Saturday 22nd May 2010
Week Eight was amazing and so busy we didn`t start writing it up until Week Nine had started and didn`t finish until well into week Ten during the rainy days in Barcelona.
The COMBO arrived and Richard and Merlyn spent all day Saturday settling the Combo into place and testing connections. The furnace and gloryhole opening mechanisms are pretty cool - touch a footpedal and the doors open like magic.
Our friends at Shackerstone Railway were intrigued. Most of them had never been inside a glasshouse let alone seen anything like the Combo. All we need now is to make it work!
Mike, the electronics wizard, arrived on Saturday morning to finalise the control mechanisms which will automaticlaly control the furnace and lehr so that the Combo heats up and then works as efficiently as possible. There is still a lot to do on this front. Things cant be finalised until the unit has been lit and tested so we understand how things work in practice. Despite all the care at the design stage and the theory of heat flow we suspected that things would need "tweaking."
Mike and Merlyn went away early Saturday evening giving Richard just enough time to put on his "make-up" and get to John´s 18th birthday party. It was a Goth theme and we aren´t posting the photos! We took Sunday off to celebrate with John and recharge batteries ready for a long hard week. And it was!
Merlyn came back on Tuesday and the Combo was lit. A baby never had such care. It´s temperature was taken every few minutes and it worked differently to expectations. The theory was that the furnace would be heated up using exhaust gasses from the gloryhole on low fire. This worked up to a point but the furnace would not get above 400 without using high fire. Without a control system in place this meánt that Richard, then Sandra, had to sit and pull a string every 3 seconds for several hours to switch between low and high fire to warm the furnace up slowly the pot didnt crack. Once it was at 570 degrees Richard turned the gas on into the furnace and it lit automatically - we thought propane would ignite at a lower temperature than natural gas and were right.
We charged the furnace on Wednesday. Richard is using 24% lead cullet and is not yet sure how it will work. We started to understand more on Friday night when the experiments started.The working range of the glass is at the high end, not ideal for studio glass, but we got a vase, paperweight and various test pieces into the lehr that night.
Richard and Merlyn "slept" down at the Station for most of the week. Richard finally came home on Friday for sleep and a bath but it was worth it - we know now that we can get glass out of the Combo.