First Heat!!!!! -

First Heat!!!!!

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Phil Hoppes
Posts: 297
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2003 2:20 pm
Location: Overgaard, AZ

First Heat!!!!!

Postby Phil Hoppes » Sun Feb 22, 2004 8:03 pm

Well it has been a just about a year in the works but I got "First Heat" this afternoon on my monster kiln.

Hopefully this picture post will work. ... 4b8d2d84e7

I got at least 2-3 weeks of breaking-in, tuning up, calibrating and stuff but should be ready for glass pretty soon!! \:D/

Many thanks to all that have helped me out with tips and suggestions.

Last edited by Phil Hoppes on Sun Feb 22, 2004 8:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Alecia Helton
Posts: 108
Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2003 12:35 am
Location: outside of Dallas TX

Postby Alecia Helton » Sun Feb 22, 2004 8:14 pm


I don't think that is the right link. It took me to a log in page.

Alecia Helton
Wear Original Wonders!
Carrollton TX

Phil Hoppes
Posts: 297
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2003 2:20 pm
Location: Overgaard, AZ

Postby Phil Hoppes » Sun Feb 22, 2004 8:22 pm

Try this one. I can't test it as it always works for me. ... 4b8d2d84e7


Kim Bellis
Posts: 133
Joined: Sat Jun 14, 2003 9:48 pm
Location: Tampa, Florida

Postby Kim Bellis » Sun Feb 22, 2004 8:31 pm

Did you build this yourself? Wow! Impressive! What are the firing dimensions? I am totally green with envy!!

Ron Coleman
Posts: 468
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2003 3:20 pm
Location: Columbus, Ohio USA

Postby Ron Coleman » Sun Feb 22, 2004 8:41 pm

Looks like it should be able to cook glass Phil. The wiring looks good, how many watts?

Mercury relays for the main control?

Last edited by Ron Coleman on Sun Feb 22, 2004 9:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

The Hobbyist
Posts: 302
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2003 7:09 pm
Location: Sun City West (NW Phoenix), AZ

Postby The Hobbyist » Sun Feb 22, 2004 8:45 pm

It's beautiful. Whether it works or not, it is a sight to behold. A very impressive piece of machinery. If it fires as well as it looks you're going to have fun.

Very nice work. Will you be posting complete details, pictures and tutorial?

"With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion. " Steven Weinberg

Darrin Strosnider
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2003 10:33 am
Location: Desert Southwest

Postby Darrin Strosnider » Sun Feb 22, 2004 9:01 pm

Hey Phil- Congrats on the new "baby"!! I guess that rigidizer worked, eh? We've been using the stuff I got from you on the two forges we built and soon we will be installing all the refractory in the multi-hole, so we'll be trying it there as well.

Can't wait to see more of your work!


PS- let me know the next time you are in town and we'll have dinner.


Posts: 28
Joined: Sat May 10, 2003 6:06 pm
Location: Phoenix,AZ

Postby whitejoyce » Sun Feb 22, 2004 10:17 pm


I was looking at your pics of kiln, Where did you find such a wonderful looking kiln.?

I love the size. Where are the dealers that carry this kind of kiln.?

Do you mind me asking the price for one like this?

Thank you in advance for information.

I know I need a lot morespace than I have now for this
J. White

Darrin Strosnider
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2003 10:33 am
Location: Desert Southwest

Postby Darrin Strosnider » Sun Feb 22, 2004 10:38 pm


Phil built the kiln himself (with some help from his son)!!

I'm sure he'd be glad to quote you a price... :wink:


Clifford Ross
Posts: 68
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2003 10:08 pm
Location: Myrtle Beach, So. Carolina

Postby Clifford Ross » Sun Feb 22, 2004 11:22 pm

Now thats a sweet lookin' job!!! 8) :wink:

Tony Smith
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Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2003 5:59 pm
Location: Massachusetts, USA

Postby Tony Smith » Mon Feb 23, 2004 1:29 am

Ahhh Phil? I've seen factories that aren't wired that well!

Awesome job... Congrats to you and Matt.

I can't wait to see the first countertops.

The tightrope between being strange and being creative is too narrow to walk without occasionally landing on both sides..." Scott Berkun

Phil Hoppes
Posts: 297
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2003 2:20 pm
Location: Overgaard, AZ

Postby Phil Hoppes » Mon Feb 23, 2004 8:53 am

Thanks for the kudo's. The kiln is home built. The internal firing dimensions are 4' x 4' x 17". There is a 2" space from the shelves to the wall inside so the total internal space is 26.6 cuft. I sized the power at 1KW/cuft so the total power capability is 26.6KW.

There are a number of specific requirements I was looking for which drove the design. Since I work alone, as do most of us, I wanted to be able to be able to maintain the kiln by myself. In addition, in just building the darn thing the top weighs in at around 700lbs. That is not something you easily flip over with a bunch of your buddies, at least not doing so and remain friends. As you can see from the one picture, the kiln has a maintenance mode where the bottom is wheeled away, 3/4" stainless pins are inserted from the side into 2" bungs tig welded to the top. The power and thermocouple cables are unplugged and the entire assembly can be rotated. This can all be safely done by one person. The rotation axis is pretty close to the CG so it moves pretty smoothly.

