Author Topic: converting wood oven to gas...commercial  (Read 11911 times)

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Offline Fourlix

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converting wood oven to gas...commercial
« on: March 31, 2012, 11:36:31 AM »
I am going to do it.  We have been burning wood for 1.5 years.   The daily grind, a cord of wood a month, means a lot of soot, irregular temperatures, and we could really use the additional floor space...  Right now we can get only 3  18" pizzas in there at once.  With gas we can go to 4.   Cleaner oven.  consistent temperatures.  Instead of burning alligator juniper for fuel, we will use one oak log next to the gas burner for flavor, and ambiance.      Avanzini Drago,,,Avanzini Bruciatore makes an exact fit for my oven, same company that makes the burners for Forno Bravo.   Electronic, digital, complete system, about $1500.     I still have my wood fired oven in my back yard, which is where it all started 15 years ago, even though I have been making pizzas for about 30 years,,,,,That first trip to Italy in 1972 was where it really started,,,,or was it that pizzaria in NYC at 79th & Broadway next to the Beacon Hotel in 1964....?


Offline shuboyje

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Re: converting wood oven to gas...commercial
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2012, 11:42:30 AM »
Sounds like you are doing New York style pizza, I think gas will work much better for that then if you were doing Neapolitan.  Let us know what you think of the burner, I know it is the best one out there so I would love to hear what you think of it.
-Jeff

Offline Fourlix

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Re: converting wood oven to gas...commercial
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2012, 01:14:36 PM »
Our 18" is very thin crust, only a 15oz dough ball.  Our 12" is more Neapolitan style, with a 9oz. dough ball.    Oh yes, I will be sure to post on the new burner once it is in and we have some experience with it.
  As an aside, and pretty relevant here, is that even though I had built my own oven, from scratch, at home, I chose to use a commercial Italian oven, MAM 505, for the restaurant because of appliance listing, insurance, fire marshall etc.  Using a complete package to convert the oven to gas keeps us legit, and within the manufacturer's specifications, as the oven was designed and listed to use gas as well as wood.   You can do anything you want in your backyard, but commercial applications can be tricky.  Every town is different, but fire marshalls and insurance guys like stickers and stuff that looks right. 

Offline Fourlix

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Re: converting wood oven to gas...commercial
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2012, 11:58:19 AM »
I did it!!!  The Avanzini Drago is fantastic!   The flame from the Dragon reaches out across the ceiling 5 feet to the oven door, radiating heat down from the ceiling instead of the intense heat from a wood fire in the corner. Watching this incredible flame is mesmorizing.  I have been looking at some other gas/brick ovens in the area and their flames all look very conventional, like a converted BBQ.  This is different.  This is way better.  Better quality pizzas, More consistent. Cleaner, faster, more available floorspace.  No more burned edges.  Double production. The Avanzini Drago exactly fit the 5" opening in the MAM505 oven, like it was made for it.  Mount the control box, run the gas line, install the burner, and fit the temperature probe into the side wall.  Fairly easy and straightforward installation.  Didn't even have to call my plumber.  Total cost ended up about $2,200 not including labor, which was me. WORTH EVERY PENNEY.    Wood is fine, and fun, for backyard operations.  But for commercial restaurants?  You gotta be nuts.........

Offline BrickStoneOven

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Re: converting wood oven to gas...commercial
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2012, 02:24:29 PM »
Wood is fine, and fun, for backyard operations.  But for commercial restaurants?  You gotta be nuts.........

How can you say that? Just because you couldn't get the results you were looking for with wood doesn't mean others can't in a commercial environment. There are countless people who are using wood and getting great results. It's not for everyone.

BTW what oven do you have?

