Author Topic: Meet Rocket, my custom electric Neapolitan oven.  (Read 4745 times)

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Offline ccgus

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Meet Rocket, my custom electric Neapolitan oven.
« on: May 10, 2014, 05:30:50 PM »
I've recently moved homes, and I had to leave behind my beloved WFO ("Dante") since it was pretty much anchored to the ground.  I'm going to eventually install a new WFO, but in the meantime I've been working on a little project to turn a weber smokey joe (and a half) into a hot little Neapolitan pizza oven.  This project was pretty much inspired by what folks are doing when hot rodding their G3 Ferrari ovens (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=19732.0).

Here's the short description of where I'm at right now, and also what I eventually want to do.

In the bottom of the smokey joe I've got a heating element borrowed from an indoor electric grill that I've had laying around for years.  This is used to preheat the oven, and to keep the (13" cordierite) stone at a good temperature so the bottom of the pie gets baked properly.  I also have this element hooked up to a voltage regulator, so it isn't going at full blast all the time.  This plugs into a 110 outlet.

The top of the oven is the standard smokey joe lid, then a layer of ceramic insulation, and then another lid from a second smokey joe.  I have the two bolted together using parts from the purchase of the second smokey joe.  The underside contains a 8" surface element for an electric oven.  This element is rated to 2400 watts, and needs a 240 outlet to get up to a reasonable temp.

The power source for this element scares me a bit.

Right now power is hooked up to the top element via some high temp wire, which then attaches to a homemade extension cord (600v electrical wire), which eventually plugs into a 240 outlet.  Future plans include inserting a voltage regulator between the high temp wire and the extension cord (and that piece of equipment is somewhere in the mail between here and China).  The high temp wire is attached to the element via a high heat porcelain wire nut, but it's not very stable.  A traditional metal + plastic write nut would work a whole lot better, but I worry it might melt being so close to the element.  I might try it anyway, since the porcelain nut doesn't feel very secure.  A kill switch along the way and close at hand would probably be another good idea as well.

I also want a more secure housing for the top bits.  Maybe another piece of metal below the handle with some more insulation, just so the connection to the element isn't exposed.  And possibly an insulating sleeve for the ends of the element.

So how hot does this guy get?  A 10 minute warmup time got the stone to 1100F.  The pie below cooked in 45 seconds.  I'm looking forward installing the 240 voltage regulator because that means I can do a 10 minute warmup at a lower temp for the deck (maybe 800°?), slide the pie in, and then crank it up to 11.  While the pizza was completely editable (and consumed in just about as much time as it took to bake), I would like the underside of the pie a little less burnt.  The crust was pretty much perfect though.  Well, not as perfect as my WFO could make it, but close enough.


Online Donjo911

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Re: Meet Rocket, my custom electric Neapolitan oven.
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2014, 07:41:36 PM »
This is all kinds of awesome!  I'm hopeful it's a volcano for you.  Being cautious about working with electricity and hearing tales of exploding heating elements under a load greater than the design verification tests were tested for, etc.  I'm following this with great enthusiasm.  Best of luck with the beta test!
I have done wrong.. but what I did, I thought needed to be done.

Offline shuboyje

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Re: Meet Rocket, my custom electric Neapolitan oven.
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2014, 10:43:31 PM »
I would personally put a thermocouple into the bottom stone, and control it with a PID and a solid state relay.  You'll find all the info you need in some Sous Vide threads here.  For about $50 you can automate the temperature of the bottom stone, and the only fluctuation you will have to deal with is from the upper element overheating it between pies if you don't turn it down.  If you put the whole lid assembly on a hinge you could simply leave it open between pies to keep from overheating the stone while still leaving the upper element red hot and ready for the next one.  Just some ideas to think about. 
-Jeff

Offline Tampa

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Re: Meet Rocket, my custom electric Neapolitan oven.
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2014, 07:40:00 AM »
Very nice!  I love the spiral element design in the top lid.

In terms of baking. I'm not sure how uniform the 1100F stone heat was in 10 minutes, but for reliable results, you will want consistency. 

The top of the  pie looks great.  The bottom, as you mention, could use some tuning.  The good news is that the bottom is entirely defined by launch temperature and bake time.  I'm not sure how thick that cordierite stone is, but I ran some experiments with 3/8" & 1/2" thick cordierite.  I've posted on this elsewhere, but for short bakes, once the proper launch temperature was reached, the underside baked the same with bottom heat off - meaning there was enough thermal mass to handle the bake.

Did you create that spiral element yourself or have it done? 

Dave

Offline ccgus

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Re: Meet Rocket, my custom electric Neapolitan oven.
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2014, 05:02:14 PM »
The top of the  pie looks great.  The bottom, as you mention, could use some tuning.

