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fwd: re: oil burner explained

updated fri 22 jan 10


Paul Borian on thu 21 jan 10

nice story Vince told - but i thought for sure that he was going to say the
dude spilled the engine oil and it ran into his studio and formed a layer
on top of the six inches of water on the floor....but i am glad it did not

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Vince Pitelka
Date: Jan 20, 2010 8:00pm
Subject: Re: Oil burner explained

> Wayne Seidl wrote:

> Does anyone on the list have any experience with waste automotive engine
> oil

> put through a household style oil burner (as in furnace burner)? I have

> about 50 gallons I can access (and more coming). Thinning the oil would
> not

> be a problem.

> Wayne -

> I have told this story before on Clayart, but it has been a few years, an=

> it bears repeating. This does not address a household oil burner, but if

> the oil was spiked as indicated below and run through a proper filter, it

> should work fine. Even used motor oil is pretty clean, in terms of

> filtering out impurities.

> Early in my pottery career in Humboldt County (NW California) I knew a

> self-trained potter named Father Doug Nordby. He had sent in for a

> Universal Life Church certificate, and performed weddings for the bikers,

> thus the "Father." Before he got into clay, he had been known as "Father

> Drug Nordby."

> Doug had a very funky home and studio up on the bluff above Trinidad,

> California, north of Arcata. His studio was a low-ceiling structure built

> in kind of a low area on poorly-draining soil, and when it rained there
> was

> six inches of water on the floor. He had worked as a fisherman, so he
> would

> just go about his business wearing high rubber boots, sloshing around in
> the

> studio. His wheel was up on concrete blocks.

> But I digress. Doug fired with waste engine oil. He'd pick up 55-gallon

> drums of waste engine oil from service stations, and with a little 12-vol=

> transfer pump he'd move it up to another 55-gallon drum mounted atop an
> old

> redwood stump about fifty feet from his kiln, for gravity feed. He spiked

> each 50 gallons of drain oil with one gallon of gasoline to make it more

> fluid and combustible.

> He fired a large catenary arch hardbrick salt kiln using Leach-style drip

> oil burners in three burner ports. The burners smoked like hell early in
> the

> firing (most people use auxiliary propane burners during that period), bu=

> when it developed some heat in the burner ports and firebox he would moun=

> three Kirby vacuum cleaner blowers in front of the burner ports and from

> there the thing climbed like a rocket. But it was no damn fun to listen t=

> at all. You couldn't carry on a conversation within 100 feet of the kiln

> once those Kirby blowers were going.

> The kiln was so loose that in any number of places you could look through

> the cracks and see the pots firing inside. He was producing so many BTUs

> that it didn't matter. Father Doug made nice, rugged folk pots. I wish I

> had some today.

> - Vince

> Vince Pitelka

> Appalachian Center for Craft

> Tennessee Tech University