Author Topic: Blue Bay LBE - in Baltimore MD  (Read 7532 times)

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Offline pizzaneer

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Blue Bay LBE - in Baltimore MD
« on: December 21, 2011, 10:48:58 AM »
Hi! 
   Another LBE (blue in this case) has landed in Maryland!   Not including propane, the out-of-pocket build cost is $8.75.

A neighbor was throwing out the weber platinum - it had been sitting unused for years after the side table got smashed. Yeah, I made a new deck for it. Purty, huh?  Next mod for that will be work shelves that fold flat- something to hold toppings, dough and my all-important clamp-on work light.  I HATE cooking in the dark.

I already had the Morone (with a name like this, it has to be smart, riiight?)  turkey fryer since 2001, used it twice. 170K BTUS. 

From a previous occupation, I had the 1/8" stainless steel sheets.  I had been using them as impromptu baking "stones" in the oven.  Didn't work too bad- with a layer of tile between them, they were ok, but still nowhere near as good as an actual stone. Maybe too thin to really get the heat retention in an oven that is needed.  In an LBE, I think ("theorize" would be both more accurate & more pompous) that the continual rush of superheated air removes most of the need for heat retention, and changes it into a tricky problem of heat balancing and buffering. (me <= overthinker :P )

In the woods behind my property, I found this huge piece of... marble? Quartz?  I'm not sure what it is. Some kind of countertop?  Whatever it is, it was 28x16x1" until I cut it in half, to 16x14x1".  One piece is in the kitchen oven now (made pizzas on it last night, works great) and the other is in the LBE.  Don't even ask how I cut it.  Me and my kid had to jump up and down on it to break it after the top scoring was done.

Some differences in my build compared to others (yes, I have read the entire 68 page thread :P)
1.  My bottom opening is about 7.5" - because I wanted to retain the original legs that the ashcatcher mounts on, so I could install the burner inside the ashcatcher, or even use the grill as a charcoal grill if I want to.
2. You'll note my "side vent" is not really a side vent as such.  It's the oven door, and is big enough to launch and unload pizzas through.  I went by the WFO dome and door calculation to figure sizing.  It is 16" by 4", but after figuring in the height of the pizza hearth, the target position is still optimal.  Oh, and I retained the cutout piece and installed a handle and mounting clips so the opening can be closed if needed.
3.  The deflector in the back channels the burn over the target.  Its a steel piece I made originally for toasting bagels while camping.  We'll have to see about the shape of it.  May need some tweaking.  I've got a lot more metal pieces just laying around, and hmm, theres also an old car next to the shed that is scrap...
4.  The rotating target hearth.  Stainless steel disc, 16" diameter. Sits up off the stone by 1/8". You would not believe how tough this stuff is.  I cut the disc with a jigsaw and metal-cutting blades over a period of three days, then found I could not drill the center hole.  Had to bang it out with a wire (masonry) nail and a hand sledge. That leaves a projection  on the lower surface so it sits up off the stone. It doesn't have a screw in it yet, but once I find my masonry bits for the drill, that will change.  Or I could just keep spinning the disc on the stone and let the jagged edges of the hole drill itself a rest spot. Right now it sits up about 1/8" off the stone, with occasional contact.  With a post, I can change that, depending on bottom char.  Originally I had planned to fabricate an underside shaft-mounted propeller that would be moved by the hot air coming up from the burner, that would spin the hearth disc without having to poke it.  That plan ran into some snags (stainless is too frickin hard to work with).  Maybe I could use an already- made propeller of some kind- just haven't run into one yet.  The point was to get even edge char.  With the top deflector, I think the side nearest the back vent is going to get cremated without constant movement.  So I'll load the za, give the disc a spin and watch it like a hawk.  Well, thats the plan anyway. 

Now I just need some propane, possibly some lava rocks for diffusion and/or air direction.  And I need to find a place nearby that will refill these %$#%!-ripoff Blue Rhino tanks.

