Author Topic: Spring '13 WFO project  (Read 4801 times)

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Offline SELES

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Spring '13 WFO project
« on: April 14, 2013, 09:55:22 PM »
So for a few years now I've been telling myself that I'd have a WFO in the back yard by Summer and each year I'm paralyzed by indecision brick?/ Casted?/LBE?/pizzaforge?/"Is this the year Ill get the tailgate from The Fire Within?". Well, I've decided this year I'm going to jump right in and make it happen. Gotta start somewhere and I'm accepting the fact that it doesn't need to be perfect...so I present some rough plans, some drawings and goals for the project. Please give me any and all feedback/info.


Goals in order of importance:
- ability to fire in neapolitan temp range
- cook pies comfortably 2 at a time would be great
- bake breads soon after or next day
- start curing fires in June
- would be great if this came in under $1000 but I can stretch a little further


Assumptions:
- casting is faster, less expensive and perhaps less work than laying brick
- 36" floor is sufficient for my volume (3-4pies/week) with spikes here and there for parties.


Materials:
- castable refractory
- perlcrete insulating mix or ceramic blanket
- dense firebricks-hearth floor
- 6:1 perlcrete (not completely clear on what that is but saw Jeff mention)

Unknowns:
- where to find castable refractory in my area (Cleveland, Ohio, may have found a place have to call tomorrow)
- how much castable I'll need
- how big my chimney should be in length and girth (no laughing, ha ha)


Offline Zeke_eats_pizza

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Re: Spring '13 WFO project
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2013, 09:45:32 PM »
i built mine piece by piece and you could have it completed by sometime in June depending on weather and how much time you can spend on it.  Mine is not igloo shaped but rather cylindrical dome shaped.  i used all firebrick for the interior and everything covered in concrete with a final insulation on top of vermiculite/concrete mix...perlite and vermiculite are similar.  it is basically a bomb shelter that can cook pizzas.  i can easily fit 3 pizzas in at time but normally keep it to two...they cook too quick to get 3 in unless they are all ready to go at once. 

 i live in houston so I did not use any soft insulation like blankets.

It was a big project but rewarding when finished and a ton of fun afterwards. 

good luck.

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Spring '13 WFO project
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2013, 12:34:31 AM »
To me, for a one-off, doing a castable is not worth the effort.  To build a good mold and only use it once is a waste of time and effort.  The reason modular masonry has been the dominant method of construction for 6000 years is self evident:  use the standard modules to build anything.

It is not less expensive unless you build something like a cob oven or build multiples from the forms.  Castable refractory is expensive, and unless it is engineered, it will crack and not crack like a modular oven but in a way that makes it fail.

Offline hotsawce

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Re: Spring '13 WFO project
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2013, 08:24:19 PM »
Check this out. I'm interested in building this oven, but I don't have any experience with casting cement so I'm trying to find someone in the area that does before I attempt it.

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,14532.40.html

Offline Zeke_eats_pizza

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Re: Spring '13 WFO project
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2013, 08:47:51 PM »
hotsawce...are you referring to the cast insert on the weber grill?  i just know how hot it would get and how long you could easily keep it at temperature.  never tried one but maybe it could work.  Maybe if you wanted a low budget, low risk way to go then give it a shot.  I tried to build mine as heavy duty as I could and still not sure I got there but it does get hot and seems to work well...but it was not low budget. 

it also had to look good so it would go with the rest of the back yard.

If you have the space, time and a few bucks to spare i suggest build it yourself. 

enjoy

Offline misterschu

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Re: Spring '13 WFO project
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2013, 12:38:58 PM »
I agree that castable dome is much easier to build than laying brick.  For my dome I built a mound of wet sand, then covered in wet newspaper, and sprayed with Pam (yes, cooking oil spray).   I then packed my refractory cement on top of this.  I got this method from the instructions I'd looked into about cob ovens.

Offline SELES

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Going Brick
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2013, 02:28:27 PM »
A few weeks ago I was contemplating my build and kept asking myself, "Do I want to put so much effort into the build and see cast walls while working pies?" My answer was ultimately "No". For me the brick adds a certain romance to the pizza making process at basically the same cost, so why not?

