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solenoids,starting kilns with safety shutoff systems

updated sat 13 jul 02


Stephani Stephenson on thu 11 jul 02

I am not familiar with the Olympic kilns specifically, but with every
kiln I have used equipped with a safety shutoff system
I had to develop a very specific, almost ritualized system. Maybe they
have improved systems nowadays, but thought I would share this in case
it helps. (The ones I used were Alpine updrafts and an Oregon Flat top
downdraft with a solenoid/safety system)

Seemingly minor things can make a difference.

With one kiln you had to hold down the red button until the solenoid
warmed up from the heat of the pilot flame, but you had to SNAP that
button down, hold it down firmly til time to release, and when you
released it you had to release it with a SNAP as well... not just let go
of it , but pull your thumb off like you just got burned,, kind of
pushing off of the button as you pull off your thumb... and the timing
had to be just right , otherwise gas wouldn't flow or the thing would
shut off.. if you just languidly pushed or released....nada!!!!
In these kilns the two burners , were started separately and the timing
between #1 and #2 had to be just right. Everything had to move right
along, one, two, three....
With the Alpines it was even more of a dance, but again, the SNAP was
important and the timing!
(Just the type of thing not easily written into instruction booklets!)
I am sure people thought I was nuts , but no one else in the studio
could get these kilns started consistently, so it wasn't too crazy!!!.
It was the gas man and I who figured it out. Fortunately the local gas
co man was really interested in kilns and a real problem solver.
We had replaced the solenoid and there was nothing else amiss. Once we
got the snap! and the rhythm , I never deviated from it. and it worked
like a charm.
If I goofed it up , like if my thumb or finger got locked up and I had
to wiggle it and let up on the button for a second...... had to walk
away for 10 minutes or so, and start all over. Sometimes two people work
well, one to handle the buttons, one to light the burners

Stephani Stephenson
'doesn't have a clue but can't resist attempting a 'miss cleo' reading
for your Olympic'.........