(pics next post, with captions)
   
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Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Blue Bay LBE - in Baltimore MD
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2011, 10:56:35 AM »
the unmodded grill
I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Blue Bay LBE - in Baltimore MD
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2011, 10:57:32 AM »
teh stone (wth is this?)
I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.

Online scott123

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Re: Blue Bay LBE - in Baltimore MD
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2011, 11:35:07 AM »
Brian, it sounds like your head is in the right place (imo, you really can't overthink an LBE), and although I have questions, I'll wait for further photos.  In the meantime, though, I really don't think that the discarded countertop you're using is suitable for pizza, either indoors, or out.

Here's my thoughts on using real stones for pizza:

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,16750.msg164224.html#msg164224

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Blue Bay LBE - in Baltimore MD
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2011, 11:45:41 AM »
I wanted to attach pics of the whol process of cutting the steel, but....     128kb... srsly, why so small?   Heres the diffuser plate end result.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2011, 12:00:06 PM by pizzaneer »
I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Blue Bay LBE - in Baltimore MD
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2011, 11:47:35 AM »
Hi Scott123

didnt expect you  to post in this early - thought you would though given your interest in steel (yes I have read your posts).   WELCOME, heheheh.  I think we'll be talking quite a bit during this thread. 


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Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Blue Bay LBE - in Baltimore MD
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2011, 11:51:48 AM »
pics of deflector/ rotation mod
« Last Edit: December 21, 2011, 12:06:50 PM by pizzaneer »
I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Blue Bay LBE - in Baltimore MD
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2011, 12:14:52 PM »
and the underside for those wondering how that turned out
I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.

buceriasdon

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Re: Blue Bay LBE - in Baltimore MD
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2011, 01:45:00 PM »
Way cool 8) Look forward to some pizza pics. Plus anyone who waded through all that thread has my upmost ,um,er, sense of wonder :P
Don

Offline skyno

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Re: Blue Bay LBE - in Baltimore MD
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2011, 11:00:21 PM »
Brian

Seems like you have really put some thought into this and you are off to a good start - your fundamental ideas are sound,  but from somebody who has already made some mistakes with my setup, I can see some potential issues with this setup:

1. You already mentioned this, but your setup seems like it will be concentrating A LOT of heat to a very narrow bottleneck in the heat/airflow path - this presents 2 problems - it will concentrate heat and cook a very small area extremely quickly, making it very easy to really over-char an isolated spot, unless it is rotated very evenly throughout the cook - also, it may also cause an airflow issue as the heat will not be able to escape fast enough through this bottleneck, greatly diminishing the heating and airflow efficiency

2. I think it is critical to have a cooking surface that absorbs and retains heat (like a stone) in a high heat environment - I think this becomes even more important in high heat - you need an even heat source from the underside for balance to nicely char the bottom crust evenly & quickly - I was also thinking that the high heat may eventually start making your metal cooking surface warp - a little warping and it will no longer rotate

3. The countertop surface makes me a little nervous - it is not in direct contact with the cooking surface so it is not really acting as a buffer, but rather as just a way to re-direct the heat around to the top - plus there is the issue of safety - since we're not sure what kind of by-products it will give off at high temps

Definitely not trying to be a naysayer or anything and I could be totally off (hope I am!), but these were my initial thoughts when I saw your setup - it was smart to post it and get some feedback though - I will be interested to see what the results are.  Good luck!
« Last Edit: December 22, 2011, 11:04:55 PM by skyno »


Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Blue Bay LBE - in Baltimore MD
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2011, 01:45:02 PM »
First firing today, although not pizza.   

I plugged in the tank, and turned the flame barely on.  Fine.  Increased power and lots and lots of stinky smoke came pouring out....  Tried a couple test pcs of bread - you know, the toast-time test.   About 5 seconds to edge char.  The deflector is too low and shaped wrong. It was actually hitting the bread.  About 10 minutes into heating, the ss disc went "boing" and warped to the point it can't rotate.  Thats ok.  I wasn't married to the idea anyway, and I can still use it for a work surface.   

