't throw the way I do on a treadle because the speed isn't there. It would definitely slow down my production rate. But I know folks who use treadles and they love them. I would't make any investment until I tried it out for a while.

#105998 Need Advice On Buying A Used Kiln

Posted by neilestrick on 30 April 2016 - 12:45 PM

Olympic makes a conversion system where you remove the sitter and screw on a new control box with the digital system in it. Otherwise, Skutt and Orton make a digital control box that hangs on the wall, and you just plug the kiln into it. Personally, I like the wall mounted because the controls will stay cooler, and you can use the sitter as a backup shutoff.

#105977 Help - My Kiln Shelves Melted!

Posted by neilestrick on 30 April 2016 - 08:59 AM


I think "cost" needs to be revisited and calculated. A K type cost $50 and a type S cost $250.00. I just replaced my type S in my test kiln after nearly 1000 firings. How many times would a type K been replaced in that same period? How much did Andrea loss in one firing? How many under-firings or over-firings have occurred due to inaccurate readings from a Type K that is burning out due to firing past its intended limits repeatedly? I have the same feelings about APM elements vs Kathanal A-1 elements. My 6.5Cf crystalline kiln has over 60 cone 10 firings, over 100 cone 6 firings, and roughly 20 bisque firings and the elements are not even beginning to lay over. In my test kiln, I average around 400 firings at cone 6 per set of APM's. So are they really more expensive, or just higher up front costs?



Type K only cost $16, not $50. I can get a couple hundred firings from my thermocouples, so that's $80 for 1000 firings. Even if I only got 100, that's $160. And with three thermocouples, that's $480 compared to $750. That's almost the price of an entire set of elements. Yes, type S are more accurate, but type K are accurate enough for what I do, and what most people do at cone 6 and lower. If I was going to fire to cone 10 regularly, then yes I would invest in type S and probably APMs. If you do regular kiln maintenance and inspect your thermocouples regularly, then you can avoid the problems that occur as they wear out. Personally, I've never lost a load of pots due to thermocouple issues.


Yes, type S last longer. Yes, APM last longer. Yes, solid state relays last longer. But that's not the issue. If all these things were standard on kilns it would drive up the cost to the point that we wouldn't sell very many kilns, and the ceramics community would shrink considerably. It's hard enough for folks to afford a $3000 kiln. Add all the upgrades and the cost goes up 40% or more. APM elements are also very sensitive to debris. A shard or glaze glob on one can easily cause one to fry out. That level of sensitivity is not good for school situations, or even most hobbyists. Fry out on element prematurely and you've wiped out much of the savings. The equipment that we use now is a balance of cost and durability, and for most people it is an acceptable balance. If you want or need the very best, it's available.