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UltraLite kiln problems


#1

Last summer I purchased an UltraLite Mini Kiln along with the Phaser
to adjust the temperature. I could never get enamel to melt on 18 g
copper–it would go to a bubbly texture but nothing further. Due to
alot of family health issues, I set the kiln aside. (I had my
husband test the house voltage in my studio and it is 111.)

This past winter I took the kiln to Baja with me and I know the
electricity where I stay is ‘high.’ The kiln worked great–just like
the box kilns I’ve used. I had my husband test the voltage there and
it was 135.

So today I called Otto Frei and said I didn’t know where to turn now
since it wouldn’t work in my studio here. It goes to a bubbly stage
but never fully melts and makes no difference what gauge metal I
use. The Phaser is turned up to maximum level. Wonder if anybody else
having this problem as I was told my ‘house voltage’ must be
low…yet it isn’t.

Liane Redpath Worlund


#2
(I had my husband test the house voltage in my studio and it is
111.) This past winter I took the kiln to Baja with me and I know
the electricity where I stay is 'high.' The kiln worked great--just
like the box kilns I've used. I had my husband test the voltage
there and it was 135. 

120 volts is normal and 111 volts is low but acceptable for most
things. 135 volts is high and could cause premature equipment
failure. Just the 111 volts to the 135 volts change could make the
difference melting the metal.

There could be an additional reduction in voltage in your studio that
could be adding to the problem. Measure the voltage at the power cord
when the kiln is on to see how much the voltage drops. The voltage at
the power cord should go down only a few volts when the kiln is
turned on. More than a few volts dropped indicates your studio wiring
or connections are in poor condition. This voltage drop, along with
your studio’s already low voltage could cause the metal to not melt.
Also, the place where your studio wiring or connections are causing
excessive voltage drop could be a fire hazzard. And…Remember… a
kiln uses too much electrical current to be safely used with an
extension cord or power strip.

John
The Jewelry Equipment Dr.


#3

Try taking the Phaser out of the line. I’ve been told that any
rheostat lowers the effective power. So does an extension cord.

Noel


#4

Liane,

Do you have a pyrometer on the kiln? Most standard enamels fuse at
around 1250 degrees F and that bubbly stage means you don’t have
full fusion. How long are you leaving the piece in the kiln? Do you
live at high altitude? When I lived at 9200 feet altitude it took
forever for the kiln to get hot enough and firing took longer.

Just some thoughts.
Donna in VA


#5

Maybe try it without the plug in attachment with the knob – just
use it straight. The manufacturer is JEC Products.

Elaine
CreativeTextureTools.com


#6

I found that my ultralite works much better in high temperatures
than low ones. When I was using it on 80 degree days it seemed to
melt my enamel with greater ease than when I used it when it was
below 60 degrees. Since my craft room is in the lowest level of my
home, it meant that I had to use this piece of equipment on an upper
floor, not in my craft room.

Sandra Graves, Isis Rising
IsisRising08.com


#7

Hi Lianne,

I bought a small trinkit kiln that claimed it got up to 1600
degrees- fine for enameling. Here’s a link to the one I bought:

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/px

It was a bit bigger than some of the trinkit kilns out there, so I
was sold. However, when I used my mini-trivets from Thompson in them,
never got hot enough to melt the enamel. I don’t know if it’s my
voltage, like you say, but one way I worked around it was by using a
"tray" of brass, larger than my piece, to sit directly on the
element. Although the air temperature didn’t get hot enough, direct
contact with the element did. I painted on a good layer of Sparex
onto the back of my enamel piece, so it wouldn’t stick to the brass,
then set it directly onto the brass tray (I folded up one corner to
ease pulling it in and out of the kiln). I had no problem melting
enamel then. Maybe this is one technique you could try in order to
still be able to use your kiln.

-Dana Evans


#8
when I used my mini-trivets from Thompson in them, never got hot
enough to melt the enamel. ...but one way I worked around it was
by using a "tray" of brass, 

These kilns work best through contact with the kiln floor rather than
by heating the interior space, as in a larger kiln. You can use a
piece of stainless steel wire mesh with a turned up corner as a
handle. I was told one could enamel on a sheet of mica, but don’t do
that in this kiln as the mica will fuse to the floor.

Neil A.


#9
I painted on a good layer of Sparex onto the back of my enamel
piece, so it wouldn't stick to the brass, 

Methinks you mean Scalex (fire scale preventer) not Sparax (pickle)

James Binnion


#10

Used mica in my ultralite a few times. Never had a problem with it
sticking to the element.

I’ve used trivets made from tin cans that work fine. Thompson Enamel
even sells a little trinket kiln trivet. Fusion still works just
takes a little longer. I feel that direct contact with the element is
ideal whereas a very low profile trivet works fine. I use lead based
enamels.


#11

Thanks for your input. I can’t plug it directly into any wall socket
as it comes w/ such a short cord (1 foot) it requires an extension.
So yesterday I plugged it into a one foot heavy duty extension
cord…again, orange peel texture and nothing further after 50
minute warmup and 10 minutes in the kiln on 20g copper. I do not
live at high altitutude.

Later today we will plug it in again and test the voltage in the
other socket. We have a long driveway (300 yards) and my studio is
even farther–my hubby always says we’re ‘at the end of the
line.’…

Liane Redpath Worlund


#12

Sandra,

20 degrees change in ambient should have a rats ass effect at
enamelling temps. Something else is WRONG. Line voltage or bad
connections/switches in the kiln come to mind first. There are other
slightly more subtle possible causes which don’t involve voodoo but
not many.

jeffD
Demand Designs
gmavt.net/~jdemand


#13

Good Morning,

Since we have determined that the problem is the input voltage, why
not change it?

In Industry there is a device called a Variac that is used to do
this. I did a quick Google and here is one of the links from the top 5

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/q8

Basically this is what you are looking for 110V in, 0 to 150 Volt
out, and enough amp capacity to feed your kiln. They are often
available used at surplus places for very little cost,

If 109 volts in is not enough and 133 is more than enough you should
be able to dial it to just the right heat for your needs. That being
said… The more voltage = the more heat = shorter element life, and
it is an exponential curve, not linear…

Kay


#14

Thanks for all the ideas. Heated up the kiln last nite…(which was
at 111volts during the day) – now 120 volts at night. We are on
acreage at the ‘end of the line’ so when everybody else is going to
bed the voltage appears to be normal. Next I will try enameling with
a piece of brass on the kiln floor…

Liane


#15

Liane - you mentioned using an extension cord. My experience is that
any extension cord will reduce amperage. There is more resistance
from the longer attachment and the intermediate connection. Try
propping your kiln so that you can use it without an extension. If
that works, rewire the kiln with a minimal length of wire that gets
you to a table top very close to the outlet.

Another problem might be from the internal wiring in your studio. Is
it old?

Judy Hoch


#16

Thanks to whomever suggested I use a brass plate directly on the
bottom of the kiln. I put flux on the plate with my enamel copper
piece atop. Worked like a charm.

Liane Redpath Worlund