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Kurtloup 02-06-2013 08:17 PM

42" Pompeii in S. Louisiana
I'm in the process of sourcing fire bricks and what I have found through multiple phone calls and leads from two of the local forum members is two fire bricks are available within 75 miles of my house. I can get light duty Elgin Butler brick 5 miles from my house for $1.80 or Alsey medium duty in New Orleans for $2.15 and a tank of gas. I'll be using the oven more for pizza than bread baking, so it appears that the medium duty bricks are recommended from what I have read on the forum. Since I'd like to keep the build as inexpensive as possible, I am leaning towards vermiculite/cement insulation. However, in the big scheme of the build, the brick and insulation is a small cost. I'd appreciate any pros and cons of the two types of bricks and insulation. Thanks in advance.


Gulf 02-07-2013 06:44 PM

Re: 42" Pompeii in S. Louisiana
I would go with the medium duty firebrick. It is difficult to get a "do over" in bread ovens. That is what my wife calls a "repeat fourth down" after a penalty in foot ball :). You might want to make a few more calls and pricing. My take on this is that the floor has to be the most accurate and best shaped form brick that you can get. I used a cheaper wire cut brick for the dome. But, h:eek:ll, I cut them in halves, thirds, and quarters.

As for as the insulation goes; Insulate, Insulate , Insulate. This is a FB mantra! P/Vcrete have been a cheap way to go for insulation. But, these products are increasing in price monthly due to the closing of certain mines. Use the formula of 2" of calsil=4"of vcrete for the floor. (I actually used both). If the perlite/vermiculite products go up very much more in price, they will no longer be the cheap way to go. Get your prices for vermiculite in bulk from a local plant nursery. And for CalSil and ceramic fiber blanket try Distribution International. They have several locations on the Gulf coast.

ATK406 02-08-2013 06:55 AM

Re: 42" Pompeii in S. Louisiana
I agree with Gulf.

I purchased two lots of bricks. The first lot was manufactured by Whitacre Greer ($1.35 ea.) but when I got them home I realized that it was a non-standard size (only 2"x 3.875" x 8.75" or something like that). Having already planned everything out for a standard FB (i.e. 2.5x4.5x9) I took them back. I found another source that carried FB manufactured by Alsey for $1.70 ea. The difference in quality was night and day. I have come to the conclusion that the Whitacre brick were light duty and the Alsey are medium duty. The light duty brick were much lighter in color and not as hard (easily chipped the edges just loading and unloading the bricks from my trailer).

I can't speak for the quality of the Elgin Butler bricks (but if you do a search on these forums you might find some feedback on these too) but for the additional cost of $0.35 per brick (say $50-$60 dollars for the whole project) I'd bet the Alsey bricks are worth it. But that's just my $'s your $50.00...and your oven.


Tscarborough 02-08-2013 07:23 AM

Re: 42" Pompeii in S. Louisiana
Elgin-Butler fire brick are garbage. Whitacre-Greer are much better, both are light duty. Elgin make a slighter smaller than normal size, WG makes various sizes including the standard 2.5x4.5x9.

ATK406 02-08-2013 07:34 AM

Re: 42" Pompeii in S. Louisiana
Here, I found this analysis from Banhxeo76 on his thread labeled “40” WFO in New Orleans”. Based on this it sounds like I dodged a bullet with those Whitacre Greer Bricks. But I just read the post from Tscarborough who is certainly a reliable source of information and he says something different :confused:;

Banhxeo76 said;
"There are only three type of fire brick from three manufacters that is being sold here in New Orleans Area. First, there is low duty firebrick from Elgin Butler (Texas) which is about $1.65 per brick. DON'T USE THE FIREBRICK FROM ELGIN BUTLER BECAUSE IT IS VERY SOFT AND THE CLAY IN TEXAS IS NOT IDEAL FOR FIREBRICK FOR WFO. Then there is another low duty firebrick from Whitaker Geer (Ohio) being price at $2.35 per brick. This particular firebrick has Aluminum content around 27% which prefect for bread baking. Finally, there is a meduim duty brick produce by Alsey Refractory (Missouri) and it has Aluminum at 37.5% which is prefect for pizza or flatbread. Firebrick with higher aluminum tends be more conductive, therefore, transfers heat to bread or pizza at a faster rate. However, bread usually has more mass and it takes a lot longer to cook than pizza. Higher aluminum firebrick usually cause the bottom of the bread to burn before the bread is completely done. Firebrick with aluminum between the range of 25% and 30% would be perfect for bread and it is also would work for pizza as well but meduim duty should give pizza a better result. You may use medium duty brick to bake bread as well but the result won't be as good as a low duty firebrick.
Therefore, I will be using low duty firebrick from Whitaker Geer for my cooking surface and medium duty for my dome/vent area. I like bread just a little bit more than pizza. As for the dome, arches, and vent area, I am going with medium duty because it is stronger and supposed to handle better as well."

