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Scott, I know they have it in Saginaw. I'd try Theut's. I know they have a branch in Romeo, but likely others around SE Michigan as well.
Where in Berkley do you live (feel free to drop me a private message). I lived in Berkley for 6 years before moving up north. I was around when the Berkley Front and the Royal Oak Brewery first opened. Fun area. I don't know how it is now. It's been some time since I've been back.
I just called them and they have a location not too far from me on 21 mile and Gratiot. $15 for a 50lb bag of fire clay and the best price I have found so far on the fire brick at $1.16 each. The only had 15lb bucket of the heat stop II, but I can get the 50lb bags not too far from me.
Do not buy the premixed heatstop. It's not waterproof. I don't know why it's not like the dry stuff in the bags, but it isn't.
The dry heatstop works fine, as does the homebrew mortar. I used both- started with heatstop and then went to homebrew when I ran out of heatstop. Be sure your heatstop has been properly stored, by the way. Dry and out of the weather.
$1.16 is pretty good for firebrick, I'd say. Mine were 1.20.
Fireclay is a heat resistant clay made up of aluminate and silica. When you mix fireclay with Portland cement, sand and lime, you create a product that is more heat resistant than basic mason's mortar (Portland cement with sand and lime).
Measure your ingredients by volume (use a bucket or shovel to measure), and mix only the amount you will us within an hour or so.
* 1 part Portland cement
* 3 parts sand
* 1 part lime
* 1 part fireclay
You've really got to widen your horizons from the big box stores. Neither one will sell mason's lime or fireclay, but a masonry supply should have both items.
how many pounds of fireclay are typically needed?
Time to get out the calculator. If you need two hundred pounds of dry mortar mix, you're going to need 33 pounds each fireclay, lime, and portland, and 99 pounds of silica sand (fine sand works better in narrow joints) This presumes that the various materials have about the same weight by volume.
Can one substitue the portland cement, sand, and lime with type S ready to use mortar?
This has been tried, it sort of works, but the aggregate is too coarse and the proportions aren't right. Why mess with success?
My problem is I live 1 mile from HD, 2 mile sfrom Lowes and 15-20 miles from the nearest building supply. Even though in Google you will get many building supplies places, many went out of business as MI has been in a recession for the last 10 years. We have the worst economy in th 50 states.
Anyways, I stopped by HD on the way home and notices they carry fine sand made by quickcrete. It is white. Is this ok for the homemade formula? Is silica sand different from the quickcrete fine grade sand?