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"Pompeii" corner WFBO project in Loei, Thailand

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  • TxGR
    replied
    I might be ~5000 miles away, but the oven was finally finished and put into production. Thais seem to prefer very thin pizza, but the entire family agreed wood fired brick oven pizza is much better than pizza from standard ovens.

    https://youtu.be/XaSGPNokps4

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  • TxGR
    replied
    After the blanket was a mix of cement and "mountain rock" which looked like lava rock to me, white, lots of air bubbles/gaps in it, very light. That was all I could find. We did not end up patching the inner ceiling. They did a few small fires with Lam Yai, and now I am trying to get them to do more, progressively larger ones. Personally, I'd do it every day just for the joy of watching a good fire. Unfortunately, getting them to do what I want is more like trying to get a cat to take a pill. ...and they want to try cooking pizza with it, but of course they tried with a very small, early curing fire at a very low temperature and now they say, "it's too big, it didn't work." arrrgghhh.

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  • danhem
    replied
    Originally posted by TxGR View Post
    The exterior is now complete except for a coat of epoxy paint to protect the surface.

    The decorative brick was added to contain the firebrick, and I like how this ended up.

    The last to be done is refinishing the cap of the ceiling (inside). We hope to do that this week. Then we can properly fire up.

    Then paint dome exterior with white epoxy, and make a metal clad door/plug.

    Alrighty it looks great! The highs and lows of building these ovens, it a real rollercoaster....just as long as it all ends on a high that's all that counts.

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  • danhem
    replied
    Hi Vinz, nice to hear from you, I did go through your posts and wondered where you had disappeared to. Hope all is well with you.

    Originally posted by Vinz View Post
    Regarding wood, I was urged to be very careful with the type of wood to choose. Each region in the world sticks with just a few tree types for oven firing, wood is not just wood even if it comes to burning it. For Thailand, I hear best would be Eucalyptus or Lam Yai (longan) trees. I'll give that Mai Son a try next time, but 10THB/KG seems very rip off to me, especially if it burns fast like pine.

    Burning leftovers of tropical wood is a no-go, due to particular aroma and chemicals released that would affect the taste of whatever you cook in the oven.
    Personally, I have stuck with Eucalyptus, which you can find in every village in different sizes. After initially being charged rip-off prices, I now have a deal with the local vendor that if she supplies the wood, we will always bring pizza to her kids when we cook. We now get the wood pre-cut in the size that perfectly fits our oven.
    Yes I'm still not 100% satisfied with my wood. At 10thb per KG my wife cringes at the though of throwing another log on, but I think at most for a good fire I'll use 15kg and get 3 days worth of cooking out of that with the retained heat.

    I did use Eucalyptus initially but found the wood gave off a lot of residue with creosote building up in the flue area. I read that this could be dangerous as too much build up increases the possibility of catching fire....it kind of scared me off. Comparing the Mai Son I use with the Euca, the burn time is pretty similar - I just think a better wood would give off more heat than the Mai Son.

    Bottom line is, for the sheer enjoyment I get out of using the oven and the mass and quality of food that comes out of it, I'm happy to pay 150-200bht until a time I can sources some better wood.

    I did speak to a number of restaurants asking them what type of wood they use and each time the answer was Mai Son.

    Originally posted by Vinz View Post
    A good tip is to put the wood in a kind of iron log grate. I welded these together myself rather than buying them. There is a very nice English word for these thingies, but i cannot recall it at the moment. some if them are pretty artistic. anyhow, it keeps the flame rolling round the dome by allowing air underneath the burning logs, avoiding burning/smoking without flame, which is what we need for Pizza. It also prevents the occasional collapse and rolling over the pizza of the burning logs.
    Andiron. Maybe that is the word you were thinking of. I got one made up for 2,000thb and it really is a god send for controlling the flame.

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  • Vinz
    replied
    Originally posted by TxGR View Post
    The exterior is now complete except for a coat of epoxy paint to protect the surface.

    The last to be done is refinishing the cap of the ceiling (inside). We hope to do that this week. Then we can properly fire up.

    Then paint dome exterior with white epoxy, and make a metal clad door/plug.

