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Kiln Repair - Elements Part 2 (Step by Step): Article or Project

INSTRUCTION/REPAIR - Our thanks to Stan Horton of for his providing this step by step process for replacing kiln elements.

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You Can Do This!

Let me start out by saying if you are mechanically inclined this is a fairly simple process. If you are not I would recommend for the first time, you find a qualified person, watch carefully and take notes.

The tools you will need are as follows:

- A good pair of wire cutters, (side cutters).
- It is vital you have a proper connector crimper for crimping the connector between the element pigtail and the feeder wires
- Also one pair long needlenose pliers.
- A wire stripper will be helpful

The Procedure

- First disconnect kiln from power source.
- Remove screws opposite side of hinges on control box. Swing box aside.
- Use masking tape to label each feeder wire before you cut.
- I would start at the top with # 1 and #2 for the first section. #3 and #4 for the second and so on. Cut the element and feeder wires from the connector and remove porcelain sleeve.
- Using your needlenose and either a second pair (or a an eraser on the tip of a pencil) remove the pins while firmly holding the element in place. - Pins can be stubborn and easily break out a chunk of brick when pulling out the pins and or elements. Note the angle of the pins and how they go through the coils. The angle is to help hold the element down in the groove and to keep it from moving as they heat and cool.
- Also note the angle of the pigtail as you remove it from the brick. The bottom pigtail has an angle where as the top pigtail is straight.
- Insert pigtail making sure you start with the short crimped section (about an inch) in the bottom row of grooves in the brick you are starting on. Try to keep each crimped space exactly in the corners of the brick. You may need to let element hang over the brick in some sections and then carefully push back in with finger tips when element is fully in. Spend as much time as you need gently running your needlenose over the element in both directions attempting to adjust each corner so it is properly lined up. Take special care around the terminal brick; it will break easily.
- Now pin element using only the special alloy pins included; (any other kind of wire will destroy kiln and element). Remember positions of pins as you remove them. Ideally pins should not be outside the edge of the brick or inside the edge of the groove.
- OK take a deep breath and a stretch. Carefully pull out bottom pigtail while watching from the inside to make sure it does not take any brick with it.
- Gently bend pigtail so it is straight.
- Slide porcelain sleeve over pigtail and cut pigtail about 5-16 of an inch past sleeve; (you may need to hold pigtail so it does not spring back). You will need quite a bit of pressure to make a good dimple crimp. Make the crimp on the smooth side of connector as opposed to the seamed side. Be careful not to move the pigtail too much as it could expand the hole through the brick.
- The snugger the hole the better. The strands on the feeder wire should be clean and bright, a little under an inch so you can double over and insert into the connector up to the center. Do your dimple crimp and make sure there is no slippage when you twist the connector. Recheck all your connections and close up control box. Turn on your kiln and observe elements to make sure they turn orange evenly.

My elements will not smoke like the factory elements because I do not use any oils or cutting agents like most factory element coiling machines use.
Good luck with all your artistic endeavors, and remember the second time will be much easier.

Kiln Tips and Hints

- Vacuuming your kiln will lengthen the life of the elements.
- Use two needlenose pliers when removing old elements.
- Use one to hold the elements and one to extract the pin.
- When installing new pre-formed elements, keep each crimp of the element as close to the corners as possible.
- Lightly run the needlenose pliers over the top of the element in either direction attempting to lay down and slightly move the crimps exactly into the corners of the kiln.
- Take special care around the terminal brick.
- Element Pins can only be made from special alloy wire. Major damage can result from Homemade pins.


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