16 July 2009
know thine kilns
so yesterday i was checking on a bisque and when i looked through the peep, i could tell there was no heat up top. as i looked closer....i could see that the first element was not glowing. the load had been in for 10 hours so i just shut it down.
my big electric kiln is a skutt 1227 that i've had for probably 9 years. i have screwed up this thing from one end to the other over the years, beginning with wiring it backwards when i first brought it in my shop...that lasted for a year with super long firings before i figured out how to read the wiring diagram in the manual. the upside of so many mistakes is that i am able to rewire this thing in my sleep...also on the positive side is that i have not died of electrocution at some point.
i change my elements once a year (100 firings) and don't keep extras on hand. i do have other replacement parts handy and that was a treat today as i just replaced the wires that connect the element pigtails to the switch. i like to use split bolt connectors because i suck at crimping but sometimes they don't foster the best connection. anyhow....kiln breaker off...opening all cover boxes to make sure nothing major has come apart (or melted), notice that the connectors are discolored, replace them, tighten everything up and wahoo....when i fired it up, elements back to buzzing and hot.
my best advice to beginning clay folk is to learn your equipment. understand how it works and don't hesitate to jump in and figure it out (breaker off/ safety first). i live in the sticks so there are no options for repair people to come and change out my elements. knowledge of your machines is a very empowering thing...maybe you'll have an easier learning curve than i did but once again...i seem to learn best after i screw something up first.