Lit the fire in the kiln again today, but didn’t go over 130C, just spent all day watching steam come out of the kiln. Got the thermocouple connectors hung over the kiln, high enough where they will not be affected by heat (hopefully).
This last pic is the temp readout on my netbook in the studio. All three thermocouples transmit a reading every 10 seconds. There is also a line graph readout which can be displayed, and recorded and saved. Nifty, huh? Also, there is apparently yet another Java update available.
Here’s the finished front stoke hole cover made of semi insulating castable. We’ll see how well it holds up.
The green hose is for the pump. Still have to pump out the sump about 6 times a day, since it has been raining lately. Water just seeps in from the sides and it slowly fills. Working on getting an automatic sump pump with float switches so I won’t have to worry about waking up in the morning to a fire box full of water.
After starting the fire in the chimney, I got the damper hung and pulled it up. I kept stoking wood at the chimney to get it warm, and between stokes I was hanging the front stoke hole cover. Once that was done, I started the fire in the front to warm the kiln and dry it, and the ware, out.
I can’t describe how it feels to finally have a fire burning in this kiln. Just for fun I connected up the thermocouples and monitored the temperature on my PC. The door hanging went really well. It hangs just so, with enough friction to keep it from swinging around, but light enough that when you move it, it feels weightless. Did the preheating thing for a couple of hours before clamming up the front and back and coming inside. I’ll start it up again in the morning, and go the whole day, get everything nice and dry, then Friday morning we’ll start the ‘real’ firing.
After bricking up the 2nd chamber door, I lit a fire in the base of the chimney to preheat it. It really pulled the air up, even as I started the fire, so worrying about the chimney’s ability to pull enough may not be necessary.
Finished loading the second chamber and bricked up the door. Ended up barely having enough shelves for the ware, as the used shelves I just bought turned out to have some cracks on close inspection. After all, it looks like 10 or more shelves out of 40 have cracks. So I set them aside, and the guy who sold them to me will replace them with good ones. But that means I couldn’t use them this time around. Barely had enough shelves to finish the load, but it worked out. Just 3 pieces didn’t make it in. As you can see from the pics, the second chamber is not even close to full.
Used every last straight brick on the door, and got a bit creative with brick scraps, because I didn’t want to cut a bunch of halves. Having the door recessed really helped with the brick fit at the edges.
Got the front door bricked in this morning while I was waiting for some help with the digging that needed to get done at the front. Beautiful weather for it all, heavy rain. My cousin in law, Kouki, and my friend Nakayama kun came by to help with the digging because they took pity on my for my recent back pain. So while they worked on that I did other things around the kiln that needed doing that don’t require heavy lifting, such as tacking insulating blanket on the rafters and beams closest to the chimney, and making peep and stoke hole covers.
Below is the door. These were some more scrounged bricks that I knew would be useful at some point, then never could find a use for them. Finally, they are living up to their potential. The nifty thing about them is that if they are in a space that is slightly too wide, or too narrow, one or two can be tapped in or out further to expand or contract the row. You can see in the pictures where a couple of the bricks are sticking out a bit because I did just that. At the top I switched over to IFB, and rather than cutting bricks to fit in the left over holes in the arch, I think it will be easier just to stuff the holes with scrap fiber.
It’s more rain in the forecast through Thursday, so the first two days of firing will be wet. We’ll lay down some wood in the newly dug front, just to keep our feet dry. I went out for a few hours this evening and when I came back the water had filled up the area and was about an inch or two up into the firebox. I will really need an automatic sump pump in the sump which will be able to pump out water whenever the area starts to fill. Otherwise I never know what I’ll be waking up to. When the kiln is empty it is not that important, but I’d had to peek in the freshly packed kiln after a night of rain and see pots floating around…
The middle got finished yesterday, and today the front stack nearly got done. Just a couple of more big pieces to put in place, and some small guinomi to stick in here and there.
In the picture above, the tokkuri are nearly below the side stokes. If we can manage not to nail them in the firing, there’s a chance they will come out mighty nice.
As it turns out, there are enough pieces left to fill the second chamber to a respectable degree. That will start tomorrow. The second chamber will be fired to around cone six. Yesterday, I finished off the floor anticipating it would need a couple of days to set nice and hard for loading.
These next pictures are the front stack getting done. Most of the large pieces are going in front. As I knew I would, I forgot I was dealing with green ware and broke one of my large bowls when I was getting it off the shelf. I hate that popping noise that happens when the rim breaks off in your hands, don’t you?
The floor layer:
First layer of shelves:
The top layer of shelves. These top shelves actually needed to be cut down so they would fit in that narrow width with the arch tapering.
After much deliberation, the two largest pieces went to the top of the stack. All should go well unless one of them decides to give up the ghost during the firing and falls apart onto other pieces.