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Cress FX 23P Operation


Elsa
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First post to this website because I can’t seem to find the answers I’m looking for anywhere else. I’ve read every finely printed online manual but it’s all very vague. 
I recently received a Cress Kiln. I understand how the kiln sitter works. I understand using cones. What I’m not getting enough information on is how long I’m suppose to set my timer and what I’m suppose to turn the thumb dial to. It goes from 0-10. The lower the number the lower it heats? How does that work when I need it to fire to a specific temperature? Also if I’m trying to start low then adjust to medium, then high, what am I moving the dial to? I have to test fire it with the new kiln furniture I have before I feel confident in running it with pottery and I’m feeling a little lost. I have an 04 for bisque fire and cone 6 for glaze fire. 
 

Everyone seems so helpful here I figured I couldn’t go wrong asking!

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The timer is simply a countdown timer from ten hours to zero and is a backup fail safe device to make sure the kiln shuts off. Traditionally it is set for a small amount of time greater than the expected firing time. So if one expects the firing to end at 7 hours then the timer is set at seven hours thirty minutes.  Now for the hard part, one needs to learn a little bit about firing schedules and controlling their kiln, assuming it has manual controls. What type of. Firing controls does it have?

This may help, although not the best explanation it should give you an idea. https://youtu.be/_K_Glhstc4Q

 

 

Edited by Bill Kielb
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“The main consideration for firing speed is that you should not fire faster than the ware will absorb heat, and you should not cool faster than the ware will release heat. Firing and cooling rapidly will result in stressing and even cracking the ware due to uneven expansion. Very thick pieces, such as hand molded sculptures, require very slow heating and cooling. Set the speed control on “normal” or “A” for pieces made in molds, while a setting of "E" can be used for most handmade pieces. For very thick handmade pieces or for low temperature soaking of these pieces or porcelain, use the manual setting for soaking, then turn the speed control to "E" or slow speed when you want to proceed.”

 

I don’t have a A-E dial option. Only the 1-10 firing adjustment. 
I’ve seen other Cress Kilns that have a dial under the kiln sitter that will adjust the speed of the firing and I don’t have that on my kiln.
I was wondering if most of this would be trial and error, but was hoping that there’d be a little more guild lines. 

94E35FBA-2ECF-4446-A2FC-F108234F53F1.jpeg

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7 hours ago, Elsa said:

is how long I’m suppose to set my timer and what I’m suppose to turn the thumb dial to. It goes from 0-10.

Good to see your timer actually goes from 0 to 20

5 hours ago, Elsa said:

I was wondering if most of this would be trial and error, but was hoping that there’d be a little more guild lines. 

Yes it will be trial and error based upon when you turn the firing knob ( not the timer) from low to high and dependent on how fully your kiln is loaded.. As Neil mentioned other manuals might give some insight. As a general rule for most ordinary pottery glaze firings tend to go 7-9 hours and average 300-450 degrees per hour rate. For bisque fires 10-12 hours at an average rate of 200 degrees per hour. How long you bisque has a great impact on ensuring removal of all the organics.

Drying things off and removing liquid water usually is a very slow warming over 1, 2, 3 hours as needed or warm up the kiln to 180 degrees, turn off and let it sit overnight. Some strategy to warm up but not make it to boiling point so things dry gently and slowly. No steam.

As far as firing speed, manual kiln operators often after dry do something like:  turn to low for two hours, medium 2 hours, then high until off. Low medium and high being relative to the kiln, load size,and experience which might mean turn to dial indicated 1 for two hours, then 3 for two hours, then high or 10 and let it make temp. You will need to experiment and learn, but your general goal is to be 7-9 hours for glaze and 10-12 hours for bisque …….. eventually with experience it will be whatever has proven to give you the best looking results for your glazes, clay, throwing and artistic preference.

Edited by Bill Kielb
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I’m sorry I should have been more specific, yes the timer goes up to 20. It’s the thumb wheel for the temperature that goes to 10. 
Thank you for the help! I’ll have to fidget with it to see what works. I’ve also read to leave the kiln on low overnight with the lid open to candle. Would I achieve the same by only running it a few hours then turning it off?

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5 hours ago, Elsa said:

Would I achieve the same by only running it a few hours then turning it off?

