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uneven hearth

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  • uneven hearth

    Hi everyone,
    We have laid the insulated hearth, but we lined the oven area with firebrick, to hold in heat longer for bread baking and stuff.
    The problem is that when "we" laid the firebrick, it was not exactly even. I thought it could be resolved by using the fireclay as a leveler before adding the oven floor.
    Can we just put another form around the hearth, with it about an inch higher than the hearth and pour the portland cement/vermiculite mixture over it and level it, over the firebrick?

    Also, I tried to get high heat mortar today, which is what is called for for the making of the dome. Is that the same thing as the fireclay?
    Are there brand names? They don't carry, but can get in, stuff in bags that you mix yourself. Otherwise the mortar they sell, which is for fireplace...it's in buckets of different sizes. But the lady helping me didn't really know, and I was sort of in a rush so I didn't think to ask for someone knowledgeable in the field (this is Capitol Concrete in Topeka, KS) - They do sell oven kits - I didn't think to ask for a brochure, either.

    I'm the one with the 17year old boy doing this - he doesn't like to admit mistakes. But he does know that he made some and he tries to resolve them after pretending he wasn't wrong! heh heh heh.

    Thanks for your help,

    Cecelia

  • #2
    Re: uneven hearth

    Here in these parts, "fireclay" is what they call high-heat mortar in pre-mixed pails. BUT, that is not what you want; that stuff is quite water soluble. "Heatstop 50" is the brand name of drymix high-heat mortar you would want to ask for, or you could order RefMix from FornoBravo. If you are on budget restraints, don't be afraid of making the homebrew mortar mix described in the Pompeii plans. In that case, you will need real fireclay. I got something called Missouri fireclay from a local potter's supply; I would imagine that is something you could come by easy in KS.

    You don't want the concrete/vermiculite as your oven floor--you need a much harder surface like firebrick. If your floor is THAT uneven, can you just pry it up and try again? What did you set it with?

    If you can post pictures of your progress so far, that will help folks around here give you pointers.

    Happy building!
    -David

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: uneven hearth

      Originally posted by cecilB View Post

      Also, I tried to get high heat mortar today, which is what is called for for the making of the dome. Is that the same thing as the fireclay?
      No - file clay is just that, clay. It has no portland in it at all. You can get it wet, let it dry out, and it's pretty much the same as it was.

      As gromit suggested, can you lift the bricks and reset them? Also, uneven seems to be a relative term. I took great pains to belt sand my hearth to get it "baby butt" smooth. That was probably not needed. And pic's would help here.

      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.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: uneven hearth

        Ok, The actual oven floor wasn't laid. It was the extra mass under the oven floor, instead of just the insulated hearth, which is just a layer of firebrick. Kinda like the picture on pg. 22, 3.1 in the plans. Only not THAT neat looking! So I was thinking about adding an inch thick layer of the insulated hearth over the extra thermal mass, and then laying the oven floor.

        I would like to post pictures...unfortunately I am not at all computer saavy. I have had my kids taking the pictures and at least downloading them onto the computer. My son, the one actually doing the oven, has a much greater talent for computer stuff so why he isn't into the posting of pictures and creating a blog for me, I don't know!

        But back to the subject...The stuff he tried to use today to lay the oven floor is called "Alsey air-set refractory mortar, medium duty". It came in a 15 bucket that looks like it would hold a gallon of liquid.
        But he took the bricks up, rinsed it all away, and now we will put a small layer of insulated hearth on, and then lay the real oven floor.

        I was thinking that the Asley stuff was the stuff we would also use to build the dome. Am I wrong?

        I hope this isn't as confusing to you as it is to me!
        Thanks.
        cecelia

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: uneven hearth

          Originally posted by cecilB View Post
          It was the extra mass under the oven floor, instead of just the insulated hearth, which is just a layer of firebrick.
          This may be a problem - you NEED insulation under the fire brick hearth. Fire brick is not your insulation. Tell your son to put down the pipe and read the PDF again. In regard to posting photos, it's quite simple. When you post just pick the paper clip icon and go from there.

          good luck with your build,

          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.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: uneven hearth

            Refractory mortar in buckets is usually very loose...as in not something you could trowel on...you should see if they can get Heatstop in the bag as a dry mix...you then add water and reach the desired consistency...your brickyard should be able to get it...they use the bucket stuff in fireplaces nowadays because they can lay them up quickly and have verrrry thin mortar joints...but fireboxes also tend to have many more bricks laid flat
            Good luck!
            Dutch
            "Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity. " Charles Mingus
            "Build at least two brick ovens...one to make all the mistakes on and the other to be just like you dreamed of!" Dutch

