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Old 06-11-2018, 10:11 AM
Michael Bryan Michael Bryan is offline
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Newbie questions (like really really new)

Greetings from central South Dakota. My name is Mike and Iíve had just a couple lessons. I am building a hot shop in my garage for myself and grandkids. Iím looking for advise on whether to go LP or electric. This will be a hobby only shop. I wonít use it enough to justify a 24/7 365 days a year. Realistically looking at firing it up a few days at a time. I know that this will reduce the life of the crucible and refractories but I donít see another option. Iíve bought a 40 # crucible and Iím planning on a invested furnace after reading about how hard students are on furnaces.
Iíve read Glass Notes as well as Dudleyís book. Iím looking for any advise from the forum members.
I guess I should also point out that thereís no glass blowing nearer than 4 hours away.
Thanks
Mike
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Old 06-11-2018, 11:27 AM
Max Epstein Max Epstein is offline
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I'm definitely also a newb, but after using & building my own Mini Dragon type of furnace that's the way to go. Build yourself a little awning on a concrete pad outside, especially if you have access to natural gas. Fire up for a 3 day weekend, crash it. Repeat.

Propane starts to get more pricey. $50-75 a day to run. Which in the grand scheme still isn't horrible for a hobbyist.

You will have to go invested for this type if furnace.
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Old 06-11-2018, 10:23 PM
Michael Bryan Michael Bryan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Epstein View Post
I'm definitely also a newb, but after using & building my own Mini Dragon type of furnace that's the way to go. Build yourself a little awning on a concrete pad outside, especially if you have access to natural gas. Fire up for a 3 day weekend, crash it. Repeat.

Propane starts to get more pricey. $50-75 a day to run. Which in the grand scheme still isn't horrible for a hobbyist.

You will have to go invested for this type if furnace.
Max. Thanks for the info. Iím curious. Do you have any photos of your furnace? Thanks Mike
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Old 06-12-2018, 07:06 AM
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If I had no one to lean on within four hours and had the level of experience you describe, and the tooling available now, I'd buy a small electric unit, perhaps Jen Ken or Skutt. If nothing else, its straightforward and far safer than gas would be. I think your real issue would then become the gloryhole you want to use and I won't give input on that. A 40lb pot will get used up in a hurry and the time spent remelting is significant. If I were to buy a commercial wire unit, I'd consider sizing it for a larger pot in the future.

Much of this stuff depends on whether you own and can operate a welder. You still need an annealing oven, a bench, hand tools . The welder makes everything cost far less since you are the cow and you will be milked. With the welder, you can use Both Glassnotes and Dudley's book to make the tools.

I would not put a gas unit in a garage.
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Old 06-12-2018, 08:59 AM
Steve Stadelman Steve Stadelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete VanderLaan View Post
If I had no one to lean on within four hours and had the level of experience you describe, and the tooling available now, I'd buy a small electric unit, perhaps Jen Ken or Skutt. If nothing else, its straightforward and far safer than gas would be. I think your real issue would then become the gloryhole you want to use and I won't give input on that. A 40lb pot will get used up in a hurry and the time spent remelting is significant. If I were to buy a commercial wire unit, I'd consider sizing it for a larger pot in the future.

Much of this stuff depends on whether you own and can operate a welder. You still need an annealing oven, a bench, hand tools . The welder makes everything cost far less since you are the cow and you will be milked. With the welder, you can use Both Glassnotes and Dudley's book to make the tools.

I would not put a gas unit in a garage.
Pete speaks with great truth and alacrity.
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Old 06-12-2018, 09:47 AM
Michael Bryan Michael Bryan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete VanderLaan View Post
If I had no one to lean on within four hours and had the level of experience you describe, and the tooling available now, I'd buy a small electric unit, perhaps Jen Ken or Skutt. If nothing else, its straightforward and far safer than gas would be. I think your real issue would then become the gloryhole you want to use and I won't give input on that. A 40lb pot will get used up in a hurry and the time spent remelting is significant. If I were to buy a commercial wire unit, I'd consider sizing it for a larger pot in the future.

Much of this stuff depends on whether you own and can operate a welder. You still need an annealing oven, a bench, hand tools . The welder makes everything cost far less since you are the cow and you will be milked. With the welder, you can use Both Glassnotes and Dudley's book to make the tools.

I would not put a gas unit in a garage.
Good advise. I have considered the Commercial electric furnaces. I bought the video from Mark Lackner and considered building the one he describes. I do have a welder and have completed the bench and almost done with the glory hole. Only the doors remaining. I purchased enough refractories for the annealing oven and furnace and glory hole. Sounds like electric furnace would be better choice. Thanks
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Old 06-12-2018, 10:08 AM
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Randy Kaltenbach Randy Kaltenbach is offline
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Read the threads posted here by Richard Huntrods. He's had great success with his modified Lauckner design.

