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Just How Old Is Too Old For A Kiln?


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Per a few of my recent post I am assembling a new studio and used kiln shopping.

 

Ran across what appears to be a fine kiln for $375 (Olympic 2327) with new elements 4 firings ago and supposedly works great.  No visible cracks and really not that much wear on the bricks. The price with the new elements is of course fine but the age gives me pause. I emailed the serial number and got a very prompt and helpful response from Olympic and a link to a pdf manual for it. It was manufactured in 1979 in Redmond Washington and parts are still available. Hell they were a bigger company than Microsoft at the time. 

 

I realize a kiln with a kiln-sitter is pretty basic and if seldom used and/or kept up over the years will have a long life time but what is the functional limit?

 

Brick, wires and such still age even if duty is light and not all parts are going to be replaced and many really can't be easily replaced or updated. Since I am buying a bunch of stuff at once I like the ideal of saving money on one of these relics and a wall mounted stand alone controller to plug one of these old kiln-sitter kilns would give me the ability to use my glaze firing schedules and half of the investment would be somewhat protected in that piece of new equipment.

 

BUT having a kiln fail or screw up a load can be very costly so I don't want to be stupid to save a few bucks.

 

What is the age limit some of you would place on a secondhand kiln? Once I get moved and things settle down I do plan to buy a new larger 9-10 cf kiln and figured this stop gap one would then become my bisque kiln but I may well need to use it for my main kiln for a year or even two or three. 

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There is no age limit. Kiln bricks can sit for a hundred years and still be good as new as long as they have stayed dry. If the bricks look good and aren't turning yellow or dark- which happens when they've been fired a bunch- then they're good. The wiring can get brittle over time, but that's cheap to replace. The contacts on the sitter itself can also corrode, but you can always pull it apart and clean it up. I've worked on kilns that have been fired weekly for 40+ years that are still good.

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I think I read they found an old kiln while unearthing a tomb in Egypt from the Babylon years . It was an older electric and the elements where toast but the bricks where in mint condition . It still had a papyrus instruction manual that was readable-cone 6 if I recall.Back then they rated them in Reeds not amps.

It all comes round again they say.

 

Ok I may have been off on that one but my kiln from the 70's still works fine.

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That's a tough call. IMO pieces of equipment are just like people; everything ages, some more than others. While one individual of a certain vintage may be in poor shape, another may be perfectly fine. I once knew a  man that at 87 could work men half his age "into the shade". What he was capable of doing would most certainly hospitalize, if not kill;  most men that old.

 

We have a Skutt KS 1227 here from the 70's that was given to us; it's old and beat up but it does work. We used it as an overflow/backup kiln for our production runs and it worked great despite having been put through several firings and being beaten to death by it's previous owner. We got this kiln when we where just stating out. I haven't seen it in years and while it "worked great when last used" (sound familiar?), I couldn't tell you for sure it would go to temp if I pulled it out and fired it again today.

 

 It all comes down to how well it was taken care of, used, stored and what it's like now. My biggest problem with the one you are looking at iis the price. The guy wanted $500 for our "free" kiln and that just wasn't going to happen. (He was a friend of my father and just needed it and all of his molds out of the way so we more or less inherited it)

 

 

I have the same kiln here as you're looking at but most likely newer (serial # 80484). It was stored in an outdoor screened enclosure next to a body of brackish water. The hinge had to be beat to close (stored open), switches frozen to the point the shafts broke before they would turn (but the sitter switch still works freely). It most likely "worked great" when it was last used too...

 

Is it worth $375? (I wouldn't have given $3.75)

 

 

Is the one you're looking at worth $375?  

 

I dunno; can you show me an 87 y.o man who can swing a 45# chainsaw in 96 degree heat and humidity  for two weeks straight with a smile and joke the whole time?  (In WWII, he literally wore one M1 Garand out dropping Nazis and was well on his way to wearing out a second. He was a man if there ever was one. He was also *the* best, most loving, kind and gentle man I ever knew.)

