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-   -   Soldier- beveled or no? ( 04-06-2011 06:23 AM

Soldier- beveled or no?
Hello everyone,

After much work and fun I am ready to start my dome this weekend after laying down my hearth floor that I cut out last weekend. My question is whether I should bevel my soldier course and to what angle if I do?



dmun 04-06-2011 09:28 AM

Re: Soldier- beveled or no?
The angle of the bevel on your soldier course can be determined by running a string from the center of the floor to the center of the upright brick. That said, there is no real reason to bevel it at all, or even to use a soldier course, for that matter. It can be argued that a soldier course, particularly a full height one, weakens the dome considerably compared to a dome where the courses start right from the bottom. 04-06-2011 10:05 AM

Re: Soldier- beveled or no?

Thanks for the quick reply; I was really sitting on the fence as to whether use a soldier course or not. You have made up my mind. Thanks for the help.


tusr18a 04-06-2011 12:02 PM

Re: Soldier- beveled or no?
My biggest regret was using a soldier course. I have seen more movement from the soldiers than I am comfortable with. If I ever build another dome and choose to use a soldier course, I would reinforce the soldiers more. I saw one build where the builder poured a solid cement ring on the outside of the dome at the level of the soldiers. The cement righ had rebar reinforcement. When I saw this, I thought for sure that that was overkill. In hindsight, I wish I done that or not used a soldier course at all.

lwood 04-06-2011 07:48 PM

Re: Soldier- beveled or no?
The larger the oven dia the more importance of having reinforcement. Especially for low-dome ovens. I believe that is why Ferera does it. There is a big lateral force pushing out and it's concentrated at the floor or the seam you create with a solder course. I am frankly surprised my oven hasn't collapsed yet. My oven is a Low-dome 60" dia with red-clay fire-brick, no abutment reinforcement and unexpanded perlite 5-1 mix insulation. It works great but I fully expect it to collapse some day. Then I get to build it back correctly.:D This oven was basically a proof of concept and using what ever materials I could get at the time. Non the works great.

Personally I think there is an argument for a soldier course with a bevel. It eliminates the horizontal seam created at floor level. If the dome has any slight inflection point, which it will, the lateral force is allowed to slide on the seam resulting in a crack. With a soldier course, the lateral force is transfered through the fire-brick to the floor....rather than the seam. the dome sits securely on the soldier course bevel. I'm not suggesting that no abutment is required but that the soldier-course configuration is more stable. IMHO

BeanAnimal 04-07-2011 06:05 AM

Re: Soldier- beveled or no?
The "soldier course" is just another name for the first chain. Just becuase the bricks have narrow faces and stand a bit taller does not change the physics of the dome significantly. I suspect we call it a soldier course simply due to the way it looks.

In theory, any truncated dome (one that is not a complete half sphere) will have lateral forces at the acting on the chain at the floor interface. Any complete half sphere (again in theory) would have no lateral forces at the floor interface.

So the "soldier course" if not beveled, with a truncated sphere resting on it will transfer the weight down towards the floor. The chain above it will want to spread outward. The strength of the bond may or may not put lateral force on the soldier course. Adding reinforcement to the soldier course may, or may not prevent movement depnding on the bond strength to the chain above it.

If the soldier course is beveled, then the course above it will tend to want to tilt it outward, or force it to slide if it can. The bevel locks the second chain in place, transfering all of the force to the soldier course. Reinforcing he soldier course locks everything into place.

The only benefits I see of having a full 9" (or close too) height on the first chain is to create more floor space, especially on a low dome that narrows quickly, especially on a dome that is built AROUND the floor instead of on it.

GianniFocaccia 04-07-2011 09:08 AM

Re: Soldier- beveled or no?

So the "soldier course" if not beveled, with a truncated sphere resting on it will transfer the weight down towards the floor
This point is quite interesting. I recently saw some photos of an Italian Pompeii-style oven manufacturer who used a hoist to lower a separately-built truncated dome onto soldier-like oven walls. My assumtion is that with this configuration, the weight of the dome is tranferred directly downward through the soldiers, eliminating the side thrust and transferring stresses directly to the upper dome portion itself.


dmun 04-07-2011 12:33 PM

Re: Soldier- beveled or no?

the weight of the dome is tranferred directly downward through the soldiers, eliminating the side thrust
I'm not convinced of this. I think the forces exist in a given dome shape pretty much independent of the brick arrangement. I think the problem with a full-height soldier course is the "corner" not whether the bricks are laid flat or upright.

Time for the auroville earth institute dome force tutorial again...

RTflorida 04-07-2011 01:20 PM

Re: Soldier- beveled or no?
I have no clue if what I did was good, bad, or indifferent to my dome structure but it worked for acheiving the dimensions I was shooting for.
I did a shortened soldier course with bevel. Not sure of the exact dimensions, but I believe the inner edge was around 5 3/4" and the outer around 6 1/2". At the time, a soldier course was the norm, in the plans, and nearly everyone was doing it. I remember reading a thread or two about using a bevel for the exact reason I chose - achieve a specific height and keep the outer mortar joints to a minimum.
Based on my dimensional goals of 36" int. diameter, 18" interior height, the odd dimensions of my firebricks (roughly 2 1/4 x 3 7/8 x 8 3/4), and no horizontal exterior mortar joints greater than 1/4", I came up with the 5 3/4 x 6 1/2" (again, my memory may not be exact) bevel. No advanced geometry, no CAD programs; I simply spent about an hour laying out bricks on my garage floor until I had the dimensions I wanted.
In the end, my diameter was exactly 36", no mortar joints were over 1/4", but I was off by 1/8" at the very top center height...came in at 18 1/8". As for structure, never had any interior cracking and on the exterior only a recurring arch crack, which I eliminated last year when I completely refinished the exterior.


BeanAnimal 04-07-2011 03:02 PM

Re: Soldier- beveled or no?
It may help for those having trouble with the physics to take a simple cross section of the dome, through its peak. You end up with an arch. The dome is (for the most part) an arch rotatated around an axis and the forces act in the same manner with regard to the legs and base. The strenght of the vertical legs must be sufficient to prevent the arch from spreading or toppling the legs. Any joint in the arch or legs should be at an angle (or of sufficient strength if not) that resists the forces acting upon them.

When the leg and/or joint is of sufficient strength to be static, then the force is counteracted and the load (mass) is transfered to the bearing surface. The difference between the truncated dome and the perfect half sphere are somewhat ambiguos in this case, as the entire dome is made of stacked chains of brick. The angled joint atop the soldier course does help to counteract the outward thurst of the arch, so long as the soldier course is held in place and prevent from sliding outward.

In any case, I don't see many failed domes, so the entire subject would appear to be more academic than important to our projects :)

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