    Did you/they put additional insulation (vermiculite) on top of the blanket? the finishing looks so smooth on the pic that it looks like ordinary cement??
    Anyhow do measure temperature on the dome top to make sure your losses are limited. with a 500 degree fire inside, I had 70 to 80 degrees going through 2 layers of blanket.
    This is now reduced to 40 degrees with the vermiculite on top, which is less than a really hot day. If its not done, I would insist 'they'add it.

    Good luck with the firing up, take it easy.

    Did I understand correctly that you will try 'fixing' the flat brick roof on top of the dome from the inside? sure? I see a rain of mortar dust falling down on your pizza's already. Maybe go through he curing process first till you can get a really good fire rolling and see what happens? if the weird inner dome shape is not affecting the aerodynamics too much, why change? You do peek occasionally towards the dome top, but most of the time your focus is on the pizza floor.

    At the end of the day, aesthetics don't really matter when it gives you stable cooking conditions and great pizza. With a bit of luck, the funny inside shape will not hamper the flames from rolling as if they were in a laundry machine. Nothing is even close to perfection in Thailand and still they produce great tasting food. Your oven will be fine, despite the imperfections. The workers, the family, everyone will be wondering what you were so stressed about ;-)

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  • Vinz
    replied
    Originally posted by danhem View Post



    I was wondering if you knew of a method/product to clean the mortar off the inner oven bricks. Even though I’ve tried, I’ve had a real difficulty cleaning the mortar off and it could look a little neater in there.

    i did read of some kind of acid mixed with water (1:10 ratio). Knowing the properties of the wet refractory mortar, do you know of the same acid mix would be suitable?

    I used the cement removal product from HG (Found it at Boonthavorn on Ratchada in BKK). It worked fine for the superficial excess mortar on the stones on the table part outside of the dome.

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  • Vinz
    replied
    Originally posted by danhem View Post
    Hi TxGR,

    Regarding wood - I've asked around a number of Italian restaurants here in HH and in Bangkok what wood they are using. All are saying Mai Son (Thai Pine). Sven does have a good point on this wood, it burns through very fast and perhaps doesn't burn off as much heat as another wood would . My Mai Son supplier here also supplies the Sheraton and Centara from their wood ovens so it seems to be a viable option for me for the time being. I asked if they could get any other types of hardwood but she said this was the best for pizza ovens. 10 bht a kg for dried wood seems fine. I'd say that I use around 7kg of wood to clear the dome and for it to be ready for cooking pizza (900F dome bricks / 700F floor bricks). At this stage, one 12" log, split in half fires a great flame up and around the dome and lasts long enough to prepare and cook 4 pizzas before requiring more fuel.

    Again, Sven gave some good advice on sourcing wood. As above sourcing from a local tree surgeon and the drying it sounds like a good option. My problem here is, that unlike Sven, I don't have a massive warehouse to store and dry the stuff. I'd also be a little unsure of how suitable certain types of wood be for the oven. I tried eucalyptus at first but later read that that it contained too much oil that isn;t good for these ovens. Another option Sven gave was to source wood from wooden pallet manufacturers. I'm yet to source any this way but it does look like some wooden pallet manufacturers import hardwoods for their purpose and these would be great for burning in our ovens depending on the price of course.

    Wish you luck going forward.

    Danny.

    Hi fellow pizza farangs,

    Excuse me the absence, stuck in the real world for way too long due to the crisis..

    Regarding wood, I was urged to be very careful with the type of wood to choose. Each region in the world sticks with just a few tree types for oven firing, wood is not just wood even if it comes to burning it. For Thailand, I hear best would be Eucalyptus or Lam Yai (longan) trees. I'll give that Mai Son a try next time, but 10THB/KG seems very rip off to me, especially if it burns fast like pine.

