Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Chimney on-the-way

Eight rows were mortared today - using the big ladder. There is a shelf on the ladder where the hinge is - and it is big enough for the bucket of mortar. This made building up the rows of bricks manageable.

I am watering down the little bit of mortar remaining - I hope it will last til just below the roof. Actually, there is no reason to use the full thickness of the mortar - I'm just trying to keep the bricks in place from heat & earthquakes. I've been thinning out the buckets of mortar for quite awhile, it is way too thick to work with. Even though I was told by the manufaxturer the mortar is "trowel ready", I wonder if that is for instances when there is a 1/2" or so of mortar between the bricks.
Anyway, it will take more arm muscle to raise the bricks to mortar them as I get closer to the roof.

I'm not sure what I will use to reach to place bricks above the roof. A scaffold was suggested to me, but I don't know that I can reach over the edge of the roof to reach the chimney even with that. It seems to me that a "cherry picker" lift would be the thing to use. I wonder how much one of those costs to rent for a day?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

No More Corbeling In

The left pic is the ledge in the chimney that supports the two dampers as they slide in & out from each side.

On the lower left is the same ledge with newspaper on a damper shelf to catch any stray mortar that would obstruct the free sliding of the dampers. As the chimney gets built up higher, I will not be able to see or clear the sliding ledge of debris. When all the chimney bricks are mortared, the shelf supporting the newspaper will be removed and the newspaper will fall to be burned when the kiln is fired up.

The upper center photo has 3 rows of chimney bricks laid out in the order they will be mortared. On the left side of that pic is the last chimney row that is corbelled in, and is also the top row in the right side photo. I found I needed to see & measure these 3 rows of bricks to know just how much to adjust the indent on the last corbel rows. From now on, every chimney row laid above those on the right photo will be 7 bricks each, until above the roof, when the rain guard is finally reached.

Today, I started using the taller ladder in the right photo. It is not going to last many more rows. I'll have to find a taller ladder - and it cannot be an extension ladder (that would lean on the chimney)! I'm also on the last 25% of the latest bucket of mortar. It seems to be a slim to zero chance that I have enough mortar to finish this project. I really want to mortar some rows of soft bricks around the bottom of the chimney. I wonder if my local brick supplier took my suggestion to purchase mortar from a particular in-state NorthWest manufacturer, rather than shipping it in from the mid-West at nearly triple the price.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

More Chimney Bricks

You can see the chimney is getting higher. The close-up on the left shows the split bricks for the dampers' row. In the row below the dampers, the front & back chimney rows of bricks are moved in 1/2" to support the damper shelves. Of course, I forgot to indent the bricks on that row until I had finished mortaring them. So I had to get a chisel and move the bricks in. This is when the cool weather comes in handy: it was cold enough that the mortar had not set & I was able to move the bricks without too much trouble. I'm now within a few rows of no more corbeling - hoorah!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Corbeling the Chimney

Yesterday I was back at mortaring bricks. It is going faster now, as there are fewer bricks in each row.
The lime green level marks as far as I am now. I am within 3 rows of where the dampers will go. Will get to it later today when it warms up to 40 degrees.
My mother-in-law in Southern California thinks that anything below 50 degrees is freezing. Here in Oregon, I walk outdoors in all weather, but prefer to wait until further above freezing to play with bricks & mortar.

It feels good to get back to playing in the 'mud' after taking most of last week off. The light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel is getting brighter, now. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mortaring Again

Saturday, Dec 11 was a beautiful comparatively warm day - 40 degrees! Compared to the sub-freezing weather we had the week before, it is downright balmy.

I couldn't resist mixing up my last bucket of mortar, and getting a few more bricks in the chimney. After 3 rows, I was advised that it really isn't that warm and maybe I shouldn't do too many rows before I knew that the mortar was adhering.

Ok, I reluctantly quit while the sun was still out - as we near the shortest day of daylight of the year.

Then it only took a couple of days before the rain started in. Oh well, what did I think? It is winter. I have more time to make more pots...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Kiln Door

I've been making pots this week, as we had sub-zero weather, and it was too cold to mortar bricks.

Last Monday, when the air may have risen to the 20's degrees, I cut off the screw tips sticking out from the front of the angle-iron door. It was much easier than I had anticipated, took only 15 minutes. But the screws may have been frozen, and the friction of the spinning grinder may have just shocked the screw tips off. So much for the amateur explanation.

The rest of the week, I was back making pots. It felt so-o-o good. Like riding a bike, my hands didn't forget what to do with clay on the wheel-head. I'm still slow, I think some of my speed is a result of the weather. Just how fast can one move in 15 degrees? Even inside the studio, it seemed to take forever to warm the place up. With the heater blaring, pots were drying out faster than usual for Oregon's usual cool damp winter. More typical is that pots take 3 weeks to completely dry out in the wintertime. Summer is much different, and spring & fall still different. One year I was making pots in Nevada. In that extremely dry air, one could almost put handles on mugs as fast as they were thrown, they dried out so quickly.

I'm closer to on schedule that when the kiln is finished, there will be pots ready to be fired in it. Except that the schedule is 3 months behind.
Hey, the sun is coming out, and it is above freezing. Wonder if it is warm enough to lay some mortar?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Kiln Door

Photo on the right is the kiln door laying down. If you look carefully at the left photo, you can see screws coming through the brown angle iron.

Last week, 24 holes were drilled around the edge of the door, through the angle iron. Today, I laid the sheet metal inside the angle iron & drilled through both metals. Then the sheet metal screws that I had salvaged from my old kiln were inserted from the inside of the door, and ratcheted through the angle iron. It was suggested to me to grind the ends of the sheet metal screws off using the same grinder I used to clean hard bricks. When I tried that, it seemed a sure way to quickly wear down my grinder. I think there is an easier, more efficient way to cut the sheet metal screw bottoms off. A hacksaw would work, but that's a lot of hand sawing...

Even though the sun broke through the fog today, it was very cold - in the low to mid 30's. Too cold to mortar bricks. If I was just building up without corbelling in, I may be able to get away with the mortar not adhering so good. But since I am changing the circumference of the chimney, I need mortar to stick very well. This arctic chill shouldn't last too long. By February we should be warming up here! I started back in on making pots.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tidbits of Progress

I've been working on the kiln these past couple of days. Today Howard came over, and screwed in the upper insulation & sheet metal on the back side of the kiln. You can see in the photo that the sheet metal now covers the bricks on each side.

He took the burner assembly with him to pick up pipe fittings, and connectors. We were going to use the gas valves from my old kiln, but on close examination the old turn-on valves were quite rusted inside. Just another couple of pieces that will be replaced with new ones.

We went over what to do with the door. After he left, I took the angle iron door frame over to Claude so he could drill 24 holes around the frame edge. This will make it easier to screw sheet metal onto the door frame. It was quite a maneuvering experience moving the 2.5' x 7' door frame around Claude's small workshop so the drill press could make the holes.
Tomorrow, I'll try to attach the sheet metal to the door frame, myself.

This afternoon, I picked up the (hopefully) last bucket of mortar. I paid twice the price as driving to Portland for mortar, but only had to drive half an hour vs. 2.5 hours to north Portland.