Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Postscript to pots exploding ...

Those of you who look at this blog occasionally may remember my post of a few weeks ago, when a bunch of serving platters became thousands of shards in my electric kiln. And you may remember my bafflement at that circumstance. Well ... still a bit baffled, but this time the bafflement is all about my electric technology and not about how I was pounding out the platters.
I normally set the Skutt KM-1027 to rise slowly to 160F and sit there for 20 hours to make sure the greenware inside is fully dry. Then I set it to cone 07 and let the temp rise slowly until it hits 1779 or so and shuts down. I did this the other day with a fresh load of greenware, kept an eye on it through the day (it rose to 160 and stayed there for hours), and then at some point in the night it went rogue on me and rose at least to 1300F. That's where it was when I came down in the morning. I hit the "stop" button and it made the requisite "beep."
But it didn't shut down. It just kept pumping. Only way I could stop it was by unplugging the kiln and letting it cool.
I emptied the kiln this morning and the pots appeared to have been bisqued, but they had the sort of dull "thunk" of pots fired below my usual bisque temp. As far as I know, I have no way of telling what temp they fired to. (Maybe the computer stores that somewhere ... ) Anyway, I've gotten in touch with Skutt, but it's the Fourth tomorrow and it's unlikely I'll hear anything for a few days. And I can always (very carefully) bisque in the gas kiln, I guess.
Does anyone have any ideas this time?
I'll attach a couple of photos that have absolutely nothing to do with this problem. I'm preparing a story about my work in photography, so I'll let you see some of those images.
Happy Fourth, everyone!
Top to bottom: Creek, off Chatiemac Road, North Creek, NY; summer cottage, Maine; summer cottage, Orleans, Mass.; cathedral candles, Greece; Dan Finnegan workshop, Chatham, Mass.


Tracey Broome said...

I can't help at all with the kiln woes, I manually fire a gas kiln, sorry. But I love the black and white photos!

Peter said...

Lovely photos, and it would be great to be able to read your story about your photography (is that going to be in a magazine somewhere, or are you planning something for the blog?

Sorry to read of the strange kiln problems you are having, it must be very disconcerting not being able to rely on the system, and horrid when it willfully kills your work!
My electric kilns are rather more basic and are manually operated so I have nothing helpful to add other than sincere sympathy!

Dennis Allen said...

My guess is still a sticking relay but I'm no expert.Good luck and let us know what skutt says.

Hollis Engley said...

Thanks, all. Peter, the piece will be in a magazine, assuming the editor accepts it. Probably not out until next winter. I'll blog about it when it's published.
Thanks, Dennis. Actually, late yesterday Skutt contacted me and suggested the same thing you have. I've got to get new relays from them, and a wiring harness. Then we'll see what kind of genius I need to actually install them. Stay tuned.

cookingwithgas said...

hope it is an easy and fast fix, but it does maybe explain the other firing gone bad.
Lovely photos Hollis.

Kevin Carter said...

Hi Hollis,
Yes, you have stuck relay(s). I had the same problem about two years ago, except that they were stuck open, and the kiln would not reach temp, it kept stallng at 1678 or so. Since it was just a month out of warranty, Skutt sent me new relays and a harness for free.
Also, and I forget how to see it, but the controller will store the highest temp that the kiln reached, but it is a very fleeting number, and it can only be viewed ONCE. I forget how to access it, but i Know it can be done.
I have a 1027 single phase, and replacing the relays is not hard, it's the wiring harness that will give you more trouble. Just be sure to label everything with tape before you start, and take a few reference photos, unless you are good with schematics. Took me about an hour and a half when I did it.
I just replaced the elements this past May, and it's the same story - label everything, take your time, and it is straightforward.
You don't need luck - I'm a regular reader of your blog, and I know you're smart and can do it!

Hollis Engley said...

Thanks, Kevin. I'll let everyone know how it goes.