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Eve

Is it possible to use this as a beginner hobby kiln

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Hello, 

I recently found a kiln at an estate sale for $200. It has been a dream of mine since I was a child to build with clay.  My question, is this 30 year old kiln able to be restored and used? The bones all look good. The problem is it is really old. I see potential, unfortunately my husband sees a train wreck. I would really appreciate the opinions of those who are in the field. If it is restorable enough to use twice a month, what are your suggestions? Now that our children are grown, I finally have the time to commit to this dream and reading books simply is not cutting it anymore. Thanks for reading my post.

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Wow that kiln looks  like it has never been fired.   I also suggest you get a electrician to put in a outlet for it,  tell your husband you got quite the bargain.   This kiln would sell for at least $1500 new,  I found a similar bargain a year ago.  It had been only fired once,  I paid $300 for it,  I had to change the cord and plug that would work with outlet I use for my big Skutt.   I bought it to replace a Paragon of  the same size that I had been firing for 40 years.  Kilns are pretty basic  and easy to maintain,  my Skutt is 30 years old and I just rewired it and replaced a part in the kiln sitter.  There is a slew of video's on U-tube that can help.    Denice

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Nice find!  The kiln appears to be in great shape and it looks like it will give you service for a long time.   The only thing to be aware of is that Duncan kilns are no longer made.  Here's some information Neil Estrick provided in another post about repairing Duncan kilns. This might be helpful to keep in mind when you eventually need elements or parts.

  • Duncan kilns are no longer made. Paragon serviced them for a long time, but not any more. They may or may not have some parts still laying around. So if you get either of those kilns, you'll have to source parts from various places. The switches are pretty much standard items you can get on the internet. You may be able to use bricks from another brand, if you can figure out which brand has grooves that are similar enough. Euclids can probably make elements for you. Basically what I'm saying is that it's not going to be as easy as getting a kiln made by a company that is still in business. Another downside of Duncan kilns is that many of the models use twice as many elements as other kilns. Instead of 6 elements that wrap twice, they use twelve elements that wrap once. So it costs more to replace the elements and it's more work.

 

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Thank you for responding. I feel better about buying it now.

It came with the manual, but the company no longer makes them. The parts inside look new but they are 30 years old. I have found some parts at the Ceramicshop online store. Yes it has a bar, but I have not found the fire gauge.

We have an outlet in our garage, but it is a 240 50 amp outlet with four prongs instead of three. It may be too much for the kiln. My husband says he can put a 30amp breaker in and change the plug. Now, that I am more confident, thanks to your reassurance, I will see what exactly the kiln needs to fire.

I have read hundreds of books, while I waited patiently to get to this point. However, I still feel so unprepared. I do not have a Potters community in my area, so I really appreciate your advice thank you.

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2 hours ago, S. Dean said:

Nice find!  The kiln appears to be in great shape and it looks like it will give you service for a long time.   The only thing to be aware of is that Duncan kilns are no longer made.  Here's some information Neil Estrick provided in another post about repairing Duncan kilns. This might be helpful to keep in mind when you eventually need elements or parts.

  • Duncan kilns are no longer made. Paragon serviced them for a long time, but not any more. They may or may not have some parts still laying around. So if you get either of those kilns, you'll have to source parts from various places. The switches are pretty much standard items you can get on the internet. You may be able to use bricks from another brand, if you can figure out which brand has grooves that are similar enough. Euclids can probably make elements for you. Basically what I'm saying is that it's not going to be as easy as getting a kiln made by a company that is still in business. Another downside of Duncan kilns is that many of the models use twice as many elements as other kilns. Instead of 6 elements that wrap twice, they use twelve elements that wrap once. So it costs more to replace the elements and it's more work.

 

Thank you, Euclid’s website referenced here does have a nice supply of parts at better prices. I am not sure I would have found them without your post.

