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Hi, I am going to look at a used kiln tomorrow to set up in my basement for a home studio at some point. I have been making pottery for many years in classes and would like to do it from home. It is an electric L&L Econo Kiln with shelves and furniture. The overall height of the kiln is 37" and it is 35" at the widest part (where the control units are) It is made up of a 5" stand, a 2" botttom and 2" lid and three 9" rings that are 23" in diameter. The seller bought it from someone else a few years ago so it has been moved a few times. She believes the kiln is between 20 and 25 years old. The pictures look like the kiln is in excellent condition although she said there is one cracked shelf. She is asking $450 but I am going to negotiate with her and hope she will take less. My concern in reading about used kilns is if the kiln is that old and lead glazes were used, is the kiln contaminated? Any thoughts on that and any anything else would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for your input.

Lana

 

We looked at the kiln today. It was much smaller than I expected even tho I was given the dimensions. The kiln was made in 1983 according to the serial number so it is 30 years old. It surprisingly passed the lead test we took with us and did look in pretty good condition. I offered $350 for the kiln but she would not accept and I was very reluctant to go higher than that. I would not be happy with the small kiln anyway so will hold out since I am not in a hurry. Thank you to everyone who commented. You were extremely helpful.

Lana

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Guest JBaymore

The lead issue is easy to test for....... get a lead test kit from any good hardware store. Swab the brickwork interior hot-face surface somewher near the elements in the upper third of the inside chamber. If it comes up positive.... pass.

 

Also, check your installation location as to the voltage you have available on the supply service and make sure that the kiln is wired for that voltage. If the voltage rating is mis-matched, you'll experience some issues. And you possibly (likely) will have to change out the elements.....which is not all that cheap.

 

best,

 

...............john

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The lead issue is easy to test for....... get a lead test kit from any good hardware store. Swab the brickwork interior hot-face surface somewher near the elements in the upper third of the inside chamber. If it comes up positive.... pass.

 

Also, check your installation location as to the voltage you have available on the supply service and make sure that the kiln is wired for that voltage. If the voltage rating is mis-matched, you'll experience some issues. And you possibly (likely) will have to change out the elements.....which is not all that cheap.

 

best,

 

...............john

 

 

Thank you John! I will buy a test kit on the way to see the kiln tomorrow.

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I think 450 is high for that old of kiln, around here old kins don't bring much because everyone wants a programmable kiln. You may need to rewire the kiln and that is an expense you need to figure in your total cost. When I look at a used kiln I always assume it needs rewiring. I had put in a bid for that same size, age and type of kiln at an estate sale recently for 300 but turned it down when i found out that they had sold the shelves and stilts. Denice

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$450 is high, but those old L&L kilns are usually in really good shape. The bricks hold up very well over time. Verify the voltage is what you need. Take a look at the elements. If they are corroded, or the coils are starting to lay over or sag at the corners, it probably needs new elements. Depending on the model, that means 6-9 elements at $50 each. That shouldn't necessarily mean you should pass on it, though. L&L elements are easy to change. Also look at the sensing rod on the sitter. If it's corroded away to nearly a point it needs to be replaced, at about $8. If the metal cone supports need replacing, they're about $7. Check the plug for corrosion. Check the jumper cords between the sections for corrosion. If the wires are really crispy and crack and snap when you bend the cords, they are probably due for replacement. It all adds up, however if you can get the kiln for a couple hundred bucks, you'll have one like new for another $400 in repairs. It's like buying a used car that needs brakes and tires.

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  • 8 years later...

I have been offered a free L & L Econo Kiln that was manufactured in 1976. I am nervous about working with one that old, as I'm sure much would have to be done to restore it. It has a kiln sitter. Important information is that I have no experience with kilns (other than one time I loaded some pieces in). My husband feels confident that he could replace any elements, etc. I also wonder if it would be at all possible to convert the control to electronic. Is this kiln worth the trouble, given its age? I have photos

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Post photos. Chances are you'll need to replace all the wiring, as wires that old are usually pretty brittle. You can still get most parts and elements from L&L.  I wouldn't mess with trying to convert it to a digital kiln, as that gets complicated. Instead, get a wall mounted digital control box to plug it into. Super easy and worth the money, and you can use the sitter as a backup safety.

