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Old 09-28-2008, 06:04 PM
dsclarow's Avatar
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Default Pizza Oven on a Trailer

I'm really hoping someone can lend me some no-nonsense advice on how to build a better mobile brick oven. I've built two so far one from red-clay brick and portland mortar, and the second ( a vaulted design) from refractory brick and fireclay/portland mortar. Both have shaken apart within a few trips to catering gigs despite my use of straps/tie downs, and a well suspended trailer. I like the design the guys in Seattle (Veracci Pizza) have for their mobie ovens but they won't talk to me. I'm in NY so is guess I'm a threat to business. But I like the dome design much better than a vault and I would like to know where to research the different kinds of refractory materials out there that would best suit my needs. I'm a good builder but no mason. Another resume note is that I worked at a great wood-fired brick oven pizzaria here in NYC for a year so I know how to handle the oven and ingredients. I would find some info on how to build a well insulated dome oven that can stand the weather and a little abuse priceless. I'll fly you to my restaurant in Brooklyn and cook you a 9 course meal. kidding...but seriously help me please. someone....-dave
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Old 09-28-2008, 07:39 PM
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Default Re: Pizza Oven on a Trailer

There may be a serious difficulty with a real brick oven in a vibrational environment. Even those of us with ovens on solid masonry foundations have cracking in the dome, just from the thermal shock of heating and cooling.

A few observations:

A hemispherical dome is inherently stronger that the vaulted box design. The vaulted bread ovens have lots of concrete cladding on the outside to provide strength and buttressing, as well as thermal mass that you don't need in a pizza oven.

Any masonry subject to heat is going to be a problem with portland based mortars, whether the aggregate is sand or fireclay. Portland cement breaks down with heat. A much stronger joint is available with commercial refractory mortars like ref-mix or heat-stop.

Insulation is particularly important where thermal shock is a problem. A well insulated oven has less temperature differential between the outside and the inside, and less stresses applied to the structure. You should use the maximum amount of the best refractory insulators.

In the end, an oven made up of three hundred little pieces glued together any way may just not be strong enough to stand up to road travel, particularly in Kings County. Most successful catering ovens have been done with pre-fab ovens, which have only a few shapes to form the dome.

Good luck with your project. Keep us posted.
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Old 09-28-2008, 10:21 PM
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Default Re: Pizza Oven on a Trailer

Use the new hi-tec rubber refractory bricks from Bullshitz Brickworks. lol
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Old 09-28-2008, 11:40 PM
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Default Re: Pizza Oven on a Trailer

You might consider a steel dome inside and a steel shell (to contain the refractory material) and insulation over that. You would have the brick hearth and a dome that wouldn't be easily damaged by the shakes and bumps of the road.

For example my steel dome WFO has a diameter of 40 inches and I placed refractory over that then insulation. However, I also have another dome which has a diameter of 48 inches. A 40 inch inside a 48 makes for a refractory "wall" or interstitial space 4 inches thick, which is about right. Both shells could be securely attached to each other and to a trailer frame and be pretty much "bullet proof". But perhaps it's too unconventional for you, it's a brick hearth but not a brick oven.

Both my domes are recycled propane tanks and both were alot cheaper than new bricks and mortar. What with being "green" by being recycled and "bullet proof" you might have some ideas for creative advertising.

Wiley
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Old 09-29-2008, 04:47 AM
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Default Re: Pizza Oven on a Trailer

My little mobile oven is still holding together, but I don't like travelling with it because I'm worried it will shake to bits. Because it is small I was able to cast the dome in one piece and the floor in another, so there are not so many bits to move or shake around. But I hate corrugated dirt roads.
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Old 09-29-2008, 06:34 AM
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Default Re: Pizza Oven on a Trailer

thanks for the thoughts. Where does one obtain used propane tanks? that sounds pretty cool. I'd love to see a pic of the oven. peace to australia!!!
-dave
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Old 09-29-2008, 06:46 AM
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Default Re: Pizza Oven on a Trailer

I love your geodesic dome project. I'm excited that you're in New Jersey. Do you know of any local suppliers that carry ref-mix or do Ihave to order it from forno bravo? Also the insulation issue. Do I want to use these blankets that I see on some of the insulation posts? What are they? and where do I get them? Also what about "insul-board"? I want to lay that on my trailer before I build the next one. Have you ever herd of such a thing? I'm a chef not a mason/engineer. these materials are foreign to me and it sure is difficult learning what does the best job for what.

