I'm new to Forno Bravo and about to begin my first oven project. I want to build a portable oven that I can take camping. I've done a bunch of research and think I could make a geodesic design (like this one MHA News - 2008 Meeting at Wildacres) but out of castable refractory material. Thoughts?
I have a couple of questions you might have answers to right off:
a. can/should I reinforce the castable refractory material with something like chicken wire? Would it add strength? Create a problem down the line?
b. I just got the idea to cast a floor piece out of the same castable refactory material as the rest of the oven. What do you think of this idea?
I'll be looking for ideas in past forum posts but any thoughts you can share would be helpful.
Jim in Calgary
Most of the information that you will find here will tell you that most refractory materials will reflect the heat rather than absorb. If you had access to the right materials it could make for an interesting project. The Geo-dome appears to be fairly simple to construct but certainly more challenging to plan (for the math challenged like me).
From my personal built experience (just one oven) it will be challenging to create any kind of portable oven that is well insulated, durable and lightweight. Now if you are planning to haul it on it's own trailer... no problem.
Post some photos when you get things going.
Have a great build
Just as a side note: That MHA project was built from my plans (you can see them printed out in one of the pictures). I don't recommend the geodesic method, for reasons that are listed in the links in my signature. If I were building another oven, I'd use something closer to the pompeii plans, but i would absolutely still build from firebrick. Castable refractory is expensive and troublesome, particularly for the floor, where you're cooking food, and dragging a peel back and forth.
There are several kinds of castable refractory. You don't want to build with insulating castable refractory since you want the inside of the oven and hearth to hold heat. You can cover/coat an oven with insulation or wrap it in ceramic blanket insulation or make a Portland cement insulation with perlite and vermiculite, then a protective cover over all of that.
I think even a small portable wood fired oven would be a fairly large item to take along on a camping trip due to its basic construction requirements. You need room inside for food and burning embers if cooking pizza, for example. Around my area there are fire restrictions during prime camping season because of dry conditions. Not to discourage you, but to enlighten you, look at the 2stone pizza oven or portable gas fired ovens as an alternative. Folks have made their own versions successfully. You might even try a sheet metal enclosure with a fire brick hearth that you can place over a campfire to heat.....then disassemble and take the parts home when you're done. They'll likely be sooty though. Some Aussie and Kiwi ovens appear to have a castable refractory cooking floor. I've never been able to determine the specific mix design so can't recommend using any conveniently available castable refractory product to cook directly upon, such as for pizza.
Last time I looked, there was an oven on a trailer for sale down in the Barter/trade section. :)
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