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a mod to tpd's kettle mod...is it do-able? - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community



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a mod to tpd's kettle mod...is it do-able?

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  • a mod to tpd's kettle mod...is it do-able?

    Hi. I'm new here, so please forgive any obvious questions. I'm been contemplating a WFO for quite a while now, given that I love to make bread and pizza, but I've been put off by the cost and the size of the masonry ones. And since I live in N.E. Ohio, I suspect a cob oven isn't a good choice given the harsh winters.

    But I've been quite taken by tpd's thread about his bastardized weber oven, as well as the frankenhacker design. If done right, seems to me that I could try the whole thing out in miniature, and then if the results are good enough, I can justify my purchase/construction of a more permanent masonry one.

    Following tpd's lead, I'm envisioning using two weber like-kettles, with the top (inverted) one having a door cut into the side to allow for access to the oven floor. However, because it seems like it would be easier, I'm thinking of using refractory cement to coat the inside of the top kettle to serve as the top heat sink, rather than some form of fire brick/pizza stone. And secondly, I'm hoping to insulate the top kettle better with homemade insulation made using this recipe (My Heap). Right now, the plan is to insert a pattern of bolts and nuts through the metal of the top kettle to serve as anchors for the interior cement and the exterior insulation.

    The flaw with many of the converted grill designs I've seen elsewhere (other than this forum) seems to be that one has to open the whole thing in order to place the pizza on the hearth to cook, which allows for way too much thermal loss. And that's been my experience while using my gas grill with some pizza stones on the grate for pizza cooking over the last few years. So using the tpd plan allows me to keep the thing buttoned up for cooking with just the smaller door opening for access to the hearth.

    But 2 things are still up in the air. First is exhaust (that wasn't intended as a pun). Should I build a flue/chimney of some kind to direct the smoke/heat in one direction. Or should I follow tpd's lead and just use the exhaust holes? And secondly, will my possibly crazy idea of using refractory cement and insulation 'glue' in lieu of tpd's tile install actually work?

    Thanks for your ideas.

  • #2
    Re: a mod to tpd's kettle mod...is it do-able?

    The refractory cement and metal bolts will expand at different rates, which will cause problems.


    • #3
      Re: a mod to tpd's kettle mod...is it do-able?

      There's really nothing like a brick oven. Lots of people claim brick oven like results from other methods, but you never see anyone abandon their WFO for a big green egg, or two stone, or whatever the fashion of the week is.

      I suspect you'll be disappointed in the bread and pizza from your modified weber, and may be discouraged from building a brick oven.
      My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2


      • #4
        Re: a mod to tpd's kettle mod...is it do-able?

        Gentlemen -

        thanks for the input. On the choice of oven, it's mostly a matter of $. From all that I've read, it looks like a good masonry oven would run me upwards of $700, at a minimum (and that's with me doing every last bit of the heavy lifting), with a forno bravo pre-fab (which I'd really like) costing a LOT more. So this is a way to see how it works for a quarter of the masonry cost and to help me sell the big one to my loving spouse ("spend $1000 on a pizza oven? in our YARD? What are you smoking?"). and I admit I'm intrigued by trying to do this cheap and dirty.

        Having said that, I do want it to work. So, tusr18a , have you any alternate suggestions for how to get the requisite thermal mass adhered to the top of the oven? Just attach some chicken wire/mesh and use that to serve as the 'rebar' of the refractory cement? Or will the cement adhere to the kettle top well enough that I don't need to attach it at all?

        In fact, now that I think of it, so long as the cement is shaped right the kettle top might very well serve the same purpose as a masonry skin to a normal WFR. I.e., it protects it and keeps it in place. So it might not need to be attached at all, so long as each can be removed separately. And I can use the kettle top as the mold for the cement, and pop it out after it cures some.


        • #5
          Re: a mod to tpd's kettle mod...is it do-able?

          If the idea flies with the significant other then you get the go ahead to build the "expensive" WFO?

          If that is the case then save the time and effort, simply take her out to dinner at a WFO place and let her experience what a real WFO can do. Or better find someone with a WFO and beg an invite. Repeat as necessary until she sees the light, signs on, joins the cause.

          To build a Frankenoven in hopes that it will win her over is asking alot IMHO. The downside is she will hate the outcome and begrudge the cost in time and money. If it works you have to counter her "This works. So why do we need more?" As for the upside...er, ah, hmmm....right now I don't see an upside, if the idea is to build one in hopes of building the other.



          • #6
            Re: a mod to tpd's kettle mod...is it do-able?

            On the choice of oven, it's mostly a matter of $

            For not a lot of money you can scrounge concrete blocks (CMU's) and acceptable bricks. While not ideal, even pressed reds will work and homebrew mortar is cheap. Even if you simply chiseled your bricks in half you could put together an oven that will work much better than a Frankenfurnace. I'm with Wiley and dmun: the Weber alternative provides an oven too small for true WFO results and may even push your sweetie the wrong direction.


            • #7
              Re: a mod to tpd's kettle mod...is it do-able?

              Building my Double Kettle Cooker didn't discourage me from a WFO, in fact it increased my desire to build a real WFO.

              My double kettle works good except a couple things, once the bottom bricks are hot, they're real hot. I end up waiting for it to cool down before cooking more pies or they burn.

              The other thing is mine is constantly fueled by the wood. So you get a "smokey" kind of taste too. Now I'm a BBQ freak so I like the added flavor, but for some it's not they're style.

              I don't have any issue with the top of mine being hot enough, you can go the refractory route, but I'm not sure how much you'll gain by it.


              • #8
                Re: a mod to tpd's kettle mod...is it do-able?

                or you can have pizza in four hours.... see my link below.

                .. and this one:
                My oven (for now):


                • #9
                  Re: a mod to tpd's kettle mod...is it do-able?

                  Hi Pixlaw
                  I am in the same quandry over the WFO. I have however done the kettle mod thing. If you would take a quick look at the 61 page thread at pizzamaking.com on what they are calling an LBE for Little Black Egg you will see lots of pizzas and Weber grills modded to bake them. Little Black Egg
                  See my first pizza in my modded grill at Untitled 1

                  The main gist of the LBE thread is hopping up a Weber charcoal Kettle grill to burn a propane fired burner like my turkey fryer burner. Many have done much more extensive modding to get more even heat to the top and bottom of the pizza evenly, while cooking at high temps for very fast sub 2 minute bake times.

                  Many are quite happy to do pizza on this modified grill, but bread is a much different animal and doen't seem to be workable on this rocket powered grill. If you can be happy with your pizza on this type of unit you don't have worry much about thermal mass. The massive heat pretty much over comes the lack of thermal mass.

                  Try it though you might be happy. I thought my first pizza came out pretty nice, and I haven't done any of the fancy baffles and cutouts that many of the other folks have done.

                  John in Merrill


                  • #10
                    Re: a mod to tpd's kettle mod...is it do-able?

                    Hi pixlaw,

                    Turn Your Weber Kettle Grill into a Kettle Pizza Oven!


                    Here is the link to my oven number 1 construction photos!

                    Here is the link to my oven number 2 construction photos!


                    • #11
                      Re: a mod to tpd's kettle mod...is it do-able?

                      Do whatever you want to and fits your budget. Suggesting a higher price alternative is not particualrly rewaridng and you will utiimately do what you want to do anyway. So do it! One can make great pizza it a Weber. It isn't the same as WFO but it can be superb. the key lies in finding the magic combo for the tools you have!