Offline Fourlix

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Re: converting wood oven to gas...commercial
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2012, 03:23:02 PM »
I have a MAM505 oven from Modena.  Here is the deal, bottom line.   Using a laser thermometer, we measured differences in floor temperatures with wood of about 200 degrees F.  The lateral heat of the wood fire vs the 3 to 5 foot long Avanzini flame which almost covers the entire ceiling and radiates down onto the floor simply works better, and differences in floor temperature are less than 100 degrees F, with the cooler zones being to the far right and left, and constant temperatures straight thru to the floor under the oven door.  The burner exactly fit the 5" hole at the very back and center of the oven.
     Now add in soot, ash, labor, inconsistency of temperature, inconsistency of employees, and that is why this is a huge commercial advantage.  I am sure there are gas brick ovens that don't work as well as this, and I have honestly looked at lots of them and none compare to the Avanzini burner. Most gas burners look like a converted BBQ burner.   This is very different.   How they are able to get the length of flame and such consistent temperatures is remarkable, and clearly a huge advantage over other gas burners.   Forno Bravo uses this burner.  Check out the YouTube videos of it.  It looks even better in real life. 
       And sure, there will continue to be great pizzas cooked in wood ovens in commercial settings all over the world...and in my backyard,,,,but not in my restaurant. 

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: converting wood oven to gas...commercial
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2012, 04:57:47 PM »
Wow, congrats. I know a lot of WFO owners may not think much of the upgrade, but that's because they're used to thinking of their traditional VPN-style oven as being the ultimate in... well, everything.  Why else would pay so much for it?   

As an LBE owner / user, I know that ovens are only as good as the user.  Tweak it, change it, work with it, but never think that its anything but just another tool.
I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.

Offline BrickStoneOven

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Re: converting wood oven to gas...commercial
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2012, 05:36:51 PM »
Wow, congrats. I know a lot of WFO owners may not think much of the upgrade, but that's because they're used to thinking of their traditional VPN-style oven as being the ultimate in... well, everything.  Why else would pay so much for it?   

As an LBE owner / user, I know that ovens are only as good as the user.  Tweak it, change it, work with it, but never think that its anything but just another tool.
WFOs aren't only for making Neapolitan pizza. IMO there is no need to buy a WFO for pizza if your going to be baking much lower than 700F which he is. It would have been better just to get a deck oven.

Offline shuboyje

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Re: converting wood oven to gas...commercial
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2012, 05:39:33 PM »
Pizzaneer,

That isn't the case at all.  If you read the other thread about this oven a few forums up you will see that Fourlix is not using his oven in a traditional way.  He is baking pizzas at 575F and looking for even temperature and no charring.  You are right in thinking that an oven is just a tool, and in this case Fourlix has the wrong tool for the job, a deck oven would be the proper oven for what he wants.  The strong opinions many of us have on wood fired ovens are actually based on something, lol.  Trust me before I discovered the pizza it can produce I had no interest in splitting wood, building fires and getting covered in soot.  
-Jeff

Offline Fourlix

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Re: converting wood oven to gas...commercial
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2012, 11:33:56 PM »
There is a difference between charring and burning.  The best temperature for this oven, and that is floor temperature, measured with a laser thermometer is 625 F.   Great pizzas were made before laser thermometers.  An Italian friend of mine showed me how to get the temperature right when I built my backyard oven using flour.  Take a pinch, and throw it in on the floor.  If it quickly turns black, the oven is too hot.  If it quickly turns brown, it is just right.  If it stays white, it is not hot enough.  
      Too often Americans take a good idea and get carried away with it, as in taking it too literally...Like Pasta Al Dente.  No Italian would eat the American version of pasta cooked al dente,,,to them it is undercooked.  To me it is raw flour. We make fresh pasta and cook it to order.  It is never dried. Occasionally we get somebody asking, or complaining, for their pasta to be al dente.  Fresh pasta cannot be al dente because it has never been dried.  It is done when the flour is cooked, like all pasta, even the dried kind. Why so many Americans have developed a taste for undercooked flour is beyond me. but I digress...  
        I took my laser thermometer to Grimaldi's coal fired pizzaria in Tucson, AZ.  Floor temp, 550 to 600 F.  Nice oven.  Great pizza.  New York style, not Neapolitan but I am also doing 18" pizzas with lots of toppings, and these are the temps that work.  We can, and do 12" Margheritas and with our new Booster flame we can get the char and Neapolitan effect at the push of a button.  To me this isn't a hobby, or a religion, it's business, it's culinary science.
        So, Deck oven vs. gas fired brick oven?  Really?  Start with aesthetics.  Deck ovens are butt ugly.
 From a culinary point of view a deck oven cooks with hot air, hence the closed door. Wood fired and gas fired brick ovens cook with radiant heat,,,,charring?      
« Last Edit: May 12, 2012, 11:40:41 PM by Fourlix »


