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Kiln Pointers

Vacuuming a Digital Kiln

Keep the vacuum nozzle away from your kiln’s digital controller.


Vacuuming a Digital Kiln

Reader Response: Firing a 240 volt kiln on 208 volts; a reader’s tornado story from Oklahoma

Recent Q&As: How to lubricate the hinges of a front-loading kiln

Memorable Quote



Static electricity can build up around a vacuum nozzle especially in dry weather. Static can damage electronics.

Before vacuuming, turn off the kiln and disconnect the power. Keep the vacuum nozzle at least 2” away from the digital controller, the switch box, and the thermocouple tip that extends into the firing chamber. (The thermocouple is the small rod that measures temperature.)

Use a soft brush nozzle to vacuum the kiln. You can also use a hard plastic nozzle as long as it does not touch the firebricks. Vacuum the kiln before glaze firings. Vacuum the element grooves, the inner surface of the kiln lid or roof, and the underside of kiln shelves.

As you vacuum the kiln, examine the walls and floor for glass or glaze particles that have embedded into the firebricks. Dig these out with a screwdriver or small putty knife. Otherwise the particles will embed deeper into the firebricks during the next firing.



Larry Pelter of Salt Creek Potters Workshop in Lincoln, Nebraska responded to a recent Kiln Pointer entitled “The Importance of Correct Voltage.” Larry wrote, “I've serviced several kilns recently in schools where the complaint was slow firing times. It turned out that 240 volt kilns were fired on 208 volt circuits. The ceramic areas had been rewired over the summer, apparently from 240 volts to 208 volts. The electrician/maintenance people had told the ceramics instructor that it wouldn't make any difference. it does!

“I told them they could either reconfigure the kilns, which would be pricey,” wrote Larry, “or they could live with the longer firing times. They were firing to cone 04 max. They elected to go with the long firing times since their school art budgets had been cut.”


The last Kiln Pointer included a photo of a tornado that I shot from the open back door of the Paragon factory. J. Jeffrey of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma wrote, “I'm glad you are all safe. BUT I must point out how very naive you all were to stand and watch the big gray thing. Today is the day to map out a plan for severe weather.

“Hopefully you have an inner room with no glass,” J. J. continued. “Steel buildings are the least safe. DO NOT stand at a window or outside and watch the storm. Track it on your phone, radio, or TV until your electricity is gone. Wear a helmet of some kind.

“I have lived through five tornadoes. I was pregnant with my first child as one went down a four-lane boulevard 11 blocks away. It looked as though it had a personality and destroyed houses while leaving the ones next to it.

“I taught at a private school which was housed in three separate buildings,” J. J. wrote. “The Upper School was built to withstand the winds with earth built up on one side. At around noon one spring day a storm came up suddenly before the warning siren. The head master rushed into the middle building and shouted for us to head for the high school. As I hustled the students to the Upper School, we looked westward. The tornado was dipping up and down only a mile away. The precious custodian picked up our older secretary and raced for the high school building and safety.”



Q. What's the best lubricant to use on the hinges of the Paragon front loaders?

A. The hinge shaft on some of the smaller front-loading kilns swivels inside upper and lower heavy duty pillow block housings. Lubricate the pillow blocks with powdered graphite. Do not disassemble the pillow blocks to add the graphite.

On the larger kilns such as the Dragon, the hinge shaft swivels inside upper and lower sealed bearings. Using the grease fittings, lubricate the bearings with a small amount of wheel bearing grease.



“Fear is the enemy of logic. There is no more debilitating, crushing, self-defeating, sickening thing in the world--to an individual or to a nation.” –Frank Sinatra


Thanks, Larry and J. J., for your responses. J. J., I love your touching story about the custodian and the tornado. Thanks for your concern and advice.

My wife found the Frank Sinatra quote last Sunday in her late father’s papers. It was among his diaries, artifacts such as a Civil War bullet, and photos. I am so impressed with the quotation that I cut it out from the original typewritten page and taped it to the edge of my monitor.

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 2012, by Paragon Industries, L.P.

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