Thursday, July 19, 2012

I am an electrical engineer ... not ...

I had no idea there were so many wires entangled inside the nearly invisible inner compartment that holds the computer and the relays and such on my Skutt KM1027. I should have, of course, but I'd always rather just let those things work than look into them. But when the electric kiln I use for bisquing pots began blowing them up with rapid temp rises, it was either do it myself or get in someone who knew what he/she was doing.
Always unwilling to admit that I don't know how to do something, I got in touch with the tech people at Skutt, described the problem and ordered what they said to order, which was three relays (WTF is a "relay"????) and an envelope of what looked like a sample of everything made by some Midwest wire factory. I downloaded a couple of pages on Skutt's website which purported to describe how to put all these new wires inside the box and take out the old ones. Right.
I do a lot of staring when I have one of these projects. And I did a lot of staring this time. Mostly, I stare because that at least will not do any damage. It's hard to make a mistake when you're just looking at something. But action had to be taken, so I carefully replaced each of the three relays ("relays"???), taking off an old wire and immediately replacing it with a new wire. None of this business of dismantling everything and then wondering where all the new stuff goes.
So, got the relays in and started staring at the wires. I can't possibly need all those wires; the ones still in there look just fine. So I e-mailed Perry Peterson at Skutt (God bless Perry ... ) and basically asked him exactly that. "Just replace the black wires with the new white wires," he said. So, carefully and one at a time, I did. Then reassembled the computer/controller box, screwed in the baffle, screwed in the hinges, screwed the whole damn thing to the kiln wall, squeezed behind my gas kiln to plug in the Skutt.
No smoke, no fire, no big noises ... programmed the kiln as I usually do, and over a period of a couple of hours, the temp was raised to 160. And there it sits, at least for now. Which is what it's supposed to do for 20 hours. Halleluiah.
I've got a couple of loads of pots to bisque before I start glazing for next week's reduction firing, which will include not just my pots but the pots of four other local potters.
So, many thanks to Perry Peterson at Skutt, and to Andrea York of Cataumet and Suzanne Wadoski of Falmouth, both of whom today offered to let me use their kilns for bisque-firing if things didn't work out. Stay tuned.




7 comments:

Tracey Broome said...

20 hours? Hmmm. I candle my green ware for 3, haha, as you can see, I taught a lot of classes at a community art center where we busted stuff out of the kilns every day:)

Tracey Broome said...

That was misleading, at the community centers, we candled for 8 hours and I am candling bone dry work:) but still for just three hours..... But don't do what I do, I fly by the seat of my pants most of the time, haha!

cookingwithgas said...

good job on taking apart AND putting back together. I just want things to just work.
But when we had the old kiln I was the one to replace the kiln sitter. I surprised myself by getting it done.
Relay- I know what those are.

Dennis Allen said...

Necessity is a Mother... Fingers crossed

Anna M. Branner said...

All a scarey thought to me. My kiln is currently out of commission in the shed waiting the move to the studio. I am nervous of simply setting it up on my own! Can't imagine take apart The Computer. Good for you!!

Hollis Engley said...

Thanks, everyone. The kiln candled without problems overnight and is now going through a medium-speed firing. So far, so good. Tracey, I fly the same way. Usually it works. And Anna, I only took apart the box that holds the computer ... I just looked at the computer card sitting there and tried to avoid dropping needlenose pliers or screwdrivers onto it.

littlewrenpottery.co.uk said...

I think I'd be too nervous to do any sort of electrical wiring on my own, I have a pretty bad habit of blowing stuff up!