I've also had a stand built. It's 40" tall and the top plate is 52" in diameter which will give me plenty of room to insulate sufficiently.

Offline SELES

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Stefano Ferrara insulation approach
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2013, 06:47:04 PM »
Based on the images at the following link, it seems that Stefano Ferarra focuses more on the dome and the hearth than the walls when insulating his ovens.

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,20945.msg209834.html#msg209834

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Spring '13 WFO project
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2013, 07:48:05 PM »
He does.  Rightly or wrongly, that is the way most of the Italian made ovens are built.

Offline shuboyje

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Re: Spring '13 WFO project
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2013, 08:10:40 PM »
Outside of everything I have posted on this forum in the past I will give you one caution:

DO NOT build your home oven based on observations made from commercial ovens.  Commercial ovens do not need to be efficient, they are always hot.  IF they are hugely massive and lack insulation so be it.  Home ovens are infrequently fired from cold, if you don't want to burn a forest of wood and spend 3+ hours firing your oven for pizza build it as thermally efficient as possible. 
-Jeff


Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Spring '13 WFO project
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2013, 09:46:14 PM »
If I am a pizzeria owner, I do not really want a huge lump of heat radiating into the kitchen.  That is where I differ with the Italians.  Inefficiency is magnified, not mitigated in a commercial environment, and the construction technique of the premier Italian ovens is traditional, not best practice.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Spring '13 WFO project
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2013, 09:51:10 PM »
burn a forest of wood and spend 3+ hours firing your oven for pizza build it as thermally efficient as possible.

3 Hours? who are you trying to kid?  :-D
I love pigs. They convert vegetables into bacon.

Offline shuboyje

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Re: Spring '13 WFO project
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2013, 10:05:54 PM »
If I am a pizzeria owner, I do not really want a huge lump of heat radiating into the kitchen.  That is where I differ with the Italians.  Inefficiency is magnified, not mitigated in a commercial environment, and the construction technique of the premier Italian ovens is traditional, not best practice.

I agree with you Tom, that's not my mindset, but it does seem to be THE mindset.  A while back I made very mild negative comments about mobile Steffano Ferarra ovens and with the response from one prominent pizzeria owner you would have thought I had personally insulted him.   
-Jeff

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Spring '13 WFO project
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2013, 10:38:39 PM »
I am not afraid.  The way the Italians build their ovens is antiquarian, wasteful, and inefficient. They make a lovely pizza, but it is in spite of the oven, not because of it.

Offline SELES

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Re: Stefano Ferrara insulation approach
« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2013, 12:07:21 AM »
Thanks for the insight fellas. It's very helpful.

I'm trying to gauge just how much better a 42" oven is over a 36" oven. Which is how this observation of SF's build made it to the thread. I don't have a tremendous amount of experience working a WFO so insight from th experienced is very helpful.

Since I picked up the stand I'd been second guessing my original interior diameter of 36". Knowing the popular minimum is 42" I thought I may be able to squeak by with 1-2 inches (or even 3") of ceramic fiber around the sides and have minimal overhang beyond the 52" plate.

(4.5" brick + 3" blanket + 1/2" stucco/tile)2 + 42" interior diameter = 56" overall diameter (2" overhang all around)

(4.5" brick + 2" blanket + 1/2" stucco/tile)2 + 42" interior diameter = 54" overall diameter (1" over hang all around)

(4.5" brick + 1" blanket + 1/2" stucco/tile)2 + 42" interior diameter = 52" overall diameter

(4.5" brick + 3" blanket + 1/2" stucco/tile)2 + 36" interior diameter = 52" overall diameter


Based on what I've read, and my goals for the project, It seems like going with a well insulated 36" oven might be the best choice. On the other hand the over hang seems like it'd be relatively light weight as it would be mostly ceramic blanket as opposed to brick etc.


Thanks again for the insight.

Offline kiwipete

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Re: Spring '13 WFO project
« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2013, 08:03:56 AM »
I am not afraid.  The way the Italians build their ovens is antiquarian, wasteful, and inefficient. They make a lovely pizza, but it is in spite of the oven, not because of it.

