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Everything posted by neilestrick

  1. My pleasure! Happy wedging!

  2. I open the lid all the way at 250F. Never have problems.
  3. I don't trust a bottom shelf to keep stuff from getting into the bottom element. I clean out a couple kilns a week and always find crud under the bottom shelf.
  4. I agree that it's good to buy locally, and I think you'll be happy with either of those kilns, but if you decide you don't want either of those kilns, by all means shop around elsewhere. It's not difficult to have a kiln shipped to you. It happens to me all the time since I only sell one brand. I've even uncrated and set up kilns locally that were purchased elsewhere. It's the way of the market. But don't buy a Cone Art or Euclid anywhere else.
  5. There are some nice simple kiln designs out there on the market, and those kilns work very well, last a long time, and are easy to maintain. Call me a pessimist, but I'm not convinced that most of the bells and whistles on some brands are really any benefit. I'm not a big fan of floor elements. They're a pain to keep clean since everything falls to the floor, and they increase the maintenance costs (one more element to pay for). Plus a well designed kiln shouldn't need a floor element. The only time it should be necessary is if you're doing very dense loads like tiles. Non-sectional kilns are also much more difficult to set up if you're going into a basement. Kilns are not light! And replacing a brick in the bottom ring can take an hour instead of 10 minutes. That's lot of money if you're paying to have it done. I think 3" walls are a good choice, but I'm not convinced that added fiber insulation is really going to save that much. When the walls are increased from 2.5 to 3 inches, so are the lid and floor. But the extra fiber is not added to the lid and floor, where a large percentage of the heat loss actually happens.
  6. Any brand of kiln will do the job when it comes to firing. But if you can get zone control, it's worth it. Your firings will be much more even with it. The biggest difference between brand of kilns is the durability and ease of maintenance. Both those kilns you've mentioned will be similar in durability. For maintenance, any kiln that is not sectional will be a real pain when it comes to changing bricks, which will need to be done at some point. Bricks will get broken. Sectional kilns are also nice for changing elements, since being able to unstack the top ring makes it a lot easier to access the bottom elements.
  7. Ditto. Looks like something was put in there. Mistaken identity on the particular test bowls?????? Someone screwing around with the original person's tests as a joke? Could also be accidental. Don't want to be a pessimist, but I have a hard time believing that structure grew out of a coin. Something's fishy here.
  8. is still behind schedule....

    1. phill


      Hey Neil,


      I met you at the Uptown Art fair this past weekend. My name is Phill and I came by with my baby boy Pax. Good meeting you in person!

