Shelia Collins wearing leather gloves to unload a kiln.
Recent Q&As: Portable digital controllers
Wear leather gloves when unloading ceramics from the kiln. The gloves will protect your hands from shards of glaze and bits of pyrometric cones that have stuck to the shelves. Razor-sharp glaze fragments can be so small that they are difficult to see. The gloves will also protect your hands from sharp stilt marks on the bottom of glazed ware.
Should a piece of ware break in your hands due to thermal shock, the leather gloves will help protect your hands from the sharp edges. (This is one of the reasons to wait until the kiln has cooled to room temperature before unloading.)
Some of the employees at Paragon wear thin cotton gloves while installing elements. This is a good idea. If you do this, make sure the gloves are clean. Flakes of kiln wash can transfer from the gloves to the new elements, which can cause premature element failure. So do not wear the cotton gloves to handle elements if the gloves have also been used to wipe kiln wash from glazed ceramics.
Wear heat-resistant gloves (such as Paragon’s hot gloves) when handling a hot peephole plug or touching a hot lid handle.
Q. Can you fire two kilns with one portable digital controller?
A. Yes. A portable controller can fire more than one kiln if you rotate the controller between the kilns, firing them one at a time. While one kiln is cooling, use the controller to fire the other kiln.
The controller plugs into the wall outlet, and the kiln plugs into the controller. Both kilns must have the same type of electrical plug. When you order a controller, you must specify the NEMA configuration of the wall outlet.
Q. I am adding a digital controller to my manual-fire kiln. How do I adjust the kiln Sitter?
A. When you add a digital controller to a switch-operated kiln, use the Kiln Sitter as an additional safety shutoff. Load a cone in the Kiln Sitter that is hotter than the actual firing so that the controller shuts off the kiln instead of the Kiln Sitter. The Sitter then serves as a backup shutoff.
Q. How complicated is it to install the thermocouple that comes with a portable digital controller?
A. The easiest way to install it is through a drilled peephole plug. Or you could drill a thermocouple hole in the wall of the kiln. If you are firing two kilns, one at a time, with the same controller, you will need to transfer the thermocouple from one kiln to the other.
Insert the thermocouple into the kiln wall until it extends into the firing chamber by the amount shown in the controller instructions. This is usually around 3/4". Then place a mark on the outside of the thermocouple that is even with the kiln case. During firing, check the thermocouple occasionally to make sure the mark on the thermocouple is still lined up with the kiln wall. That is your assurance that the thermocouple tip is extending the correct distance into the firing chamber.
Mount the thermocouple to the kiln so that it cannot fall out during firing. If you drill a hole in the kiln wall and insert the thermocouple, don't let anyone tamper with it. If the thermocouple falls out or is pulled halfway out, the kiln can overfire.
Next week John Hohenshelt and I are flying to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) potter’s convention. I hope you stop by and say hello if you are there. John and I would enjoy visiting with you.
Trade shows are always an adventure. I meet new people and am immersed in the group culture of the event. The potters, glass fusers, enamelists, and metal clay groups each have a distinct culture, almost a world of its own. When I attend the glass show in Las Vegas next month, I will enter a different world than the one I will experience with potters next week.
With best wishes,
Arnold Howard Paragon Industries, L.P. – Better Designed Kilns 2011 South Town East Blvd. Mesquite, TX 75149-1122 Voice: 972-288-7557 & 800-876-4328 / Fax: 972-222-0646 firstname.lastname@example.org / www.paragonweb.com
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Copyright 2008, by Paragon Industries, L.P.