I built it with two moveable bottoms so I can be firing on one and building another. After I got into this, I thought that that is probably not necessary but knowing how I work (quite ADD) I like to work on multiple types of things at a time, it will probably work well for my style. Based upon lots of discussion on the board, both on the pro's and con's of wheeled bottoms, I constructed the top such that I can safely work directly under the bell when it is in the up position. Not shown in the picture (last things to be done), there is a beam that goes across the top and channel locks to the uprights on the hoist. This beam is bolted to the top and can be locked in position with 3/4" stainless pins. The bell is lifted by the hoist and then held in place by the pins. This way the load is removed from the hoist and is pretty much failsafe. The bell can be lifted high enough that I can get my 6'1" underneath without hitting the bell.

On the insulation side, it has 2" of Thermo12 board insulation on the outside with 2" of fiber blanket on the inside. The bottoms are made of K23 firebrick placed and locked tight on a steel bottom. The bottoms have wheels on adjustable vertical threads so they can be leveled easily. Once the initial "dust" has setteled, I intend to bolt steel guides in the floor so the bottoms can be easily wheeled to the exact postition every time. For now I just have to manuver them a little more.

On the control side, the main controller is from Orton. This is the same controller Paragon uses on their larger kilns. It's what I'm use to as my other kilns are Paragon so for me I'd rather not be confused with different programming methods. The main power is switched using Mercury Displacement relays. These relays cannot fail in the on position, though the can fail. I have a backup controller from Omega. I took a kiln class from Larry Fiedler (good instructor BTW) and he uses setpoint controllers from Omega. I looked at using one of these but for just a few bucks more I was able to get a setpoint controller that can also work as a limited controller itself. For what I spent and for what a full load of glass costs I figured it was cheap insurance to have an overtemp kill controller. Even though the merc relays shouldn't fail, there are relays in the Orton controller and ones that drive the merc relays so there are still potential failure points. Also, if the Orton blows out for some reason, I still have a controller I can fire with while I get a replacement.

I was interested from a design standpoint wrt the insulation scheme and there was little "hard" data other than just experience. This is not bad but difficult to design from if materials are different or your kiln requirements vary so while I was stuffing my kiln I embedded a bunch of thermocouples at different layers and locations inside the bell. This is why there is such a collection of thermocouples. I intend to take a lot a data and publish both the data and hopefully come up with a little better model for people to use in future designs.

My web site should be up in a few months and I will have all of the particulars on my design and how well it is working. There are a lot of details with respect to safety, noise, etc. that I won't cover here but I'll have writeups later on my site.


PS - Just for the curious, I've spent about $8,000 for everything. It's been about an even split of 1/3-1/3-1/3 for insulation, electrical, steel&hardware. I've looked around at professional models and if you got exactly what I got, delivered to your studio, wired to your electrical system and set up running, you would spend at least 2x to 3x this price if not more.

PPS - Oh, yea, about 1 million or so man hours too between me and my son :lol:

charlie holden
Posts: 260
Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2003 8:26 pm
Location: Atlanta

Postby charlie holden » Mon Feb 23, 2004 12:11 pm

That's a good looking kiln. It should do a great job for you.

I see several switches on the panel. These are to selectively turn on or off the wall and/or ceiling elements? I'd like to see the wiring diagram.

You have the only kiln I've ever seen that can flip over. Now you should build a wall of kiln bricks that you can roll up to the bell when it is rolled onto its side. Think of the strange things you could slump with a tall, wide kiln. I've often wondered what Mary Shaffer's kilns look like:


Bert Weiss
Posts: 2337
Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2003 12:06 am
Location: Chatham NH

Postby Bert Weiss » Mon Feb 23, 2004 1:24 pm

Summersaults are funny. I hope you enjoy using it and making it do tricks.

I'm not sure what you spent for the Orton controller, but you can buy the guts of it directly from the manufacturer, Bartlett for $165. All you need beyond that is a steel box $16, and a transformer $5 and a relay for each zone.

I find the relay controversy interesting. My experts say unequivically SSR is the way to go. Most manufacturers use click click mechanical relays. (easy for the manufacturer, but noisy and short lived for the user) Mercury is a pretty good choice unless they break apart and you are OSHA regulated and have to tear up your floor.

For Carol's kiln, I used a safety hitemp controller from Watlow. It dials a hitemp limit. If it's thermocouple (dedicated) hits that temp, it shuts down the power to everything. This system is required to be codeworthy. What I didn't like about how it worked was that it used mechanical contactors that hum somewhat irritatingly.

Carol's kiln is larger and cost less, I believe although I haven't seen final figures and there was the Canadian $ factor. One of these days I'll figure out how to get some pictures on my website. Calendar buyers will get quite a view.

Bert Weiss Art Glass*
Furniture Lighting Sculpture Tableware
Architectural Commissions

Phil Hoppes
Posts: 297
Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2003 2:20 pm
Location: Overgaard, AZ

Postby Phil Hoppes » Mon Feb 23, 2004 1:47 pm

The controller from Orton was $225. The main relays are merc. The relays that fire these are SSR's. Not sure what would make a relay break unless it was run hotter than it's rated capacity or mechanically hit. The control box is vented for any heat dissipation and closed and contained to avoid any mechanical confrontations. Low probablility on either I figure.

That you can build a kiln cheaper than what I did is no question. That you can build one to the same specs, with the same design features, same safety features, same electrical components...probably not much. It should do what I want, the way I want it too and that's the pleasure in making your own equipment.


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