Advice on buying a new 120V kiln :( - WarmGlass.com

Advice on buying a new 120V kiln :(

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Jodi Longobardo
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Advice on buying a new 120V kiln :(

Postby Jodi Longobardo » Sun Sep 07, 2014 10:10 pm

I think my trusty Paragon SC-2 is failing. The second to last time I fired something, I saw the kiln get up to 500 and rising, went to bed, and came down to see it reading FTL. I opened it and the pieces hadn't fused. The second time I fired the same project, I saw the kiln get up to 890F and rising, left for a while, and came home to it about 4 hours later to 550 and falling. Given my schedule, things were moving too fast--and when I opened the kiln, indeed, the glass was not fused indicating it never got up to fusing temps. I am monitoring the kiln thru another firing now, but I am afraid it will not fix itself. I don't think it is the relay--I just replaced that and it is still making the clicking noise that stopped before when the relay went bad. But I don't know what else the problem could be.

So I am thinking I may have to buy a new (or new to me) kiln. I mostly fuse jewelry, but would ideally like to be able to slump some small/medium size projects. The only catch is that the kiln has to be 120V, and of course, price is a consideration. I tried searching for this topic, but didn't find that much. I'm not sure what I should look for in seeking a kiln that is a step up from my current situation but still reasonably priced and of good quality. Any suggestions?

Thanks so much for any advice!

--jodi

Morganica
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Re: Advice on buying a new 120V kiln :(

Postby Morganica » Sun Sep 07, 2014 10:46 pm

It might not be time to retire the old kiln yet (unless you just want another kiln ;-) ).

It could be an issue with the relay installation. Or check the elements.If you'll do a search on both those things on this board, you'll get a lot of info on how to test and how to replace those things. Did you find the guide on the Paragon website?
http://www.paragonweb.com/files/troubleshoot/IM133-Relay_Replacement_Guide.pdf

But in any case, you may run into a size limitation with just 120v. The biggest one I've seen is the Trio, but I've heard it heats rather slowly:
http://www.bigceramicstore.com/the-bigceramicstore-trio-kiln.html
Cynthia Morgan
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Jeanice
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Re: Advice on buying a new 120V kiln :(

Postby Jeanice » Mon Sep 08, 2014 10:53 am

I'm so sorry Jodi. How frustrating, especially this time of year. But, don't give up on your kiln just yet. Do some research like Cynthia says. Nearly everything can be replaced and the cost is much less than you think. It could be as simple as cleaning and tightening all the connections to the coils - UNPLUG kiln first.

One of my kilns is from 1978 that I completely gutted and installed all new parts, controller included. Total cost $250. (built new PID controller from Auber Ins, not for everyone.) Not that I think your controller needs to be replaced... sounds like its working fine.
Jeanice

Jodi Longobardo
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Re: Advice on buying a new 120V kiln :(

Postby Jodi Longobardo » Mon Sep 08, 2014 2:46 pm

Thank you Cynthia and Jeanice for your advice. I don't think it is the relay installation, as I installed it about a year ago and it has been working fine up until now. I am afraid it might be an element, which seems like it costs around $250 plus shipping to fix. Given that a bigger, new Paragon (cs-14d) can be had for $845 shipped, I am really dithering over whether it makes sense to buy a new kiln that would let me do more. On the one hand, it would let me do more and would not require any repair for a while, one hopes! On the other hand, it would mean learning a new kiln's peculiarities just when I am busiest, plus the extra almost $600.

My husband is buying an ohm meter tonight to check the elements per the Paragon troubleshooting document. I guess we'll see what's going on then. If I were to buy a new kiln, any opinions on the CS-14D? The Trio one you mentioned is a little more than I wanted to pay. :(.

Rick Wilton
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Re: Advice on buying a new 120V kiln :(

Postby Rick Wilton » Mon Sep 08, 2014 3:45 pm

I would think that a 120v kiln would only have one element. So your element is either going to work or not, I can't imagine it working till a certain temperature then stopping. I have had mechanical relays stop working once they get too hot. Once the kiln cools off, the relay also cools and will work again till it gets close to fuse temps and craps out again.

I would bet it's your relay and is only an intermittent problem, it's only bad once it gets too hot.

