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Moving an Electric Kiln

Updated on March 16, 2012

Use Care When Transporting an Electric Kiln

Welcome to the KilnGoddess's Clay Pit on how to move an electric kiln. After witnessing the aftermath of a badly transported kiln, the near disaster of having a kiln moved by unaware custodians at the school I teach at and just rough kiln handling in general I thought a page on how to move a kiln would be prudent. It is so heart breaking to see a well taken care of kiln destroyed by the lack of knowledge or lack of care of others. It is also expensive to have to buy new kiln accessories that were perfectly fine before a kiln move but gets damaged during transport. This page is to educate everyone fellow potters, students, and anyone involved with moving a kiln on the proper way to move a kiln and the care that needs to be taken. Enjoy.

Smashed Brick
Smashed Brick

Kiln Moving Disaster

I bought a kiln...for $25. How did I get such a bargain? Well, it had been moved roughly...very roughly. What had happened to it exactly I'll never know but it came from a public school and looking at the remnants was once a very well taken care of kiln. Kilns that come from the public school system usually are not so pretty, glaze globs on the shelves cracked brick, maybe even over fired a time or two but this one wasn't. This one had a pristine kiln floor and lid, the shelves were lovingly kiln washed, no fired on glaze, it had at one time been the pride and joy of some well caring instructor.

I wasn't buying a kiln when I paid my $25 dollars but a salvage job. Maybe it fell off a truck, maybe it was ran into by a forklift but what ever had happened to it, it had been traumatic and the kiln was assuredly dead with no hope of resuscitation. The brick of 2 sections of the three section kiln were pulverized on one side, the switch boxes were torn off and one was missing. The section with the kiln sitter seemed in the best condition but still not unscathed, the kiln sitter tube was chipped, and so were some of the brick. The lid and floor musta not been involved in the kiln carnage as they are as still pristine as they were when they left the kiln factory. I couldn't find the brand name of the kiln as that must have been on the switch box section that was missing. There were 12 half shelves... one half shelf was broken, three were cracked and 2 were missing corners. The stand had a vent fan, the stand must of also avoided the mishap and really was the reason I bought the whole mess.

I salvaged the lid and floor, lid hinge, the kiln sitter, all the insulator tubes, the whole brick which there were not many of, the shelves cause even the cracked and broken ones are useful when experimenting with glazes and of course the stand with the vent. I shoved the pulverized brick in a bucket for future use in kiln repair and cut up the stainless steel sheath for future creativity.

It was sad to dismantle the kiln cause if unhurt it would have been a great kiln still working in a classroom firing creativity but now it sat in sad little piles on my garage floor. All the while that I was deconstructing the kiln I was cussing the people responsible for this transportation nightmare.

Moving Disaster Narrowly Averted

I teach at a small non-profit school and we get kilns donated occasionally, I take all donations of equipment cause usually even if the kiln is toast the stuff that comes with it is good. I have noticed a lack of understanding about how to move a kiln safely on part of our staff in charge of picking up donations.

A recent donation was a very large donation with lots of stuff so I went with the two guys to make sure everything worth anything was put on the truck. I warned the guys care needed to be used with the kiln and told them it was made of 3 rings that came apart.

As I was talking with the person in charge of telling me what was supposed to go I heard them trying to move the kiln. I heard sounds I did not like. There they were trying to move the kiln as if it was an other appliance not understanding that the kiln was in sections and with a floor and stand that separated from the whole.

The bottom shelf was still inside the kiln and tipping out. One guy had his hands around the bottom row of bricks and applying pressure and crumbling the bottom row of element channel with his finger.

I couldn't do much to help except to say "whoa...don't squeeze the brick" and "dudes, I told you it came apart in sections." But by then the damage had been done. All I could do was encourage them to use care, repeat a lot that the bricks were fragile, and suggest they use the handles(that the kiln had to easily move the kiln with).

I did have to save the lid and floor from having anything stacked on after it had been moved to the truck, narrowly averting a heavy plaster wedging board being placed on the lid.

I was a nervous wreck about getting that kiln back to the classroom, it was a very nice cone 10 Skutt with a computer controller. I wanted that kiln to make it back in one piece as there was no way the school would be able to afford such a nice kiln. I'm sure the 2 delivery guys were thinking I was a nervous ninny but I was tired of being delivered kilns that had gotten damaged on the trip to the school.

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How Should That Kiln be Move?

First look the kiln over. Is it all one piece? Including the floor? Remember the stand is separate in most cases. Some smaller kilns are all one piece except for the stand and lid. Most large kilns come apart in sections, the stand, the floor and usually 3 sections with the lid hinged to the top section for most top loading electric kilns. A front loading kiln can be all one unit including the stand.

