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Kiln Question and Appraisal


Scott.lee
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Hi there,

I'm finally at the stage in my pottery journey where I think buying a kiln would be a worthwhile investment. I've been scouring the internet for several months with no success until I got an offer to buy an old kiln: Skutt Model C181 with all the furniture and other accessories. I already went to check it out in person and the condition was fairly good considering that it was 30 year old kiln but he was asking for $950 CAD which I brought down to $700 CAD. I don't mind buying a used kiln to learn more about firing and glazing but I also don't want to overpay for it. I live in Canada so there's not a lot of pottery equipment for sale but I am willing to pass on this if it's a bad deal.

Here are the images from the seller down below:

Thank you so much for all your help :D

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Edited by Scott.lee
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@Scott.lee If you plan to fire to cone 6, don't buy it. It maxes out at cone 6, which means you'll only get to cone 6 if your elements are in perfect condition, which means you'll only get about 25-35 firings before they need to be changed. By contrast, a cone 10 kiln will go up to 150 firings on a set of elements. You want a kiln that can got to cone 8 minimum, cone 10 ideally.

The other issue with this kiln is that the Sitter doesn't have a backup timer, so it's not as safe as it could be in terms of shutting off when you want it to. And the control boxes on that model are narrower and the sitter is built differently than modern boxes so you can't just put in a new sitter without changing all 3 boxes.

18" wide kilns are also very limiting unless you only make narrow or small items. You can't fit a serving bowl in it, and there's a lot of wasted space when firing smaller bowls. They're good for mugs, but not wider pieces. I'd wait for a 23" wide kiln as it will give you a lot more options on what forms you can fire.

I also think that $700 is too high, and you're going to need to buy more shelves and more posts.

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Just now, Scott.lee said:

@neilestrick thanks for your opinion! I will be more patient and see what I can find. Used kilns are pretty difficult to come by up in the north :P

A new kiln will last you 20-30+ years, so if you have the funds it's a worthwhile investment. Otherwise, keep looking, something will turn up eventually.

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scottlee, i agree with neil that it is overpriced.  if anyone planning to sell a kiln reads this thread, notice how well the seller photographed the entire kiln and its accessories.   this is the best set of photos i have ever seen.   you can even see that the element wires are standing up straight and correct.   the price is way too high.

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700 Canadian dollars ~= 553 US Dollars, according to exchange rate search this a.m.

I'm not finding info on rating for that kiln without the blank ring - was just curious; what I am finding is adding the blank ring reduces the rating due to more volume and mass at same power.

 

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20 minutes ago, Hulk said:

700 Canadian dollars ~= 553 US Dollars, according to exchange rate search this a.m.

I'm not finding info on rating for that kiln without the blank ring - was just curious; what I am finding is adding the blank ring reduces the rating due to more volume and mass at same power.

 

In looking at the serial plate again, I'm wondering if the cone 6 rating is for the kiln without the blank ring. That kiln would be 18x18 without the blank ring, and new 18x18 kilns run 24 amps for cone 10. That kiln being 20 amps would likely be cone 1 or less with the blank ring.

Anyone know what the C in the model number stands for? I've seen a lot of 181 kilns but never a C181. The wattage seems to be about the same on both.

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On 12/15/2020 at 6:44 AM, oldlady said:

scottlee, i agree with neil that it is overpriced.  if anyone planning to sell a kiln reads this thread, notice how well the seller photographed the entire kiln and its accessories.   this is the best set of photos i have ever seen.   you can even see that the element wires are standing up straight and correct.   the price is way too high.

Thanks, @Hulk! The seller is actually also a kiln technician and he seemed very knowledgeable. I just didn't know if I was getting a good deal with $700 CAD. The overall condition wasn't bad but I was also curious to know if it was worth it to buy a kiln that was already 30 years old that can only go up to cone 6 max with or without the middle ring. The kiln is still up for sale but I don't know if I should take the plunge with this one in particular.

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On 12/17/2020 at 3:11 AM, Scott.lee said:

The kiln is still up for sale but I don't know if I should take the plunge with this one in particular.

Seems like if you plan on firing to cone 6 then this kiln is not for you at any price. If you plan on lowfiring only then definitely something to consider price wise. I am glad he is a kiln tech but would also think this would be the first thing he would point out to you. As a kiln tech he knows this well.

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12 hours ago, Bill Kielb said:

Seems like if you plan on firing to cone 6 then this kiln is not for you at any price. If you plan on lowfiring only then definitely something to consider price wise. I am glad he is a kiln tech but would also think this would be the first thing he would point out to you. As a kiln tech he knows this well.

Yeah that's good to know,

I have decided to move on and look for a kiln that fires at up to at least cone 8 :)

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