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Three Ways to Repair a Brick Wall Groove

Element pins, angled away from each other slightly, can hold a broken element groove.


Three Ways to Repair a Brick Wall Groove

Recent Q&As: Life expectancy of a relay; lubricating a kiln door

A Paragon Story: The Wandering Kitten

Memorable Quote

News: Caldera Enameling Collar



Most firebrick damage is minor and does not affect the firings. Minor damage to the firebrick wall grooves is nothing to worry about. As long as the damaged section is short and the element does not bulge out, the groove need not be repaired.

A long broken groove that allows the heating element to bulge out should be repaired, however. If the element has already started to bulge, unplug the kiln and heat the element with a propane torch until the element is red hot. Then move it back into place before repairing the groove.

Three groove repair techniques are listed below in order of difficulty.

Level One Repair: Pin the Element

An element pin is a U-shaped piece of high temperature wire. You can pin elements where a brick groove has broken off. This will prevent elements from sagging and touching. Press the element pin over only one element coil. If the pin comes out later, replace it with a longer one. The pin should not be long enough to touch the kiln case, however.

Level Two Repair: Pin the Brick Groove

Instead of pinning the element, you can pin the brick groove. Bend two U-shaped element pins with needle-nose pliers to form an L-shape. The short section of the L should be about 1/4” long. Fit the broken groove back into the wall where it fell out. Press the staples into the brick piece. Angle the two staples away from each other to hold the groove.

Level Three Repair: Replace the Brick Groove

Sand the wall brick where the groove broke off until the broken area is flat. Make a new replacement groove from a blank brick using the broken groove as a pattern. Shape the new groove piece with a hack saw blade and sanding blocks until a flat section on the groove perfectly fits the flat section on the firebrick wall. Vacuum away the dust and cement the new groove onto the wall. Avoid getting cement on the element.



Q. How long should the relays in a glass kiln last?

A. A number of factors determine relay life. The lower the amperage going through the relay, the longer the relay will last. Long annealing times add wear to the relays, because the relays cycle often during holds and slow cooling segments.

Heat can also shorten relay life. Relays tend to fail sooner in hot climates than in cold. Loose connections are another source of heat. Push-on connectors attached to a relay must be tight. A push-on connector that has lost its spring tension can cause a relay to fail prematurely.

Q. My front-loading kiln door is difficult to open.

A. This is very rare for a front-loading kiln. First, do not use WD-40 to loosen the hinges. Instead, place a few drops of oil at the pillow blocks, which are the bearings that hold the door shaft to the kiln. It would be best to use high temperature oil, but if you don't have that, 3-in-1 oil will be work, too. Should the oil eventually burn off, add a few drops more. An alternative idea: Remove the screws holding the pillow blocks to the kiln. Using emery cloth, lightly sand the door shaft where it turns inside the pillow blocks.



One Friday when the Paragon factory was closed, I heard a faint meow that carried a long way in the dark, silent building. I found a black kitten wandering in the factory and took it to the print shop, where I was revising an instruction manual on my computer. I fed the kitten part of my lunch. She was so hungry that she scattered lentils around her. Then she fell asleep on my hand as I worked at my computer. I took her home and we named her Phoenix.

Ten years have passed, and large, black Phoenix, the Paragon cat, is still part of my family.



“Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street.” Zig Ziglar (selected by Nan Kitchens)



We have just introduced the Caldera-E, a blank collar with a 4” tall door. It fits onto the Caldera kiln and is designed for copper enameling.


Last night Sandi and I spoke to our son, Patrick, who lives in far away Dover, Delaware. We all laughed as we reminisced about his childhood. If you ever feel stressed out, just find something to laugh about. It does wonders.

Thank you,

With best wishes,

Arnold Howard Paragon Industries, L.P. – Better Designed Kilns 2011 South Town East Blvd., Mesquite, Texas 75149-1122 Voice: 972-288-7557 & 800-876-4328 / Fax: 972-222-0646 / / /

PRIVACY NOTICE: Under no circumstance do we share or sell your email address.

Copyright 2010, by Paragon Industries, L.P.

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