A whitish-greenish-black corrosion on element connectors may indicate that they are loose.
When Element Connectors Become Corroded
Reader Response: Reasons that a kiln fires slowly; firing glass and silver on the same shelf
Recent Q&As: Why a kiln needs an air gap underneath
WHEN ELEMENT CONNECTORS BECOME CORRODED
Moisture corrodes element connectors. They can also become corroded when they are loose. One time a customer sent me an interesting photo of her element connectors. They were a normal shiny brass color except for one, which was so hot that it glowed pink. An excessively hot element connector will eventually corrode. (Note: On some kiln models, you can see the element connectors through the slots or louvers in the switch box. That is the only safe way to view them while the kiln is turned on.)
Another customer who had just replaced his elements gave us a hand full of the old element connectors. I photographed four of them for this article. In the photo above, notice that two of the element connectors are brass colored. The two center connectors are covered with whitish-black corrosion because they were loose.
Loose element connectors not only become hot but can also reduce the amperage and even burn off and fall into the switch box.
Tighten loose connectors. Tighten the Paragon barrel connector 1 1/4 turns past the point of firm resistance. If you have a torque wrench, tighten to 30 inch pounds. (We use Utica TC1-150RA torque wrenches in the factory.) It is okay if you get the connector stainless screw head so tight that it breaks off as long as the screw threads have not stripped out. A ratchet or box-end wrench will give you more leverage than a nut driver in tightening the connectors.
The last Kiln Pointer was on slow firing due to low voltage. Tony Rodriguez of San Antonio, Texas wrote, “Sometimes the power company uses a transformer at the pole to provide power to too many houses or businesses. Normally, people do not complain because there are no indications of low voltage.
“If you suspect that you have low voltage, request that the power company send someone to check your voltage at the meter. You can also request that they put a voltage recording unit at your house or business. If the voltage is incorrect, they must correct it. Sometimes they will even install another transformer (at no charge to you).
“Another reason for slow firing is overloading the kiln,” Tony added, “particularly with small pieces and a lot of shelves. Shelves are heat sponges. Once I went to see a kiln that was taking too long to fire, and it was because it was loaded with a lot of shelves and 2" posts to fire tiles instead of using a ‘tile setter’ that holds several tiles and occupies a small space.”
In a recent newsletter, someone asked if glass and silver could be fired in the same kiln. I answered, “Yes. However, silver and glass should not be fired on the same shelf.” Jean Talbott wrote, “I would agree on not firing glass on a shelf that has had silver fired on it. However, using Bullseye fusing glass, only certain colors of glass are highly sensitive to silver, and these can be used for some interesting effects. Sulfur-bearing colors react heavily with copper and silver. I've found that some other colors show no reaction at all. I got some interesting effects, though, by firing a piece of BE French Vanilla over a shelf previously fired with silver. I fire fused glass and silver in the same kiln all the time, though usually on separate shelves.”
Q. Why does a kiln need air space underneath? I understand that the sheet metal under the bottom brick would rot out eventually if it didn't have air space for moisture to escape.
A. A solid mass under the kiln tends to become a heat sync that can change the heat distribution in the firing chamber. The kiln stand prevents that from happening, because the air gap under the stand separates the kiln from the floor. The kiln stand has also been designed for safety.
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has power, genius and magic in it. Begin it now.” - Johann Von Goethe
Last Thursday the smell of Mexican cooking drifted through our new warehouse, where we held our Thanksgiving lunch. Employees sat at tables eating amidst music that was loud enough to be heard in the nearby Paragon kiln factory. After lunch about 80 employees wandered outside to the front of the warehouse, where Leni, my daughter-in-law, waited. Employees, many wearing bright green elf hats, gathered for a group picture. “Move closer together,” Leni said, her voice barely heard over the wind. She was perched on a 14’ step ladder holding a Nikon camera. “At the count of three, make sure your eyes are open,” she said. (I will share the photo in a few days.)
Paragon will be closed for Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 27. We are thankful for your friendship. All of us at Paragon wish you a joyous Thanksgiving celebration.
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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