Not sure whether I agree with the statement "In spite of the oven". I do admit that they are not thermally efficient by a long shot, but the Italians seems to focus on:

1. Getting the balance between top and bottom cooking right. With their mix of different materials (santa maria bricks for the dome, biscotto di sorrento for the hearth, neapolitan vents, whatever secret mixture of stuff goes underneath the hearth etc. etc.) This is an area we (on pizzamaking.com) are only just recently starting to get to grips with. The thread about about Reverse Engineering Biscotto di Sorrento was hugely illuminating in this regard. From what I can gather Shuboyje (Jeff) got it right with his choice of the Whitacre Greer bricks, but for other people (like me in NZ where it practically impossible to get these), it is much more difficult to achieve the same balance with the materials (and experience) that is available to us. Obviously the Italians have been refining their process through about three centuries now, so it not surprising that we are playing catch-up in this regard.

2. The ability to cook huge amounts of pizze hour after hour, without losing that balance as per item 1. Obviously this is a function of thermal mass AND maintaining balance.

The thermal efficiency is obviously a distant third for them and I can fully understand that. I think TXCraig can too: I think it is unlikely he his going to swap his Acunto for anything more thermally efficient soon :-)

Re-reading Marco Parente's posts from way back when seem more illuminating now than when I first read them. I recall a post where he said that he could pretty much cook a perfect single pizza in any WFO, but to do this hour after hour in a commercial setting was a completely different proposition. Also said something along the lines of (paraphrased): if you have a good neapolitan pizza oven it works with you rather than against you (which is what you end up doing with a less well designed version).

Peter V.

Edit: all this relates to NP pizze only with their extremely short cooking times which is where all these factors become so  much more important
« Last Edit: May 22, 2013, 08:06:39 AM by kiwipete »

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Spring '13 WFO project
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2013, 08:57:15 AM »
The shape of the oven is not the issue, they have refined that to perfection*.  Where I differ is with how they handle the insulation, which has nothing to do with the ability to pump out pizzas hour after hour, it has only to do with how much wood it takes to do so (as well as how much heat is added to the kitchen).  Craig likes to burn that Acunto for 10 hours before making pizza, and while I do not think it actually needs that much time, it is an indication of the thermal mass involved.




*with the exception of the vent, I do not think it helps.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Spring '13 WFO project
« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2013, 09:50:08 AM »
Craig likes to burn that Acunto for 10 hours before making pizza, and while I do not think it actually needs that much time, it is an indication of the thermal mass involved.

You are right, and I've cut that down quite a bit. I might start a fire 8 hours before I bake the first pie, but it's only 1 piece of wood per hour for the first 6 hours or so and then 2-3 pieces/hour for the last couple. I have not counted, but it probably takes 15 typical (4" x 18") pieces of wood to get it hot enough. If you oven started hot from the day before, it would take only a fraction of this.

The bigger problem with an oven of this mass that is not used every day is that it is not even remotely saturated at this point and heat is constantly moving from the inner oven walls into the mass of the oven. If you let the live flame go down, you can see the wall temperature drop in near real time. This means you need a fairly large bed of coals and live fire to keep it sufficiently hot. My oven is big enough that I can move the pie far enough away from the fire that the heat imbalance is not a big problem. Notwithstanding, it definitely bakes better pies if you run it several days in a row.
I love pigs. They convert vegetables into bacon.

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Spring '13 WFO project
« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2013, 10:13:13 AM »
How long does it take yours to get back to ambient, Craig?

I think the ideal home pizza oven would have a 2-3" high density mass surrounded by 3" of cal sil board/blanket or 3"-6" of perlcrete underneath the hearth and 3-12" of perlcrete surrounding.  Loose perlite is even better.  Perlite and vermiculite are interchangeable for this application.

Offline shuboyje

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Re: Spring '13 WFO project
« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2013, 08:01:10 PM »
I think the ideal home pizza oven would have a 2-3" high density mass surrounded by 3" of cal sil board/blanket or 3"-6" of perlcrete underneath the hearth and 3-12" of perlcrete surrounding.  Loose perlite is even better.  Perlite and vermiculite are interchangeable for this application.

I could not agree more!  Soon you will see just how true that statement is....
-Jeff


 

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