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congrats on your wonderful find!   you might have excellent firings for many years without needing any repairs at all.  that will depend on how hot you fire and how often.   do not be concerned that you will need repairs often.   just take care of it and it will last until you outgrow it.  reading all of these posts at once makes it sound as though you will have trouble all the time.  not so.

the one thing you might not know is that you should put a full size shelf in the bottom with 3 half inch posts under it to protect the bottom from the  glaze runs and drips usually encountered by beginners.   if you accidentally put so much glaze on a pot and it runs, you can grind off the mistake from a shelf.   and if it is totally ruined, it is much cheaper to replace the shelf than a bottom.  be sure to get the right size shelves, ask neil for the proper size if it did not come with shelves.   too big will not allow your fingers to fit around the shelf while loading and unloading.

i hope you read all the older books that are more like textbooks than some of the newer ones.   there is an old thread here about what books people own and recommendations for you as a beginner.  i am self taught by books and started in 1972 when i was able to buy my first paragon kiln.   it was still in use when i moved in 1990 and i sold it to a beginner who used it for years.

you are on a marvelous journey, enjoy it all and do not be afraid to ask questions and look for previous posts with the same questions.   we all had them and will forever.

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just one comment on your question about parts.   the gauge to set the bars on the kiln sitter is readily available at ceramic suppliers for less than $5.   it has nothing to do with Duncan, it is a part for the Kiln Sitter, a separate company.  it is a part that you will use seldom, it takes a long time, years, for the bar that drops to lose metal in the hot kiln and become unreliable.  a replacement bar is needed eventually and that is when you would use the gauge.

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My 24 amp Blue Diamond shares a 50 amp breaker that my Skutt uses.    I had a qualified electrician do all of my wiring in the studio,  he has wired several studios for me in last forty years.  You can get a new plug in that matches your four prong outlet  or a new plug  and cord.  You can also buy a new outlet that matches your plug.  You might need a electrician to do this for you if you are electrically challenge.   My husband can do small jobs like that but he hires out the more complicated jobs.   Denice

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4 hours ago, Denice said:

My 24 amp Blue Diamond shares a 50 amp breaker that my Skutt uses.    I had a qualified electrician do all of my wiring in the studio,  he has wired several studios for me in last forty years.  You can get a new plug in that matches your four prong outlet  or a new plug  and cord.  You can also buy a new outlet that matches your plug.  You might need a electrician to do this for you if you are electrically challenge.   My husband can do small jobs like that but he hires out the more complicated jobs.   Denice

Your Blue Diamond should be on a 40 amp breaker max to be in code. The rule is 25% greater than the draw of the kiln but not more than 50%. It would be good to be in code in case there's ever a problem that would require your insurance company or the local authorities to be involved.

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@Eve From your post it sounds like you haven't worked with clay? I highly recommend taking some classes at a local art center or park district or community college. There is a lot to learn, and it will be easier and faster to learn from a teacher rather than books.

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31 minutes ago, neilestrick said:

@Eve From your post it sounds like you haven't worked with clay? I highly recommend taking some classes at a local art center or park district or community college. There is a lot to learn, and it will be easier and faster to learn from a teacher rather than books.

Hi, I took classes a very long time ago, before marriage and kids. I tried to keep up by reading, but that was all I had time and space for. Strange thing is I can remember how clay feels 20 years later. I really just miss it. I am not trying to be the next best Potter, I really just want to play in the mud again. Unfortunately, the opportunities near me only allows you to paint bisque. That is not what I want to do. I am searching for classes constantly, I wanted nothing more than to find a local Potter and work in their studio to learn. Sadly, it was not in the cards for me. I still have kids in school, so traveling an hour one way for classes is still a bit out of reach. I have found a lot of you tubers that are nice enough to provide mock classes for people like me online, and I do appreciate them. Now, I have never fired a piece before. Strangely enough though, through my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop I found a kiln certification class and jumped on it. I hope I can network from there. 