Offline pizzaneer

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Re: converting wood oven to gas...commercial
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2012, 01:41:21 AM »
from my 30 years of camping... I would use a slice of bread as a test- throw it in the (spot-assembled) oven and see if it browns evenly top and bottom.  No idea what the temp was, but the food was perfect.  I haven't ever gone by IR reading, just experience.  I have one now, but it's not something I rely on.  Kind of like the digital scale.  I know I'm going to get slammed for this, but I make dough by feel, not weights and measures.

I freely admit I have limited experience with "true" WFO's.  I'm looking forward to building one someday, and getting to know it.  But when all is said and done, it's just another tool in the toolbox of the cook.
I'd rather eat one good meal a day than 3 squares of garbage.

Offline Fourlix

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Re: converting wood oven to gas...commercial
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2012, 02:34:59 AM »
This was a big step.  I came on this forum looking for someone who had successfully converted their wood fired oven to gas.  Can it be done?  What are the results?  How can I do it?  etc.   Nada.  Just a lot of backyard WFO purists waving their flags.  This is a pizza making forum.  Not a WFO forum.  There are obvious advantages to gas for a commercial restaurant, as stated above.  There are technical, legal, monetary, culinary, and marketing issues to consider with a gas conversion.  No answers here, or anywhere that I could find.  I found Avanzini through Forno Bravo, but they wouldn't sell it to me.  So I bought it, sight unseen, except for a you tube video. With shipping my cost came to about $ 2,200.  I installed it myself.
      So now I am sharing this with you.  My experience successfully converting a commercial Italian pizza oven from wood to gas, by an Itallian company that has successfully converted thousands of wood burning ovens in Italy to gas, because it works, and it is better for a commercial operation that is making hundreds of pizzas a week.   I wouldn't expect anyone with a backyard oven to convert to gas.  It is simply too expensive.  For someone opening a pizzaria, I would highly recommend Forno Bravo's Wood/gas Modena oven....it uses the Avanzini burner, but with american Honeywell gas controls.   I have no idea if they are better than the Italian gas controls or not.   I spoke with Mark at Forno Bravo who says the hardware is fantastic, but he has no experience with the Italian gas controls, he just chose to put together their own.  However, if you already have a wood fired oven in your restaurant and are looking to improve consistency, quality and production I would highly recommend the Avanzini Drago.   You are welcome.   www.BillyTheKidBBQ.com

Offline scott123

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Re: converting wood oven to gas...commercial
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2012, 03:49:58 AM »
Just a lot of backyard WFO purists waving their flags.

Fourlix, if I'm hearing you correctly, it seems like you might be implying that the people here that aren't agreeing with you/sharing your excitement are amateurs and that if they were actually in the business, they might be in a better position to see how momentous your wood to gas conversion breakthrough really is.

If that's what you're implying, then I strongly disagree. When it comes to oven expertise, these are professionals in every sense of the word. The reason why no one here is sharing in your excitement is because, within the industry, a Neapolitan temp wood to gas conversion has become a well recognized holy grail, not a 600F wood to gas conversion. It's an 850F conversion that the pros are waiting with baited breath to see.

This breakthrough is wonderful for you, but, for the countless number of us working at higher temps (for both Neo AND NY, in backyards and storefronts) it's not applicable, so please understand why we're not as excited as you are.

Offline pizzaneer

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Re: converting wood oven to gas...commercial
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2012, 07:49:32 AM »
Scott,
  He did say he can get Neopolitan temps at the push of a button, using the "booster flame".  His regular 18" heavily topped pies cook better at 625.  Why is he making NY-style pies? Because people order them.  It's a restaurant.

Forlix, the mod sounds like it duplicates the EarthStone oven - probably for a lot less...  I would love to see some pics and/or video. 

