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Help With Updraft Kiln - Burner Setup

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I am trying to help a friend get a gas kiln up and running.  I believe he said the kiln had been sitting inside a barn for many years, and was brand new, never fired.  He has had it for several years and never set it up because there isn't a complete burner system and this needs to get resolved.  Been sitting long enough that the rodents have taken a liking to the fiber interior.  I've been asked to give him some direction with this kiln, but I've never had to set up a kiln before, always just dealt with what was already in place - so I'M looking for help on this one :)


The kiln is an updraft but we don't know who made it - there are no nameplates or identifiers of any sort on the chassis to be found.  The kiln has fiber door and ceiling, the other 3 walls and floor are soft-brick.  Inside volume is roughly 27 cu. ft. Only ports into chamber beside burner ports are 2 spy ports on side of kiln, kinda weird placement IMO. Current burner system consists of 7 naturally aspirated burners that come through the center of the floor, so i'm assuming it uses hearth setup and no bagwall.  The burners are on what seems like a homemade manifold made of square tube that goes to some ball valves.  Where I'm stuck is that there are no pilots, valves, gauges, or anything else to the burner system.


Being unfamiliar with this type of updraft kiln, I'd have assumed there would be some feature in the burner system to allow pilot/candling time before putting on all 7 burners - but I can't figure it out.  The square tube manifold for the burners I think is welded into place.  I don't see any evidence of any external parts like pilots and ignition being connected to the burners like you'd see on other burner systems.  I don't even see much room in the ports to even fit a pilot in the orifice next to the burners if I were to somehow adapt some.  We do have a few burner parts left over from another kiln that went out when this one came in.  Know we're going to have to invest a little in some new valves, gauges, etc etc - hopefully it won't break the bank.  Fuel will be natural gas.




Hoping someone will have input as to the maker of this kiln.  Maybe some input as to the burner system attempted to be installed on this kiln, and how to fire it.  Lastly, looking for input on where to proceed with setting up a "proper" burner system on this kiln, so we can get some clay fired this Summer!






Burner manifold:




Burner ports and size:



Extra parts from old kiln:





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I have a similar set up on my smaller 12 cubic foot updraft. The burners are about the same with some exceptions. The 6 burners do have a square tube pilot flame box that surounds the main burners. You light the pilot flame tube and then that will light the burners. Your system is missing that flame tube pilot box. I can take some photos if you would like. I'm a bit stressed for time at the moment so post that you would like this as I do not want to do that for nothing time wise right now..

My system has no safety other than the pilot tube box that goes strong once lit.

My 6 burners are all on the outer points in kiln not in middle as yours are. You will need to add a gauge and those are old school leaker ball valve -I would replace them. My kiln only has one presure gauge.

This kiln being in so-cal may be an old west coast brand-thats my best guess maybe an real old Olsen but I do not think he usewd fiber and bricks.

You can add that gauge with a drlll and tap or replace a fitting and tee off with 1/4 thread tee your choice.

My updraft only has two spy holes as well. Its a Berman (long gone) but he still has a school in so-cal it looks like on the web.

Your floor will be a hot ZONE no matter what you do.

I see its 36 inchs across but whats the depth????

Then we I can talk about what to  use furniture flame wise-what shelves size does he have???



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This looks like the system I had under a 30 year old Olsen kit kiln. There were 14 burners with a pilot system but no basso valve functioning. Hopefully Mark can send you a photo. I was able to light it by hand lighting the pilots. There was an inner ring and outer ring for the burner system All burners were rusted frozen, so adjusting the burners was done with the pressure gauge. One pound, .5 pound per hour.

The previous teacher left great kiln logs. The kiln fired perfectly even considering it was about 90 cubic ft.


There was a brick baffle structure 4.5" sideways brick forcing the flme to the outer edge of the kiln. Then the outer ring of burners was ton the outer edge as well. Looks like you may have two valves for the burner system. The damper is super sensitive but can even it out. Looks like the burners are set at different primary air intake settings. Fix that before you start.Maybe see if you can find an old Olsen kit diagram. That baffle is missing on your kiln. 




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Yes, if either of you (Mark and Marcia) have any pics of your similar setups, we would definitely like to see them, especially the pilots and hearth/baffling setup for the flame diversion.  I've looked a lots of kiln pics and haven't really come across anything that shows a close up of the burner system on this style of kiln.  I do assume this kiln was built by a West Coast manufacturer, at least 15-20yrs ago - original owners were located somewhere in Placer County, where they had it in their barn.


Since everything was functioning on the old kiln when they removed it, we were planning on harvesting the BASO-style valves and pressure gauges, and adapting them to the new burner setup.  Most of the plumbing will be replaced with new, so no worries about the existing ball-valves on the existing setup.  I am still curious as to why there are 2 ball valves on this burner setup, since the burner manifold they feed seems to be a loop (which in theory would feed all 7 burners).  I don't see any evidence of a partition in the manifold, so my guess is the 2nd valve is a secondary gas input, to even out the pressure on both sides of the manifold, or to give a little more feed when reaching temp.


I definitely want to figure out some sort of pilot system for this kiln, main burners seem fairly straightforward once we solve the pilot issue.  It only makes sense (to me) to include this if we're making changes.  I could see major problems trying to light 7 individual burners by hand, via reaching under the kiln - too much room for error in this method.  