Other things that have been raised as concerns - I'm still happy with the stone.   In my kitchen oven, it is doing great.  Should that change, I will cheerfully admit it didnt work and move on. 

Next steps: remove the extraneous metal crap and mount deflector to lid.  Basically, it will be like everyone else's.   Nothing wrong with backyard Neopizza for under $20 in build cost, right?  Too right!   I'll get the deflector set up and post again with a pic when I do. 
I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.

Offline skyno

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Re: Blue Bay LBE - in Baltimore MD
« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2011, 09:00:46 PM »
I'm totally on-board with the DIY / low-cost approach - and it's impressive how little you've invested so far - you can probably solve all of these issues with just some design changes except maybe one - I've found that the one component that you can't really substitute for or "skimp on" is the cooking surface - you either need a super high-end stone that it is made to use on an open flame, or the low cost alternative is a kiln shelf or fire bricks (I prefer the kiln shelf) - I have broken too many unglazed tiles and inferior stones to learn this lesson - I have probably cooked over 100 pies on this $20 kiln shelf (+ another $12 to ship it) - it's indestructible

You may have seen this on the LBE thread, but I have been using a rotational mod similar to your idea for quite a while - got the idea from here - I attached a bolt to the grate that stands just a bit higher than the surface that the kiln shelf sits on - then drilled a hole about 1/4 inch into the center on the underside of the kiln shelf that the bolt inserts into and holds the kiln shelf slightly above everything else - then I just spin it through the side vent during cooking to get even cooking - never need to open the lid and lose heat - highly recommended

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Blue Bay LBE - in Baltimore MD
« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2011, 09:39:17 PM »
Skyno: I'd love to do what you did with the kiln shelf. Awesome work on that.  I'd like to see a cooking video if you've ever made one.
  I have a contact in my local pottery supply place who is supposed to get in touch when they get a 16" round kiln shelf in.   She quoted me $20, and since I can pick it up, thats all it would take.  So I guess I could either drill the stainless plate for the center post mount or put in some rebar like you did.  I'd like to avoid any more meanness to the kettle base though.
      Frankly, I like being able to step back in my mods to a point where I can choose another direction.  I also like being able to pick up the entire pizza-making mod, set it aside and use the grill as a "normal" grill.

I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.

Online scott123

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Re: Blue Bay LBE - in Baltimore MD
« Reply #13 on: December 24, 2011, 11:04:43 AM »
Brian,

Allow me to repeat myself  ;D Lose the countertop. At best, it will crack, at worst, it will crack violently. Skyno has it right- cordierite (kiln shelves) or firebrick.

A few observations:

I like the shape of the deflector, but the thinness of the steel will eventually cause it to warp. If you have a stone on top of it, the warping could cause it to go unlevel. You're going to want to support your hearth independently from the deflector below it. Beyond assuring a level hearth, the air gap between the hearth and the deflector will be critical in balancing top and bottom heat.

You're probably not going to want to hear this, but the vent could be too big.  The purpose of a vent isn't to launch a pizza- it's to direct the air. Just like a chimney that's too big allows too much heat to escape a WFO, a vent that's too big will allow too much heat to dissipate. You might be able to get away the hole you've got, but, keep it in the back of your mind if you run into top browning issues.

A rotating cooking surface is a good impulse.   There are relatively cheap, all metal lazy susans that will fill this role.

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Blue Bay LBE - in Baltimore MD
« Reply #14 on: December 24, 2011, 02:57:00 PM »
Scott, Skyno, I'm trying to get a little more organized here - I've answered you posts re the mechanical build process in the main LBE thread, and I will continue this thread once the pizzamaking begins.

Thanks for your input!

Brian


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Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Blue Bay LBE - in Baltimore MD
« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2012, 03:24:25 PM »
All righty-

let me quickly summarize what I posted on the main LBE thread, and proceed to an update and some pure conjecture and wishful thinking.

