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Test kilns


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Until such time as I can afford to build my kiln shed I think it would be good to get a test kiln so I can work on nailing down the firing characteristics of burnished pieces.  I've burnished in the past but have never been able to fire because the community studios I've worked at only fire at cone 6.  Apparently cone 5 is also a thing now (at least in the West) but definitely not 018.

BUT if I'm going to have a test kiln I figure it ought to be as capable as possible for when I DO start getting in to firing glazes and such, plus I have a penchant for lots of different kinds of clay and I like to see what I can do with the clay bodies just because. 

At first I thought the L&L test kilns were way 'spensive, but after looking at various test kilns I'm up into the 2k range or close enough to it that I may have been wrong about that.  So I'll be looking at those again.  But for now I've come across this Olympic 1214HE.  What is weirding me out about it is that it is a 220v ELECTRIC kiln - with a pilot light?

Does it really have a pilot light and if so, what is that pilot light FOR?

Edited by Pyewackette
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That one is 240v (220 isn't much of a thing anymore, the national grid is standard on 120/240 now) and being small, it should be able to handle midfire with no problems. The issue with small kilns and testing is that they cool so much more rapidly than a big kiln, so your glaze results may be different. To get around that, you need to be facile with the ramp hold programming so you can add slow cool segments to the end of the firing. As for the pilot light, that's just the little red light bulb on the side of the controller case that blinks on and off in tandem with when the elements are on.

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4 hours ago, Pyewackette said:

What is weirding me out about it is that it is a 220v ELECTRIC kiln - with a pilot light?

Nice kiln!  Pilot light would be pilot indicator likely because the solid state relays are mostly silent. The specifications in the side panel say 240 volt.

Edited by Bill Kielb
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If you want a kiln that'll run on a 120V 20 amp circuit, look at the Olympic Doll-E. Nice little test kiln that'll go to cone 10, so great for cone 6 stuff. It's small, though. But you may already have a 20 amp line in the garage, or it's easy to pull new wire through an existing 15 amp line.

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I'm good with putting in a proper circuit for it.  I'll be setting it up in my (2 car) garage (I currently own zero cars). That kiln in particular claims that if you get one of the upgraded controllers, you can program it to match the larger kiln cycles.

But now that I'm up in the stratosphere for a test kiln (aka around $2k for the kiln properly kitted out) I'm looking at L&L small kilns as well.  I'm in the middle of packing for a major move (U-Haul trickery is involved and has made this more complicated) so I haven't had a chance to look much more since yesterday but I'm definitely in the market for a decent test kiln.  Is the upgraded controller for the small L&L kilns capable of mimicking the larger kiln firing/cooldown cycles?  I'm looking at 1.5cf up to 2.6cf. Mainly because they don't have anything between .5cft and 1.5cf, LOL!

There are so many L&Ls in that price range and they all look the same but have different (but very similar) model numbers.

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Posted (edited)

@Hulk 

Yeah that was my original plan, but then I found out 2x4s are $9 apiece LOL!

I don't want to put something that size in my garage.  I just want a test kiln - I'll have use for it anyway.  No reason to fire up a 7cft kiln just to see at what temp the new clay will preserve the burnishing LOL!

Plus other stufz.  Plus plus the 2.5/2.6ish cft kilns from L&L seem to be about the same price as the 1.5cft ones.  Sort of. The Olympic is .86 cft as I recall and that IS big enough, but @ 1800ish once its kitted out we're into the realm of (slightly larger) kilns.  It's big enough, but an eensy bit larger for the price wouldn't hurt either.  And I don't know that much about Olympic kilns or kilns this small (or kilns in general for that matter).  I'd be good stopping at the Olympic but figured I ought to consider the smaller L&Ls as well.  Assuming the way Olympic touts the controller (as far as "matching" ramping up and down and firing and all that to make it look like a bigger kiln) is correct.  If its not then I ought to keep looking anyway.

Edited by Pyewackette
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1 hour ago, Pyewackette said:

Assuming the way Olympic touts the controller (as far as "matching" ramping up and down and firing and all that to make it look like a bigger kiln) is correct. 

Automatic kiln controllers can be programmed to ramp up slow to fast and they can be programmed to mimic slow cooling by drop and hold which is popular with many potters for a certain look in their glaze. Bigger kilns cool slower than small kilns because of the stored heat but even folks with big kilns often employ the slow cool or drop and hold simply for the look they get. The Bartlett controllers have done this for years and many others as well.

Edited by Bill Kielb
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The difference between all the L&L test kilns is the max temp that they will reach and which controller it has. You want a cone 10 kiln with the full Dynatrol or Genesis, not the 3 button controller. The 3 button works fine, but it's not as easy to use and won't be the controller you get on your big kiln.

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