I'm thinking I might be able to install individual pilot gas lines and igniters to each burner, and attach them with hose clamps.  something similar to this, I just might have to clearance more room in the soft brick floor to allow space:




As for shelves, I believe he has black silicon carbide shelves in the 12" x 24" x 3/4" size.  The width and depth (to where door's fiber protrusion will stop) of the kiln is 36", height is about 40".  Technically he could get away with larger shelves inside to maximize loading space, but I dunno what his plans are there.  Would the 3/4" thick SiC shelves be sufficient for use as the hearth slabs?  For bricks to set the hearth, we have some standard 9x2.5x4.5 hard brick.


Thanks for helping you guys!

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The pilot setup I have is square metal exactly like your larger burner feed system only smaller with holes drilled in top all around burners so once you light it in any spot it all flames all the way round like a stove top burner-to individual feeds.

Please expalin this hearth setup as I am not following you-are you talking about thicker shelves on bottom that these burners point into from underneath?? with some support with bricks to elevate from floor or something else??

Whatever these burners direct into will get very hot.

I would look  for some west coast info-They may still be around

having seven individual seperate burners will be no fun -keep them hooked as all or 3 or 4 together

You will want only one pilot system not 7.

I am glazing all day on Friday as well as  loading a car kiln and having a few 200 foot tall trees removed so it still will be another day before I take any photos at least.

I'm also preping for my workshop and reworking a kiln into a salt kiln on an island soon so my plate is past full-give me a few days for photos




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Here is the pilot flame ring-you can see the holes drilled in upper suare tube-it surrounds the 6 burners

also the valves-one controls two buners in center th eother 4 burners in corners-the small one is the pilot flame ring. The pressure guage is all burners.



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Mark - it looks like when you light your pilot ring, the flames are under the kiln's metal floor jacket, adjacent to the burners (but not directed into the ports) - correct?  i'm assuming you don't use the pilot ring as a heat source for candling, and they are only there to light all your burners at once?


The main idea I was kicking around for setting up the new burner system goes like this:

- Main gas line has an offshoot with solenoid valve and ball valve for controlling gas flow to a pilot system, possibly with a pressure gauge, but this might not be necessary on the pilots unless they are actual pilot burners for candling.  The rest of the line will have another solenoid valve, ball valve, and pressure gauge for the main burners.


I've got 2 ideas for the pilot system:

1) install 7 individual pilot burner/ignition combos onto the individual burners.  The gas feed/ball valve and ignition would control all of them at the same time and potentially this could be used as pilot burners for candling the kiln.

2) make a pilot ring/strip similar to Mark's kiln pictured above.  I'm thinking instead of a ring/circle, I could make a fancy "Z-shaped" tube that would light all 7 burners.  I don't think this pilot ring would be able to be used as a heat source for candling, and would be solely for lighting the burners.


- For the actual burners, all 7 visually seem to be tied into the same manifold/fuel source (yet there are 2 ball valves going to it).  I was planning on installing a solenoid valve and replacement ball valves for the main burner control.  If it were up to me, I'd split up the 7 burners like Mark's kiln and have the 4 "corner" burners be controlled on one valve, and the other 3 that are inline on the center, be controlled on a 2nd valve.  This will likely require much more work than I'd like to put into it if I have to chop up the manifold and re-weld, but will if necessary.  I may not even have to do it as it may already be setup like this - I'm going to try and hook up an air compressor to the manifold and play with the existing valves off the burner manifold to see what sections they actually control.  I don't even think this has been done yet.


Do you guys think this system will work?  I really just wish I could consult with the manufacturer and pick their brain.  I'll try West Coast and see if they might know, it's not an Olsen.


If I start introducing the topic of high-limit controllers, UV scanners, safety systems, etc into the mix, then I'm completely stumped because those need costly electronics systems that I'm not knowledgeable enough to retrofit onto this kiln.




In regards to the "hearth" terminology - I'm not exactly sure what the correct "kiln" terminology is for this design - I pulled the word from Geil's website.  Basically it's just a suspended floor above the burner ports, that diverts the flame to the sides.  I do know the target shelf will be a hot spot in the kiln - this design is so baffling to me actually, i'm just so curious why this design even exists compared to an updraft with burners on the perimeter and a bagwall.  Either way, we're still talking about old inefficient technology compared to what's being offered these days :)

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Forget the pressure gauge on a pilot ring its not needed.

It's as you said all around not at each burner so when you light it the flame travels all around the holes seen in photo.

The ring on mine does candle the kiln somewhat as the heat goes up everywhere including the burner holes.

You can light it anywhere around all 4 sides as it goes all at once. The burners light from this pilot ring and I turn it off after kiln is dull red hot so burners will relight if blown out.

This kiln you can light 2 or 4 so its easy to candle on two of them on low.The pilot manifold does all 6

You can make yours do all seven and as you said put the 4 corners on one valve and the 3 center on another-the pilot ring should do all 7  on its own valve. I hope this is clear.

That will be the best setup. No need for separate pilot rings or valves -thats over thinking this-keep it simple.


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It's not too much more expensive to add a high temp shutoff system. You can get a Watlow LV series high temp shutoff controller for about $150, and an electric solenoid for the gas line for $50-$150 (depending on what brand you get). Well worth it for safety, and easy to hook up.

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My system was similar to Mark's...with the pilot lights running around the bottom of the burner layout.. In my case two rings with 14 burners. The pilot flames looked like a gas stove broiler ..old fashion type. I am not teaching there anymore and I

Am in Ny for a wedding.this system was a 1912 or so Olsen kit to be assembled on site. The baffles between the floor and first shelves were regular high fire hard bricks laying sideways, 4 squares with flame exits to the outside area between the stacking of 4columns of shelves 18 x 18" square


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