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25 minutes ago, neilestrick said:

Post photos. Chances are you'll need to replace all the wiring, as wires that old are usually pretty brittle. You can still get most parts and elements from L&L.  I wouldn't mess with trying to convert it to a digital kiln, as that gets complicated. Instead, get a wall mounted digital control box to plug it into. Super easy and worth the money, and you can use the sitter as a 

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It's a beauty! Check the wiring, it's cheap to replace it. That sitter is not ideal since it doesn't have a backup timer. If the cone ever sticks, which is rare but can definitely happen, it'll over-fire. You'll want to be sure you're checking it. It would be a good kiln to plug into a wall-mount digital control box, or if you're handy and know about electricity, convert the existing control box to a digital unit. But it'll work just fine as is as long as you're diligent about checking on it. An inexpensive handheld digital pyrometer would be a good thing to have, so you can see the actual temperature in the kiln.

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Would you pay $2000 for a used kiln?

I'm looking at a used Skutt 1810. It belongs to a friend of a friend (an experienced potter who I totally trust). She said it was not fired very much and was well cared for. It's in excellent condition. My friend thought $2000 is a fair offer since it has an envirovent and furniture.

Brand new that setup would cost me $3000. I offered $2000 because of the excellent condition, but hadn't asked how old the kiln was when I made the offer. (I know :( ). Turns out it was bought new in 1998! I didn't realize it was 22 years old.

I'm uncomfortable with this now. Should I skip it and go new? Or is a well cared for 22 year old kiln worth that kind of money?

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35 minutes ago, Potterhead said:

Would you pay $2000 for a used kiln?

I'm looking at a used Skutt 1810. It belongs to a friend of a friend (an experienced potter who I totally trust). She said it was not fired very much and was well cared for. It's in excellent condition. My friend thought $2000 is a fair offer since it has an envirovent and furniture.

Brand new that setup would cost me $3000. I offered $2000 because of the excellent condition, but hadn't asked how old the kiln was when I made the offer. (I know :( ). Turns out it was bought new in 1998! I didn't realize it was 22 years old.

I'm uncomfortable with this now. Should I skip it and go new? Or is a well cared for 22 year old kiln worth that kind of money?

Do you mean Skutt 1018?

No, I wouldn't. Even if the bricks don't have any chips in them, they wear out with use and become brittle. Can she tell you how many firings it has on it? Does it have a digital controller? Are the elements still good? How many firings do they have on them?

Which generation Envirovent- does the motor sit under the kiln of off to the side?

What is the condition of the furniture?

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Neil,

Yes, I meant a Skutt 1018. I've included 2 pictures.

I do know that it is the older envirovent with the motor directly under the kiln.

I'll ask her the firing questions you suggested.

 

Edit: I just heard back. It is a digital controller (Kilnmaster). She will have to make a guess on the number of firings since she lost her kiln notebook when she moved. She hasn't used it in a while and doesn't know how to assess the firing elements or how you would know how many firings they have left in them.

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Edited by Potterhead
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The kiln does look very good, near perfect, but I'd take a look inside the control panel and see what condition the wiring and connections are in. Things can corrode from sitting around for years. If the wires are feeling crispy or crack when you bend them, or are turning brown, they'll need replacing. If the wiring connections are corroded or rusted they'll need replacing. If this has the old clear plastic relays and they're no longer clear but brown, they'll need replacing. If the terminals on the control board are showing signs of corrosion, it may need replacing soon. The old Envirovent isn't worth much, as they tended to burn out fairly quickly from being so close to the heat of the kiln. They also tended to sometimes prevent the floor slab from sitting solidly on the stand, which results in the slab cracking. I'd plan on getting a new model.

You'll have to assess all these things and see if it's worth the $2000 or not. I'd say the vent alone should bring it down at least a few hundred dollars. If it need wiring and relays, that's another $150 in costs to you. If the controller is looking bad, that'll cost $500 to replace and upgrade to the touch screen model.

