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In The Dark

You may have noticed that I didn't write a bog on Friday (did you miss me?) and may not have commented on any of the blogs I normally read.  That's because I woke up on Friday to a problem in the studio.  My potter's wheel wouldn't turn!  When I turned it on the light on the switch glowed as usual but when I stepped on the pedal it hummed but didn't move and the light went out.  I repeated this a few times, checked the fuse, tried another outlet then called Skutt (it's a Thomas Stuart classic).  The tech was great and in no time we figured out that it was an electrical issue in my studio.

I checked the other outlets, they wouldn't even light up a lamp so I checked the breaker, it was fine.  So I started looking for the problem.  I spent the entire day troubleshooting and replacing parts that might have broken but met no success.  I finally called my friend who's a contractor, he called some electricians who told him to tell me to try things I had already tried.  That was a bit frustrating but still it's good to know I was doing the right tests.

On Saturday I tried duplicating some of my test, thinking I had done them wrong and I posted my problem to a do it yourself forum.  In the past I've used these forum for information and help and found a mixed bag of helpful and not so helpful people.  This time has been no different.  Now I have more education about electricity but I'm still in the dark.  I'm very frustrated and feel like a failure.

I don't have time for this, I have Fired Works coming up in April immediately followed by a bunch of other shows until mid May.  I need pots for these shows and to keep the other venues who nicely carry my work in stock. 

I know I should just rearrange the studio so I can plug my wheel into one of the outlets on the other side of the room that work but that just seems like more time wasted and I find it difficult to make really nice pots when I'm feeling like a failure. 

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  1. Hard to diagnose without being there, but it sounds like a loose wire nut somewhere in the run. Can ya just run an extension cord for now? Definitely not ideal, but gets you back to work until the source of the failure can be determined and repaired.

    I've got to tear into my old Pacifica because I have a loose connection in the peddle causing it to run all the time.

    Good luck.

  2. Hi Sue, I've thought about that but it's not the problem. I have even gone so far as to run wires right out of the circuit panel to a brand new outlet and found the same problem. Even though Skutt says not to use an extension cord I really think that's the best idea I've heard all weekend. I'll try it and just keep testing the extension cord for heat.

    Good luck finding your loose connection, I'm sure it won't be a bad thing to clean and check all the connections while you're in there.

  3. I was thinking extension cord too. Do you have one of those grounding buttons on your outlets? When I was working on my deck I had this problem, ended up paying an electrician $500 to come out and push a little red button on the outlet. I was furious that he would charge that and I felt like an idiot! I have a crazy set up for my studio, I have run two drop cords out to my building from my house, and have those plugged into a power strip. If my wheel runs like this, you should be ok with a drop cord :) Maybe a mouse has chewed a wire? Hope you get it figured out, it's always something isn't it!

  4. Hey Tracey, It sure is always something. I've removed the outlet with the grounding button but I've tested with 2 of them and a regular but brand new outlet. And I've bypassed all the wires that could have been chewed and caused this problem. I have a feeling it's going to be a visit from an electrician, a $500 lesson in humility for me too.

  5. My wheel is plugged into a short extension cord with a surge protector on it. I think my wheel had to run off of a longer extension cord in a previous studio. Mine is Shimpo.
    I hope you get to the root of the problem soon.

  6. Thanks Michele, You all are making me feel better about using an extension cord until I get this figured out. I appreciate that.

  7. Did you replace the plug, the complete outlet? we had an outlet in our home that was bad and it caught a night light on fire, well not on fire, but it smoldered and we replaced the whole outlet and now it's fine. apparently two wires were touching inside or something like that.

    If you do use an extension cord make sure you use a thick heavy duty one that is rated for longer distances so you get he correct amount of juice to your wheel. An electrician once told me that if appliances are run on too low of juice it causes them to fail early, like frig etc. he also said I needed to run all appliances on separate circuits, I learned all that when we remodeled our kitchen in California.

    1. Hi Linda, Yup, I replaced the entire outlet and the circuit breaker too. Good advice about the cord, I really don't want that to be a long term solution no matter what.


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