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Old Electric Kiln


EMC
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Hello All! I've had this kiln for EVER. For the last 5 years I've stored it in a barn. I brought it out and cleaned it up, plugged it in annnnnnd........nothing. My first thought was to start searching Face Book Marketplace for a new (to me) kiln, but I hate to just throw things away, such a waste of resources, and my kids and I have fired so many beautiful pieces in this kiln so it has lots of sentimental value. With that said, where should I begin with my trouble shooting, or is it a waste of time?

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Edited by EMC
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"...or is it a waste of time?"

Likely several factors - how well do the size and features match your needs, what condition are the bricks, casing, lid, and floor in; how worn are the elements; is the wiring in good shape - along with everything else, the sitter, the stand, peep plugs, hinge, etc.

The elements wear out; expect to replace them every hundred firings or so, cone 5/6, less often if low firing, considerably more often if you're firing to cone 8-10.

If the bricks and/or lid are very crumbly and/or cracked, the cash and trouble to repair could add up.

You might post images depicting the inside, the underside of the lid, and the jacket. 

On t'other hand, if the overall condition is fair to quite good, repairs could be very well be worthwhile, given you're up to monitoring a manually operated kiln - manual, on account of the heat being controlled by rotary switches. So far, I'm not minding hanging about to operate the switches on my (similarly ancient) Skutt - holding at 1500F for bisque loads, and holding at 2000F on the cooldown side of glaze loads. I'm using a pyrometer to watch temperatures ...and putting off adding a controller to my set up, for likely I'll upgrade to a newer model someday, which likely will include an integrated controller.

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The overall shape of my kiln is good! Bricks and lid are in good shape, no cracks or crumbles. The elements are all where they should be. That's why I hate to just throw it away. I'm going down to the barn today to try again, to start it up.  I'll post my results.

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You have to push in the power button on the cone sitter 1st (it will not go on until this button is pushed in ) This is just to the right of that knob in your photo that goes to 20-then turn on the three switches and see what happens. The light should glow when the button is pushed and the switches are on

You also need to make sure that power is to the outlet in barn

Edited by Mark C.
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So I unscrewed the sitter and found it was loaded with dead wasp nests. I cleaned everything out and took pics. The brick are in really good shape. The coils are all where they should be....but the wiring.......is this even worth trying to repair?

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Doesn't look too bad, probably just needs some more cleaning. Check all the wire connections. If they're really rusted then cut off the wire connectors, strip the wires back, and crimp on new connectors. If the terminals on the switches are rusted out you can try sanding off the rust or you may need to replace the switches. Also check the condition of the plugs between the sections. If they're badly corroded then it would be worth investing in an upgrade kit, which replaces the interbox plugs with a hard-wired system. Electrical system repairs are pretty much always worth doing if the bricks are in good condition. Wiring is cheap.

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recently, a newly graduated potter visited my studio and i explained why there was a cut off leg of my old jeans hanging over my control box.   i pointed to the mud dauber nest on the ceiling and explained why that nice, heavy denim was covering the slots on the sides.

i now need a child size jean leg to do the small, test kiln.   thanks for the photos.

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And may I just say, you've all been so helpful in such good way. I tried asking questions about my kiln on another forum and people were so condescending and rude. I didn't bother responding...just deleted my account with them. There's enough anger and negativity in the world right now. I just want to get my kiln running again so that I can create! So, thank you.

Edited by EMC
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2 hours ago, EMC said:

Are the wire connectors supposed to pull out and plug in?

The wire connections are all slip-on connections. You can pull them off with pliers, just make sure you're grabbing the connector not the wire.

Give the inside a good vacuuming. Looks like it got wet at some point? A firing will likely clean up a lot of the discoloration on the bricks.

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2 minutes ago, neilestrick said:

The wire connections are all slip-on connections. You can pull them off with pliers, just make sure you're grabbing the connector not the wire.

Give the inside a good vacuuming. Looks like it got wet at some point? A firing will likely clean up a lot of the discoloration on the bricks.

Perfect! Thank you!

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Looks like the kiln is fitted with a "blank ring" - which increases the available space, but reduces the top temperature quite a bit - if you plan to work mid fire (cone 5 or 6), might have to remove that blank ring. ...ah, you did post an image of the info, yep that's a low fire kiln with the blank ring in place.

The lid looks a bit rough, but not any worse than mine; suggest you open and shut it very carefully, and allow the kiln to cool way down afore opening as well. That hole was likely added so a downdraft kiln vent could pull; did the vent system come with? I added a downdraft to my ancient Skutt, seems well worthwhile.

Looks like the elements are in very good shape.

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@Hulk, It came that way.  I thought the elements looked good, too. Tomorrow  I'm going to vacuum the insides, and use a small blower to clean up all the connections. Then I'm going to gently, with pliers, try to remove one of the connectors. Fingers crossed! 

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3 hours ago, EMC said:

Are the wire connectors supposed to pull out and plug in? I t

Replace the crimp connectors marked new in the picture below and any that are similarly corroded. You might need to clean the mating spade with light Emory cloth or fine sandpaper or worst case replace the switch if it does not clean up reasonably shiny.  Most of the ring terminals look good but they can always be removed, polished a bit, reinstalled and tightened for a good connection. Where the cord connects to the terminal block, the wire in the cord looks annealed from use, I would just replace this cord.

 

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@Bill Kielb, "Where the cord connects to the terminal block, the wire in the cord looks annealed from use, I would just replace this cord."  I'm not sure which is the terminal block.

                           

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