  9. Keep your hands wet! When the clay dries on your hands, especially under the nails, its dries out your skin very quickly. I keep a bucket of water next to my wheel, so any time I have to stop throwing for a few minutes I rinse off my hands.
  10. Personally, I consider any Raku kiln where you have to reach in the top OR pull off the entire frame to be a safety hazard. Either way you're within a few inches of 1800 degree heat. As a business owner and teacher I think it's a bad idea. It seems to have become the norm, however, mostly because it's the cheapest, easiest way to do it. I think if you told the parents and school administration that the kids would be 'dismantling the kiln at 1800 degrees, but don't worry they'll be wearing long sleeves', no one would ever be allowed to Raku that way. A front loading kiln with a hinged door is the safest way to go. My raku kiln is built of soft brick, with a hinged door. One person works the door while another pulls the pots. The door only has to be opened a few inches, and the puller wears a full face shield, hat, welding gloves and fireman's coat. Only the puller is exposed to the heat, not everyone watching. The other benefit of this design is that you can keep pots hot while you're pulling. We can load up to 15 small pots at a time, and by keeping the door closed between pulls every pot comes out at full temperature, giving us very consistent, great results. When you pull off the frame of a a fiber kiln, all the pots start cooling, so you're limited on how many pots you can fire at a time. By the time you get to the 10th pot it would be too cool to get good results in the post firing reduction.
  11. I always recommend 18 inches to my customers. 12 inches is acceptable if it's a concrete wall.
  12. If you wouldn't keep your computer there, you shouldn't keep your kiln there. The problem with just covering it when you're not using it is that a storm could roll in while the kiln is still hot, and you wouldn't be able to cover it. Plus keeping it covered could also cause condensation and corrosion under the cover. I don't recommend kilns be put on wheels, as it's a sure way to damage the bricks, especially the floor. It may even be a code violation. Find a permanent indoor location for it.
  13. As far as I can tell, Skutt hasn't changed anything on the TS wheels. One of my students just got one and it appears identical to mine. I have a friend who only buys Pacificas for his school, but I've always thought they were cheaply made.
  14. I have heard that argument, and I understand where you're coming from. That said, the belt drive systems don't ever break down. Even the belts usually last for 20 to 30 years. It's always the electronics that go first, followed by motors.
  15. What is is about the direct drive that you prefer? I often hear that but I'm not clear what the benefit is.
  16. I will never buy anything but Thomas Stuart/Skutt wheels. I've got 11 of them, and they are great. They have the most torque, so you'll never overpower them. Their 1/3hp model can handle 75 pounds. The controller and pedal are smooth. The large splash pans will keep your studio a million times cleaner than models with small splash pans. My biggest problem with the Shimp Whisper wheels is their lack of torque. You can grab the wheel head with your bare hands while it's turning and stop it. Not good. The lack of sound bothers me, too. I tend to adjust wheel speed by the hum of the wheel as much as anything else. Never realized that until I threw on a Whisper. Drove me nuts!
  17. $450 is high, but those old L&L kilns are usually in really good shape. The bricks hold up very well over time. Verify the voltage is what you need. Take a look at the elements. If they are corroded, or the coils are starting to lay over or sag at the corners, it probably needs new elements. Depending on the model, that means 6-9 elements at $50 each. That shouldn't necessarily mean you should pass on it, though. L&L elements are easy to change. Also look at the sensing rod on the sitter. If it's corroded away to nearly a point it needs to be replaced, at about $8. If the metal cone supports need replacing, they're about $7. Check the plug for corrosion. Check the jumper cords between the sections for corrosion. If the wires are really crispy and crack and snap when you bend the cords, they are probably due for replacement. It all adds up, however if you can get the kiln for a couple hundred bucks, you'll have one like new for another $400 in repairs. It's like buying a used car that needs brakes and tires.
  18. EA Series Manual LT-3K is actually just the model number of the kiln sitter itself. The serial plate on the kiln should say max temperature. If it doesn't, you'll need to call Paragon directly. They have a lot of info on the Duncan kilns, but not all of them. Is Arnold around? He would know.
  19. In kilns without a downdraft vent, most manufacturers recommend leaving the top spy/peep hole open for the entire firing, to allow gases and water vapor to escape. Leaving more than one open will just waste energy as you are also losing a certain amount of heat as well. Many of the old manuals say to leave the lid cracked for the first part of the firing, but I have never seen that to be necessary, and is just an energy waste in my opinion. The only time I would see propping the lid during the firing as necessary is in kilns that do not have low-med-high switches or infinite switches, but rather just on/off switches (old Evenheat kilns for example). Propping the lid in those cases would slow down the firing at the beginning and prevent explosions, since the elements are always on high when on. Kilns with downdraft vents should always have all the peep/spy holes closed during the firing. Otherwise the vent will not work properly, since the spy hole is much too large for the small amount of draft created by the vent. Some manufacturers will have holes in the kiln lid for the vent to pull air through (Skutt). Others do not put holes in the lid (L&L), since round kilns are dry stacked and generally drafty enough for the vents to function properly. That said, my 18" L&L did require lid holes since the small kilns tend to be much tighter and less drafty than the larger ones.
  20. Simple low fire gloss clear: 90% Frit 3124, 10% Kaolin. Add colorants or opacifiers as needed.
  21. Looks good to me. If you're doing a small batch, skip the screening and mix it with a stick blender.
  22. Elements can last for many years if you're doing low fire. Like 5 years or more. Firing cone 5/6 will greatly reduce the element life. I go through a set every year in my smaller kiln, since I fire it 2-3 times a week to cone 6. Relays (the switches in automatic kilns) often make noise, no matter which brand of kiln you have. They love to buzz. Most use the same relays, in fact. Sometimes when they fail, they fail hard and totally melt out. Other times they simply stop working. It's always good to have a backup set on hand. Most 27" tall kilns have 3 relays. If one goes after lots of use, replace all of them, as they all have the same life span. If one goes after little use, then it's probably an anomaly and you can just replace it alone.
  23. It has been my experience that small 120 volt brick kilns do not vary all that much in build quality. Because of their size, they do not suffer the same wear and tear as the big kilns. They just don't expand and contract as much during firings. That said, the L&L hard ceramic element holders are much more durable when it comes to the bricks being bumped when loading and unloading the kiln. As for controls, a sitter is a sitter. If you're going digital, Aim, Skutt and L&L all use Bartlett built controllers, so not much difference there. I'd go for the full blown controller rather than the 3-button if you can afford it. As for size, if a kiln is larger but uses the same watts, then it is underpowered compared to the smaller kilns. Also watch out for the amperage requirements for 120 volts kilns. Many need a 20 amp circuit, which you probably don't have in your home. If you don't, look for kilns that can use a 15 amp circuit. Feel free to contact me if you need more info on L&L.
  24. Ditto on the double dips. The first dip should be dry to the touch, but not completely dry. If the first coat dries completely, all sorts of funky things can happen with the second coat, like bubbling or falling off the pot. In my studio, I keep the glazes about the thickness of chocolate milk, and dip for a 6 count. Second dips go for a 4-6 count.
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