I was deciding between four models of Paragon kilns. The Paragon kilns are pretty to look at and seem very functional. The Crucible and Temperchi both have one and I'm impressed by how easy the digital controller makes the annealing process (turn on, hit start, it ramps up to the annealing temperature for 6 hours while you load it with work, and automatically reduces to room temperature). I want only a small kiln (110V, for instance), but I also like the guillotine door on the model that The Crucible has. This led me to the SC2, the SC3, the F120 and the F130. Of these I would have preferred the SC3 with bead door: bigger than the SC2 (big enough for 8" goblets) but less than $1000. The F120 would be my next choice, because I'm just now getting excited by blowing bigger vessels and making compound pieces, so the size of the kiln and the garage door feature is pretty attractive. But instead I've opted for the SC2, because it's the only one of these four that can operate on a 15A circuit and on 14 gauge wire. I'm not sure that Doug's garage is actually on a 15A or 20A circuit, but the wiring inside, and leading underground up to, the garage certainly is all 14 gauge. I added the bead door option and ordered from www.clay-king.com/, who offers a steep discount and free shipping. Many people on Lampwork Etc. have had good experiences with Clay King so I left confident it was worth a shot. The kiln should arrive by FedEx Ground next Monday.
I spent a while looking at torches last week, too, and settled on getting a Cheetah (see GTT's entire line of torches for a comparison). The Cheetah has an extra oxygen jet within each flame port, which apparently brings much excitement and happiness into a lampworkers' life. That's what I hear on Lampwork Etc. and other forums online. The Cheetah is pricey, of course, and, there seems always to be a backorder. They sent me e-mail this morning saying one was ready but a phone call said 3-4 weeks. So, long story short, I'm on the waiting list for a Cheetah, but I expect it'll be perhaps September before I can get it. In the mean time I bought a pair of Nortel Mega Minor torches, along with gas hose and fittings, all from Arrow Springs. Depending on whether I made their shipping deadline I'll receive these items tomorrow or Wednesday. Melinda and I have been using the Mega Minors at Temperchi, we know those torches well, and they're relatively inexpensive (compared to the GTT torches). Also, I'm sure I could sell the Mega Minor as used in a few months if and when I do get a Cheetah.
In other news: I bought 36 square feet of galvanized steel flashing today, with which to cover the work tables, and have the chain in place for where the oxygen tank will live. I'll buy the gas probably Wednesday or Thursday.