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Life and durability of Pompei oven - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

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Life and durability of Pompei oven

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  • Life and durability of Pompei oven

    I met a couple in Eugene who built an Alan Scot oven. They advised me not to build a Pompei oven because they have all kinds of problems and don't last very long-especially if an amateur built them. Is there any truth to that?

  • #2
    Re: Life and durability of Pompei oven

    I can't speak from experience, but the ovens found in the ruins of Pompeii seem to have survived a few thousand years worth of abuse.
    Mike - Saginaw, MI

    Picasa Web Album
    My oven build thread

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    • #3
      Re: Life and durability of Pompei oven

      Originally posted by briot View Post
      I met a couple in Eugene who built an Alan Scot oven. They advised me not to build a Pompei oven because they have all kinds of problems and don't last very long-especially if an amateur built them. Is there any truth to that?
      What kinds of problems? Where did they get their information? Have they built a Pompeii?

      I think they are just jealous
      Ken H. - Kentucky
      42" Pompeii

      Pompeii Oven Construction Video Updated!

      Oven Thread ... Enclosure Thread
      Cost Spreadsheet ... Picasa Web Album

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      • #4
        Re: Life and durability of Pompei oven

        Originally posted by briot View Post
        I met a couple in Eugene who built an Alan Scot oven. They advised me not to build a Pompei oven because they have all kinds of problems and don't last very long-especially if an amateur built them. Is there any truth to that?

        I think they are just jealous because they realize their mistake. To be quite honest, I was seriously considering that oven until I ran across this site. It didn't take much reading to understand this type of oven is far better for my application. If you are doing commercial baking - it may not be the best route. In regard to the oven lasting because it was built by amateurs - BAH... After the first few hundred bricks, we are professionals - and damn good ones at that.

        Les...
        Check out my pictures here:
        http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/les-build-4207.html

        If at first you don't succeed... Skydiving isn't for you.

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        • #5
          Re: Life and durability of Pompei oven

          Briot,

          I hope you can re-connect with the guys who are talking about problems with the Pompeii. I am curious about their report..... I can only guess, but if they are reporting problems, the problems are probably a symptom of that specific oven.... it was probably not assembled correctly??...

          After completing an oven, and with a building background, I can't see anything on the oven that can "wear out". An oven that was not built on an appropriate foundation, was not assembled with attention to the important details, or was not protected from the weather will certainly have problems over time...

          Otherwise the Pompeii should last several lifetimes!

          Keep us posted, we are curious about the report.

          JED

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          • #6
            Re: Life and durability of Pompei oven

            I will second all of the above responses and expand upon Mikes. The basic design of our ovens DOES come from those found in the Pompeii ruins. We are talking about ovens that withstood a volcanic eruption, seismic activity and were buried in lava and ash.....and many are still very much intact. Incredible if you stop and think about it.
            One other point, those ovens were built centuries ago WITHOUT the use of modern refractory materials and tools.
            Almost forgot this.......a barrel vault oven, if not built exactly to the plans, could have a catastrophic failure more easily than a dome/Pompeii. There is a reason for the 4" of cladding, and it is not just to add thermal mass....the cladding is structural - it gives support each arch string and helps contain the outward thrust.....if you try and cut corners and build without the cladding or reduce the cladding too much, the oven could collapse. My point, any project can and will fail if you deviate too far from the proven techniques. There is nothing difficult about a Pompeii build (unless your mixing all of your concrete by hand). It has been proven that "experts" and extraordinary techniques are not needed.....just the plans, the right materials, and desire.

            Good luck, whichever direction you decide to take


            RT

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            • #7
              Re: Life and durability of Pompei oven

              Barrel vault ovens are good for repeated bread bakes. If you want to produce bread far in excess of domestic requirements, the barrel vault is for you.

              I've been active here for over three years, and have only seen one photo of an oven failure, which was a commercially built low vault large oven for a pizzaria, in continuous use. Our home built hemispherical ovens seem to go on and on: even if they crack, the shape is inherently strong, without the excess buttressing barrel vault ovens use.

              Of course, coming to Forno Bravo and asking about domed ovens is like going to Rome and asking what religion is best.
              My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2

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              • #8
                Re: Life and durability of Pompei oven

                I was always told the difference between an amateur and a professional is that the professional is trying to make a living from the job. As such he has more constraints of time than does the amateur.

                A talented amateur will almost always build a better product than the average professional because he is willing to take the time to do it right even if it means doing something twice.

                Wiley

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                • #9
                  Re: Life and durability of Pompei oven

                  I would also add that the Pompeii Oven is the basic brick oven design that has been built in Italy for hundreds (if not longer) of years. There are over a million of them in pizzerias and backyards.

                  I have always had trouble understanding the logic that the Italians don't know how to build Italian brick ovens. That has never rung true for me.

                  James
                  Pizza Ovens
                  Outdoor Fireplaces

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                  • #10
                    Re: Life and durability of Pompei oven

                    They participated in an Alan Scott workshop down in California. I suppose they are sold on that type of oven and they seem very happy with the one they built. They seemed to think there were more structural problems with Pompei and the domes were more prone to cracking.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Life and durability of Pompei oven

                      Originally posted by james View Post

                      I have always had trouble understanding the logic that the Italians don't know how to build Italian brick ovens. That has never rung true for me.
                      James - I married an Italian, I think they are perfect as well
                      Last edited by Les; 11-13-2008, 10:35 PM.
                      Check out my pictures here:
                      http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/les-build-4207.html

                      If at first you don't succeed... Skydiving isn't for you.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Life and durability of Pompei oven

                        Originally posted by briot View Post
                        They participated in an Alan Scott workshop down in California. I suppose they are sold on that type of oven and they seem very happy with the one they built. They seemed to think there were more structural problems with Pompei and the domes were more prone to cracking.
                        If they are happy with their oven, that's the important thing.

                        As far as cracking; any oven built with brick and mortar simply has to crack somewhere. The physics of thermal expansion an contraction guarantee it. Some cracks are big, some are small. But they are there.

                        Even with this knowledge, we all are a little disappointed after we fire our babies up the first few times and discover the inevitable C-R-A-C-K-S.

                        I promise... Allen Scott ovens develop cracks as well.
                        Ken H. - Kentucky
                        42" Pompeii

                        Pompeii Oven Construction Video Updated!

                        Oven Thread ... Enclosure Thread
                        Cost Spreadsheet ... Picasa Web Album

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Life and durability of Pompei oven

                          Cracking is a result of uneven thermal tension and discontinuities in the oven structure. Stress concentration occure at all discontinuities in the design and when thermal gradients exist (during heat-up). A dome (spherical shell) will usually have less discontinuities than a barrel oven as the barrel have end walls. The main discontinuities in the Pompei design is around the door opening and the dome/floor interface.

                          karl

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                          • #14
                            Re: Life and durability of Pompei oven

                            Originally posted by Les View Post
                            James - I married an Italian, I think they are perfect as well
                            That explains everything!
                            James
                            Pizza Ovens
                            Outdoor Fireplaces

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