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  I don't know if my electrician  wires in a heavier wire to make it works I just know it works.  He has a bachelors in electrical engineering and is a master electrician.    Since I have manual kilns I never leave them or sleep when they are firing.  I had a friend who had a new computerized kiln she turn on when she went to bed,  she got up the next day to her low fire pots melted everywhere and the  board was fried.   She sold these kilns at the local ceramic supply store  and knew how to operate it,  she doesn't sleep through a firing anymore.   Denice 

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15 minutes ago, Denice said:

  I don't know if my electrician  wires in a heavier wire to make it works I just know it works.  He has a bachelors in electrical engineering and is a master electrician.    Since I have manual kilns I never leave them or sleep when they are firing.  I had a friend who had a new computerized kiln she turn on when she went to bed,  she got up the next day to her low fire pots melted everywhere and the  board was fried.   She sold these kilns at the local ceramic supply store  and knew how to operate it,  she doesn't sleep through a firing anymore.   Denice 

It'll work on a 50 amp circuit, and you won't melt the wires in the walls. However, you could melt the wires and switches in the kiln if it start to draw too much amperage. On a 50 amp circuit it could draw twice the amperage it's rated for and not blow the breaker, but overload the wires in the kiln.

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21 hours ago, oldlady said:

eve, you have not posted your location in your avatar.  at least what state are you in if in the US.

I live in Florida, between Tampa and Orlando. If you know of any workshops out this way please share. The ones I have found are in Clearwater FL. They are an hour away unfortunately, but the closest. I read through a lot of post on here as I try to plan out my workspace. It seems a lot of the advice is for the northern states or the dryer states to the west. I am still weeding through all of the information. I am so glad I have found this forum. Everyone is extremely helpful and some of these question I would never have thought of until I ran into the problem.

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On 8/26/2019 at 8:50 PM, neilestrick said:

Your Blue Diamond should be on a 40 amp breaker max to be in code. The rule is 25% greater than the draw of the kiln but not more than 50%. It would be good to be in code in case there's ever a problem that would require your insurance company or the local authorities to be involved.

Hello again,

If I am reading this right, my 28 amp kiln will need the breaker changed from 50 amps to 30 amps. I can fix the 3 prong cord by changing it to the four prong cord or is it better to change the outlet to a 3 prong outlet? My husband agreed to Change the breaker, which is great news. He read these post and now understands why I thought the kiln was such a great find. Thanks all!

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I guess Either is fine but am inclined to just change the cord end to match your existing receptacle with the appropriate breaker change.  Having a receptacle and cord end rated higher than the actual load will extend its life. One note looking at your picture. The kiln looks great but I suggest you check the crimp connection adjacent to your left forefinger it appears to be overheating and turning black. In addition you may want to check the rest closely just to put it in tip top shape to start. Easy to remove insulation back to good clean wire and install new crimps now.

nice looking kiln!

Edited by Bill Kielb

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15 hours ago, Eve said:

Hello again,

If I am reading this right, my 28 amp kiln will need the breaker changed from 50 amps to 30 amps. I can fix the 3 prong cord by changing it to the four prong cord or is it better to change the outlet to a 3 prong outlet? My husband agreed to Change the breaker, which is great news. He read these post and now understands why I thought the kiln was such a great find. Thanks all!

Your 28 amp kiln should be on a 40 amp breaker. If the kiln has a 4 prong cord, and all 4 of the wires in the cord are actually hooked up inside the kiln, then you need a 4 prong outlet to match, because it needs all 4 wires- 2 hots, 1 neutral, 1 ground. If someone changed out the plug with a 4 prong but only 3 wires are actually being used, then you can change out the plug with a 3 prong.

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i will be bacl in florida in early december.   there are potters all over the area.   true, there is a fabulous place in Dunedin, right next to clearwater, but it is not the only one. 

posting the name of your town will not compromise your need for privacy.  above route 4 or below?  how far to tampa?   or sarasota?   there are craft fair all over the state and if you go to any, you can meet local potters.

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setting up a studio will be fun.   i have a shed, 10x16 feet, in the backyard.   you might look at it in the photos under my name.  click on my avatar, find profile and look at Albums.

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6 hours ago, neilestrick said:

Your 28 amp kiln should be on a 40 amp breaker. If the kiln has a 4 prong cord, and all 4 of the wires in the cord are actually hooked up inside the kiln, then you need a 4 prong outlet to match, because it needs all 4 wires- 2 hots, 1 neutral, 1 ground. If someone changed out the plug with a 4 prong but only 3 wires are actually being used, then you can change out the plug with a 3 prong.

Thank you, I think my husband purchased a 30 amp, so I will tell him we need the larger 40 amp. The kiln has the original 3 prong cord. 

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