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old Jenkins kiln


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Good morning!

I'm new here, so if this is in the wrong place I apologize. :o)

I'm getting back into pottery after many years - I've been going to a community studio/class for the last year, and I'm now setting up studio space in my garage. I have a wheel and a kiln - sort of.

The kiln is a Jenkins D-118 (w/Kiln Sitter model K), measures 18x22 inside. I bought it for $100 from someone who found it in an abandoned storage locker, so I don't have any real information on it. It does fire - it gets hot enough that it heats up the garage, and the elements inside glow white-hot when I look through the peep-hole. But it never gets hot enough to trigger the cone 5 cone I put in the kiln-sitter or the cone 4 witness cone I put in it, even after 15 hours on high.  The label says that it should go to 2300. And it stinks - I don't know how to describe it, but the kilns in the community studio do NOT smell like this. I would have expected something sitting in storage for ages to smell upon start up (like the first time the heat turns on in winter), but I've turned it on and run it twice now - the first time for 10 hours, the second for 15. Still stinky. I'm not sure if this is just a peculiarity with this kiln, or if it's an indicator that something is seriously wrong. 

I'm about ready to call it and buy something new. The kiln isn't in fabulous shape - the bricks are a bit worn-looking, and my husband said that the wires look old. I don't know its history or how old it is, and in looking through the forum, it looks like there could be a number of things wrong with it. I don't want to spend $1000 to fix it when I'll probably want something bigger down the road. 

But in the name of NOT spending $3000 or so on a new kiln, I had a thought. I could always pick up a thermometer (pyrometer?), and see what temp it IS capable of reaching, and if it hits a temp that would fire a low-fire clay, I could just use low fire clay with it. But would it be dangerous/ill-advised to do something like that? It seems like pushing something to work harder than it is able to could be a fire-hazard, and I would really prefer not to burn down my house.

  

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Hi Lauren!

Any chance it's a Jen-Ken D-188? 

There are a few threads here that may help:

https://community.ceramicartsdaily.org/topic/17627-jenkins-kilns/

https://community.ceramicartsdaily.org/topic/15850-trouble-getting-kiln-information/

It's rated for cone 8? If so, perhaps not the best choice for mid fire work, long term. If you have an assortment/range of cones, they'll tell you what the kiln is capable of (in current trim). I don't regret shelling out for a pyrometer - helps keep track of progress, hence when to slow down during bisque firings, also allows me to do repeatable drop and holds  ...however,  it's the cones that count.

Could be the elements are mostly worn out? You might check with Euclid's for element replacement estimates. https://www.euclids.com/

Try calling Jen-Ken

https://jenkenkilns.com/contact-us.aspx

 

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On 5/4/2020 at 11:07 AM, Lauren T said:

But in the name of NOT spending $3000 or so on a new kiln,

This one is under $1600 delivered and is 18x18. Not huge but not much smaller than that one and goes to cone 10 so good for mid-fire work which is most common these days in home studios. 
http://www.clay-king.com/kilns/skutt_kilns/skutt_km_818.html?gclid=CjwKCAjwwMn1BRAUEiwAZ_jnEgQ4IMUyxjoqRAFPML85-LuYmGV4121Adr9XOURZAumOdrySjVyrYBoCw60QAvD_BwE

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8 minutes ago, Stephen said:

This one is under $1600 delivered and is 18x18. Not huge but not much smaller than that one and goes to cone 10 so good for mid-fire work which is most common these days in home studios. 
http://www.clay-king.com/kilns/skutt_kilns/skutt_km_818.html?gclid=CjwKCAjwwMn1BRAUEiwAZ_jnEgQ4IMUyxjoqRAFPML85-LuYmGV4121Adr9XOURZAumOdrySjVyrYBoCw60QAvD_BwE

I don't love 18x18 kilns. You've really only got about 15" of width inside to use, and once the posts are in you can barely fit a dinner plate. Serving bowls don't really fit at all, and you get a lot of wasted space with anything other than cylindrical forms. If it's in the budget, I highly recommend going up to a 23" wide kiln, like an L&L e23S-3 or Skutt KM1018. Things fit better, less wasted space, etc. You will probably need to upgrade the electrical circuit to the kiln to handle the larger size.

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You are right on that, bigger is certainly a betterplace to b,  at least I think getting to a 6 plus cf. The Skutt 1027 at 7cf does get closer to the 3 grand the OP mentioned with vent, furniture etc but for that you prob have a kiln that if taken care of will last for the rest of your life. Its a great size for most pots except big oval platters and is still small enough that you can run it occasionally. The 1018 looks like a great kiln and really  just looses a ring so height and number of shelves takes a hit but you save a few hundred bucks and its close to 5cf.

For full disclosure though I've never bought into spending a bunch of money on old kilns if you can possibly afford a new one with electronic controller and the OP mentioned she could. If you don't have the dough though you do the best you can with what you have and people do bring these old kilns back to life and make do with less cash upfront. 

and they all fire pots in the end!

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Thank you, all.

I will reach out to Jenken - I did when I first got the kiln, and they were friendly and helpful. I missed the label with the kiln model when I first got it, and they figured out the model with just a picture (the label wasn't in the picture). They sent me a general kiln manual, but not one specific to my kiln - I imagine it is old enough not to be in PDF format. 

It is not vented. I had to have the garage door and the side door open when it was running. I've looked into venting, and lots of information on the subject of venting.

Ultimately, I think I DO want a new kiln someday, but there are limiting factors. We had the electrician install a new outlet for the kiln, and it is a 50amp-125/250 volt plug (the number are correct, but I may have the details backwards - I am so NOT an electrician. And I'm at work and so can't go look). And the new breaker installed is a 50 volt/amp breaker. I did have my heart set on a 23x27, but most (all) of those seem to require a 208/240 and at least a 60 amp breaker. So I may be stuck with either a short kiln or a narrow kiln. :(  

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