After turning down the bottom element (and making not too much flour was on the bottom either), last latest pies were much better.

Quote
Did you create that spiral element yourself or have it done?

I took an 8" spiral element, and stretched it out to fit the lid.

There is one great thing about this little oven- it's very very consistent.  Put a pizza in, wait 45 seconds, take it out, and you're good to go.

Offline Tampa

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Re: Meet Rocket, my custom electric Neapolitan oven.
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2014, 08:35:41 AM »
After turning down the bottom element (and making not too much flour was on the bottom either), last latest pies were much better.

I took an 8" spiral element, and stretched it out to fit the lid.

There is one great thing about this little oven- it's very very consistent.  Put a pizza in, wait 45 seconds, take it out, and you're good to go.
Really nice pie!  Love consistent, especially when it looks like that.
Dave

Offline ccgus

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Re: Meet Rocket, my custom electric Neapolitan oven.
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2014, 05:29:28 PM »
Here's a little update on Rocket-

I've moved away from 240 and am using two 120 volt burners under the lid.  The temp is a little bit lower (it's maxing out a tiny bit above 1k on the stone), but it's not making a bit of a difference.  Bake times are still 45-50 seconds, and the pizzas are coming out perfect.  I've lowered the weight of my dough balls though- I'm down to 280 grams, which seems to be the ideal size for this oven.

I've posted more info about it on my website, along with some more pictures:
http://shapeof.com/pizzalab/archives/2014/6/rocket.html

And here's a picture of a recent bake as well.

Offline Michael130207

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Re: Meet Rocket, my custom electric Neapolitan oven.
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2014, 05:53:18 PM »
Awesome oven and pies! It's great that you're able to run it on 110v. I'd love to see what it would cost to make a quality commercial product like that.
Michael

Offline ccgus

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Re: Meet Rocket, my custom electric Neapolitan oven.
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2014, 05:56:37 PM »
I'd love to see what it would cost to make a quality commercial product like that.

Probably a ton of money, because I'm sure the insurance premiums would be insane (most ovens I've seen top out at 550° - there's probably a huge liability to go higher than that.)

Offline jeffereynelson

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Re: Meet Rocket, my custom electric Neapolitan oven.
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2014, 06:02:06 PM »
It's pretty cool. If you need any prototype testing, I can PM you my address.  ;D


Offline parallei

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Re: Meet Rocket, my custom electric Neapolitan oven.
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2014, 11:15:48 PM »
That's quite the machine, ccgus. 8)

Nice pies too!

Online Chicago Bob

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Re: Meet Rocket, my custom electric Neapolitan oven.
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2014, 11:46:04 PM »
That lil Smokey Joe is flat out incredible....good for you!!

Have you tried some Craig dough on that bad boy yet?   :chef:

CB
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Offline ccgus

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Re: Meet Rocket, my custom electric Neapolitan oven.
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2014, 11:52:20 PM »
That lil Smokey Joe is flat out incredible....good for you!!

Thanks! (And thanks to everyone else as well).

Quote
Have you tried some Craig dough on that bad boy yet?   :chef:

No, but I've tried Mueller dough, which is pretty eff'ing amazing :)

66% hydration, caputo pizzaria flour, 2.5% salt, a very tiny bit of saft yeast, 16 hour bulk raise and then ~4-8 hours ball raise, depending on if I'm doing lunch or dinner.  Every once in a while I'll go back to using ischia starter or another kind, but it never tastes as good to me as tiny bits of yeast over long raises.

Though I did have some pretty amazing pizza from the del popolo pizza truck in sf a month or so ago, and they use a homemade starter.  I'll have to see if I can replicate that…

Online Chicago Bob

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Re: Meet Rocket, my custom electric Neapolitan oven.
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2014, 12:07:26 AM »
Thanks! (And thanks to everyone else as well).

No, but I've tried Mueller dough, which is pretty eff'ing amazing :)

66% hydration, caputo pizzaria flour, 2.5% salt, a very tiny bit of saft yeast, 16 hour bulk raise and then ~4-8 hours ball raise, depending on if I'm doing lunch or dinner.  Every once in a while I'll go back to using ischia starter or another kind, but it never tastes as good to me as tiny bits of yeast over long raises.

Though I did have some pretty amazing pizza from the del popolo pizza truck in sf a month or so ago, and they use a homemade starter.  I'll have to see if I can replicate that…
Sounds great ccgus,
Member jconk007 makes really good yeast pies in his mobil WFO rig.
Your pizza is already very close looking to Craig quality. He has a complete thread on making his dough, including timing/predictive models for starter use and all sorts of good info. :chef:

Keep up the awesome work dude!!