First take all the peephole plugs out of the kiln as they fall out easily and break when the kiln is tipped and they are about $9 each to replace and a large kiln sometimes has 6 or more. If the kiln has a kiln sitter take out the 2 removable prongs before moving kiln as they are small and easily lost and about $5 to replace. Take out all kiln shelves and posts, they can easily damage the insides of the kiln if they shift around when the kiln tips or while the kiln is in route to its destination.

If the kiln is small and light maybe it would be simpler to move it all together...but remember if the floor is separate lift the brick barrel by the side handles and then move the kiln floor separate. Also don't transport any kiln sitting on the metal stand if the stand is separate from the kiln.

If it is a large kiln by all means take it apart before moving. They started to make them is sections so they were easier to move for a reason. Sometimes the sections are clipped together but the two clips holding each section to the next, it is easily opened for separating. You can restack the kiln for transport in the truck just secure the kiln so it does not shift while in traffic. Now some kilns have a switchbox that is all one unit and you will have to make a determination if you can move it unstacked once you get a gander at the kiln configuration. If the switchbox is all one unit instead of one for each separate ring you will likely have to move the kiln barrel all together unless you want to play with wires and if you don't know about wiring then don't play with the wires.

A lot of kilns are now made with side handles to be easier to move, use them but use them with care. Look for corrosion on the handles or on the screws securing the handles. When metals are exposed to the high heat of a kiln, the screws can become heat fatigued and snap when weight is put on them. So test if the handles are sound enough to carry the weight of the kiln or kiln rings.

Use care to not break the element channels on the kiln rings, just a bit of pressure with a hand can damage them and shorten the potential life of a kiln by allowing the elements to eventually sag out of the channels and break. So when lifting a kiln barrel or kiln ring don't wrap your hand and fingers around the brick edge and squeeze.

Do not sit the kiln rings on their sides, it is bad for the brick. Stack the kiln back together or move the rings separately but all rings must be upright not on their sides. Also never sit anything inside or on top of the kiln while the kiln is in motion as damage may occur.

When moving a kiln don't slide the bare brick across the bottom of the truck as it will remove brick as it grates across the metal instead place the kiln on a blanket and you will find the blanket makes sliding the kiln a breeze, tug on the blanket and the whole kiln moves.

Lastly secure the kiln and kiln sections to keep from sliding around while in transit. If you suddenly have to stop you don't want that kiln slamming into the truck wall.

Things to be Aware of When Moving a Kiln

  • Kiln brick is fragile.
  • Old kiln brick is even more tender.
  • Lids and floors are easily cracked or collapsed.
  • Sit nothing on the kiln lid or floor during transport.
  • Remove any kiln shelves or kiln posts inside kiln before moving kilns.
  • If the kiln has a kiln sitter remove the two kiln sitter prongs before moving kiln as they fall out and are easily lost.
  • Make sure kiln can not shift during transport.
  • Bring blankets to sit kiln on during transport so the brick does not rub anything and crumble.
  • Kiln brick is soft and can easliy crumble when handled with pressure.
  • If the kiln comes apart, take it apart to move easier.
  • Use the handles to move kiln if the kiln has side handles(other than the lid handle of course).
  • Test the handles before moving kiln to make sure they will hold the kiln.
  • Do not slide the bare kiln brick against any surface as the brick will grate off like shredded cheese.
  • Don't transport kiln barrel or kiln rings on their sides.
  • Take the kiln's peep hole plugs out before moving kiln as the are like $9 each to replace.
  • Use care not to smack kiln into door frames.
  • And a 28 inch kiln will not fit thru a 30 inch door as the 28 inch is inside diameter not outside.

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Transporting Kiln Shelves, Posts and Plugs

When you transport kiln shelves transport them cushioned with a blanket. Kiln shelves can crack and even break if dropped or slammed together so try not to do that. They are heavy so don't carry too many at once. While in transit, transporting them on their edge is better than flat. If flat is the only option don't stack them too high and cushion them so they don't slam together on every bump.

Kiln post are usually fine transported in a box just don't slam or drop the box. Kiln plugs are fragile so don't put them in the box with the posts. Place them in a box wrapped in newspaper and don't drop them.

A little note about your safety while moving a kiln

Wear sturdy shoes to protect your toes and don't breathe the kiln dust.

The dust from a kiln is not so good to breathe. Bricks are refractory materials and are crumbly. Kiln moving is dusty. Wear a mask if you want but try not to breathe the kiln dust.

I welcome your feedback. Would you like something added? Know a good link or book? Did I manage to misspell something? Did you find a dead link? Let me know, afterall this Kiln Goddess isn't all knowing ;-)

Suggestions and Feedback

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      your article is very helpful...Im just getting started and gathering info. Your site is the best! thanks