If you can out a small fan near the control box that houses the relay, this will lower the ambient temperature in the housing and may work till you can replace the relay.
Rick Wilton

Tom Fuhrman
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Re: Advice on buying a new 120V kiln :(

Postby Tom Fuhrman » Mon Sep 08, 2014 4:39 pm

check your thermocouple first. Thermocouples definitely have a life span and it sounds like yours may be about up. Type K thermocouples are notorious for this. If it's over 2 years old replace it. the other thing it could be is an element and those should not be very expensive, check with Duralite for a replacement.

Terry Rothwell
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Re: Advice on buying a new 120V kiln :(

Postby Terry Rothwell » Mon Sep 08, 2014 5:50 pm

I was having the same problem (although a different kiln/controller manufacturer) and it turned out to be a relay. Bought the replacement for $13.50 plus shipping. Age is not a good way to evaluate electronic components. Number of cycles and component heat has much more relevance.
From the Paragon site
"The Sentry Controller FTL Error Message
FTL is a 12-key Sentry controller error message that means "Firing Too Long." FTL can appear during either heating or cooling segments. FTL means the temperature has stalled.
FTL will appear when the temperature change is slower than 27°F/60°C per hour and the firing time is four hours longer than the current segment was programmed to fire. If FTL appears during a heating segment, it is usually due to a worn or burned out element, defective relay, low voltage, or a defective thermocouple."

If it's a relay this would be the condition if the relay does not close, completing the circuit for the heating coil/coils, thus "stalling" the heat up sequence.

suds
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Re: Advice on buying a new 120V kiln :(

Postby suds » Mon Sep 08, 2014 6:46 pm

I'll guess a loose connection, a bad relay, or maybe a bad thermocouple. In that order of probability.
When husband gets home with the meter it shouldn't take too long to sort out.

FWIW here's the wiring diagram that goes with your SC2 http://www.paragonweb.com/files/wiringdiagrams/W0221131.PDF

I see Terry already quoted part of the "FTL" error message, but here's the link to the rest of it http://www.paragonweb.com/Kiln_Pointer.cfm?PID=58
Steve

Morganica
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Re: Advice on buying a new 120V kiln :(

Postby Morganica » Mon Sep 08, 2014 10:04 pm

I will third (or fourth) the info about relays: It's not the age of the relay, it's how much it's been used, and how well it's connected. I used the same relays for more than 10 years in my Skutt GM1414, so I wasn't too unhappy when they failed in 2007. Not the case when they again failed, in 2008.

A quick check of my firing records, though, made me pause: My firing habits had switched from a weekly fuse/slump/tack-fuse to almost continual casting, with cycles up to 3 weeks long. I'd greatly increased the workout those relays were getting, and in less than a year I'd worn them out. I stopped using mechanical relays, and I'm still casting with those same replacements in 2014.

I've had only three other issues with that kiln, once with a loose relay and once when the thermocouple had been pushed back into the firebrick and was giving false readings--replaced it entirely, made sure it was in the right position and solved the problem. The third was kinda freaky--I was venting the kiln by an open door and the cold air rushing into the thermocouple was giving false "not getting hot" readings. Shut the door and the problem went away.
Cynthia Morgan
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Jeanice
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Re: Advice on buying a new 120V kiln :(

Postby Jeanice » Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:38 am

I have a CS16S with the 12-key controller. My personal thoughts...

- Mine is clamshell (S), not top loading (D). The top is VERY heavy so I wish I had got the top loading, or the dual top model. It is really hard to peek into the kiln when you have to use two hands to hold the top open.
- They installed the window on the side that I can't see, thought the window would be in the front.
- Wished I could have added a second shelf to my order because I like their shelves better than the ones I ordered from elsewhere.

Other than those three things I really like it. The temps in my kiln seem to be very close to "normal" so hopefully you won't have to do much testing prior to production. This is a terrible time of year for you to have kiln problems. But better now than November I suppose. {knock on wood to kiln gods}

Note about my 16" firing chamber, shelf is 15" then allow at least one inch (two is better in my case) around the edge of the shelf to account for the perimeter being cooler than the center. So the 16" firing chamber is reduced to 13-14". Just something to consider. I cannot WAIT until we move and I can have 220!
Jeanice

Jodi Longobardo
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Location: NJ

Re: Advice on buying a new 120V kiln :(

Postby Jodi Longobardo » Wed Sep 10, 2014 1:25 pm

Well, we checked the relay and the elements using the multimeter and a 12V battery and it indicates that they are working. Tonight we are going to try to test the thermocouple--it is less clear to me how to test it because the instructions from paragon assume you are getting a FAIL message on the controller, which I am not. This is so frustrating. Thank you all for your advice. If it isn't the thermocouple, I don't know what to do. I have orders I have to fulfill so the only kiln I can get in time at a good price is the CS-14S, when I would prefer the CS-14D for the reasons Jeanice mentioned.