 

If you know of such a gentlemen, I would love to buy him a beer....but chances are he aint ev'r had a drop in his life. ;)

 

 

It all comes down to what kinda shape it's really in. In a worse case, are you willing to pop for $50 each for new switches if they need to be replaced? Why were the elements changed? Was this due to verified wear or were they chasing a problem? I've seen folks throw money at a problem not knowing the difference. It may need something else, so I would factor that in when considering price. It can be made to work if it doesn't, and like Neil said, it's just a matter of; is it worth doing so to you in the end? I've also seen folks greatly underestimate number of firings too. "Four firings" could easily be, and most likely is; 40.

 

 

The only thing I can tell you with 100% certainty is; you never wanted to be on the business end of "Mr. Smith's" Garand...EVER!... ;)  :lol:

 

(I've have a great story of him with a 30 caliber Browning machine gun while in basic training.)

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My dad has a Jenkins kiln that someone bought, never fired once, and then sold 35 years later. He replaced the coils and that thing runs like a beast. It's in beautiful condition. He's planning to spring the money to convert it to automatic since currently we have to turn it up every hour for the first three hours and it also tends to fire a tad hot. Still, for a 35 year old kiln that's impressive. 

 

Incidentally my dad is almost 70 and he can outwork me any day of the week. Seems he found the proper kiln. ;) 

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I have a paragon that I bought used in the early 70's, a few years ago I had trouble with my kiln sitter.  I pulled it off the kiln and took it to my repair guy, he said I had one of the original kiln sitters and was wondering how old the kiln was.  It is still being used for bisque firings.   Denice

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 it also tends to fire a tad hot.  ;)

 

 

Try adjusting the sitter: http://www.hotkilns.com/how-do-i-adjust-my-kiln-sitter

 

 

 

It's not my kiln, it's my dads. I have never personally done any kiln maintenance on it, but I do know that he adjusted it already. It was firing to Cone 7 or 8 when it was set to Cone 5. Now it fires to Cone 6 when set to Cone 5. LOL I generally use that big kiln for bisque and then do my glaze firing in smaller batches in the other one, which is a Duncan Teacher-Plus. 

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Bar or cone shaped sitter cones?

We use pyrometric bars.

 

 

 

Adjust the sitter again, throw the gauge away and use the force. I set mine by eye/feel/flux capacitance. Total spiritual creaminess can be achieved through the focusing of Chi. If you have a problem with unfocused Chi, I recommend one of these:  http://chia.com/chia-pets/ :D

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When I called Cress to get the right manual and electrical diagram from them for my new-to-me model, they said it was sold to the original owner sometime around 1983. The brick is pristine, and the elements look pretty tight. The electrician is coming today to hook it up, so I'll keep you all posted.

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Just became the owner of a second-hand Paragon LT-4. Cannot find any manuals or even mention of this model anywhere. Does anyone have any sage advice, an idea of how old it is and, most importantly, where I can get an owners manual? Thanks so much!

 

LT4 is the kiln sitter, not the kiln - there is hopefully another number on there somewhere, (before you call Paragon)..

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My skut kiln is almost 40 yrs. old & I just had new elements replace top to bottom for the 1st time. Have had sections replaced before. I glaze fire in a day & wonder if it will be just as before or fire higher. Reset the sitter by eye, just touching. It works better that way for me usually. Maybe I'd better wash the bottoms of the runnier glazes back further.

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i am sure paragon has the question asked many times referring to the number on the kiln sitter and not what is on their label located somewhere near that sitter.  it is the usual description of a person who knows nothing about a kiln just inherited, found in a storage unit or wherever it has been for years.  if you look for a used kiln in any of the common locations, ebay, craigslist, etc, you will see people referring to having a Sitter (brand) kiln.

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  • 3 years later...

The problem with the CL free section is that it is just mostly folks who want to re-list it for dough, it would be nice if your moms kilns went to to a potter or potter wannabe instead of someone that will just turn around and sell them. You might list them on this forums marketplace as free. Just go back to the main page and go further down the list of sections.

If no one here responds I would check the closest community college and community center and see if they know of a student that might want one. 

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