Old 01-06-2013, 10:55 AM
Master Builder
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Washington State USA
Posts: 803
Default Re: Wood Burner conversion

Expecting the wood burner is in your work area, as opposed to cooking area:

I would weld some sort of plate over the rear chimney hole.

Then (after removing existing bricks from inside), roll the whole oven over on it's top and deal with the vent in the bottom. Cut out and weld a plate over the opening. You can level the interior with some fire clay when you get to the stage of reinstalling the interior firebricks. Then make some sort of retaining structure and pour some 3-4 inches thickness of percrete to insulate the bottom. This form could be as simple as 2x4s screwed together to form a box. This is to create at least a modicum of integrity so the insulation will not fall out or be damaged when you roll it back over. Form should be removable so some sort of wax (as a release agent) should be rubbed over inside before pouring insulation.

Move to cooking area and carefully roll WFO onto a support pate of steel or cast slab. Whatever you use to support the WFO should extent out a couple of inches beyond the edge of the cast insulation.

Elevate the WFO to working height. Easy enough with levers and some blocking and cribbing and when at correct height replace cribbing with cinder blocks. I would expect total weight at this point to be around 1000lbs or less, (1000lbs if using concrete slab and significantly less if using a 1/4 inch steel plate). Plate/slab (which supports percrete insulation with WFO on top) should extend out from sides and back by a couple inches. Remove form which kept insulation from being damaged. Cover the exterior and back with inexpensive Quikcrete mixed to a consistancy stiff enough to form and hold shape. Use as little amount of water as possible to be able to work the material. If you want to get fancy you can embed some expanded metal to hold the whole together when it cracks. Try for a uniform couple of inches of thickness over sides top and back.

Replace interior bricks in hearth and in the inside side areas.

Don't mess with the entrance if you can get 64% ratio by bricks you will probably be as good as you can expect. What with the wider than deep proportions of this oven you are already working in the experimental anyway. You will be exhausting thru entrance. For a temporary WFO this is not a problem, many people use WFOs without chimneys.

Allow to cure for a few days... a week would be nice. You would be wise to start with some curing fires to drive out what moisture in remaining in concrete. Fire up, I would suggest starting with a small fire and increase its size as the WFO heats. See what temperatures you can get and of course keep us posted. Wear eye protection!

This whole thing is an experiment and by going with plain portland cement concrete the overall life/integrity of the refractory will be shorter than proper castable or some sort of home brew using calcium aluminate cement. However, you still aren't sure at this point the WFO will work as planned and by going Quikcrete you can always replace it with better stuff.
Forget insulating the outside until you know the WFO will work as desired.

Excepting time spent securing materials, a couple of weekends with intervening weeks to cure insulation and concrete you should be able to be enjoying pizza on Sunday of the third weekend.

When finished and after WFO has cooled cover to keep dry with a blue tarp. If satisfied with performance we can suggest changes and worry about insulating exterior.

An argument can be made to build and test the WFO in the work area before moving to the cooking area. Reason I suggest the above is that it will weigh the least until it is in position. If it were a failure busting it up (concrete exterior) into manageable pieces would be possible. Your WFO, your call.

The above is offered without liability and simply as a suggestion.

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