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: uneven hearth

              I'm with Les, there is some confusion here.
              Lets start at the top:
              The firebrick is your cooking hearth. Yes you can add more thermal mass directly under it. I don't see the need for home use; many, many members are able to bake plenty of bread without it. If you choose to add mass there are several options - a second layer of firebrick probably being the simplest, or turning the firebricks on their edge. Another option would be an island hearth which would be and additional slab under the firebrick hearth but ONLY covering the area directly under the hearth and dome - no need to add extra mass to the entire support slab, it will wick away too much heat and you will use too much wood.
              UNDER these options will be your insulation - vermicrete, perlcrete, or FB boards (or equivelent refractory insulation boards).
              UNDER the insulation will be your reinforced support slab, which bares all of the weight - you REALLY don't want to heat this....so insulate well, above it.

              I would reread the plans agains to fully understand (I'm certainly not the best at conveying things properly).
              Again, I don't think the extra mass is necessary, hopefully some of our breadbakers who have built their ovens similar to the plans will pile on and agree. More mass means longer heat ups and more wood....unless you are baking dozens of loaves at a time, you won't need the mass.

              RT

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: uneven hearth

                Stay away from the wet air set mortars in a bucket...they usually are not rated for outdoor use (they don't even stand up well to high humidity) and are intended for very thin mortar joints. You need a dry refractory mortar (Heatstop 50, RefMix, or equivilent) or the homebrew made from fireclay.

                RT

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: uneven hearth

                  Cecelia,
                  I just checked, Capital Concrete is an authorized Rumford dealer......which means they either stock or can order Heatstop 50. The oven kits you saw are probably those from Superior Clay, another partner of Rumford.

                  RT

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: uneven hearth

                    Ok, this is what we have from the ground up: the foundation slab, the stand, the support slab, the insulated hearth, with firebrick sunk in leaving about 1 to 1.5 inches of insulating (vermiculite/portland cement mix) cement between supporting slab and firebrick.

                    If we were to level the spots that need leveling - they are in the actual area of the extra thermal mass firebrick - should we use the vermiculite/portland cement mixture, or should we use the heatstop 50?

                    I do plan on baking dozens of loaves - I bake about 2 - 2.5 dozen in a day most days when I'm preparing for the market!

                    He promises to get me pictures tomorrow! Or maybe even tonight! woohoo!

                    I will call about the Heatstop 50.

                    Thanks!
                    Cecelia

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: uneven hearth

                      1 to 1.5 inches of insulating (vermiculite/portland cement mix) cement between supporting slab and firebrick.
                      Whoa! Stop! That's not nearly enough. 4" of vermiculite concrete is the minimum recommended. You should dig out your firebrick floor now, and either dig down to the support slab and put in 2 inches of refractory insulation board, or fill in the cavity to give you four or more inches of vermiculite concrete.

                      This is really important. It seems like a PITA now, but after your dome is built you have NO options to properly insulate under your cooking floor.

                      Forget about leveling your floor as it is. Your oven will never get up to heat with so little insulation.
                      My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: uneven hearth

                        Ok. Thanks - "we" will start digging out!

                        Tim will be thrilled!

                        cecelia

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: uneven hearth

                          After pouring in the extra vermiculite level I think the easiest way to level the fire brick floor is to set the bricks in the moist (not wet!) vermiculite and give them the necessary tapping with a rubber hammer for best possible alignment/leveling before letting the layer dry out and harden.

                          Karl

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: uneven hearth

                            First of all, Thanks for all your advice - we are going to go ahead and take out the extra thermal mass of firebrick and fill in with the insulated hearth - I would still like to add extra thermal mass but maybe with the flatter firebrick...?

                            Second - what exactly do we use to lay the brick? Is there a specific name for the fireclay that is called for in the list of materials in the plans? Or is it the Heatstop 50?

                            Thirdly, I tried uploading a photo - it says it failed. Any suggestions there?
                            Thanks,
                            Cecelia

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: uneven hearth

                              Originally posted by cecilB View Post
                              First of all, Thanks for all your advice - we are going to go ahead and take out the extra thermal mass of firebrick and fill in with the insulated hearth - I would still like to add extra thermal mass but maybe with the flatter firebrick...?

                              Second - what exactly do we use to lay the brick? Is there a specific name for the fireclay that is called for in the list of materials in the plans? Or is it the Heatstop 50?

                              Thirdly, I tried uploading a photo - it says it failed. Any suggestions there?
                              Thanks,
                              Cecelia
                              Fireclay is not the same as Heatstop - that is the mortar us use for the brick. Any well stocked construction supply should have fire clay.

                              In regard to the photo, save it as a JPEG. There is a limit to the file size you can upload.

                              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.

                              Comment

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