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WJW 01-24-2012 09:07 AM

Barrel Vault in So. Cal.
Here's some pics of what I've got going. Waiting for my Insboard 19 to arrive later today so went down to Thompson Building Materials and bought 75 Muddox fire bricks to play around with possible layouts. (Bricks were 1.20 each.) Insulation will be three inch thick sheets of insboard underneath and on the sides, and inswool blankets on arches.

I'd like to keep thermal mass as low as reasonablly possible and am considering laying bricks flat (as shown) everywhere with the exception of the dome where they would be laid on edge and therefore be full thickness. I am hearing from people with lots more experience than me that I should lay the side walls flat to help take up the sheering forces generated by the weight of the arches.

The question I have is why I can't simply use temporary plywood forms to clad those sidewalls and rear wall with two inches of rebar-reinforced concrete prior to laying the arches? After the cladding has curred, I pull the forms and insulate the sides and rear with three-inch thick insboard and insulate the arches with inswool blanket.

Wouldn't that take up the loads and still give me the benefit of moderate amount of thermal mass?

Does anyone think that I'll have too little mass to properly bake a single batch of bread from a single firing? It seems to me that the mass I'll have here will be roughly equivilant to a similar sized pompeii?? Obviously, the precise layout is still uncertain, herring bone pattern is wrong, etc. This layout is really just for concept and to get a sense of size.


okn 01-24-2012 11:41 AM

Re: Barrel Vault in So. Cal.
Wow talking about things lining up. I live in Camarillo, and I'm, planning a barrel vault too. My plan was similar to yours except for the sidewalls. I was going to lay them flat and use 4" perlcrete mixture between the firebrick and a 4" thick cmu wall, then wrap the top of the arches with a blanket. By the way, did you ask Thompsons if they could source the blankets or board?

WJW 01-24-2012 01:04 PM

Insulation arrived!
Harbison Walker dropped off a pallet with my insulation this morning.

The boards are very flat and uniform and seems very dense. Three inch thick sheets which measure 12 inches by 36 inches. Also got a roll of blanket which is one inch thick, two feet wide, by 25 feet long.

Below are some pics of possible layout. I want my oven interior to be approx 36 inches wide. Since the boards are only 36 inches long I'll have to do some cutting...or maybe I'll lay a row of insulating firebrick between the floor insulation and sidewall insullation? Any and all ideas are welcome.

OKN, Thompsons could not source it. I called Harbison Walker in Santa Fe Springs. Shipping was $64. Check out the FB store for the blanket...better deal I think.Feel free to let me know if you want to come by. I'm by sterling hills golf course.

okn 01-26-2012 04:41 PM

Re: Barrel Vault in So. Cal.
I would think that cutting some of the board to give you desired width would be the best solution. Are you going to use the board between the firebrick sidewalls and the exterior walls like you have in picture?

SCChris 01-26-2012 05:15 PM

Re: Barrel Vault in So. Cal.
Interesting build. It looks like your shooting for an Alan Scott oven, A.S., with loads of insulation. The biggest question that I have is, what are your WFO aspirations? If you're looking to bake bread, 40 or so lbs at a firing, multiple bakes of course, but the dome will do a fine job. If you're looking to bake more bread than this the A.S. style can be a better fit. Please note that I said can be.. The qualifyer here is thermal mass and loading convenience. The more mass you have the more bread baking sessions you can do before firing again. Insulation being the same or similar. An advantage of bread in the barrel is that loading and unloading is row after row of bread. Bread in a round dome isn't quite so organized, but a full load of bread in a 42 inch oven is about 18 lbs of dough and this is anywhere from 8 to 20 or more loaves. A bunch of bread to be sure..


Tscarborough 01-26-2012 05:37 PM

Re: Barrel Vault in So. Cal.
1 Attachment(s)
You should cut the boards so as to use three pieces for each segment. That is, do not rip an 8" piece and run it down one side. Like this:

WJW 01-26-2012 10:29 PM

Re: Barrel Vault in So. Cal.
Thanks for the interest and input guys.


I am planning to use the three inch Insblock 19 as both buttressing material and insulating material. I will have the layers as shown between the the sidewalls and firebricks. The sidewalls will be anchored into the hearth slab using rebar dowels expoxied into the slab and then cemented into the voids in the sidewall blocks.


I'm really not shooting for an AS style. It may be an Alan Scott shape, but it really isn't an Allan Scott style. I'm trying to keep the thermal mass low and the insulation high. The wall thickness throughout the oven is 4.5 inches...with the exception of the floor... which is only 2.5 inches. There is no cladding whatsoever. Said another way, the thermal mass is essentially identical to a pompei style of similar size.

My view of an Allan Scott style is that it is charicterized by very high thermal mass and the oven I am attempting to build really doesn't have that feature.

But to respond to your question, the use I have in my mind for my oven is primarily to bake pizza. I'm sure that I'll bake bread (but probablly not multiple batches from a single firing), but I'm more likely to do pizza parties, an occasional prime rib, and maybe even a whole lamb once in a while.

I think (but am not sure) that the oven I'm building will be easier to build for a novice than a pompeii and many other bvo's, will have similar thermal mass and heating times to a pompeii, will be better insulated than many other ovens I've seen, and will do a very good job on pizzas.

That's my hope anyway. We'll see how it all turns out.


Your suggestion about the cuts is a good one. Unfortunately I didn't see your post until after I did the cuts. :( There are some pics of how it came out on the "Finding Building Materials" board where another thread about the build is ongoing.

Again, thanks to all of you guys for helping out with your experience for a guy doing his first build. If it wasn't for guys sharing their thoughts and experince, I'd have an oven that looked like it was built by Homer Simpson.


brickie in oz 01-26-2012 10:37 PM

Re: Barrel Vault in So. Cal.

Originally Posted by WJW (Post 126407)

My view of an Allan Scott style is that it is charicterized by very high thermal mass and the oven I am attempting to build really doesn't have that feature.

More like the Allan Russell style......:p

Sorry, shameless plug there.....:o

WJW 01-27-2012 09:55 PM

Re: Barrel Vault in So. Cal.
I'm guessing I now know your last name:).

No pizza oven or real work today. Woke up at 3:00 am with the flu. It was 78 degrees F and I spent the day wrapped ina blanket and sipping chicken soup:mad:

Maybe by sunday...

WJW 02-09-2012 08:38 AM

Re: Barrel Vault in So. Cal.
Got some more done over the last few days. I think I've got my entryway transition figured out.

Dry stacked the entryway after making the cuts.

The entry. Approximately 12 inches high by 18 inches wide.

Set up my mixing station for the homebrew.

Having never once buttered and laid a single brick, I thought it might be worthwhile to make a little practice wall. I went one more course, knocked it over, and cleaned them off. I think I'm ready. Unfortunately, that little bit took me nearly an hour. Might be here a while. ;-)

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