Heres the FornoBravo link http://www.fornobravo.com/commercial_pizza_oven/gas_fired.html


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

Offline Fourlix

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Re: converting wood oven to gas...commercial
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2012, 10:53:27 AM »
This has electronic controls that are set to turn off at 500 degrees Celsius.....But that can be reprogrammed to whatever you like.   The temperature probe for the Drago is installed on the right hand wall 4 inches above the floor, but I still use my laser thermometer, which is in Farenheit, to measure floor temperatures.  You want 850 F?  900?  No problem, push the buttons, but you have to convert from Celsius.  I have had this oven up to 1200 F.  But that was with wood, one of my cooks....you get the idea.  
      Now I am a very good welder, over 40 years, and I have sold a few things I have made, but I have never made a living as a welder....therefore I am an amateur, and not a professional.  If you have a backyard pizza oven that is not open to the public, don't pay taxes on it, deal with health inspectors, fire marshalls etc.  then you are not a professional you are an amateur. You may be very good at what you do, but the fact that you don't do it every day and rely on it for your economic survival makes you an amateur.   
      The point I am trying to make is that I am posting this for someone who, like me, is looking for this information.  This information is simply not out there.  I don't care what you do in your bedroom or in your backyard.   I am excited by this because I figured it out, it works, and it will make me money.  Training 20 year old kids to run a wood fired oven,,,as many as 3 a month because of the turnover, is a pain in the ass.  Teaching kids how to deal with running a wood oven is now something I don't have to do. Increasing quality, consistency and production means I don't have to deal with angry customers on a busy night because their pizza is taking too long.
      A good pizza out west is very hard to find. Grimaldi's in Tucson is the closest thing to real pizza anywhere close.  Deck ovens and ordinary crust is not what I am about. I have been to Italy and spent a lot of time in New York City.  I know what pizza is and we serve great pizza. It has just become a little easier....
« Last Edit: May 13, 2012, 11:17:57 AM by Fourlix »

Offline shuboyje

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Re: converting wood oven to gas...commercial
« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2012, 11:11:07 AM »
You came here already planning to buy that burner, had you not that is the only gas burner I would have recommended.  Nobody is knocking the burner or you for using it.  I think most of us take issue with you declaring wood obsolete for commercial purposes when you aren't even operating the oven at traditional wood oven temperatures.  If you were running your oven at 900F on the deck with this burner and producing 60 second Neapolitan pizzas all night long I don't think anyone would take issue with what you are saying.  Instead you are telling us that this oven can perform the exact same way that gas deck ovens have for eons and somehow using that as basis for dismissing wood fired ovens.  Then for the heck of it you threw coal ovens into the mix just to jumble things up a bit more.

At the end of the day if you are happy with the oven, and your customers are happy with the result why worry about anything else?
-Jeff

Offline shuboyje

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Re: converting wood oven to gas...commercial
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2012, 11:16:18 AM »
There is no button in the world that can bring a 625F oven up to Neapolitan temperatures in seconds.  The more intense flame will probably char the pie more but nothing short of a Nuclear reaction is going to increase all that mass 300-500F in seconds.  My reading on gas fired brick ovens leads me to believe that type of temperature increase would take hours, not seconds or minutes.

Scott,
  He did say he can get Neopolitan temps at the push of a button, using the "booster flame".  His regular 18" heavily topped pies cook better at 625.  Why is he making NY-style pies? Because people order them.  It's a restaurant.

Forlix, the mod sounds like it duplicates the EarthStone oven - probably for a lot less...  I would love to see some pics and/or video. 

Heres the FornoBravo link http://www.fornobravo.com/commercial_pizza_oven/gas_fired.html


 
-Jeff

Offline BrickStoneOven

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Re: converting wood oven to gas...commercial
« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2012, 11:25:12 AM »
There is a difference between charring and burning.  The best temperature for this oven, and that is floor temperature, measured with a laser thermometer is 625 F.       

If a WFO built for pizza cant hold consistent temps above 625F then it was most likely built improperly. The whole point of having a WFO is so you can hit those high temps(700-750+) where most deck ovens(not all) have a hard time getting to and maintaining.

