Thank you all for your advice and support. Here is what I have
learned so far:
The electro-melt I bought was used (though I thought not too much).
I had never seen a new one before, so I did not realize that my
crucible was very worn and thin. I suspect that crucibles that tend
to slide out when you tip the electro-melt over are worn down and too
thin and need replacing - so rather than figuring out a way to hold
it in place with tongs, replace it!
The molten metal did fry the thermocouple and the only way to get it
all out was to break up a bit of the insulating mantle around the
heating coils in the heating element. While I researched ways to
repair the mantle with heat-resistant cement and other forms of
insulation, Kerr told me that once the coils have been exposed and
come into contact with any metal, they are done for. BTW, the Kerr
representative emailed me back within minutes of my submitting my
question to Kerr via email – at 9pm PST and he is in NJ! Talk about
So, now I face the dilemma of buying a replacement heating element
and thermocouple and putting this old one back together (approx
$350), buying a new one with a year warranty for about $650, or
seeing if one of you generous souls wants to sell an extra one that
you have lying around your shop for somewhere in between these
amounts. Anyone interested in cleaning house and selling an
I know that I should be able to just melt the silver in a crucible
with a torch to cast, but the thought of getting that all together in
that short time between when the flask comes out of the kiln, etc
totally intimidates me. I guess I should watch some videos of you
masters doing it and get some guts. I really like using the
electro-melt, though - it makes casting so easy!
Special thanks to Ray who emailed me a manifesto about having the
right to fix things myself and gave me the proverbial kick in the
pants to take the thing apart and figure out how it works and what
exactly it needed.