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Finding oven materials

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  • Finding oven materials

    I'm starting this thread in hopes of hearing stories such as mine about locating the key elements to oven construction.

    As you may have read on another post, I am at the stage of beginning my hearth and dome: Slab, block stand, and supporting slab/insulating slab are done.
    My first problem was locating HeatStop 50 mortar (recommended by James as a very good substitute for the Refrax which FB is currently out of. I visited and called 8 different 'authorized' dealers as well as one refractory supplier. Only 2 carried it. The first rock/stone yard only had 15# pails would not order the 50# bags I needed, this place also had what turned out to be a very high price on light duty firebrick (fireplace brick as they called) - $1.38 each. Another dealer offered the HeatStop 50 at $95 per bag (I will use plane mud before I let anyone rob me for so much.

    Finally, the 8th call landed me a cement products company 50 miles away in Lakeland FL. The have HeatStop 50 at $55 per bag...SOLD, I will be there soon as possibly...These guys were great, turns out they have the exact same firebrick (light duty fron Carolina Ceramics) that the first (very large) Tampa supplier would sell me for $1.38 each at a LOW .77 per brick...SOLD again, I purchased 210.

    The refractory supplier was an experience in itself. They 'trotted' out the fireplace/oven expert who insisted I needed the Alsey unbranded MEDIUM firebricks at $2.25 each. OUCH!! Also recommended to products that have been 'ripped' by other members for ther poor results, thos being Super Hi Mul refractory mortar (airset, premixed in a tup) for setting my bricks and another product Greenpatch 421 for coating the dome, another water soluable airset mortar. Even did his best to convince me that the only way to REALLY do it right would be to cast the entire dome out of castable refracory. With nothing to sell me that was on my list, I was outa there...with them sarcastically wishing me good luck with those products you 've chosen

    Bottom line...spend alot of time calling and visiting these suppliers, Here in central Florida, they are only vaguely familiar with fireplace building with no clue about ovens. Everyone I called could only tell me they had 'standard' fireplace brick, and didn't know any of the specs. I had to call the manufacturers to get the Temp rating and alumina content.

    The only drawback to my 77 cent brick is that they are wire cut - making the edges,length, and width a little off on some of them.
    Also, the size is slightly smaller 2 1/4 x 4 1/4 x 9

    Let me know how easy or hard it has been finding the right products, i'd like to hear about it.
    Randy

  • #2
    Re: Finding oven materials

    Exciting times, RT. Sounds like you've done your homework. What size oven are you building? What kind of saw are you going to use? Have you seen the "NO Form Oven" series of photos? The heat stop is a curious bird. Not as sticky as I would like, but a fine refractory none the less. If I had it my way, there would be a refractory mortar which was as badass as Refmix when dry, and as sticky as 1,3,1,1 when wet. I think i'm going to try mixing a little fireclay in with some refmix and see what I come out with. Heat stop dries slower than other mortars in my experience. It may be that i'm mixing it too wet.. Things which have been invaluable to me in my build... Extra sand... Dont want to be caught without it on your slab pours when the Depot is closed.. Rubber gloves.. Turn the left ones inside out if you are a righty.. Vinegar, to neutralize the alkali on your hands after working with cement all day.. Tool"s newest album, 10,000 days. Couldn't have built the oven without it.. Adequate tool cleanup and mortar mixing area... Learned that one too late.. been chipping away at errant mud for weeks now. Decent system for catching brick dust.. Lungs do NOT count.. Wear a good respirator.. Keep your dust and brick offcuts.. You'll find a use for them.. My favorite tool by a country mile? The dead blow hammer. You'll see. When do we get some photos?

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    • #3
      Re: Finding oven materials

      You've got it good. Try Hawaii for sourcing anything to do with a fireplace/oven. I figure just the dome/floor materials + insulation will be $1.5-$2K if I'm lucky. At least you can use UPS ground!

      Best I've been able to do for firebrick is $3/each (roughly) delivered to the local freight forwarder. That's starting from $1 ish in California at the maker (Castaic near LA). Was promised an offer based on some seconds sitting in San Rafael but after 3 calls tracing I gave up. I guess selling $200 worth of brick isn't worth the effort for them. Funny since they shipped over 2 samples almost instantly. Seems weird they'd spend $30 to send 2 sample bricks but then can't follow through on the rest. C'est la vie. Wife found one guy who may have some fire brick from an old sugar mill stack. Decided that given all the crap those guys burned over the years, we'd pass--heavy metal pizza?? no thanks. Not to mention they've probably been sitting for a decade+.