He also has lots of build photos and stories on his personal website.
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Old 06-12-2018, 11:17 AM
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Worth considering if SD has a penalty using demand metering of power. There are more than a few places that really punish you if you exceed certain wattage pulls at specific times of the day.

You really need a minimum of 100 amps to do this right. Squeezing it, my friend Scott struggled at 80 AMPS. The electric Kiln will draw 40 AMPS likely. The annealer, if small can run on 15 AMPS. Depending on your tooling, expect 20 AMPS to do the other stuff. I think that's conservative as an estimate.
The gloryhole is a gas unit. If it's propane, it's far better to have a fixed bottle outside, properly installed than it is to use small bottles. Max is I think doing just that and it's why he quotes up to $75 bucks a day. It should not cost that at all. We use about 14 gallons a day for both Glory holes and the gas furnace and our rate is high at about $2.00 gal. We do not recuperate any units.
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Old 06-13-2018, 05:03 PM
Max Epstein Max Epstein is offline
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I really do need to visit Pete. 14 gallons for your whole shop a day is nuts to me. A gallon/hr... I'm sure it will be better on my new furnace due to actual insulation, but still. That's what the Mobile Glass guys advertise... gallon/hr.

What kind of witchcraft are you practicing?

Randy, I'll get you some pics in the next couple days.
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Old 06-18-2018, 11:55 AM
Michael Bryan Michael Bryan is offline
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Electric rate is .06147/KWH which is reasonable. The rate actually goes down the more you use but weíre already at the bottom rate. I have a dedicated LP tank outside that is 250 Gal. Iím expecting a call back regarding possibly adding 3 phase.
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Old 06-18-2018, 01:05 PM
Jordan Kube Jordan Kube is offline
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That's more than reasonable! Probably one of the best electric rates in the country at this point.

In my mind those rates take a propane gas furnace off the table. A glass furnace by itself is not a reason to bring in 3 phase. If you have other things like machine tools that only run on 3 phase it might make sense.
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Old 06-18-2018, 01:43 PM
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Three phase can sound seductive but it really is more a benefit with motors. Right now, I suggest that you not overthink things. If you go off in the direction of an electric furnace, that is a good direction but size matters. Anything with a capacity of 200 lbs or more is going to start at over 20K, a serious amount of cash. I would continue to keep it simple and get a Jenken or Skutt or equivalent with controller that holds about 80 lbs. See if you like doing it.
You indeed can build this stuff for a lot less but keeping what you set out to do in the front of your mind is important. Making glass. Building it yourself is a journey in itself. The Skutt or equivalent will have you running right away, with the gloryhole or annealer being the other items you need.

But watch out on those rates.These days you have to deal with all the other hidden costs the power company adds on. I pay delivery charges which are usually about as high as the KWH. My favorite screw job price is abandoned electricity. They made it and I didn't use it, so pay for it anyways.

A 250 tank is not all that big and the sizing determines how much gas can be generated on the surface of the tank which becomes an issue if you want too much too fast. It's where big tanks are more suitable but if you have an electric furnace, it's unlikely to become an issue.
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Old 06-18-2018, 02:06 PM
Jordan Kube Jordan Kube is offline
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You probably couldn't go wrong with the little glass melter Skutt makes. I've seen a lot of stuff come out of those. Parts for them are cheap. It would be a low entry price to let you see if this is something you want to pursue and give you a better idea of your needs if and when it comes time to build or buy a different furnace. Will fit an 80# pot. Order separately from Pete.

This is about the cheapest price I've found: http://www.clay-king.com/kilns/skutt...gm818_3cr.html
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Old 06-18-2018, 04:14 PM
Eben Horton Eben Horton is offline
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Iíd buy a dragon furnace f on mobile glassblowing. They seem super easy to operate and use about 100 gallons a week.
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Old 06-18-2018, 05:16 PM
Tom Fuhrman Tom Fuhrman is offline
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I ran an AIM for about 8-10 years. It took a 60lb. crucible with ease. Had a few problems from time to time but when I got it, it was under $1500 and it made a lot of glass. I don't know what they offer now.
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Old 06-18-2018, 05:46 PM
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AIM has had shaky reports in the last couple of years.
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Old 06-18-2018, 08:56 PM
Michael Bryan Michael Bryan is offline
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Ok Iíll ditch the 3 phase idea. I thought itíd reduce the size of the wire itíd require. Pete, the price I quoted for the electric IS including the delivery charge. Iíd only have tax in addition to the price quoted and tax rate is only 6.5%. Still not as cheap as where I lived in central Washington state but I had 5 major hydroelectric dams within 60 miles of me. My propane costs $1.50
This time of year but I get a major fill in August for $.85 to $.95 a gallon. Still with all the safety that goes with propane, electric sounds better. I was wondering if that 100 amp # is the bare minimum panel size. Is that correct?
Thanks again guys for the advice
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Old 06-19-2018, 06:07 AM
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100 AMPs is as small as I could imagine living well with. It leaves you no room for growth. 200 AMP is standard. I have a 400 AMP service which admittedly is large. I certainly don't regret it. It lets me do virtually anything but I have a larger space than a garage and at one time had a large moly.