Turning it on low and leaving the kiln open may keep it below boiling, depends on the kiln and surroundings. Preheating it and then letting it sit overnight works for some folks as well and uses less electric.

In the end it’s whatever works best for you and allows you to heat up the pots gently over enough time for them to dry. Automatic kiln controls allow you to set a preheat cycle where the pots are heated slowly to about 180 degrees  and held there precisely. Using that method often it’s easy to say 1,2 or 3 hours is enough time. Other methods are usually figured out over time, so experience is a thing. The basic idea is heat them (gradually) some temperature less than boiling and they will dry reasonably fast with no risk of shattering later because of steam.

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Hello! I'm so glad I found this conversation. I have the same kiln, acquired from the family of a deceased friend and fellow ceramist, and I'd like to start firing it.  Everything I'm reading about firing manual kilns assumes there are at least three dials that go from low to high - and that's what I fired in the past (20 years ago).  I understand about the timer, but if I want a slow bisque fire, to cone 04: I assume I'd set the Firemate speed control at the lowest seeting, but what do I do with the Thumbwheel?  Do I set both the Thumbwheel and speed control at a chosen setting for the whole firing...or do I slowly increase the speed? 

Did you fire yet, Elsa? If so, please share the schedule you used and the results. I hope to do my first test firing tomorrow. 

Thank you so much!

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I haven’t fired yet! Still waiting on the kiln sitter cone holders that were missing from my kiln. Missing the firemate dial has definitely been the biggest setback. I can’t seem to find instructions on how to fire otherwise. But I’m happy to know now I just have to cross my fingers and see what happens. Apply the knowledge I have and hope for the best. At least I’m not scouring the internet anymore haha. 

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@Kate in Kentucky only

This report on somebody having trouble with a "stuck" thumb-wheel seems to provide some insight on how it's supposed to work (and how to try to unstick it)
https://www.yellowcottagestudios.com/manually-firing-my-cress-kiln/

Also this posting

I'm under the impression that when correctly setup the thumb-wheel turns automatically with a speed (or profile?) governed by the speed control.

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@Elsa @Kate in Kentucky

I’m so sorry I missed this thread! My son cracked his ankle the day this was posted, and I wasn’t watching this part of the forum as closely.

I have one of these that I’ve been firing for years. It’s a really weird steampunk setup, but I’m pretty happy with it for the most part. I wouldn’t recommend it to otherCanadians because of the difficulty getting parts and service, but when you figure it out, it’s a good piece of equipment. If you’re in the US, it shouldn’t be an issue.

The timer is a safety shutoff, in case your cone melts into place, and the lever that drops cone sitter weight gets stuck on the cone. It doesn’t happen very often but when it does, it’s epic. In a bad way. It’s only happened to me once in 25 years of making pots, and that was this spring, which is the only reason I even bring it up.

The thumbwheel is actually the intensity settings, like on the old kilns that just had low-medium-high rheostats. The Firemate controller is a little servo motor on a infinite switch similar to older stoves, and that controls how fast the kiln turns itself up on its own. It’s a really analog kiln controller. If you put the kiln on manual it won’t adjust itself up and, you can either just leave it on low for something like a drying soak before firing, or you can adjust it yourself.  If you start off the firing on 0 and 0, you get a really slow firing. If you start off on 0 for the thumbwheel and the speed on one of the middle, it goes faster, etc. The idea is that you can play around with intensity and time to get what you need for your glazes and clay. You can also adjust the dials mid firing if you need to.

My 7 cu ft number takes about 8-9 hours for a bisque on slow, depending on how tightly I have it packed. Because I use a red clay and bisque to 04, I want that slow speed on both firings, so I use the 0 and 0 setting. A cone 7 glaze hits top temperature in about 10-10.5 hours, again starting on slow and depending on pack. Soak time is extra. Your results may vary.

 

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That was very helpful, thank you! 
I found out that my kiln actually has a firemate. Yes I feel ridiculous, haha. In my defense I don’t have easy access to my kiln, not being able to hook it up where I live it’s been kept at a relatives house. But I searched it recently and for some reason the firemate is attached to the side of the kiln! Happy to use your advice when I fire!

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