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Liam V

SNF823 Paragon as first kiln

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I've just found a second hand SNF823 kiln for sale for about $1500 AUD (which is the cheapest I've ever seen for a kiln in Australia). Would this be good for a first time kiln user/buyer? It has an old timey switch controller, how difficult is it to change this to an electronic controller?

Would something like this be suitable for consistent cone 10 firings?

It also comes with a bunch of shelves.

 

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These are my other options which do not include kiln shelves and are new:


MAS1818HE Kiln

$3,295.00     

Olympic MAS1818HE Kiln, Single Phase 21Amps, 2.63cf (74lt), fires to Cone 10/1288°C

Internal dimensions: 44.5cm wide x 47cm deep

MAS1823HE Kiln

$3,495.00

Olympic MAS1823HE, Single Phase 26.25Amps, 3.29cf (93lt), fires to Cone 10/1288°C

Internal dimensions: 59cm wide x 57cm deep

Edited by Liam V

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The kiln is in mint condition, judging from your photo. It's hardly been fired. I don't see any rust either.

If it were my kiln, I would not upgrade it to a digital controller. The SetnFire is already automatic. The top switch is an infinite control; the second one is a switch-timer. With time remaining on the second switch, half the elements are powered. When time runs out on the second switch, all the elements are powered.

The walls are 3", so you should be able to reach cone 10, provided your circuit has full voltage. In America, most potters don't fire hotter than cone 6. Cone 10 is hard on the kiln.

By the way, I'm the one who created the text that is silk screened onto the switch box. It's fun to see that in far-away Australia.

Sincerely,

Arnold Howard
Paragon Industries, L.P., Mesquite, Texas USA

 

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39 minutes ago, Arnold Howard said:

The kiln is in mint condition, judging from your photo. It's hardly been fired. I don't see any rust either.

If it were my kiln, I would not upgrade it to a digital controller. The SetnFire is already automatic. The top switch is an infinite control; the second one is a switch-timer. With time remaining on the second switch, half the elements are powered. When time runs out on the second switch, all the elements are powered.

The walls are 3", so you should be able to reach cone 10, provided your circuit has full voltage. In America, most potters don't fire hotter than cone 6. Cone 10 is hard on the kiln.

By the way, I'm the one who created the text that is silk screened onto the switch box. It's fun to see that in far-away Australia.

Sincerely,

Arnold Howard
Paragon Industries, L.P., Mesquite, Texas USA

 

 

You'd be the perfect person to double check this with! Is this a phase 1 kiln?

Would I be able to run it at home without any electrical reconfigurations?

I only worry about being able to reach cone 10 as I've been to one class for pottery and the glaze firing was to 1280 degrees celcius which I think is cone 9.

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The seller never ended up replying so I'm thinking ill go for this kiln instead;

It's a lot older looking but also a lot cheaper. I'm a bit worried about the pyrometric cones and how safe these old kilns are compared to the newer ones.

I believe it is a cromartie top loader 75 with an LT-3 controller. Is this a manual kiln?

Anyone know if its a good idea to buy a fire extinguisher?

s-l1600.jpg

Edited by Liam V

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It is a manual kiln with kiln sitter.

It's always a good idea to have a fire extinguisher near the kiln.  I have one mounted 6 feet away and another on the other side. 

Looks like it was taken care of on the outside, you'll have to check the inside too

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The inside looks pretty good; does the safety level significantly increase if I were to swap the kiln sitter with an electronic controller?

Could I technically swap the LT-3 controller out for any electronic controller by unplugging the old one and plugging in the new?

The SNF823 is $1500 whereas the manual one is on auction currently at $520 dollars.

s-l1600.jpg

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liam, you seem to be very worried about using a kiln.   maybe reading some of the manufacturers manuals on their operation would calm your fears. 

electric kilns have been in use for many, many years and the rate of accidents is low.   personally, i have been working with kilns since 1972 and have heard no horror stories.   the only   "fire"  i know of was when a smoke alarm went off at a recreation center and the fire department responded.   they panicked when they saw 3 kilns smoking and hit them with huge amounts of water.   there was nothing wrong with the kilns, they were going through normal burn-off of wax and paper.   the building had smoke detectors all over and they set off the automatic sprinklers which ruined all the wood flooring in the gym downstairs.

later the instructor realized that all three kilns had never been fired together so the smoke detector did not sense enough to go off when they were fired previously.

