Perhaps predictably, my guesstimate of how long the kiln element replacement procedure would take was woefully inadequate.
In the end it took over 3 hours, with a further 3 hours thereafter to load the kiln. The new elements must be made of Kevlar or some such other incredibly strong material. Either that or I have developed the strength of a small child.
With my previous kiln I could easily stretch the metal coils to fit the kiln perfectly. Similarly, a pair of wire cutters would slice through them with ease. However the new ones were really hard to stretch and even harder to cut, which made the whole thing a bit of a sod.
By the end PP and I were barely talking to each other, and Small Dog wasn't talking to either of us, professing to being 'gusted at the language emanating from the dining room during the task. After hours of being bent double, crouching to get right down inside the kiln, trying to avoid taking our eyes out with the sharp ends of the wires flailing around, attempting to manipulate a pair of spanners on the nuts and bolts and generally feeling hot and fed up I'm not surprised that we let slip the occasional expletive.
However, it seems to be working OK, according the brief test I conducted before the marathon loading session. I'll do the full bisque firing tomorrow, as I'll need to be in attendance for the duration, just in case the kiln goes on fire or something equally disastrous.
I'm also concerned about the firing schedule, which will need to be adjusted to take into account the new elements. Over time, the old elements became less and less effective, taking longer to reach the top temperature and failing to maintain an adequate soak time, so I had to adjust the programme to take that into account. The new elements will go like a rocket, reaching the top temperature in just a few hours rather than almost 10 so I will need to re-programme the controller. Also the pieces I'm firing are very, very small, so will mature more quickly.
All of this means that the bisque firing will be somewhat experimental and consequently rather nerve-wracking.