Add Pyrolite E-Z Fill to damaged sections of a ceramic fiber kiln. Please note, however, that often the damage is only cosmetic.
How to Repair a Ceramic Fiber Kiln with Pyrolite
Reader Response: A reason kiln shelves crack; the John Lennon quote from the last newsletter
Recent Q&As: Flash-cooling glass in the SC-2
A Kiln Story: The Kiln That Fell off the Dolly
HOW TO REPAIR A CERAMIC FIBER KILN WITH PYROLITE
For many years people have been concerned about cracks in firebrick and ceramic fiber kilns. The cracks are fairly common and are caused by the stresses generated by heat. The kilns expand and contract with each firing.
Most of the cracks are minor and do not affect the firing results. Surprisingly, little heat is lost through cracks. If you are concerned about a ceramic fiber crack, you can fill it with Pyrolite E-Z Fill, which is a refractory adhesive that comes in a caulking tube. Here are instructions for filling damaged areas of ceramic fiber.
First, how can you tell a ceramic fiber kiln from a firebrick kiln? Ceramic fiber is white, light-weight, and has a fairly smooth surface. Firebricks are porous. A firebrick firing chamber has seam lines where the firebricks are cemented together.
1) Unplug the kiln. Scrape the ceramic fiber to remove glass, ceramic glaze, or other melted contaminants. Remove as little fiber as possible. If a heating element is located where you are scraping, avoid touching the element.
2) Vacuum the dust from the damaged area. Remove all the contaminant. Otherwise it will melt and embed deeper into the firing chamber. Keep the vacuum cleaner nozzle at least 2” from the thermocouple and the controller. This is to avoid damaging the controller with static electricity, which can build up on the nozzle.
3) Squeeze Pyrolite into the gouge. Pyrolite is similar in consistency to window caulking. Smooth the Pyrolite with a small putty knife. Allow it to dry before firing the kiln.
In the Q&A section of the last Kiln Pointer, someone asked, “I have been making slumped wine bottles for our church to sell at the upcoming country fair. In one firing I flatten three bottles. In the next three firings, I put one bottle mold in the middle of the shelf with one of the flattened bottles on top. Today I took the 21" round shelf out to scrape off the old kiln wash and apply fresh layers and realized that there is a crack across the middle of the shelf. I always put the shelf on four, one inch posts.”
Charlie Spitzer of Cave Creek, Arizona wrote, “This is caused by the cooler spot under the mold, compared to a hot spot outside the mold shadow. It is prevented by elevating the mold off the shelf.”
The last Kiln Pointer included a quote from John Lennon: “There are no problems--only solutions [waiting to be discovered].” Tony Rodriguez of San Antonio, Texas wrote, “The quote about problems reminded me of my mother. She used to tell my sister and me, ‘In life there are no problems; there are just so many solutions that we have a hard time selecting the correct one!’”
Q. I have had a Paragon SC-2 for eight or nine years, and I'm very pleased with it. I do have a query, though. I often use my kiln for fusing dichroic glass jewellery. Books recommend that when the firing is complete, you should open the kiln door to flash-cool the glass until the temperature reaches 1000 degree F (540 degrees C). Then close the door to finish the cooling process slowly. This is the procedure I have often followed. However, someone recently told me that you should not open the kiln door when it is still very hot as it can damage the element. Is this true? If so, should I no longer flash-cool glass?
A. At Paragon, we believe that opening the door will not harm the elements. We haven't seen evidence that element life is shortened by rapid cooling.
I, too, flash-cool glass jewelry. When the glass has reached the desired stage of fusing, I turn off the SC-2 and open the door a couple of inches until the kiln interior loses some of the red color. This takes about a minute. Then I close the door and let the kiln cool down to room temperature. I flash-cool the glass to make sure the fusing has halted.
As long as you are getting good results, I wouldn't change the firing procedure.
A KILN STORY: THE KILN THAT FELL OFF THE DOLLY
Years ago I wheeled a very old, 10-sided, top-loading kiln into our photography studio, which is part of the offset printing department. I was taking instructional photos of a multimeter and the kiln’s switch box interior.
After I took the pictures, I pushed the kiln, which was on a round, two-foot-high dolly, back into the factory. The wheels squeaked as I pushed the dolly across the concrete factory floor. A small, recessed drain hole cover caught one of the dolly wheels. Before I could react, the kiln and dolly flipped forward and crashed to the floor. I stood there looking at the kiln when a nearby employee came over and helped me lift it back onto the dolly.
We examined the kiln and shook our heads when we found no damage. The kiln looked just as it had before the fall. As we wheeled the kiln away, I marveled at how a firebrick kiln can be so fragile, and yet if you are lucky, so strong.
"Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you will help them become what they are capable of becoming." -- Johann Von Goethe
It was still dark out when I left for Paragon this morning. The cool air smelled fresh. Clouds darkened the horizon like charcoal smudges. As I drove away, rivulets of condensation scattered across the hood of my truck. The change in weather is refreshing after a sweltering Texas summer especially because I worked long, hard days outside remodeling my sun room.
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 / email@example.com / www.paragonweb.com / www.facebook.com/paragonkilns
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