Edited by oldlady
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Haha, while I was reading through the manuals I noticed a constant mention and recommendation of not leaving a manual kiln unattended (as well as on some 'electronic vs manual kiln' reivews). This worries me, although I've discovered that a manually operated kilnsitter can be partnered with an automatic thermocouple, which could potentially up the safety factor.

As such, I'm having an immense amount of difficulty deciding between the paragon kiln (which seems to be a well known brand; with an approximately 84L volume) and an LT-3K controller (which I believe is automatic but not electronic) and the CTL kiln (which seems to be relatively unpopular; with approximately 74L volume) and an LT-3 controller (which is manual and I've read requires a watchful eye during firing).  The paragon kiln definitely sounds better but will end up costing me somewhere around 1700 dollars, versus the cromartie which will be around 800 dollars.

Then there's the issue of working out the differences in installation processes for 30 amps and 21 amps. I'd like to learn the installation process myself (these are both 1 phase kilns so I'm hoping that will make it easier), partly because knowledge is power but mostly because I'm a broke uni student and an electrician sounds expensive.

I'll probably have much more clarity in the morning, considering I'll get a break from reading about kilns for the last 12 hours.

Thank you all for your advice so far! I know I'm probably asking a lot of stupid questions but I'm appreciating the guidance so much! (the local potter community in my area isn't particularly interested in including novices)

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Compare the "electrical" input of a kiln and a domestic oven, and then compare the insulation thickness of both, and then think about the oven being installed within a wood/chipboard cupboard, inside the house, with people and kids and pets all around it.

I think there is a lot of hype about leaving kilns unattended.  I'm not saying to dis-regard any safety recommendations, you need proper wiring, proper space around the kiln, proper everything, but all said and done, they're just large ovens.  And the stuff inside doesn't even burn like the roast chicken will if you leave it in too long.  In fact, roasting in oil/fat is probably higher risk than firing ceramics.  It's just that very few people fire, and everyone (except me) does roasts.

Take all the guidance given elsewhere and make sure you do everything right, then, read the manuals as @oldladysays, look on the forums here for horror stories (not many) and then go for it.

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liam, the vocabulary you have used reflects the confusion that results from companies using "selling" words to describe their products.  both kilns are turned off the same way.   operation of  the kiln sitter has been thoroughly described  in previous posts.  the smaller box on the side of each kiln holds the sitter.  it was advertised as automatic when it became commonly used.  the previous users of kilns had to watch the color of the heat inside the kiln to guess when to turn off the switch.

in brief, the sitter is set and controlled by a cone.  that is a mixture of ingredients that melt at a particular point, a combination of time and heat.  the thermocouple just lets you know how hot the temperature is inside the kiln.  it has nothing to do with kiln safety,  your brain is the safety feature most needed.

when the cone melts, it sets off a series of mechanical events that result in shutting off the current to the kiln.  both kilns are manually controlled by your hand putting the cone into the sitter.

(if a woman does this it is not called a femanually controlled.)   try not to worry so much, read more, worry less.

 

BTW,the second one is shown sitting on the floor.  your biggest safety step is to raise it off the floor and onto a non-flammable stand.   a steel stand is shown on the paragon kiln.  go to their website, look at them.

Edited by oldlady
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Both kilns appear to be in very good condition. The elements in the lower-priced kiln look new, and the bricks are perfect.

If you add a digital controller to either kiln, keep the Dawson Kiln Sitter. You can use it as a safety shut off. Not only will you have a cone-based shut off, but also a timer. This would give you three systems for automatically shutting off the kiln: 1) the digital controller; 2) the Kiln Sitter; and 3) the Kiln Sitter Limit Timer.

The lower priced kiln is fascinating because it is so different from any kiln made in America. This is because kilns evolved in Europe much differently than they did over here. The bricks are mounted vertically instead of horizontally, and they are backed by a layer of ceramic fiber blanket. the lid hinge is interesting.

I agree with "OldLady" that you should get a better kiln stand.

The kiln manufacturers all recommend staying with a kiln during operation. This is not constantly staying with the kiln, but checking on it occasionally. You can't stay with it all the time. That would be impractical. But it is prudent to be aware of it while it is firing. This applies equally to manual and digital kilns.

I just finished writing instruction manuals for Paragon's new digital controllers. I can hear our printing press in the background, on the other side of my office wall, as I type this note. At the bottom of every left page of the manuals is the safety rule, "Do not leave your kiln unattended during operation." At the bottom of every right page is another rule, "Keep the kiln lid or door closed when the kiln is not in use."

Sincerely,

Arnold Howard
Paragon Industries, L.P., Mesquite, Texas USA

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