    Burning leftovers of tropical wood is a no-go, due to particular aroma and chemicals released that would affect the taste of whatever you cook in the oven.
    Personally, I have stuck with Eucalyptus, which you can find in every village in different sizes. After initially being charged rip-off prices, I now have a deal with the local vendor that if she supplies the wood, we will always bring pizza to her kids when we cook. We now get the wood pre-cut in the size that perfectly fits our oven.
    A good tip is to put the wood in a kind of iron log grate. I welded these together myself rather than buying them. There is a very nice English word for these thingies, but i cannot recall it at the moment. some if them are pretty artistic. anyhow, it keeps the flame rolling round the dome by allowing air underneath the burning logs, avoiding burning/smoking without flame, which is what we need for Pizza. It also prevents the occasional collapse and rolling over the pizza of the burning logs...

    Leave a comment:


  • TxGR
    replied
    I owe a great deal to so many on this forum, especially you UtahBeehiver , Vinz , SvH, many more, and all those who created threads of their own builds, sharing their experience with everyone.

    Sven (@SvH) even sent me some samples of clay and lime he was able to locally source for homemade mortar. I hope we are able to test that this next week. We'll publish the results and then also add some pics of the final painting, and firing up.

    My father-in-law is really looking forward to making some special dishes. He used to own a restaurant and I suspect he has a slew of ideas of how he can put this to good use. I'll push him to create a video or two and then I can post links here.

    Cheers,
    Brian

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  • UtahBeehiver
    replied
    It has been a long haul for you but it is done. Now the tasty part starts. It will be interesting to see if you adapt some of the local cuisine to the WFO.

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  • TxGR
    replied
    The exterior is now complete except for a coat of epoxy paint to protect the surface.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	67E40710-D528-43D4-923C-D92FE691C2C5.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	74.6 KB ID:	428334
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    The decorative brick was added to contain the firebrick, and I like how this ended up.

    The last to be done is refinishing the cap of the ceiling (inside). We hope to do that this week. Then we can properly fire up.

    Then paint dome exterior with white epoxy, and make a metal clad door/plug.


    Last edited by TxGR; 08-18-2020, 05:24 AM.

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  • TxGR
    replied
    Here are some pics of the blanket being put on. They have since finished the exterior, but we still plan to paint with white epoxy paint.

    Click image for larger version

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  • TxGR
    replied
    SvH & danhem Thanks for the detailed responses. I have your contact info Sven and will respond to your email.

    Maybe I'll use the fine brick dust in lieu of part of the sand if I can get the right kind of clay. I wish I could buy some flyash. That would probably be very good for our ovens.

    I think I'll get them to coat the inside of at least the upper part of the dome with the homebrew. Then, I'll have them mix the homebrew with some crushed lava rock I bought (I think they it translates as mountain rock in Thailand) as a thin outer layer to the dome, then the ceramic fiber blanket, then a thick layer of mortar with crushed lava rock for the exterior. Then I plan to seal the whole thing with an epoxy layer after drying it out as best I can.

    Gulf vent idea is interesting and might be an important addition if I epoxy everything else. His dome looks so nice, even, professional...sigh.

    I am optimistic I'll get some use out of this oven for at least a few years. We plan on cooking many things with it, including a lot of bread. There was a channel on YouTube where this Brit living in LA did several episodes of cooking, the Wood Fired Oven Chef, you've probably already seen it. The production values are very high. Looks like he started again. My favorite episode is easily when he does the thick steak...boy, wouldn't I love to do that in Thailand. https://youtu.be/Djoub57k9Vk

    For my next oven in Thailand, I will buy a nice 12-14" brick wetsaw in Europe and bring it in pieces to Thailand so I can make precise, complex cuts. The design will be very similar, but I am working with my dad on detailed plans to cut all the dome bricks the same leaving only the very narrow mortar joints. He was an engineer for 50+ years and has some advanced CAD software which, if I successfully communicate my idea to him with the right dimensions, he can then give me the proper size and cuts for everything.

    I can use the same plans in Texas where I will build at least one more oven. I believe I found a source of bricks in the US that is the same size. I'll still use the BST bricks. It's just their mortar that is an issue.




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  • SvH
    replied
    danhem

    Hi Danny !!
    I am doing great, THX and I hope you do too.

