Now that my work in the group show at Sturt Gallery is up and running.
I have time to do a bit of catching-up on all the jobs that I wasn’t able to get done while I was working hard to get all the pots fired for this show.
One of the first jobs is to make a new turnings and slip tray for one of our potters wheels. The turnings tray on Shimpo wheels is slightly only just above pathetic.
They are so mean and cramped that if you do any amount of turning whatsoever, you need to stop work to take the tray to pieces and empty the turnings out, then re-assemble it to keep working!
It is so pathetically small, it is completely un-professional. I’m so surprised that they haven’t managed to come up with something more appropriate after all this time.
I’ve been using shimpo electric potters wheels since 1972. I first started with an RK-2 ring-cone wheel. The model with the sharp, pointy drive cone. Later I bought a 2nd hand RK-3. The model with the short, blunt, rounded cone. These were the best wheels on the market at the time. I really enjoyed using them.
After the fire I was given a couple of RK-10 metallic traction drive wheels, but these were from a school, where they were not well looked after and the small plastic trays were possibly allowed to be over-filled with clay slip water that found it’s way into the top bearing, grinding them out, such that that they sound and feel very rough and noisey.
I now have an RK-3D and RK-3E whisper wheels, but the tiny, cramped, plastic trays are still an embarrassment.
In the old pottery, I installed the RK-2 and RK-2 super shimpos in wooden enclosures, so all the turnings went straight onto the floor around the wheel, as is the Japanese accepted practice. However, in this new pottery studio, all the wheels are situated in a row either side of a central bench. This isn’t so convenient for allowing the turning to spill directly onto the floor.
So today, my first new job was to build a large, very spacious, turnings tray for the RK-3D shimpo. It has worked out very well, or so I believe. Time will tell if it is any good. If it isn’t, I’ll take it to bits and redesign it.
This is the miserly factory supplied plastic tray on the RK-10. It desperately needs to be 3 or 4 times larger. The space between the wheel head and the tray is so small that I can’t get my fingers in there to lift out the turnings.
Trying to do it, just seems to push some of the turnings over the inner edge of the tray onto the top of the inner bearing mount cover. When this happens, I have to take the tray apart and brush out all the turnings from the metal frame and bearing cover, then re-assemble. It’s a very slow and painful process that needs to be repeated every few minutes. When I work with sericite porcelain, I need to do a lot of turning to get the shapes just right. I really need a better designed tray.
I decided to make the new tray out of water proof plywood 750mm. x 500mm. It is designed to just clip over the top of the wheel frame, using wooden cleats to jamb-fit it onto the top of the metal frame.
I cut the bottom out of a plastic bucket to make the circular wall that stops all the turnings and clay slurry ending up on the top bearing. I ‘TEK’ screwed this to the wooden base and used silicone rubber to seal all the edges and make the tray water proof.
I decided to fit it with a strip of stainless steel off-cut as a curved wall, all the way around.
This tray should be able to be cleaned out of turnings easily and quickly, without having to stop work to dis-assemble it.
There is even room at the back to get a hand broom and dust pan in there to sweep out the last of the turnings.
I’m hopeful that it will make working with sericite a whole lot easier and quicker.
Time will tell. Watch this space.
If it works well, I’ll be fitting trays like this on the other wheels.