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You can purchase the prong (kiln sitter prong) for the kiln easily enough
at a ceramics supply house nearby where you live or you can have it shipped
to you at your school. They don't cost very much money.
The prong may be a thermocouple. Those are more expensive to replace but
not really that difficult.
Find out who the manufacturer is and either write or e-mail the company for
the kiln manual. Kilns are very simple pieces of equipment.
It could be that the person firing the kiln last year over fired the kiln.
When the bricks get fired repeatedly they become a bit more brittle, but
brittle bricks work just fine. What they look like is not really a
concern...the brick are insulators. The part that may or may not be a
problem are the wire elements. If they are old they will not fire properly
If a kiln has not been fired for a long time it will tend to be a bit
smelly when it is fired. The dust burning is stinky. It's just like turning
on the furnace in your house for the first time in the winter.
The firing schedule that you were giving does sound a bit odd...Low at the
end for two hours? That doesn't sound right.
Studio One Art Center
>At 08:18 AM 2/2/99 -0600, you wrote:
>>Can anyone help me out. I am a new teacher, and I acquired a kiln that
>>looks like it should be replaced. There is no metal casing or double wall
>>around the unit. A prong is missing from the inside. And the entire thing
>>is just a bunch of fire bricks put together with metal straps. The bricks
>>are extremely brittle and break easily. The teacher that used it last year
>>only said that it burnt up the last two loads and it got so hot and smelly
>>that she had to come on Saturdays and run it. It actually burn the tiles
>>underneath it on the floor so that they ended up purchasing a heat shield
>>for it. It is not vented and sits on regular bricks on top of the floor.
>> I don't have instructions for it and and the teacher from last year said
>>only to put it on low for two hours high for four and low for two--which
>>sounds a bit odd to me. It is not automatic. Does anyone have any
>>suggestions? How does a new art teacher determine the safety of a kiln?