      No fire clay available, no refractory mortars, no stove pipes -- nada. There is perlite, but it's expensive. I could use crushed lava, but figure the high tech blanket is probably less trouble and more efficient. Ace hardware's website shows they handle the Firestop, but shipping in here turned $50 into $200. And that's based on waiting for their usual freight delivery. Bit greedy. If I'm going to pay up, I'd rather have the Italian stuff. Some hardware stores near Hilo carry fireplace supplies as people live up at elevation near the town of Volcano, but nothing at all nearby. So it's back to the web + trying to finagle shipping as best as I can.

      When I get serious about starting I'll have to go see the people that build kilns for the local glass artist. They had bags of Harbison Walker cast insulation so maybe there is some supplier on Oahu I can't find.

      Good thing the wife has a good job!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Finding oven materials

        I have to say that some brickyard is missing a real business opportunity here. What would it cost to put a hundred and a half low duty firebricks and two bags of refractory mortar, shrink wrap it, and send it to any freight terminal in the country? Throw on top a couple of sheets of insulating board, a roll of blanket, a length of flue tile and two bags of pearlite, and you have a complete oven kit. You could drive over to Rodeway in your pickup, and have them forklift it into your truck, and you'd have everything you can't buy at home depot.

        What say you? Someone from the building supply business must be reading this.
        Last edited by dmun; 03-15-2007, 06:25 AM.
        My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Finding oven materials

          FB could do it. We have a good material supply company in the neighborhood, they have an FB oven on display, stock bricks, are a Superior dealer, and Tammy is friends with one of the owners.

          Do you think there would demand for this? And, the shipping costs wouldn't send the total cost too high?

          James
          Pizza Ovens
          Outdoor Fireplaces

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Finding oven materials

            My experience with shipping heavy things is that the last mile, in a van with a lift gate, is the most expensive part, hence the suggestion to ship to the nearest freight terminal. Since the skid can be taken apart and unloaded on the truck, you don't need street level delivery.
            My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2

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            • #7
              Re: Finding oven materials

              All true. Thanks. Let's see where this goes. I am very interested hearing what other folks -- past and future builders, think.
              James
              Pizza Ovens
              Outdoor Fireplaces

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Finding oven materials

                Hey RT,

                The good news is you did you homework and knew what you needed!

                I could only find the Alsey Medium bricks in Denver, and I did a lot of looking and calling around, so I ended up paying about $2 per brick.

                Also, the heatstop, after shipping 2 bags from some distributor in Alabama (I think), a place here started carrying it. I think I used 3 bags total, maybe 4. I think I paid 55 per bag but shipping set me back another 30 bucks.

                I found insulating blanket and castable refractory locally at a pretty good place, though I ended up using an insulating castable refractory for the vent, and while that worked, I wish I had paid more for the regular refractory castable. I am always worried that the vent and lintel I cast will break...I had a bad dream about that the other night.

                On a side note, I grew up in Miami and went to school at UF so I know central florida a bit. My roommate was from Lake Wales...
                I would put a lot of thought into how to keep the oven dry with that crazy rain you get down there...

                Drake
                My Oven Thread:
                http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/d...-oven-633.html

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Finding oven materials

                  James, Dmun,

                  If my experience is anything to go by, chasing down materials can be frustrating, expensive and time consuming (in my figuring, time is the most important factor). Not only that, but you end up dealing with five or six different suppliers, five or six different delivery charges, five or six different delivery dates, markups and so on. In my case, all that involved way too much phoning, driving, gas, fuming, waiting, getting hung up for missing materials, kicking stones in the driveway, etc. There's a lot to be said for setting up a central source, because builders would know that the people putting the stuff together know ovens and, therefore, know exactly what's needed. That way, a lot of the substitutions, making do, head scratching, comparing apples and oranges, different brick dimensions, varying terminology, wouldn't be necessary at all. Sure, shipping would be something of an issue, but think of the convenience and certainty of not going through all of the above. Also, the sometimes wild variations in prices would be avoided. The Pompeii plans are at such a state that a pretty comprehensive "Pompeii Package" could be put together that could be tailored for individual requirements and oven sizes. Might even work to Hawaii . I guess if FB can ship fully assembled Modena commercial ovens from Italy, then assembling a skid of materials would be a piece of BREAD by comparison.

                  Time for another poll, I guess.

                  Jim
                  "Made are tools, and born are hands"--William Blake, 1757-1827

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Finding oven materials

                    After seeing Dave's plight in Hawaii, I agree, its not so bad here. The products are available...there just isn't any knowledge to go with it. As for a single source, that would have been the refractory supplier, and I still wouldn't have the best suitable mortar...not to mention his prices. Although I think that I'm on an unlimited budget with this project, my wife is questioning every purchase. She still thinks its a big deal and expense "just for pizza"; how quickly she has forgotten our trip to Naples and Capri last year.

