[Clayart] digital controller for old kiln. sawdust instead of straw in small kiln

vpitelka at dtccom.net vpitelka at dtccom.net
Tue Apr 5 12:48:17 UTC 2022


I don't remember when it was that L&L switched over to digital controllers.  Seems to me that it was around 2000.  Early in the millennium we bought new digital L&L kilns at the Appalachian Center for Craft, and the old L&Ls we got rid of were all Kiln-Sitter kilns.  One of the new kilns was an L&L 30-cubic-foot frontloader electric, and the other three were the e23T toploaders.  We kept one old Skutt in good condition so that all of the students would learn about Kiln Sitters.  I must admit that I was skeptical of the digital controllers at first, but I quickly grew to love them.  In terms of maintenance, they were far more reliable than even a well-maintained Kiln Sitter, and elements lasted much longer in the digital kilns.  In the fifteen years or so that we were using the digital kilns before I retired, we occasionally had to replace thermocouples or relays, as you would expect, but those are easy fixes.  In that time, we never had a single failure of the digital motherboard/keyboard. 

Regarding firing accuracy, the one advantage of a Kiln Sitter kiln is that the softening of the cone corresponds to the actual maturation of the clay and/or glazes, whereas the shutoff protocol of a digital kiln is responding only to temperature and not to duration of the firing. 
- Vince

Vince Pitelka
Potter, Writer, Teacher
Chapel Hill, NC
vpitelka at dtccom.net
www.vincepitelka.com 
https://chathamartistsguild.org/ 

-----Original Message-----
From: Clayart <clayart-bounces at lists.clayartworld.com> On Behalf Of paul gerhold
Sent: Friday, April 1, 2022 11:16 AM
To: Clayart international pottery discussion forum <clayart at lists.clayartworld.com>
Subject: Re: [Clayart] digital controller for old kiln. sawdust instead of straw in small kiln

My guess would be a properly maintained kiln setter is a lot more reliable than a computerized controller and a lot less expensive to maintain. 

That said if you are doing glazes and crystals either macro or micro a computer makes it a whole lot easier. 

Paul

Sent from my iPad

> On Apr 1, 2022, at 11:03 AM, Carolyn Curran <cncpots2 at gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> On the kiln sitter  perhaps I was just too used to using cones and 
> was reticent to rely on the kiln sitter.  If I can have use of a kiln 
> in my facility,  I sure as heck would work with the kiln sitter. or else use
> cones to make sure all is OK>    On the other hand,  if a computerized
> controller is feasible and practical,  then I'd go with that.   I like to
> check on a kiln when it's near end of firing..just in case the 
> controller doesn't shut off kiln at proper time, even if that is rare these days.
> But does anyone -know if the computerized controllers are compatible 
> with older kilns?  I'd like some feedback before  kiln technie comes 
> here so that staff here knows about a possible option to old kiln sitter.
>     On using sawdust for a primitive kiln:  the last little kiln I 
> built I never actually fired beforehand but  charcoal fired  it the 
> first time in the green state, and it worked fine,so maybe it would be worth a try with
> that  using sawdust.    Thanks for idea. I usually use heavily grogged clay
> and added vermiculite  or perlite..)   Chopping up straw with any tool
> available took a long time.  I had not thought of tree leaves. or pine
> needles, though.     My middle name has been experimentation for 50 years
> as a potter, but at this point I appreciate help from others  since I 
> never know how much time I have left for playing in clay.  Tempus fugit.
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