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Paragon A88B questions


Raissas
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Hi,

Newbie here! I was hoping I could get some help. I hope I’m posting in the right place. I have been taking ceramics classes for years (with the teacher firing my greenware and glazed  items) but I’ve never had my own kiln.
I now have an opportunity to purchase a used Paragon A88B kiln. The person is posting for an elderly family member in town and doesn’t know anything about the kiln. From the pictures the brick and elements look good but the kiln sitter looks really old. Can I replace that with an electronic version?  Would I have to replace other electrical parts as well?

Also the plate on the kiln lists 240 /120V what does that mean?
 

I’ve added pictures.

Any help  would be appreciated. Thank you so much!

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1EAAD1C2-38E3-46E8-A8EC-CE1C66C5C73E.jpeg

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Hi, your kiln looks in good shape. Have a go at it and try a firing before you get a, digital kiln controller. There are many available, but doing your research can narrow it down to what you want. 

The 240v is the power needed to run the kiln and get the element to the temperature your kiln is rated for. I wouldn't worry about the 120v. I have a Paragon A82B but never used the a 120v outlet on the control box. But you can call Paragon and ask. 

But more import than that is the amps. I see you have 25.9 amps. So the breaker must be at 30 amps or above. Best to ask Paragon or any qualified electrician.  Get this done first then fire, then decide if you should spend the extra money on the digital kiln controller.

Best of luck. ~marko

Edited by Marko
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14 minutes ago, Marko said:

Hi, your kiln looks in good shape. Have a go at it and try a firing before you get a, digital kiln controller. There are many available, but doing your research can narrow it down to what you want. 

The 240v is the power needed to run the kiln and get the element to the temperature your kiln is rated for. I wouldn't worry about the 120v. I have a Paragon A82B but never used the a 120v outlet on the control box. But you can call Paragon and ask. 

But more import than that is the amps. I see you have 25.9 amps. So the breaker must be at 30 amps or above. Best to ask Paragon or any qualified electrician.  Get this done first then fire, then decide if you should spend the extra money on the digital kiln controller.

Best of luck. ~marko

Thank you so much for your input! It is appreciated!

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These old Paragon kilns are wired differently than most kilns these days. They are 120/240V, meaning some of the time the switches cause the elements to run on 120V and other times the elements use 240V. Consequently, the 4-wire plug and receptacle with a neutral is essential.  The kiln will not operate properly on a conventional 3-wire 240V circuit. As Marko notes, a 30 amp circuit is minimum, but 40 amps is maximum.  The outlet on the top of the control box is actually 120/240V, and was intended to power an extension ring if desired. Otherwise, it's not good for much else. As for digital controllers, the external wall-mount Skutt KM-1 is not suitable for this kiln. It will only work with a straight 240V 3-wire cord with no neutral. As noted, this kiln requires a neutral. The Orton AF4000 wall-mount controller can be special ordered with the 120/240V circuitry. If you are adventuresome and facile with electrical wiring, you could replace the kiln sitter mechanism with an Olympic ElectroSitter.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Did you ever fire it up? I just spent a ton of $ getting all my electric in. My electrician found it to be a doosy. Wound up special ordering 208v elements. Cleaned up all the relays. I test fired for 18+ hours and couldn't bend an 04 cone. I'm worried the settings are wired backwards. On low all 4 elements glow, medium every other, and high only the lowest element. I'm new to manual kilns, and I know theres a lit to learn. But not much info out there on this model kiln so any advice would be greatly appreciated! 

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Go to the paragon website and get the wiring diagram for your model. Then you will need to check the wiring is appropriate for your house (If in a house, a neutral and two hots for 120v / 240v).  208 v does not make sense for a home installation it generally only occurs in three phase installations.. Then if all correct you will need to troubleshoot 

Edited by Bill Kielb
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On 11/28/2021 at 5:54 PM, Dick White said:

These old Paragon kilns are wired differently than most kilns these days. They are 120/240V, meaning some of the time the switches cause the elements to run on 120V and other times the elements use 240V. Consequently, the 4-wire plug and receptacle with a neutral is essential.  The kiln will not operate properly on a conventional 3-wire 240V circuit. As Marko notes, a 30 amp circuit is minimum, but 40 amps is maximum.  The outlet on the top of the control box is actually 120/240V, and was intended to power an extension ring if desired. Otherwise, it's not good for much else. As for digital controllers, the external wall-mount Skutt KM-1 is not suitable for this kiln. It will only work with a straight 240V 3-wire cord with no neutral. As noted, this kiln requires a neutral. The Orton AF4000 wall-mount controller can be special ordered with the 120/240V circuitry. If you are adventuresome and facile with electrical wiring, you could replace the kiln sitter mechanism with an Olympic ElectroSitter.

Thank you so very much for your input. While I am adventurous, I am a bit anxious to deal with older electronics. 

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On 11/28/2021 at 6:54 PM, oldlady said:

brings back good memories, that is what i started out with in 1972.  it worked very well, good luck to you with it.

