When you drop between $400 to $2,000 on a pottery wheel, you hope that it lasts forever. Unfortunately, the Electric Pottery Wheel only lasts between 10 to 15 years if not taken care of. Understanding some of the common problems that can crop up during this time can help you to address them. This troubleshooting guide will outline the seven most common problems potters face with their wheels and how to fix them.
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#1: Foot Pedal Speed Problem
whenever you go to use the wheel to increase or decrease the speed, you notice how it feels slower than it should be. Or your wheel doesn’t stop spinning. You push the foot pedal all the way back and your Wheel keeps slowly moving.
Solution: You have a plate at the bottom of the foot pedal—four screws inside the pedal with two adjustment screws. The one screw works for the top speed adjustment and the other positions the pedal for when the wheel comes to a stop. Some models only have one screw to adjust the speed. You can play around with it to see if that corrects the problem. If that doesn’t work, it could have to do with a computer module. You can get a repair for this for around $100.
#2: Blown Fuse in Pottery Wheel
You plugged in the pottery wheel directly to the wall when you heard a pop. Unfortunately, this can happen from time to time from owning a pottery wheel. Dealing with a blown fuse is no fun at all, but it may not be the fuse in some cases. Here’s how to check—if the pottery wheel has no power at all, you blew a fuse. If you heard a popping sound, it could mean that you fried the connectors. The popping noise could also indicate that you have a failed capacitor on the controller board.
Some wheel brands are easier to diagnose a problem than others. Brent wheels, for example, can be difficult to diagnose when you have a problem.
Solution: Amaco advises that you buy the “Slow blow” fuses. Slow blow means that the fuse can handle the initial power surges needed to put the wheel in rotation. They protect you from slow and sustained electrical overload.
Fuses don’t cost much, and you can replace them easily enough too.
Expert Tip: Always unplug your pottery wheel after each session to limit its exposure to power surges. You can plug it into a power surge protector, but this doesn’t guarantee protection.
#3: Clogged Sink
This problem doesn’t directly have to do with the pottery wheel, but it does have to do with what comes off the pottery wheel—Clay. After you work with clay, you might think of having it drain in the sink. Eventually, this will lead to a clogged sink and a $150 or more bill from the plumber. What can you do to avoid having your sink clogged?
Solution: Get a Sink Trap System. A sink trap system of any kind will prevent the clay from going through your pipes.
#4: Rusting Pottery Wheel
Pottery wheels and some pottery wheel heads can succumb to rusting over time if not taken care of. Many people like the aesthetic appeal of a pottery wheel and a wheel left to rust will corrode with time. The most common reasons pottery wheels rust include:
- Uncleaned wheel
- Use of acid-based cleaners
- Poor cleaning technique
Previously, I wrote about this in the article, “Do Pottery Wheels Rust?” Pitting is the most aggressive form of corrosion with a wheel head, and if you see that your wheel has this, you want to address it immediately. Waiting can lead to pitting, making your wheel unsalvageable.
Solution: Pinpoint the cause of rusting. This can aid you with addressing the rust by stopping the cause. Many times, unfortunately, once pitting sets in, you can’t do anything about it. This usually happens when the top layer of protective coating gets peeled off. Galvanized steel, for example, means that they have used a protective coating on the steel to prevent rusting. If the layer peels off, the metal may start to rust.
With the uncleaned pottery wheel issue and poor cleaning technique, you can easily solve this type of rusting. You should clean the wheel after each session. To properly clean the wheel, use water and a sponge to clean off the clay. If you’re going to use a cleanser, check to see that it has the proper pH balance. Never use acid-based cleansers because the harsh chemicals can cause the wheel to rust before its time.
#5: Pottery Wheel Mechanical Issues
Mechanical issues with your pottery wheel can happen. Especially when you have an electric wheel, the one negative that comes from it is the fact that this could crop up at some point. The best way to avoid mechanical issues is through proper maintenance of your pottery wheel. Clean it after each use and check all the belts and drive rings. Anything that looks worn out may need replacing. As you turn the wheel on, listen to it. Does it make unnatural sounds?
Solution: Unfortunately, working on an electric wheel when it has mechanical issues isn’t advisable unless you know how to do it. Unless you want to walk away looking like you were struck by lightning, you may want to have a professional repairman look at it. Even if you didn’t electrocute yourself, someone unskilled at this work could make the wheel worse. You might damage the wheel to where you can’t fix it. When you pay $400 or more for a pottery wheel, that isn’t the road you want to take.
#6: Noisy Pottery Wheel
Unlike a kick-wheel, many Electric Pottery Wheels do make some noise when you use them. When electric wheels first entered the market, many potters didn’t want to use them because of how much noise they made. How much noise the pottery wheel makes will depend on the model and brand used. Some will make more noise than others, which is natural. However, if you hear a thumping, knocking, or growling noise, this could indicate that the wheel has problems.
Solution: The noise on a pottery wheel could come from a few things that include:
- Bad belt on the wheel
- Bat pins loose on the wheel
- Loose bat from the bat pins
- Faulty bearings on the wheel
- Splash pan too far off-center
How you address the problem depends on the issue. For example, if you have a bad belt on the wheel, you should replace the belt.
With loose bat pins on the wheel, you want to tighten the wing nuts.
You can simply replace loose bats. They don’t cost that much to replace.
It may cost you around $75 to replace a Wheel head’s bearings, but the cost depends on the brand and varies. First, check the underside of the wheel head. Caked on clay can sound like bad bearings.
If the splash pan has caused the knocking noise on the wheel, you have to put it more on the center.
#7: Pottery Wheel Won’t Turn On
Perhaps you have a wheel that won’t turn on, or it doesn’t seem to run properly. The issue could stem from multiple things, and you should first pinpoint the cause of the problem. It could depend on the brand of the pottery wheel too. Maybe you stored the wheel somewhere, and it worked before, but it doesn’t work now. What could be the problem?
Solution: First, think of the age of your pottery wheel. Most Electric Pottery Wheels last anywhere from 10 to 15 years. After that, you may have to buy replacement parts.
If not the age, it could have to do with the wheel being jammed. First, check the instruction manual because they may have a specific way to deal with wheel jams. With Skutt Wheels, they advise you to twist the wheel head and pull up to get rid of a jam. Over time, the wheel head might stick to the shaft, causing this problem.
Finally, you have the issue where you may have stored the wheel, and it worked before, but it doesn’t work anymore. First, you have to figure out why the wheel stopped working. Keep it in a dry and clean area away from water. Check the owner’s manual for troubleshooting. Most manuals are now online. You might call a repairman to see if you can repair it if it doesn’t turn on.
Hopefully, this solves some of the problems that you might encounter at the Pottery Wheel. For the most part, pottery wheels are incredibly enduring. That’s a good thing considering they can cost $400 or more. Still, you can encounter issues at the wheel, and if you do, you want to know how to address them. If you have a problem, you can call the manufacturer too. This can give you detailed information on the specific brand.