10.09.2011

My outside experience (Part 2)




So after working with Aimee at the Springfield Museum of Art, the next phase of the OE was to begin.  This was volunteering at Glass Axis, which can be found here, to install a new glass furnace and to do some extensive shop maintenance for the annual shut down that begins and lasts through the month of August.  Most of this was very technically based, lots of time cutting metal, moving gas lines, etc... this usually resulted with me showing up at Glass Axis Wednesday through Friday for 8 hour days assisting Trevor.  So I'm going to list what we did over the shut down and expand as needed...

1. Install the new Wet Dog furnace on the right side under the exhaust hood, move the left furnace to the left by 3 inches and adjust the heat shields to accomodate for the move.  Move the old furnace, goodbye old friend, out to the loading dock to await it's fate.  

Here was a perfect example of making sure you have the right tools for the job.  To move the furnaces we had to end up using 2 palette jacks rated for 3,000 pounds.  Normally you would have to use one, but in Columbus NO ONE rents a 3k pound palette jack that doesn't have busted hydraulic seals.


To do any of this we had to take apart, re-plumb, and reseal the gas lines for the furnace and one glory hole so we would have enough light to see back behind the furnace.  While the gas was shut off we also installed reduction valves on all 4 glory holes, this way if renters at Glass Axis wanted to do some fancy reduction techniques to their glass then all they would have to do is throw a lever open to reduce and then close it when they were finished.  

When you reduce the flame in the glory hole what you are doing is increasing the gas and dropping the oxygen within the chamber, certain glass colors will then get a metallic sheen to them when exposed to this type of flame.  By putting the reduction valves on the glory holes the plan was to make it as simple as possible for a renter to use and then reset a reduction flame.  Before this lots of money, in the form of a gas bill, was being wasted from people using a reduction flame but not putting the settings back so a higher gas flame was always being used.

Cut holes in the heat shields to accommodate the new reduction valves at each glory hole.

2. Install new exhaust ports in the exhaust hood above the flues for both furnaces.  Since The foot print for the new furnace did not match the old one some adjustment was need to make sure that the furnace could vent properly. The other exhaust port for the old furnace that was still there, had to be adjusted since we moved it 3 inches to the left, a minor move but still a hassle.  You have to keep in mind that while this was going on the furnaces were shut off, however because they designed to hold heat really well they were still giving off an uncomfortable amount of heat for the first few weeks.

3. Reline the bottom of 3, out of 4, glory holes.  Over time, especially at a public studio, glass will get inside the glory hole.  If allowed to build up it becomes a pain for the renter at the facility.  The more glass there is, the longer the hole takes to heat up, the more fuel it uses, and it can lose it's heat faster when the doors are opened for any length of time.  To help combat this a glass studio can install a diaper.  A diaper is a layer of fiberfrax covered with a layer of refractory, mixed with some water, that covers the bottom of the glory hole.  If you have a build up of glass over time, you simply pull the old diaper out and install a new one.  Doing this makes the heat more efficient, and saves you from having to rebuild the hole over time... getting longevity out of your materials.



4. Cutting metal, angle iron and flat stock at 2 inch widths; and 1/4 inch thickness, for new doors on one glory hole and back up doors for all the glory holes in the studio.  By far my least favorite part of the entire experience, there were a few days that all the work consisted of was cutting and grinding metal to be welded later.  It was also a challenge to get all the measurements needed from a finite supply of metal.  At CCAD we have a huge selection of metal to use, a non-profit glass studio?  Not so much.  Every cut had to be measured carefully to get the most out of it, while not having to reorder more because the intern(me) screwed up the cuts.

Once the door frames were cut, they were cast with refractory.  A high temperature resistant form of plaster.  Plaster is not the right analogy but it's the closest I can think of at the moment, as the two are mixed almost the same way.  Once the doors were recast, they set overnight and the next day they were cured in a kiln at 1000 degrees.  Now if a door needs to be replaced, all anyone has to do is just swap out the old one with one of the back ups.

And closing with...


Considering it was a summer filled with long drives, power tools, welding equipment, rust resistant paint fumes, and a whole plethora of ways to hurt yourself... that was as bad as it got.  4 stitches from being careless while drilling metal, and like most accidents it happened in a split second and was a result of user error.





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