I am also doing 18" pizzas with lots of toppings, and these are the temps that work.  To me this isn't a hobby, or a religion, it's business, it's culinary science.   

Shuboyje makes 18" pies in his WFO at high temp and they look great. I never said(or anyone else for that matter) you weren't getting the results you are looking for now with the gas conversion. All I am saying is why bother getting a WFO if you knew you wanted to make NY style pies at 550F-625F when a deck oven can do the job perfectly. This isn't a hobby for some people on here either there are many here who have started their own WFO businesses; baking above 750; and putting out great pizzas.

So, Deck oven vs. gas fired brick oven?  Really?  Start with aesthetics.  Deck ovens are butt ugly.     

How are deck ovens ugly? You could get a Marsal MB60 with a brick facade and they look good and they are great ovens which are perfect for what you were looking for temp wise, very consistent. This is obviously all business so it would make even more sense. You said you needed the room the coals were taking up in the oven so now that their gone you can fit 4 pies in there. With MB60's that would have been no problem or a double stack and get 8 pies. Time is money right.

This was a big step.  I came on this forum looking for someone who had successfully converted their wood fired oven to gas.  Can it be done?  What are the results?  How can I do it?  etc.   Nada.  Just a lot of backyard WFO purists waving their flags.  This is a pizza making forum.  Not a WFO forum.

This is a pizza making forum, but it is mostly concentrated with enthusiasts and hobbyists who sometimes graduate into a commercial environment. It is actually said in the masthead of the entry page of the site, PizzaMaking.com is more than just pizza recipes, it's a place where pizza aficionados can meet and share their passion for making (and eating) the world's greatest food… Pizza!. Asking the question you asked and expecting an answer if someone has done it was most likely never going to be answer because there are maybe a bakers dozen of people on here with WFO's and the odds of them converting them to gas would not be likely. You'd have better odds of winning the lottery. Like Peter would say, you should try asking over at PMQ Think Tank. It's more of a professional forum for pizza makers.


So now I am sharing this with you.  My experience successfully converting a commercial Italian pizza oven from wood to gas, by an Itallian company that has successfully converted thousands of wood burning ovens in Italy to gas, because it works, and it is better for a commercial operation that is making hundreds of pizzas a week.

There are places making hundreds of pizzas a day using wood with no problems. Just because this statement applies to you doesn't mean its true for everyone else.

However, if you already have a wood fired oven in your restaurant and are looking to improve consistency, quality and production I would highly recommend the Avanzini Drago.   You are welcome.   www.BillyTheKidBBQ.com

Again this only applies to your experience with your oven. Telling someone else that they will have better success converting their oven to gas is just conjecture.

The reason why no one here is sharing in your excitement is because, within the industry, a Neapolitan temp wood to gas conversion has become a well recognized holy grail, not a 600F wood to gas conversion. It's an 850F conversion that the pros are waiting with baited breath to see.

Scott SF actually makes a gas model which looks to work pretty good. You know Dino right :-D, he used one at the International Pizza show last year and the pizzas he made looked pretty good. Here's a video
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcH1efI87l4" target="_blank" class="aeva_link bbc_link new_win">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcH1efI87l4</a>
and some pictures http://www.dinosantonicola.com/dinosantonicola.com/Dino_Santonicola/My_Albums/Pages/International_Pizza_Expo_2011_-_Las_Vegas.html.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2012, 11:27:12 AM by BrickStoneOven »

Offline Fourlix

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Re: converting wood oven to gas...commercial
« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2012, 11:26:22 AM »
The booster raises the temperature about 5 degrees Celsius per minute.  If you were doing true Neapolitan  pizzas you would raise the first burner temperture and maintain a higher temp of say 700, then hit the booster for the char.  The booster also imparts a radiant heat aspect as it covers the ceiling and radiates down on to the pizza.

Offline Fourlix

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Re: converting wood oven to gas...commercial
« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2012, 11:32:50 AM »
You are right.  I am on the wrong forum. This is obviously a place for people who just want to argue.


 

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