1.  Several config changes later, no rotating mod, SS disc is in the lid with other parts to make a "dome within a dome" shape.
2. SS bottom deflector is unchanged.  Flame hits that directly, tilted a little towards the rear where the vent is.  On top of that, the original cooking grate, with charcoal loading side grates flipped up.  The stone (unchanged, still going strong) sits on top of that.  Makes about .25" - .5" air gap under the stone. 
3. Theres about 3.5" headroom between leading edge of top deflector and the hearth. 
4.  The original charcoal-holding baskets sit on the charcoal grate in order to further channel the flame and serve as a heat reservoir.
 
 A video which nicely portrays what it looks like (if it cost a LOT more) and and what is going on in terms of cooking:  http://www.woodstone-corp.com/html/fireworks_lg.htm

Now I'm thinking about other things I could make in it!  The steak in that video looks awesome, and I can't wait to kebab something!  Wife says shes pizza'd out... erhm, we all know pizza is the most perfect food, but others may not be so... enlightened.  Or obsessed.

My IR gun and digital scale are on order - once they arrive, I will be able to tinker with dough recipes  :)

 
 
I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Blue Bay LBE - in Baltimore MD
« Reply #16 on: May 19, 2012, 03:22:37 AM »
Hi all.  
Please excuse the very long delay in posting updates.  Various circumstances have managed to derail nearly every single bake for the last 6 months.  Always some last-moment "HONEY! NEED TO DO THIS NOW!"... after some thought, I've concluded my wife is really a secret pizza hater.  >:(

Anyway, here's some pics from tonight's bake.  I've not had good luck with taking pictures.  I always get too wound up in the process to stand back and document it.  I'm going to train my kid to take shots while I'm getting it ready.

I'm embarrassed to talk about my dough.  I don't have a mixer, and after using the no-knead methods, the stretch and fold methods, the tartine methods, I just wasn't having much luck with nice rims.  Then I read a post of Tom's about a reversed dough hook, and had an inspiration.   :chef:

This is a dough made using GMAP, small amount of starter, very small amount of yeast, 2% OO, 2% sugar, 2% salt.  After hand-mixing to incorporate, mixed for 5-6 minutes using electric drill on reverse with a dough hook from a kitchen mixer.  BF in bowl for 12 hours after mixing, balled then CF for 72.  Reballed, then frozen, due to last-moment neighbor kids birthday party.  Literally last-moment: was T-5 seconds to lighting up the BBE.  After a week, thawed it today.   Beautiful silky extensibility - I could have thrown this dough if I was brave enough.  Stretched a 150 g ball to 14" with no problem, using knuckles.

Topped with bottle sauce (generic "traditional") and shredded brick mozz (rehydrated in salt water with minced onions) some deli pepperoni.

Launched at 645 stone temp, cooked about 2:30.  A little more charring than ideal, but very very tasty. Nice crumb, good melt-in-your mouth tenderness, good finish to bottom and top.

I had one slice.  The happy kid ate everything else. ;D
« Last Edit: May 19, 2012, 04:35:20 AM by pizzaneer »
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Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Blue Bay LBE - in Baltimore MD
« Reply #17 on: May 19, 2012, 09:20:51 AM »
Looks very good. Great looking crumb. The ear-to-ear grin says it all though!
I love pigs. They convert vegetables into bacon.

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: Blue Bay LBE - in Baltimore MD
« Reply #18 on: May 19, 2012, 11:47:07 AM »
He's one happy kid!

Looks very good. Great looking crumb. The ear-to-ear grin says it all though!
Coming from you, Craig, that means a lot. Thanks!
I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.

Offline pizzablogger

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Re: Blue Bay LBE - in Baltimore MD
« Reply #19 on: May 21, 2012, 10:09:24 AM »
I agree with Craig....excellent looking crumb.  :)

Nice pie Brian. You said the char was too much....do you mean on the bottom? ' Cause the top looks good on this end.

That's a great shot of Darwin!

Best -k
"It's Baltimore, gentlemen, the gods will not save you." --Burrell