                    Besides the 77 cent firebrick, I was also very happy with an ebay purchase - $18 for a 2" thick, 25 sq ft. genuine Insufrax blanket (still sealed in the box). Should be just large enough to cover my 35" dome one time.

                    Rain is a terrible issue here in the summer. I will either be sealing the dome with type 'S' mortar (I have alot left from a tile job) then 2 coats stucco OR if my wife has her way, sealed with the type 'S' and then mosaic tile (wait a minute...what about the budget Still have not figured a way to keep the driving rain out of the entry.....just using a typical door probably won't do it

                    I'll post some pics now that the 'real' costruction is about to begin.

                    Randy

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Finding oven materials

                      RT,

                      If you've got any verticals on your dome, consider Type N, not Type S. It's better at shedding water and sticks better to vertical surfaces.

                      Jim
                      "Made are tools, and born are hands"--William Blake, 1757-1827

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Finding oven materials

                        Thanks Jim, will do. I'll save the type S for another use. Sealing out water will be the most important task when I get to finishing. Its not uncommon during the summer rains/storms to get several (2-4) inches of wind driven rain....almost daily from early July into Sept.

                        I'm actually considering having some make a weatherproof wrap or cover for the dome and entry, something that wouldn't be too difficult to install and remove, similar to the readily available grill covers. Just a thought..........

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Pre-packed Pompeii Kit

                          I'm torn as to whether it's worth it for FB to go the route of offering a one stop pallet service. I suspect you're better off sticking with offering the piecemeal installation accessories in the store as at present.

                          First, in most parts of the country, firebrick is available if you search around a bit. Masonry contractors will know where to source it. I just asked a bud who's an LA contractor -- he said call Castaic. They routed me to a Hawaii distributor who turns out we'd used in the past for tile. They had a sample on my desk in 3 days and a fixed quote by email at the same time. $725 for 250 bricks FOB Lihue. Their pricing is dead fair given the cost of freight out here for heavy stuff. I shipped in 7 pallets of driveway pavers last year so I know the numbers (from the guys who can't organize a bid to move their seconds -- not too surprising as it's a lousy $200 order and they usually deal with distributors rather than consumers. by the time I get trucking from San Rafalel to Oakland then pallet freight out here I doubt I beat the $725 by enough to go through the hassle.)

                          Further, anyone savvy enough to Google should be able to find brick. The problem RT and I face isn't sourcing bricks, it's sourcing them at $1/each. If a Pompeii only uses say 250 bricks at the outside, it's hard to imagine a freight bill that doesn't kill the real objective. And even 250 bricks at 8 lbs each gives you an even ton + pallet. Too much for easy pick up (I have a pretend truck -- great for hauling trash but not rated for a ton of material). If you have to have curb delivery with a fork lift.....get the checkbook out. I suspect most Pompeii builders are trying to do what Dmun and Paulages did -- find bits and bobs here and there to get the $2-3K oven for <$500 + own labor +stand,etc.

                          FB already has a good list of the other items -- insulation, mortar, stove pipe etc. I'm sure you guys could pallet those things up, but given the price of UPS ground on the mainland, hard to see much of a savings vs. just sending the pieces individually. Might be nice for me, but better might be an alternative to use USPS 3rd class. it's slow but cheap -- that's what Harbor freight does to send heavy tools out here. I can plan 6 weeks ahead.

                          Second, looking at the Pompeii forum, most seem to want to vary the theme. For me, shipping in 3 boxes of the Insulfrax or the other lung safe alternatives others offer, probably makes more sense than messing around with perlite/sub. UPS ground freight on the blankets from the Portland Amazon guy looks dead cheap (I used his calculator to see how much I could deliver it to my Oakland freight forwarder). I also need stove pipe with SS for both the inner and outer layers like the Duratech FB offers. Others might prefer to save a few bucks and get SS inner/Galvanized outer. There are several internet suppliers of stove pipe etc already. Doubt it's worth competing but I've been wrong before. So again, how many people will want a standard package of supplies?

                          There's the naysayer's view. I hope you can prove me wrong!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Finding oven materials

                            Maybe it would be worthwhile to post a sticky thread of good suppliers people have used, by region.
                            It would speed up the sourcing issues.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Finding oven materials

                              That makes a lot of sense. We have pieces of the puzzle in different postings, but a single "where to find it" is a good idea. I can also use the opportunity to clean up some of the sticky postings and consolidate them.
                              James
                              Pizza Ovens
                              Outdoor Fireplaces

                              Comment

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