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Expanding the Distance Between Element Coils

In the bottom photo, snap ring pliers are used to expand the distance between element coils.


Expanding the Distance Between Element Coils

Recent Q&As: Pricing used kilns; vitrigraph kilns

A Kiln Story: A Promise to an Electrician

Memorable Quote

News: Complimentary Kiln Seminar October 24 - 25, 2014



A kiln owner named Laurie wrote, “In a future column, can you show how to repair pins holding the heating element in the groove? I am terrified to stretch out the heating element coils and replace the pins. I just keep running my kiln and the elements keep popping out of place. I know there will be a day of reckoning but keep hoping today is not that day. I have a [competitive brand name] 14” square kiln with side and top elements.”

Laurie included pictures, which showed a long section of element bulging out of a sidewall groove and draped across the firebrick kiln floor. (See photo above.)

Laurie’s element came out of the groove because some of the element coils were bunched together. To repair the bulging element, the distance between those coils must be expanded so the element will be long enough to reach the corners of the groove.

You can gently stretch a cold nickel-chrome element. But an iron-chrome-aluminum element that has been fired a number of times is brittle and will break if stretched while cold. To find out which type of element you have, touch the element with a magnet. An iron-chrome-aluminum element will attract the magnet; the nickel-chrome element will not. If the element attracts the magnet, the element must be heated before stretching it.

In Laurie’s case, the element should be expanded where the coils are close together. If the element attracts a magnet, heat and stretch the element several inches at a time with a propane torch. Use the type of torch that has a push-button ignition.

1) Before expanding a bulging element, disconnect the kiln from the power.

2) Press the igniter and hold the propane flame near the bulging element. When the element turns red-orange, release the igniter button to turn off the propane flame.

3) Use snap-ring pliers to expand the distance between the element coils and thus lengthen the element. Pre-heat each section of element that you expand. Expand the bulging element evenly. Push the element into the corner of the wall groove. As the element cools, it will become stiff. You can feel it through the pliers. At the first sign of stiffness, press the igniter button, reheat the element, and repeat the process until the element is in the corner.



Q. How much is a used Paragon TouchnFire worth? I have one I got on Craigslist that I don't think has been used more than a few times. I would love to sell it and the little kiln that it came with for a newer version.

A. It is difficult for me to price a used TnF kiln, because pricing is heavily dependent on the area where you live. If you sell the kiln on Craigslist, include lots of pictures, especially of the interior. An experienced kiln user knows that a pristine firing chamber means the kiln was either cared for properly or rarely fired. The first thing I look for in evaluating a used kiln is the condition of the firebricks. They reveal the history of the kiln at a glance.

Q. Which would make a good vitrigraph kiln--the Caldera or FireFly?

A. The FireFly would not make a good vitrigraph kiln, because the walls and bottom are one unit. The kiln also has a built-in steel stand, so the kiln would have to be disassembled. The Caldera is similar to the FireFly except the Caldera bottom and top are separate from the body. So, the Caldera is used for vitrigraph firing.



At Glass Craft & Bead Expo last March, three women glass artists stopped by the Paragon booth. They were friends enjoying the show together. They talked excitedly about the new kilns on display. One of them said, “We work on our own kilns.”

Another added with a laugh, “Except electrical. We don’t do that anymore.” They gave each other knowing glances. Then they walked away, and I wondered what they had meant -- “We don’t do that anymore.”

The three women returned to the booth an hour later, and I asked one of them, “You said you work on your own kilns, but not electrical. What happened?”

She explained that the other two friends, who were talking to another Paragon rep and leaning into a kiln, had installed a wall receptacle. It shut off the breaker, and the plastic on the receptacle melted. She added, “My electrician made me promise that I wouldn’t do electrical again.”



“Art chooses you, you do not choose to be an artist. Once it hits you, you have no choice. You just go with it.” --Mel Jacobson, potter



We hope you can attend the 1–1/2 day Basic Kiln Maintenance Seminar this October 24 - 25. There is no charge for the seminar or the meals, which include two lunches and one dinner.

The basic seminar is intended to provide you with the latest techniques and concepts for keeping electric kilns firing well into the future. Learn basic electricity, kiln electrical installation, the multimeter, switch replacement, electrical troubleshooting, element replacement, and much more. Feel free to bring questions. You do not need to bring tools.

John Hohenshelt Sr., will teach basic electricity. (John Sr. purchased the company in 1982 and is the father of the former company president.) David Snyder, the “Kiln Doctor,” will teach the rest of the seminar, which covers practical kiln maintenance from his years of experience in the field.


The first day of the seminar will be held at the Hampton Inn; the second day will be held at the Paragon factory. The hotel and the factory are in Mesquite, Texas, which is about 30 minutes east of Dallas.

Class Schedule

FRIDAY Class runs from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. A complimentary breakfast is served to guests who are staying at the Hampton Inn. We will serve lunch at the Hampton. That Friday afternoon you will be our dinner guest at a restaurant.

SATURDAY 8:30 coffee and donuts. Class runs from 9:00 am to noon. Lunch will be served at Paragon before your departure.


We have a limited block of rooms for $92 plus tax at the Hampton Inn 800-426-7866 / 972-329-3100 (next to the Mesquite Rodeo). Please mention you are with the Paragon group when reserving your room.

To sign up for the seminar, please call 1-800-876-4328 or 1-972-288-7557. Or send an email to Teri. Please inform us of cancellations at least a week in advance.


The Akita is a large dog with luxuriously thick fur that once guarded Japanese royalty. This morning a friend named Eddie apologized for not having his false teeth. He said he had recently placed the teeth next to his couch and took a nap. He woke up to find his 90-pound Akita chewing on the teeth. “That will cost me $1,000,” he mumbled in his Texas drawl. Another time he wondered why a piece of plastic pipe lay in his yard. Then he realized that his Akita had chewed up the sprinkler system.

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 2014, by Paragon Industries, L.P.

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