The shaft is flat on top- that's normal. Sometimes the wheel head seats better one way. Try taking it off and turning it 180 degrees. If that doesn't help, call Skutt and let them know what's going on.
I have one folder for slides. Inside that is a folder for each date that I shot the slides. If I'm shooting for a customer, I label the folder with their last name and the date. For my work I often label the same, but sometimes label with the type of work I was shooting if I was doing a whole batch of mugs, for instance. If I need to find a specific pot for a customer, I use Adobe Bridge, which will show small images of every file within a folder or within any given search criteria, like a person's name.
I would start with a slower cooling cycle if that's a possibility. Otherwise, you can get away with increasing EPK and reducing silica and still stay within limits. I'd test 3% increments. As it becomes more matte you will lose transparency, so don't go too far. The silica to alumina ratio is currently high enough that you should be able to knock down some of the glossiness and still stay nice and clear.
The clays we use form making pots and such are called 'clay bodies'. Each is formulated for specific characteristics such as color, firing temperature, and texture. Porcelain is a clay body, just like stoneware or earthenware. They all contain different types of clays as well as binders (feldspar), silica, and grit (grog or sand). What sets porcelain apart from other clay bodies is that it's lower in clay and higher in feldspar and silica. So once it's fired, it's much glassier than stoneware or earthenware bodies. You can build with porcelain just like any other clay body, but it does require good technical skills as it is more likely to warp or crack than other bodies.
Cone 6 porcelain is still porcelain, it's just formulated to fire at a lower temperature. But can still be glassy and translucent just like cone 10 porcelain.
Wire stilts do not generally work very well at cone 6. The wires tend to soften and bend. So instead we just make sure the bottom of the foot is clean of glaze, and fire the pot sitting right on the shelf.
In general it's not a good idea to leave wires inside the clay, since the clay shrinks and the wire doesn't, which causes the clay to crack. I say just make the spikes and attach them to the form by scoring, just like any other attachment.
As a kiln repair tech, and former clay & glaze tech for one of the clay/glaze manufacturers in the midwest, I have learned that I spend more time asking questions than answering questions. When a customer calls with a technical problem, I have to ask a ton of questions in order to get to the root of the problem, and even then people often leave out important information. I once had a customer call to complain that his terra cotta body, which he had mixed himself, had little white specs in it. He was sure that the Redart we had sold him was contaminated, and he was NOT happy. I asked him for his recipe, which he gave me, and there was nothing odd about it- just Redart and ball clay if I remember right. We talked about his water supply, his mixing methods, his pug mill, etc, etc, etc. Finally, after all that, I asked him if he was putting barium carbonate in the clay body (to prevent scumming). Well, yes, of course, he said. Everyone does, right? I asked him if he was blunging it in water before adding it to the clay body. No, he said. That was the source of the white specs- the barium wasn't dispersing very well when added dry.
My point is, we often leave out important facts when describing our situation because we assume they are general knowledge, and we often assume certain facts to be general knowledge when answering questions. In a forum situation like this it's very difficult to get all the facts out there, and it's very difficult to answer questions without making assumptions. There are shortcomings on both sides of the conversation because this is a slow, tedious way to have a conversation. But it doesn't mean anyone is intentionally trying to be difficult, on either side.
I think there's a limit to the skill level that you will be able to get from your workers. If I were a fast thrower, with good skills, why would I put in that type of effort into make someone else's pots? like John said, maybe for a year or two to pay the bills right out of school, but I would much rather be putting the effort into making and selling my own work. So you're either going to have a lower production rate than you want, or have to be training new people quite often.
To keep labor costs down, I would look into forming methods that require less skilled labor, like jiggering, casting, etc. New people can be easily trained on how to run the machines. Get away from the idea that things need to be made the way you made them when you were producing alone. You can't expect others to produce at the same rate you did, nor can you expect them to have the same passion about what they're making that you do. The vast majority of very skilled potters I know are not necessarily the fastest throwers. But they demand good prices for their work, so it all works out for them.
Seriously look at getting bigger kilns. Loading and unloading kilns takes a lot of time.
The kiln sitter is a mechanical device, and therefore has the possibility of not working. If any parts of the sitter stick, then it won't shut off. That's why they started putting backup timers on the sitters. Of course, if you set the timer too long then it doesn't do any good, and it's also possible for the timer to fail since it is a mechanical part as well. The only way to be 100% sure that a sitter kiln shuts of properly is to be there in person to check it. If you're not willing to do that then you have to accept that at some point your sitter will possibly fail and you will ruin some pots and/or the kiln itself.
The worst I have ever seen was a firing where a post or pot fell over onto the sitter tube and prevented the sensing rod from dropping and shutting off the kiln. It was an old sitter and didn't have a backup timer, so it kept on firing until the pots melted, then kept on firing some more until the shelves warped like potato chips and collapsed into a pile at the bottom of the kiln. The kiln was destroyed. The whole bottom half of the kiln was a melted mass of shelves and pots fused to the wall bricks. Luckily it was a really old kiln that needed to be replaced anyway.
For a digital kiln to over fire, a relay has to stick in the 'on' position, and the kiln has to be packed in such a way that enough heat is trapped in the section controlled by that relay that it can over fire. A section probably can't over fire in a cone 6 firing, but it is theoretically possible that in an earthenware firing a section of the kiln could over fire a little bit. In a two section (18" high) kiln where there are only two relays, one sticky relay can cause the entire kiln to over fire a little. I've seen that happen. I have never seen more than one relay stick 'on' at a time, however I have seen two relays fail 'off' at one time. Again, the only way to be sure is to be there to check that it has shut off.
I was thinking it should be possible to do cone 04 soda with the addition of other fluxes to the bomb, shouldn't it? I've seen mentions, but does anyone else have a line on a good resource? Could be really nice with the use of terra sig.
Low fire salt does not produce the glazed surface that it does at higher temperatures. It can give some great colors, though, similar to pit firing. Lots of reds and yellow and oranges. I used to do pit firings with wood shavings soaked in salt water (then dried), and got some fabulous results.
Didn't I read somewhere here someone recommending using , rubber bands? or ???? around the pins if the bat holes are worn? I have a bat system, with a square for smaller inserts to go in and the holes on the base have worn. so I'm interested in this.