    On the humidity issue, as mentioned above I'm thinking that with a vent installed at the top of the dome and with frequent fires (not necessarily full blown out pizza prep fires), this may help to fight off humidity and rain moisture? I know that with the wet refractory mortar, even after it has set for a while, simply soaking a brick in water seems to turn the mortar into sand/grain that can easily be cleared off the brick. Is this what happened to your oven, it got too wet and then the mortar gave way?
    Yes the mortar got to wet and gave away but not because of the the amount of rain only as it was covered. I will explain the setup of the dome... My dome is build against a wall so only 3 sides are open. I made a roof above my first dome that had an overlap of 1 meter. Most of the times this was okay but sometimes the wind spins and blows like crazy while a waterfall from the sky is coming down on us. (You know what I mean). So the wind did blow some rain on the dome sometimes. It became moist and wet but it should not be a problem as many domes are outdoor but because of the humidity, water was not released from bricks and mortar and the the climate we are in took control.

    The type of mortar or cement people recommend us to use here for making an oven is not the type of oven we are using. We do not burn people or make cast iron. From what I understand is that inside the cement or mortar there are chemical components inside that set between 900 - 1600 degrees Celsius depending on which type you use. The first question is do we reach that temperature and if we do can we keep it up over time? People told me after my problems happened.... that if you do not keep it up over time slowly the cement will become less strong so the oven should be used actively to set the chemicals can set again and again.

    I know you use your dome quite often but I did not. Specially in rainy season I was not using it at all. The weakest point for me was the top of the dome, the final few bricks you place. It started to crack and crumble there and the rest is history...

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  • SvH
    replied
    TxGR

    I agree with Danny... Use standard kiln clay . Easy to get on Lazada. Correct that the properties of clay help with the expansion/contraction of joints as the oven heats and cools.
    I am working to get powder clay I will send you a PM.

    As Danny also knows... I am planning to build my third dome and that one I will build as much as possible "indoor" in the garden. So side walls and a solid roof to protect it against the elements as much as possible. My chimney will be made from bricks not metal.

    My current dome does work well but is not insulated. I had problems with the first one, as mentioned, so I did worry a lot when I built my second one. Because of my worry and knowing it would be another learning curve again I did not do all things as I wanted. This was a right choice for me and again I have learned from many "problems" and understand a lot better how to solve them for the next one. So my final dome will be perfect (I hope) and it is on the drawing table. Not sure yet if it will be a dome or a Neapolitan shape but I made a 3D drawing. Because I need to make a solid floor foundation in the garden with reinforced concrete and pillars it might take some time and I might want to wait until November so the humidity will be gone. I sourced all the ingredients and that took me a really long time. My advantage is I have some chemistry background and a network in and outside of Thailand because of my work. Spoke to people that manufacture cement in Thailand to understand it better and realized that there is not the right cement available of what we want to do...

    I am more than happy to help you, as so many people on the Forum also helped me, that is why the forum is here. However, please note that I am not always active on the forum or get notifications for some reason. So I will send you a PM so you have my direct contact details.

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  • danhem
    replied
    Originally posted by SvH View Post
    TxGR if you live near or in a closed living area (moo baan) there is always someone that cut the trees away from the electricity lines. That person does sell wood. Try to buy wood of 1 year old, not fresh wood because of bugs like to eat that. Keep the wood on a dry place in the sun.

    why my first dome did collapse with the standard fire proof cement... maybe the space of 1 or 2 cm between the bricks was to big but I believe that this was not the issue. Sometimes the weather conditions here are strange. Extreme winds and a lof of heavy rain and even when the dome is covered still it does get a little wet... humidity! Big thing here, some days are okay but for sure this is an issue. Mortar did crumble creating some cracks and gaps from the top and even when the dome is self supporting one stone on the top came loose... the top stones are placed as last and when it does crack on top you can imagine what happend a few months later.

    see my other post where you can get your brew materials.
    Hi Sven,

    On the humidity issue, as mentioned above I'm thinking that with a vent installed at the top of the dome and with frequent fires (not necessarily full blown out pizza prep fires), this may help to fight off humidity and rain moisture? I know that with the wet refractory mortar, even after it has set for a while, simply soaking a brick in water seems to turn the mortar into sand/grain that can easily be cleared off the brick. Is this what happened to your oven, it got too wet and then the mortar gave way?

    Hope all is well up there where you are.

    Danny.



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