When I built my second oven I took the advice of the guys at the masonry supply who suggested that I use portland+ sand+ fire clay for a mortar of my refractory bricks. So you say that's a bad idea? What about casting the floor of the oven. My floor is just a Quickcrete slab (reinforced with wire mesh) 1.5" thick that has a layer of split refractory bricks on top of it for an oven floor. When I built my first oven it had precast concrete pavers that were 2" thick for a floor and man they got way hotter! It was with a dome design and I cant figure if its the bricks that make my new oven floor cooler or the vault design.

Basically I need to learn how these catering ovens are made (the ones that are for sale on this site) and try to construct one myself. Thanks again for the thoughts.
-dave
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Old 09-29-2008, 06:59 AM
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Default Re: Pizza Oven on a Trailer

Dave,

What about the mobile ovens available on here? Anyone have experience with them yet?
I imagine that it makes more sense to build? I wouldn't have the patience quite honestly.
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Old 09-29-2008, 07:46 AM
dmun's Avatar
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Default Re: Pizza Oven on a Trailer

Quote:
Originally Posted by dsclarow View Post
I love your geodesic dome project. I'm excited that you're in New Jersey.
Thanks for your comment on the geodesic plan. Get it out of your mind for a mobile project: it's very thin, and fragile as ovens go. It's also very labor intensive.

Quote:
Do you know of any local suppliers that carry ref-mix or do Ihave to order it from forno bravo?
Your local brickyard will most likely carry Heat-stop. It comes in ten pound buckets and fifty pound bags. You only want the dry stuff. It's what I used. Some makers who have used both like the ref-mix better but freight from California is a cost issue.

Quote:
Also the insulation issue. Do I want to use these blankets that I see on some of the insulation posts? What are they? and where do I get them? Also what about "insul-board"? I want to lay that on my trailer before I build the next one. Have you ever herd of such a thing?
The boards and blankets are speciality refractory items. There are two types of boards, a high-tech calcium silicate board, and a mineral fiber board like the insblock19 that I used. You get them from refractory suppliers, or the internet, or of course from FB. These things are heavy, if you're used to domestic insulation, and cost a lot to ship. The blankets are mineral fiber, likewise a specialty refractory item. They are much heavier than fiberglass insulation. Yes, you want to use the most, best insulation you can afford.

Quote:
I'm a chef not a mason/engineer. these materials are foreign to me and it sure is difficult learning what does the best job for what.
Most of us had little or no experience with masonry before beginning our oven projects.

Quote:
When I built my second oven I took the advice of the guys at the masonry supply who suggested that I use portland+ sand+ fire clay for a mortar of my refractory bricks. So you say that's a bad idea?
That's a good, cheap mortar for a stationary oven. It's suggested in the instructions for stationary ovens, but it doesn't have much gripping power, and the portland breaks down under high heat situations. I can't imagine it holding together in the presence of vibration.

Quote:
What about casting the floor of the oven. My floor is just a Quickcrete slab (reinforced with wire mesh) 1.5" thick that has a layer of split refractory bricks on top of it for an oven floor.
Around here, splits cost the same as full sized firebricks. It sounds like a lot of work for nothing.

Quote:
When I built my first oven it had precast concrete pavers that were 2" thick for a floor and man they got way hotter! It was with a dome design and I cant figure if its the bricks that make my new oven floor cooler or the vault design.
Enough masonry to hold together a barrel vault oven makes it longer and harder to heat up. I think this is what made your earlier oven heat up faster, not the concrete floor

Quote:
Basically I need to learn how these catering ovens are made (the ones that are for sale on this site) and try to construct one myself. Thanks again for the thoughts.
-dave
The comercial catering ovens use modular ovens. These are made of the same kind of clay that firebricks are made of, and fired in high temperature kilns until they vitrify. Working with that large pieces of clay without cracking is very difficult, not to mention that most people don't have access to large ceramic kilns. These ovens are expensive for a reason.

Good luck with your project.
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Old 09-29-2008, 10:08 AM
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Default Re: Pizza Oven on a Trailer

"thanks for the thoughts. Where does one obtain used propane tanks? that sounds pretty cool. I'd love to see a pic of the oven."

I would first look at finding them at the source, which is the local propane dealer. They have to get rid of comdemned tanks and so they will point you in the direction of where they give/sell them or perhaps, if you are a good talker, you could get one directly from them.

As for pictures see my thread "Steel Dome Oven" under "Introduction"

Wiley
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