Mr Parry and I finally got time to carry out the repair. It's been over a year since we fired this kiln this time, although we've been firing it fairly regularly for the last 18 years! This realisation came as a bit of a shock as we chatted, wandering through the beautiful wooded grounds of the arts centre having completed the repairs; a conversation along the lines of "these were just saplings when we first fired the kiln", followed by expletive exclamations!
Above: The walnut tree that was about a foot high in 1997
As a result of the brick dropping out, the arch bricks around it had sagged slightly, so, the first job was to brace these and push the arch back up, Old school with a stiff sheet of ply and wooden supports, gently tapping the supports tight to lift the bricks above, slowly we managed to raise the hot face arch back up so that it matched the secondary arch above it.
Above is the hole in the hot face arch from the inside. The protruding strip of brick is a patch job which we did in the same area about 5 years ago.
Once the hot face arch was braced we removed some of the loosened brick around the hole and relayed them, hard packing any gaps with refractory castable so the arch was once again put under the right sort of tension.
The finished repair, not particularly pretty, but should keep the kiln stable for a few more firings.
We are aiming to fire Late August followed by a second firing of the New Loughborough kiln a few weeks later, it's shaping up to be a busy Autumn :-)