Ah, thank you! I haven't purchased. I'm just very anxious about not knowing if it will fire up or not.  The person selling it does not have the right outlet to plug it in. :-(

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8 hours ago, PotteryFarmer said:

Did you ever fire it up? I just spent a ton of $ getting all my electric in. My electrician found it to be a doosy. Wound up special ordering 208v elements. Cleaned up all the relays. I test fired for 18+ hours and couldn't bend an 04 cone. I'm worried the settings are wired backwards. On low all 4 elements glow, medium every other, and high only the lowest element. I'm new to manual kilns, and I know theres a lit to learn. But not much info out there on this model kiln so any advice would be greatly appreciated! 

Actually no, I didn't buy it. I was afraid of what you are going through happening to me!! I'm so sorry, that really stinks. I think I'm going to just buy a new one. This is a great place to get a lot of information and make informed decisions. Best of luck to you.

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3 hours ago, Bill Kielb said:

Go to the paragon website and get the wiring diagram for your model. Then you will need to check the wiring is appropriate for your house (If in a house, a neutral and two hots for 120v / 240v).  208 v does not make sense for a home installation it generally only occurs in three phase installations.. Then if all correct you will need to troubleshoot 

Thank you for the info. 

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  • 9 months later...

I just bought an old dusty A88B ($40 + gas) with ok ceramics but with a creamed power box. It appears to have fallen onto its side (the 4 way switches are crushed and unrecognizable).  At $40-60 ea, I"m hesitant to buy new ones only to encounter other problems.  The sitter looks weary as well but only seems a bit rusty.

Could I finesse the funky 50 year old electronics by simply operating the two element sets as two separate 120 V (30A) circuits each driven by its own modern 'infinite' power controller (variacs or TBD) per the attached jpg? Obviously each would have to be on it's own dedicated 120 v circuit. In addition, since there would now be two circuits, the sitter would have to drive a relay to switch both.  A timer would be nice but I could live with cones (& vigilance) since I only need 1100F or so.

If practical, can anyone suggest some low cost but adequate controllers and relays (and a timer)?

 

Thx    J

KS mod.jpg

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1 hour ago, jhb said:

Could I finesse the funky 50 year old electronics by simply operating the two element sets as two separate 120 V (30A) circ

I think I would opt for wiring the elements in series (high power) for each ring and feed them with their own infinite switch 240 v no nuetral. Fix up the sitter and use it to feed everything as a safety. Clearly remark everything for 240v operation with a ground. (3 wire). Just like more modern kilns that do not use a neutral. There are no 120v auxiliary loads this way so no need to run the neutral.  The infinite switches will provide variability for firing. Safe neat wiring practices for load and temperature rating is also a must though IMO. 4 way switch below to give you an idea of typical operation. If you wire two elements in series they can be driven by 240 v without a neutral at their junction.

 

BE79A2E9-4C04-4A96-AD5A-AF7BF62475EF.jpeg

Edited by Bill Kielb
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to anyone seeing a kiln like the photo in the original post, that is a really good kiln for a first one.   notice how little firing has been done in it.   look at the shiny metal above the peepholes.  nobody fired that thing to 2300 degrees as it says on the label.  if they had, there would be smoky burn marks at the top of the peepholes.   the very clean top bricks show minimal heating.  the floor is pristine, nobody ran glazes all over it.

 the elements may be original to the date of purchase.   i would bet it was used by someone whose hobby was painting bisqued ware from a " ceramics shop" that today we would call a "paint your own pottery".   that would mean it was only used to cone 06, about 1800 degrees F if i remember it right.  the sitter is not as clean as it could be, a damp rag would remove that white stuff.  the tiny bits of surface rust i see here and there are nothing to worry about.

yes, it is not in sections for easy moving but it is only 18 inches deep  and not that heavy.   it is not so wide that going through a normal door will be a problem.  it gave good service to someone back in the 1970s and would continue to give good service today with the proper electrical connections.  it would be a definite buy for me.

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I've got two kilns in my shop right now that I'm converting to digital systems. One is 35+ years old and never been fired, the other is 33 years old and has only been fired a handful of times and only to low fire temps. I only paid $1000 for the pair. Old kilns can be a great value!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Bill K
Thanks for your insight on my A88B rewiring (22Sep comment).  I had hoped to simplify the circuitry (dropping the 'funky' neutral) by using two 120V/30A infinity switches, to drive two separate 120V line circuits (easier to access in my garage) -  one circuit for each pair of elements.  Thus, this drove the need to modify the sitter relay to drive two separate circuits.
But they (high amp switches) don't seem to exist (lots of dryer infinity switches at 120/240-15A but nothing apparent for the 30A I'd need).  And an extra sitter relay adds unnecessary complication

Thus your recom to stay with the sitter 240V relay makes sense.
j

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Your kiln appears to be 6226 watts or 25.9 amps, let’s call it 26 amps. 1/2 the power is from the top ring and 1/2 the power is from the bottom ring. So  26 amps/2 = 13 amps load on each infinite switch.

The elements must stay in series (No neutral connected at this junction) and each series group gets fed from the infinite switch. H1 to one side of the element group and H2 to the other side.

Sketch it up and post it just to be sure - folks here will double check.

Notice a 40 amp fuse was required, today the breaker size is 125% of the load not to exceed 150% meaning 35 amps for todays breakers. This is a special requirement for kilns to make sure the breaker doesn’t overheat and wear out. You 30 amp breaker is undersized and this ought to have #8 wire run to it as well.

5615D1AA-96F7-42CE-817D-6C7035286D28.jpeg

Edited by Bill Kielb
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