My friend in N. Ireland does have to get by with less than 100 AMPS and it's a juggling act as to what is and isn't running a the same time. Don't handcuff yourself.
I don't view 250 tank as large. Particularly in a cold winter. What you don't want to see is freezing lines in winter. As tanks get larger, they can generate more gas and if they can't, they pump liquid.

The point is to have fun . You will see the obvious areas where you need to grow.
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Old 06-19-2018, 08:22 AM
Eben Horton Eben Horton is offline
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I ran a 300 lb hub consolidated furnace with a 20 amp blower, a 50 amp annealer, 20 amp color box, and a 50 amp fusing oven all on a 100 amp service and could blow and fuse at th same time. The secret was a gb5 with power sharing
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Old 06-19-2018, 10:57 AM
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and the furnace was gas, not electric.

For someone with no experience to speak of and being a long distance from potential help, I would expect that a safety system for gas that was understandable, along with the cost of a gas furnace is going to cost a lot of money. It's also intimidating and won't do well in a two car garage. It would have too small a propane tank and while it's feasible to run gas on 100 AMPS as you cite, it would take some skills that I don't sense are there right now. The dragon is a possibility but in the garage, the insurance company would be unhappy at the least.

So, I would continue to promote a simple electric unit that gets Michael up and running. The rest of the package is not insubstantial.
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Old 06-19-2018, 11:20 AM
Eben Horton Eben Horton is offline
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Ahhh I missed the garage and remote area part.
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Old 06-20-2018, 10:21 AM
Michael Bryan Michael Bryan is offline
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Since this is a hobby hot shop, expense is a factor. As far as understanding the technology to run the equipment, Iím fairly confident that I can figure it out. Iím a former B747 captain and have the highest class of amateur radio license. I have seen small hot shops set up in a garage that was 1/3 the size of mine, so I know it can be done. If our winters werenít so extreme, Iíd do it all outdoors. Somehow 0 degrees with a 20 mph wind just isnít all that inviting.
Another possibility is seeing if there is a building that I could rent. Unlikely because the town only has a population of 795 and the nearest Walmart is 52 miles away, but Iíll check.
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Old 06-20-2018, 11:14 AM
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walmart being 52 miles away is something I would consider a blessing.

Trying to rent will put you right into insuring someone else's property, that's A.
B is that you can never quite be sure if your equipment is behaving itself if you aren't hovering near it.

Consider the glory hole from Dragon Kilns if they make it. Most of the big studio manufacturers are really hard to swallow on price. Eric, who I now share my shop with made a 12 inch unit and I rebuilt my 16 inch. We use both depending on scale but bigger is nice and uses a lot more fuel. His must have cost under one thousand bucks, Mine was about $ 1400. Get the burner from Dudley. He sells needle valves, 0-30 WC gauges and solenoid valves as well. He also sells mercury relays which can be difficult to find these days. Resist making the gloryhole out of fiber. They just don't retain heat when you open the second door. Again, if you can weld, it will save you a ton of money. Graingers or McMaster Carr can be really handy if you need small pipe fittings. Stock up. I have a whole drawer filled with little miracles for those sunday afternoon repairs.

When you say 100AMP service, is that just for the shop or is it powering your house as well?

Do you even have building inspectors? ( I don't).
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Old 06-20-2018, 06:45 PM
Michael Bryan Michael Bryan is offline
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100 amp would be just for the hot shop. I already have 200 amps to the house which also covers my wood shop. Iím thinking of upping the main breaker to 300-400 amps.
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Old 06-21-2018, 06:13 AM
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That would take an entire new panel as well as an upgrade to all the service wires. It could also involve your transformer as well. Could get very pricey. I have the 400 AMPs and they serve two subpanels, one was dedicated to the moly, the other a smaller annealer and all the grinding tools. These days it services our woodshop which includes such large tools as a 22 inch planer.

If you have the 100 AMPS now, start counting amps when you look at the kiln, should you choose that direction. Normally they are under a 50 AMP breaker, the annealer under a 30 AMP. Use LED lights and keep that draw way down. If the woodshop is at all close, you could run a single UF cable buried to the garage to service small tools and a stereo blaring out Grateful Dead.

While electric furnaces are usually underinsulated , I know all about 30 below winters. Our gas kiln does admirably keeping the pipes clear and we have two woodstoves in the shop. How are you thinking about heating this if it is going to be cyclical?
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