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Fire Magic Symposium 2001
casting the refractory cement for the roof of the kiln

1. Fred Olsen checks the consistency of the mix of the refractory cement. Too watery and it will slide down the plastic covered dome. Too dry at will set too quickly.

2. The mixed cement is trowelled onto the plastic covered, sand dome and patted down. As one barrow load is being used the next bag is mixed in the mixer.

3. The cement is built up from the base of the dome and continually padded down firmly. Applying the refractory must be done quickly and steadily - not allowing any part to dry out to soon.


4. Fred checks the depth of the cement with a pin. Over most of the dome the depth is an average 4" (10cms) but near the firebox arches the depth is increased to 6" (15cms) as this is where the greatest heat will be.


5. Use a metal pin to guage the depth of the cement. This is the ideal thickness of refractory over the fireboxes.


6. The refractory cement is nearing the top of the domed roof. In this photo you can clearly see the thickness that was used.

7. The cement is added all the way
round the base of the dome first.
Then built up over the dome.

8. The dome is early completed.

9. Boring holes through the soft cement to locate the pyrometer thermocouples.
A wooden dowel is left in the hole to prevent the cement from closing up again.

10. The dome is now complete and smoothed over with a trowel.

11. The completed dome is now covered with damp cloths to slow down the setting. You can see the wooden dowels which will be removed when the cement is dry.

12. The entire dome is covered
with damp cloths


13. A layer of plastic sheet is used to cover the dome while it slowly sets overnight.

14. Next morning shuttering was put up against the kiln walls and a concrete strengthener was cast to support the weight of the dome and the final layer of adobe.

15. The wooden and brick supports of the earth mould for the dome were removed. The soil collapses onto the floor of the kiln.

16. The earth from the dome mould is shovelled out.

17. The cleaning of all the excess cement from the kiln walls

18. The cement pointing between the bricks was scraped and cleaned.