 

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9 minutes ago, Potterhead said:

Thank you Neil. You've given me everything I need to think about.

At this point, since there is no record of the firings, I'm inclined to buy new. I'm looking at the same size kiln from L&L.

The only down side of buying new right now is that the lead time on kilns is 8-12 weeks. You may be able to find a basic Easy Fire model in stock from Clay-King, but if you want the Genesis controller upgrade or quad elements (both of which I highly recommend) they probably won't have that. It would be worth the wait, though!

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3 hours ago, Potterhead said:

Thank you Neil. You've given me everything I need to think about.

At this point, since there is no record of the firings, I'm inclined to buy new. I'm looking at the same size kiln from L&L.

Having a "backup" kiln wouldn't be a bad idea, bargaining for that kiln could mean no downtime ever. 

Seems too nice to not at least give em an honest lowballing of $600 ish.

Sorce

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5 hours ago, Potterhead said:

Thank you Neil. You've given me everything I need to think about.

At this point, since there is no record of the firings, I'm inclined to buy new. I'm looking at the same size kiln from L&L.

Just wondering, who came up with the 2 grand price? That is a 4.5 cf kiln.

We have a 9cf oval electronic controller from early 00's that was $1800 with everything (vent, furiture), delivered and it has been moved 4 times now and fired 100's of loads and it works great. We have a Skutt 1027 from 2015ish (actually bought 2 of these) that were both under 2k with furniture and another $350 for vents and that is a 7 cf kiln.

I mean I dunno what a 5cf kiln cost in 1998 but I I find it hard to believe it was more than $1200-$1300 with controller and vent,  maybe a bit more (since controllers were real expensive at first ) . Does she have a receipt? I mean it really does look like it's in great condition and if price were a more reasonable $6-$7, even $800 it might be a great kiln for you if 5cf is big enough. The new ones are a lot more now but that really does not mean that people that own the ones are getting that kind of money. Maybe this friend of theirs just didn't know what they were talking about but the actual owner may get it and be perfectly happy with a fair 50-60% or so of what they paid 22 years ago. Maybe hit the pottery boards and see if you can find some comps to back up the offer.

New stuff is fun of course and  5 cf kiln may be a bit small for what you want but for a hobbyist it also means it doesn't take that long to fill so you can fir more often. Just somethin g to think about, have fun with what ever you get.

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@Potterhead - I have the same kiln that's 25 yo. It was probably in slightly worse condition than the one you're considering (cracks in the floor) and the vent's motor wasn't functional, so I had to replace it along with elements and thermocouple. Now the fun part - I got it for only $400 Canadian (with furniture and a bunch of other goodies). I definitely wouldn't pay anything close to $2K for it, would just go new.

Edited by 2Relaxed
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12 hours ago, neilestrick said:

New Skutt KM1018 with shelf kit and vent = $3000. The $2000 was just a number they decided on as being fair compared to the new price.

no I get that. Yes it cost 3 grand to get a new 5cf Skutt and vent but I really don't think that means a 1998 one with a vent is worth anywhere near 2k no matter how little use it has seen and if I understood the original post the go between friend thought that was a good tie in and suggested it as an offer. I was suggesting that perhaps the actual owner gets that the kiln is not worth more than they probably paid 22 years ago and they might be open to negotiating a more realistic price. Maybe not but I wouldn't think anyone would pay anywhere near 2k for a 1998 kiln, electronic controller or not.  

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I also think $2000 is too high, but from the buyer's standpoint there's virtually no difference between a 20 year old kiln that's been fired 50 times and a 2 year old kiln that's been fired 50 times, assuming there's no corrosion to the control board. The construction of the kiln is identical if it has the spring loaded hinge. The only real changes would be minor changes with the controller hardware and software. And the old kiln probably has better stainless steel banding. I don't think the seller would necessarily be making money on the deal, but probably coming close to breaking even, and the buyer could be saving $1000 on what is basically the same kiln. For me the vent is the deal breaker, as the old style vent is definitely inferior. 

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