[Clayart] old kilns a story

mel jacobson melpots at mail.com
Fri Oct 14 22:48:56 UTC 2022

there are many old kilns out there that can be used
for years to come. knowing basic specs like "phase" etc
are critical, and knowing the amperage. it all has to match.
distance as Bill has mentioned is critical. if you can, keep the
kiln near the breaker box.

I do not patch in electrical systems for folks.  far to dangerous.
I do it for me, but not others.

we got an old electric kiln a few years back for the farm. 40 amp, worked
fine with a dryer cord and plug. just a few feet from our garage breaker box.
it is a "blue diamond", from florida some place. runs with springs to auto
fire the kiln.  the springs are too tight and the kiln gets far too hot, too fast.
I start the kiln, then turn it off, start again, then again. when it hits 500 I
just let it go. we only bisque fire in it.

I did not change coils, just cleaned it, polished all the connections and let her
rip. the entire project of install and firing cost us nothing. about 20 years ago
I bought of box of about 50 kiln coils.  all new. left over from a college program.
50 bucks donated to their clay fund.  in a pinch, any one of those coils could be
added to this kiln. it will get hot, I just don't worry about the specs.  one coil.
I bend coils using a bernzomatic gas torch. turn red, bend. a small set of pliers
and away we go. polish all connections, make a tight connection.  works great.

I even tie coils together when they break in the kiln.  all one has to do is heat
the break to red hot, grab the ends and pull them out. sand paper each end, or as I do,
use a tiny power grinder.  make them clean and bright...grab both ends, heat to red
and twist the two wires together. and then push them into the groove. (yes, use pliers, not
your fingers.)

I did the twist together coils with an old L&L kiln I got at the dump. After the twist
fix, I got 38 firings to bisque temp in that kiln. The control box finally rotted out
and was falling off.  I sent a picture to Steve Lewicky the owner of L&L and demanded
a new kiln as mine was falling apart. he sure laughed.  that kiln was build by his
dad in 1968.

the big issue is, if you only bisque fire in an electric kiln, take your time and do it
right...it will last for years without new coils.  cone 9 in an electric kiln will be
a quick murder of the kiln. WHY DO WE LOVE RON AND JOHN.?  CONE 6, AMAZING POTS AND
GLAZES. think of the kilns they have saved.

just remember what carol marions has taught us. down fire. it works for you too. cone 6,
turn off kiln, then back on for two hours, let it cool, turn it back on at 1700 for
for more hours. see what happens. of course she is a world class expert in silica
and melt, but you can take her system and make it work for you. down firing is not
expensive, one switch on, hold temp. or program it like bill schran does for crystal
glazes. it works.  carol shows you the way...follow her, it is why she does it for
clayart....shared knowledge.  she wants you to grow and learn. then it becomes your own voice.

I will give you any recipe I have...but you cannot have my pots without using my clay and
my firing timing. that is the hard part.  anyone can copy a recipe...but, can you make
great pots.???? clay body may be the most important part of making "clay" objects fired
in a kiln.

website: www.melpots.com

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