I don't know the exact alumina content of my oven floor (I used large 12"x24" bricks from another source) but it looked similar to the Alsey brick (maybe even slightly darker and denser - maybe even high duty :eek::rolleyes:). Anyway, I have cooked well over 100 pizza's and several dozen loaves of bread with no problem. I do tend to cook my pizza at a lower temperature than most - 700F or less (on the floor) with a fire on the side and I use parchment paper under the bread..maybe that helps.

I’m sure you’ll be fine with whatever you use but I don't think you will go wrong with the Alsey brick...there now I'm up to at least a nickel!:p


Kurtloup 02-08-2013 12:14 PM

Re: 42" Pompeii in S. Louisiana
Thanks for the input. Banhxeo76 is the one who gave me the lead on the Alsey brick. I'll more than likely buy that brick. Gulf, thanks for the insulation info. According to Alsey, the distributor in New Orleans is the only place that carries their brick in the state.

Kurtloup 02-17-2013 08:36 PM

Re: 42" Pompeii in S. Louisiana
I made a bit of progress this weekend. I set the forms for the foundation today, but need to do some more diggging for the footings. It rained last week and the ground I excavated is covered with a few inches of water. On Friday, I bought about 450 bricks from a guy off of Craigslist and I need to pick up about 300 bricks from a relative. Once the base is underway, I'll drive to New Orleans to buy fire brick.

banhxeo76 02-21-2013 07:54 PM

Re: 42" Pompeii in S. Louisiana

Originally Posted by ATK406 (Post 145340)
Here, I found this analysis from Banhxeo76 on his thread labeled “40” WFO in New Orleans”. Based on this it sounds like I dodged a bullet with those Whitacre Greer Bricks. But I just read the post from Tscarborough who is certainly a reliable source of information and he says something different ;

From my analysis, I never said anything negative about Whitacre Greer's firebrick other than the fact it is a low duty firebrick. There is nothing wrong with WG's firebrick for WFO purposed and there are many people out there who have used WG's firebricks for their WFO. I used WG's firebrick for my cooking surface and I fired up my WFO at least 8 to 10 times per months in the last year and there is nothing wrong with WG's as far as I can see. As matter of fact, I did a cut test with three different firebricks with my wet saw. Butler's firebrick cut like butter because it required very little pressure to push through the wet saw. However, Alsey and WG's firebricks required a lot more pressure to push through the wet saw. Even though Alsey is listed as medium duty firebrick, I found Alsey & WG's to be very similar in strength and they appeared to be almost identical. But, Alsey should able to handle thermo shock better than WG because it has higher level of alumina content in its firebrick. Another thing I want to point out is that the I can easily change the cooking surface of my WFO if I want to switch it to medium duty firebrick . There is a 1/4" gap between my dome wall and cooking surface firebrick.

Kurtloup 02-21-2013 08:40 PM

Re: 42" Pompeii in S. Louisiana
Tomorrow, I am picking up insulating fire brick from a guy in south LA and I have a lead on travertine blocks for accent pieces for the edges of the base. If the guy has enough travertine, I'll buy that Saturday. Gulf gave me a lead on ceramic blanket that is 15 minutes from my house for $50 a roll. They also carried 2" calsil board for a good price, but would only sell in too large of a quantity to be cost effective. I'll use two layers of insulating fire brick under the floor and the blanket on the dome.

Gulf 02-22-2013 02:13 AM

Re: 42" Pompeii in S. Louisiana
Make sure that you and the sales clerk are on the same page. It has been a while since I bought mine, but the 1" X 2' X 50' rolls of ceramic fiber blanket were about $30 bucks higher per roll. Also, the calsil, 2" thick calsil came in a box of seven. Each board was 1' X 3'. I think that a box was under $150.

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