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About neilestrick

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    Porcelain Pottery & Kiln Repair

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    Grayslake, IL

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  1. I thankfully did not need loans to get through our 11 week shutdown, however I did qualify for unemployment, which paid my bills at my shop and put a small amount in my pocket. I don't have any employees, so I would have had to pay back a PPP loan. Last year was a good year so I had enough cash on hand to get through the shutdown before unemployment finally came through.
  2. #5 welding goggles work very well. If you go darker than that it can make it difficult to see the cones at lower temps.
  3. @Newby Carol On low and medium it probably won't get hot enough to see cones inside. Put it on high and carefully crack the lid after a few minutes with the lights off and see if all the elements are glowing. If they all glow, then go ahead and do a bisque firing and see how it goes.
  4. For safety, your burners need to have a pilot burner with a flame sensor and shutoff valve. A Baso valve is the simplest way to do that. The pilot burner could be a very small burner LIKE THIS that primarily just keeps the main burner lit but can get the kiln up to 200F overnight, or you could use a small venturi burner that puts out more heat. With power burners you generally only need two, so you just put a Baso valve and burner on each one. If you've got multiple venturi burners (some larger kilns have 6-10 burners) it can get expensive and complicated to put a valve and pilot on each burner, so they use a pipe with little holes (ring burner) that goes to all the burners, and a flame sensor at one end. I don't love those because if holes get clogged you could have a burner that doesn't have a pilot flame on it, but it seems to be the standard for that type of setup. I would just be careful to check the pilot flame at the start of each firing. If it's just humidity, I wouldn't worry too much about moisture in the bricks. It's not like they're getting rained on and soaked, and soft brick won't blow up since they're so porous.
  5. If you're using hard brick, which you should be using on the interior of a salt or wood kiln, you'll want to use a mortar of fireclay and sand. If you're also using soft brick for the exterior, you'll need to mortar those, too, to keep everything even.
  6. A basic schedule for a manual kiln is low for 1 hour, medium for one hour, high until done. Without a sitter you'll need to have a set of cones in there so you can shut it off at the correct time. Can you post a picture of the kiln so we can see the controls?
  7. New kiln user here. ...I’m trying to figure out if one of my relays are bad or if it’s my elements.  I can    Bisque To a 04 just fine. I did have a lose  connection to the relay. I fired again and it’s taking a long time. Any  suggestions?  It’s a  manual cress kiln. 

    1. neilestrick


      Your best bet is to check the element resistance with a meter. If they're more than 10% off from new then they should be replaced. 

  8. If it soaks into the shelf, grind it smooth and put some kiln wash on it. Don't put pots in that spot. Regrind and reapply kiln wash after each firing. After a couple of firings the glaze will stop absorbing the kiln wash and you'll be good to go to use that spot again.
  9. It bothers me that there's a cut and exposed red wire on that cord in the picture. Is the other end of the wire somewhere you can see? It could be it's just an unused wire, but it speaks to the lack of quality in the build.
  10. Because of the difference in the resistance of the elements, if you run 208 volt elements on 240 volts you'll be pulling more amperage, which can be a problem. For instance, a kiln pulling 48 amps on 208 volt service will pull about 55 amps on 240 volt service. That means the 60 amp breaker is no longer within code.
  11. I hate to say it but those wheels are pretty terrible. If anything foes wrong, you're pretty much out of luck. You'll have a difficult or impossible time trying to get parts or any sort of help. They're just sending them over from China and offering no support. If it breaks, I highly recommend saving up for an American made wheel.
  12. @postalpotter Ignore the pyrometer when it comes to accuracy. Cones are the only way to know for sure what's going on, especially in a gas kiln. Just use the pyrometer to give you a basic idea of rate of climb and a rough estimate of temperature. Once you've got the cones dropping together at the top and bottom of the kiln, you can see if your thermocouples are off and calibrate them as needed. If you're firing to cone 6, use cones 08, 04, 2, 4, 6, & 7. That way you can see how even things are as the firing progresses and see if your thermocouples are showing similar results. Bubbles may or may not be fixed by soaking. It all depends on what's wrong with the glaze. If it's bubbled because it's over-fluxed then soaking won't help at all. But in other cases it will. It's worth a try. Just remember that soaking at peak temp adds heat work and increases melt so runny glazes will run more. Don't try to glue the broken electric kiln brick back into place. It won't work. If the piece is big enough just pin it in place with element pins. If not, put some pins in the brick to hold the element so it can't flop out. Replace that brick next time you replace the elements. Blue Diamond Kilns went out of business a few years ago, but Euclids can make elements for you.
  13. The existing control box is not set up for a digital controller. It does not have the correct heat baffles, and may not be vented properly. It would be best to build an external control box, either mounted to the kiln itself or mounted to the wall. I prefer wall mounted because the box stays cooler and the parts last longer. You could also use the box for other kilns in the future. Do you know how to hook up the controller with relays, transformer, etc?
  14. It's not so large a vessel that it needs to be super thick. It shouldn't need to be more than 1/2-3/4" thick, and you'll have a lot easier time moving it to the kiln if it's thinner. I would build it directly on a kiln shelf, and do the unstacking method to put it in the kiln. Just remember to make it short enough to accommodate the shelf.
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