Thursday, January 6, 2011


I'm very close to finishing the kiln repair on Fred. Fred is our second oldest kiln. Our oldest kiln is Albert, who is kept out-of-doors. He had a roof fall on him from a torrential rain twenty years ago. We don't worry about Albert.

My Brick Repair with tools and shit
Working on Fred required almost all of my custodial superpowers. I was electrician, bricklayer, machinist, and sheet-metal worker. Fred's quite decrepit, in need of an overhaul for some time now. Most of the insulation on his wires are burned off, which is not good, not good at all. And two of his relays went kaput. And he needed a new controller. And his heating elements were pretty much fried. And the door was hanging slant on its hinges. And his fire brick was falling apart. And the door seal, the tadpole gasket (refractory cloth and rope whose cross-section looks like a tadpole) was crumbling into dust. The metal stays keeping the gasket in place had screws that would not come out. Or rather, the screw heads would come off, but not the rest of the screws. So, I had to drill and tap the holes for new screws to hold the gasket in place. Fred needed a lot of work.

My Brick Repair and Cement Patch Job
In his heyday, Fred could easily cook a whole family and their pets to a loose fine powder in about twelve hours, if you needed a crematorium in a hurry. And... you could bisque a village-sized funeral urn afterwards. Sorry for the grisly examples, but now you got the idea that Fred's a big boy.

The Inside of Fred
I'm not sure where the tradition of giving kilns names comes from. My understanding is that they are generally named after the manufacturer, but the fact as to why they are anthropomorphized is, well, I don't know.

We have names for other pieces of equipment. We have a mustard colored band saw that could cut up a cow named Col. Mustard. We have a big blue vortex vacuum box in the woodshop named Babe (after Paul Bunyan's big blue ox). We have a drill press named Ollie, and a reciprocating sander named Sandy. We have two metal cutting horizontal bandsaws named Bart and Lisa. We have a giant metal cutting chop saw named Homer. We don't have anything named Marge, yet.

Fred is fixed and ready!
I've never named the two foundry furnaces I use outside. Perhaps because they don't have much in the way of personality. Perhaps I should name them Thing One and Thing Two.

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