Tuesday, June 9, 2009

in the studio, kiln repair

Here is the culprit that ruined the pair of Ivy tiles last week. The topmost image is the old sensor rod for the automatic shut-off device. Observe the difference between it and the new one below it in the picture. Notice how corroded and thin it has become, so much so that it lacks the weight to push down on the cone that was designed (when sufficiently melted) to trip the shut-off.

The first step is to open up the controller. Well, that's the second, first SHUT OFF THE POWER. Then take the whole thing apart and remove the tube assembly containing the sensing rod. The rest of the process is, frankly, pretty boring, so I will just go on to my "tips" section of this post.Tips:

1. Vacuum the area around the kiln before you begin because you will most certainly drop the teeny-tiny itsy-bitsy set screw before you make it to the plate you have (very prudently) set up to receive the disassembled parts.

2. Provide a plate to put all the little screws and what-not on for ease of retrieval later.

3. Set screws are very very very tiny, don't drop them. Especially when there are two in different places in the assembly and you will most likely drop each of them several times and have to get down on your hands and knees and crawl around on the dusty floor because you forgot tip # 1 and you actually have to feel for them because they are smaller that the human eye can see unaided and geeze you never thought you'd need a dust mask to replace a sensing rod.

4. Get both a small phillips head as well as a slot screwdriver because kiln manufacturers have a warped sense of humor.

5. Stop in the middle to go to the aid of your daughter who got food poisoning having breakfast with a friend to celebrate his graduation because she needs gatorade because of all the vomiting and is too weak and nauseous to go to the store herself. And be sure she lives thirty minutes away.

6. Remember the owner-builder's rule of thumb regarding time estimates for completing a task: round up to the next unit of time from what you estimate it will take. For example, if you think it will take one hour, the next unit of time is one day. Use that. Or if you think it will take one day, go up to one week. And so on. Trust me, it is true.
So now you know how I spent my day. My whole day.


  1. Oh dear, this made me laugh and laugh, I'm afraid! I'm sorry about your consumed day.

    I always wondered how builders did those estimates. I thought they did their best guess and multiplied by four, but what you've presented is obviously a better algorithm :-)

  2. I like Hochenstein's Theory which states that any given task will exceed the time allotted, even if Hochenstein's Theory is taken into account.


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