If an element won't lift out of the groove, look for an element pin.
Hints for Removing Old Elements
Reader Response: Making glass frit
Recent Q&As: How to install Sentinel touch screen controller; drying pots on top of a kiln
News: Rolling Stand Included with Most Top-Loading Kilns
HINTS FOR REMOVING OLD ELEMENTS
This article applies to the sidewall heating elements in firebrick top-loading and front-loading kilns. It doesn’t apply to elements in quartz tubes, lids, or elements embedded in ceramic fiber.
Removing old elements takes more time than installing new ones. Work carefully, as if you were a surgeon, and you will cause little, if any, firebrick damage.
Simple tools aid in removing elements: a small mirror and flashlight to see inside the grooves, needle-nose pliers to grasp the element, and a small allen wrench to lift the element out of the groove.
After you remove the element connectors, push one end of the element into the firing chamber. Gently lift the element up and out of the element groove with the short end of a small allen wrench.
Never force the element out of its groove. If an element is difficult to remove, look into the groove with the flashlight and mirror. (In the photo above, I used a piece of stainless steel as a mirror and a small, high-intensity flashlight. The steel was left-over scrap from manufacturing kiln cases.)
An element that won’t come out is usually held in place with a pin. They are difficult to see without the mirror and flashlight. Some of them are U-shaped. The straight pins are more difficult to find. Once you find the pin, lift it out with a slotted screw driver or the allen wrench. That section of element will come out easily after the pin is removed.
After the elements are out of the kiln, look for contaminants in the grooves with the flashlight and mirror. A contaminant that caused the element to burn out could become embedded in the groove and burn out the new element.
Changing the elements in your own kiln is satisfying. The next time you change elements, you will be much faster than you were the first time, because you will have the tools, and you won’t have to hunt for element pins or wonder if your kiln has them.
The last Kiln Pointer, “Eight Ways to Fuse Glass on a Budget,” described making frit (powdered glass) from colored glass bottles. “Use bottles of only one brand and color to assure that the frit will have the same coefficient of expansion,” I wrote.
Charlie Spitzer of Cave Creek, Arizona wrote, “I think you'll find that not all bottles from the same winery/wine/color are compatible. Bottle manufacturers don't always feed the lines from the same glass. They may come off different lines at different times with different glass.
“I go to yard sales and pick up badly scratched dining room tabletops for a few dollars,” Charlie added. “Usually they're very thick and large, producing a lot of glass that can be broken up and used in many projects, as long as you use glass only from one top in a project. I cut them into large pieces, heat the pieces up to 1100 degrees F, pull the pieces out of the kiln with fireplace tongs, and drop them into a steel bucket of water. The pieces shatter and become tempered, so they are easily and safely broken into cullet.”
Wear a face shield and fire-protective gear when handling hot glass.
Q. Is a retrofit kit needed to upgrade older Paragon kilns to the new Sentinel touch screen controller?
A. A retrofit kit is not needed to convert a Sentry 2.0 controller to the Sentinel Touch Screen. This is because both controllers have the same 4-screw mounting pattern and use the same wiring harness.
Q. I occasionally put damp pots on top while I am firing my electric kiln. It dries them out for the next load. Does this hurt anything?
A. I have never placed damp pots on top of the kiln, so I can't answer from personal experience. However, a friend has dried his pottery on the lid of his electric kiln for years. He is careful not to place too much weight on the lid to avoid cracking the firebricks.
“I am up at 4 a.m. Gotta get the big kiln going. It is exciting. Lots of new glaze combos in there, and two of Colleen's 70-pound pots. Does the excitement ever end? I don't think so. It is never money that makes a life--it is daily excitement. Something to do, something to plan, something to build.” -- Mel Jacobson, 82-year-old potter
NEWS: ROLLING STAND INCLUDED WITH MOST TOP-LOADING KILNS
Paragon 7-, 8-, 10-, and 12-sided top-loading ceramic and glass kilns now come with a deluxe rolling stand. The new stand has locking casters, a mounting bracket for the Orton Kiln Vent, and a greenware drying rack. The deluxe stand replaces the discontinued standard kiln stand.
The new stand has two side frames, two shelves, and four locking casters. The new stand slides together with slots that line up the screw holes. To install an Orton Kiln Vent, slide the collection cup into the vent bracket on the top. The new stand eliminates the need for the collection cup mounting bolt.
Load greenware on the lower shelf. Heat from the kiln will dry the ware and prepare it for the next firing.
Charlie DiMaggio was just hired as our new customer service manager. “You can feel the atmosphere of a place when you first walk in,” she said, “and the atmosphere at Paragon is comfortable. Everyone is kind and willing to help teach me. I feel at home here.” Charlie laughs easily.
“It seems that the employees have been here forever,” Charlie added. “That’s a good sign. You’re not just an employee here--you’re a ‘lifer.’ They have future plans for me. I love that! Paragon is a nurturing place.”
Charlie loves baseball. Her high school batting average was .429. Her baseball prowess must be genetic, because her uncle was the cultural icon Joe DiMaggio. Charlie treasures her baseball cards, family photos, and stories of Uncle Joe. Charlie is from Vermont but has spent most of her life in Texas.
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 / firstname.lastname@example.org / www.paragonweb.com / www.facebook.com/paragonkilns
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