CB
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Offline seanc56

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Re: Meet Rocket, my custom electric Neapolitan oven.
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2014, 10:22:45 AM »
Absolutely incredible results!   It is great seeing someone else try to do a custom electric oven.  I am in the early testing phases on mine and experiencing similar successes. 

How did you manage bending the elements without breaking them?

Offline ccgus

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Re: Meet Rocket, my custom electric Neapolitan oven.
« Reply #15 on: June 30, 2014, 11:39:34 AM »
How did you manage bending the elements without breaking them?

They were pretty malleable, I just did it by hand (though I took my time at it).

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Meet Rocket, my custom electric Neapolitan oven.
« Reply #16 on: June 30, 2014, 12:14:18 PM »
I don't know how I've missed this thread up until now.

Very nice.
Pizza is not bread.

Offline Tampa

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Re: Meet Rocket, my custom electric Neapolitan oven.
« Reply #17 on: June 30, 2014, 12:15:29 PM »
Absolutely incredible results!   It is great seeing someone else try to do a custom electric oven.  I am in the early testing phases on mine and experiencing similar successes. 

How did you manage bending the elements without breaking them?
Might I make some suggestions on finer points?  As humbly as possible (disclosuer: I don't have an electric Mulkiteo Madness design), one could consider a heat diffuser for the top element.  The G3 people use a disk to keep the top heat away from burning the cheese.  I don’t know what type of cheese ccgus is using, but there are char points in the center area.  Since the top heat is nearly perfect, maybe a radial * (asterisk) shaped platter or possibly a screen (like metal lath w/o zinc coating).  Just enough to dial back the heat a little bit.

One other comment, and you can ban me from this thread, but the rim char is mostly on the top and not the side.  Bringing the outermost ring of the heating element down toward the baking stone should create more side heat.  The heating element doesn’t have to be in one plane the center swirls might perform better if they are further away from the pie and the edge would reasonably be closer to the rim.  Given the flattop design of the SmokeyJoe, maybe the oven could function well upside down with a flat element under the stone (even heat) and the conical upper heating element is in what was the lower half of the SmokeyJoe.

Dave

Offline ccgus

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Re: Meet Rocket, my custom electric Neapolitan oven.
« Reply #18 on: June 30, 2014, 12:55:26 PM »
Might I make some suggestions on finer points?  As humbly as possible (disclosuer: I don't have an electric Mulkiteo Madness design), one could consider a heat diffuser for the top element.  The G3 people use a disk to keep the top heat away from burning the cheese.  I don’t know what type of cheese ccgus is using, but there are char points in the center area.  Since the top heat is nearly perfect, maybe a radial * (asterisk) shaped platter or possibly a screen (like metal lath w/o zinc coating).  Just enough to dial back the heat a little bit.

That's not a bad idea.  I'm pretty happy with the internal design at the moment, but I know I'm going to want to tinker with it more down the road, and this seems like a pretty obvious thing to try out next.

Quote
One other comment, and you can ban me from this thread, but the rim char is mostly on the top and not the side.  Bringing the outermost ring of the heating element down toward the baking stone should create more side heat.

One problem I ran into with early revisions was that the heating element would actually touch and burn into the crust, which tasted awful.  The smokey joe is so small and there's not enough room to move the elements down anymore than they already are.  This obviously means I should try things out with a larger grill!

Quote
The heating element doesn’t have to be in one plane the center swirls might perform better if they are further away from the pie and the edge would reasonably be closer to the rim.

Weber makes a larger one- the "Jumbo Joe".  I bet that would work in there.

Quote
Given the flattop design of the SmokeyJoe, maybe the oven could function well upside down with a flat element under the stone (even heat) and the conical upper heating element is in what was the lower half of the SmokeyJoe.

I was originally worried the pizza stone wouldn't be able to retain enough heat to cook the bottom*, so the first rev had an element below.  However it only ever helped to burn the bottom.  In the current design, the elements on top do more than enough to heat up the stone and the first pizza in usually has the underside cooked a little too much - but the subsequent pizzas are always perfect.  I just need to let it air out or add a dial in there somewhere to turn down the heat for the first pie.


* When I cooked pizzas in my old WFO, I would make 300-320 gram dough balls.  I originally did this in the Rocket as well, but while the pie looked amazing there were parts of it that had uncooked dough- and I'm not sure if you've experienced this or not, but it sucks.  Imagine taking a bite into a delicious looking slice, and then recoiling because holy crap- the dough is still sticky and wet.

Dialing the weight of the balls down to 280g seems to be the sweet spot for Rocket.  It's a slightly smaller pizza so there's less transfer needed from the stone and the edges stay away from the heating elements.

Offline ccgus

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