Delivering a Kiln, What Could Possibly go Wrong?

I have just finished refurbishing an old 2nd hand kiln for a friend. It’s one that I built 20 years ago and although has suffered some neglect. It is in remarkably good condition. We  delivered it to our friend in some very inclement weather. Fortunately the sleet cleared just before we arrived and the frost and ice was melted by the steady drizzle that set in, so the drive was uneventful. The driveway into the property was a bit wet and mushy after all the rain, so it was a slippery slidey reverse up the wet  grassy driveway and up onto the concrete slab.

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As we are way out into the country side here, there are no facilities to call on. Any sort of assistance would have to come a long way and at great expense. So we are on our own. Two ladies and me.

So, if all goes well, it should only be a matter of lifting the kiln up off the truck and then driving away. What could possibly go wrong?  The kiln should then be able to be gently lowered down into the exact position on the slab. A builder has been commissioned to come along later and build a garden shed over to the top of the kiln in-situ.

I think that I have thought of everything. I have lifting gear, slings, chains, shackles, gloves, pallet truck and crow bar. All the parts to built a tripod and a chain block to do the lifting.

Amazingly, it all goes exactly to plan. The rain stops. I take the wooden poles off the truck and build the tripod, walking each leg inwards towards the centre, raising the chin block to a height, high enough to clear the kiln when it is on the back of the ute.

I manage to position the truck with the kiln on the back, more or less in the correct position on the site. Directly under the centre of the tripod and we are ready to lift.

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This technique only works on soil or gravel. I have learnt from bitter experience that the legs of the tripod tend to slide outwards from the centre as soon as the load is applied, when they are sitting on concrete, or other flat , smooth surface. On soil, then settle in and dig down, locking them firmly in place. My only concern here is that the soil is so saturated, that they may just keep on sinking in. The soil is absolutely saturated here.

I try a slight test of the gear. The chain block takes the weight and the tripod settles in. I lift a little bit more and the ute raises up on its springs. A little bit more and the kiln starts to move a little and swing to one side a fraction as the weight comes off the legs. Finally its hanging free in mid-air. Just as it’s supposed to, success! While I steady the kiln and keep a hand on the lifting chain. The Lovely releases the hand brake and the ute suddenly zooms off….!


We are all a bit surprised at the speed. The slope was sufficient to allow the truck to freewheel away quite fast. Without the engine running, the power assisted braking doesn’t work and Janine had to press very hard on the truck’s brake pedal to bring the ute to a stop. Nothing went wrong, but no matter how much planning you do, there is always something else that you haven’t considered.

We wrap the kiln and I load all the gear back onto the truck just as the rain returns.


Low temp wood-fire w/shop

We are all prepared for the first of our winter wood firing workshops. The early morning sun shines obliquely across the site. Everything is ready. We have spent the weeks beforehand preparing the wood, the kilns and the glazes.

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Yesterday, we had our friend Susan down here for some last minute help with prep. While I was handing out HTV cards for The Greens and the local polling booth. Janine and Susan had their own test firing of their own work. A bit of quiet time to have some fun together, but also a chance to test all the new glaze batches to make sure that everything will run as smoothly as possible on the day.

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The day goes smoothly, A credit to Janine and Susan, for all the hard work and preparation that they have put in. Everyone seems happy and they are kept busy with glazing and firing all day. The kilns perform well and work starts to accumulate in the saw dust trench.

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The firings proceed all throughout the day, as once the kilns are hot. They can be unloaded, reloaded and re-fired easily all day.

Glazing, firing, unloading and reloading, smoking and more glazing and refiring. It’s a busy day.

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The day ends with a lot of happy potters going home with boxes of glazed pots. We clean up and put everything away again. I go to the garden and pick arms full of veggies. This will be our dinner tonight. Baked vegetables with a small piece of steamed fish.

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We light the fires and settle down in front of the idiot box with a glass of red wine to hear some analysis of the election turmoil.

Interesting times!