Thanks again!

--jodi

Warren Weiss
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Location: Richmond, VA

Re: Advice on buying a new 120V kiln :(

Postby Warren Weiss » Wed Sep 10, 2014 1:35 pm

Jodi,
Check and see if you have one or two elements. If two, see if one isn't working. Just lift the lid, start kiln and watch to see that all elements turn bright red after a bit.

Warren

Jodi Longobardo
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Location: NJ

Re: Advice on buying a new 120V kiln :(

Postby Jodi Longobardo » Wed Sep 10, 2014 1:44 pm

Hi Warren,

My kiln has the elements (two, I believe) enclosed completely in a ceramic fiber box--there are not wires that you can see. Is there some way I could tell through the ceramic fiber, like part of it would glow, part would not?

Thanks,

--jodi

Warren Weiss
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Location: Richmond, VA

Re: Advice on buying a new 120V kiln :(

Postby Warren Weiss » Wed Sep 10, 2014 3:25 pm

Yes, you should be able to see a glow. If you can't see the glow, CAREFULY slowly put your hand near (one to two inches) where each element is located to determine if it is heating. Low top temperature would be consistent with one out of two elements not working.

Warren

Jodi Longobardo
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Location: NJ

Re: Advice on buying a new 120V kiln :(

Postby Jodi Longobardo » Wed Sep 10, 2014 3:46 pm

Warren,

The whole kiln box is glowing, and I feel heat on both sides of the kiln, so it seems to me that they are both working. I am firing it again to see if maybe there were loose connections (not that we noted any) that we fixed when we did the multimeter tests. I also am firing AFAP to see what is actually happening at the target temp according to the controller. Thanks for the suggestion!

--jodi

Rick Wilton
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Re: Advice on buying a new 120V kiln :(

Postby Rick Wilton » Wed Sep 10, 2014 6:04 pm

CHANGE THE RELAY!!!!

It's like $20.00 I almost guarantee that's the problem.

They don't always just break...they malfunction at high temperatures.

Don't believe me???

http://www.paragonweb.com/FAQ2.cfm?FID=201
Last edited by Rick Wilton on Wed Sep 10, 2014 6:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Rick Wilton

Jodi Longobardo
Posts: 34
Joined: Sat Sep 30, 2006 7:51 pm
Location: NJ

Re: Advice on buying a new 120V kiln :(

Postby Jodi Longobardo » Wed Sep 10, 2014 6:14 pm

I called Paragon and described the problem, and the representative told me it could not be the relay because if it was, the kiln would not be heating at all. That doesn't seem right to me, but that is what they said. Do I believe them? They told me to send my board and thermocouple to them for testing. I agree, the relay is cheap and I don't have much to lose by trying it.

I tried directing a fan at the kiln to cool it down during my last test, but that did not help either.
Last edited by Jodi Longobardo on Wed Sep 10, 2014 6:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Rick Wilton
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Re: Advice on buying a new 120V kiln :(

Postby Rick Wilton » Wed Sep 10, 2014 6:19 pm

Click the link to THEIR website.
Rick Wilton

Rick Wilton
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Re: Advice on buying a new 120V kiln :(

Postby Rick Wilton » Wed Sep 10, 2014 6:20 pm

quote from PAragon website

A relay in my digital kiln fails at around 1800 degrees F. When the kiln cools off, the relay operates again.

answer

Your relay has been damaged by heat. As the temperature rises in the switch box, the relay fails because the electromagnet that closes the contacts inside the relay has weakened.

During the summer if the kiln room gets too hot, use a fan to blow air into the switch box louvers of your kiln. Aim the fan toward the side of the switch box. But do not let air blow into the kiln’s peepholes. The fan will immediately lower the temperature inside the switch box.
Rick Wilton

Jodi Longobardo
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Joined: Sat Sep 30, 2006 7:51 pm
Location: NJ

Re: Advice on buying a new 120V kiln :(

Postby Jodi Longobardo » Wed Sep 10, 2014 6:36 pm

I know, I am agreeing with you, Rick. I am going to try the relay replacement despite what they said on the phone. Thanks for pointing me to that part of the website.

--jodi


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