The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Building an Allen Scott oven in South Central PA

scr9268's picture
scr9268

Building an Allen Scott oven in South Central PA

Just getting started.  The oven will be in a wooded side yard. Had the foundation poured on Weds 6/14.  Buying the block and brick tomorrow/Sat.  And hope to do some dry layouts of the block next week.  Then start building the block walls.

Pictures over time.

Bill

jimbtv's picture
jimbtv

Looking forward to pictures and commentary on your progress.

Dsr303's picture
Dsr303

 

I purchased this wood burning oven 2 years ago. In the summer its used a lot from meat,poultry pizza cookies cakes..we love it. Top oven is a smoker bottom oven is a 500* oven.Took me awhile to get the hang of the fire,

scr9268's picture
scr9268

The last two weeks have been busy what with getting material and finding time to work on this.  I'm very thankful for a supportive wife and for the long days.

I'm generally following the Ovencrafters plans for the 24" x 30 oven.  I have four courses of 8" block topped off by a 5th course of 4" block.  For the top course, the side blocks have holes, the front and back blocks are solid.  In the front & back blocks, I used a circular saw with a 7" concrete/stone blade to cut stopped dados just over 5/8" deep to take the rebar.

Poured the two-layer hearth today, July 2nd.  I had a local helper to assist with that.  We did both pours in a little more than an hour.  It was good having someone a fraction of my age doing the mixing and well worth the $$ I will pay him.  (This is the same guy that dug the hole for the foundation.)

Then there's the concept of a floating hearth.  I'm impressed by the thought.  That being said, I had a couple of nights of interrupted sleep visualizing the hearth falling in.  Enough of that nonsense...  I opted for some 4" angle iron spans and placed two sheets of 1/2" concrete backer board on top.  So the bottom layer of the hearth sits on the backer board which sits on the iron.  In this case, the rebar overhangers are overkill.

Here are some of the construction pictures.

Brick Oven Project - Mount Gretna Baking Co. - 2017

Next step will be to come up with some fire clay. Thought it would be at my local brick yard (Drohan Brick in Mount Joy, PA). I think I located two sources within a 45 minute drive of the house.  If those don't play out, I'll mail-order some and bite the bullet on shipping.  Don't want to use refractive mortar for the base.

Assuming I can get the clay this week, will start laying in the fire brick evenings and over the weekend.  In the meantime, I can work on the templates.

BTW, the Mount Gretna Baking Company is not a company at all.  The website will eventually become a food blog.

scr9268's picture
scr9268

Through a local pottery teacher, I found a source of fireclay at The Ceramic Shop (theceramicshop.com) in Philadelphia.  80-90 mile drive.  $12.50 for a 50 pound bag then $11 to UPS it out to us here in Mount Gretna.  Not bad.

On Friday July 14th, I did a dry mock-up of the hearth and the walls.  Counting bricks, I will be short for the dome.  I bought 100 firebricks initially and will be around 50-55 short.  The dome will use ~13 bricks per course and I have three courses.  Then there's the back wall and closing up the dome at the front of the oven.  The guys at Drohan Brick have stacks of these things so I'll make a supply run sometime during the week as time and weather allows.

On Saturday, I put together a 1:1 mix of fireclay & sand then added water.  I used a grout paddle to spread it around.  Then I started laying out the brick.  Took a couple of hours.  In the evening, I started working on the shape of the dome.

I added a few more work-in-progress pictures at the link I posted previously.

We have a granddaughter visiting from Colorado and will spend today/Sunday in and around Mt Gretna then maybe some swim time at a neighbor's.

scr9268's picture
scr9268

Been busy laying the hearth and building the walls.  As of Sunday, August 6th, the curved dome sections were mortared into place.  As time and weather allows, I'll cut and place the face bricks on the dome.

It has been a learning experience given that I have never done anything like this before.  I give credit to Allen & David's book, the Ovencrafter's plans, the Flickr postings from ClimbHi out of Pittsburgh PA, neighbors who are happy to share their knowledge.

I also give thanks (at least so far) to a now-closed woodworking business that I owned in IL.  The collection of tools, all still in good shape, has made some tasks easy/easier/simpler and has also cut down on the number and type of tools I needed to purchase.  So far, I purchased a Mason's hammer, a couple of chisels, a few masonry bits, a mixing tub for cements/mortars.  Plus, a few things were borrowed from gracious neighbors who, I swear, are looking for free pizza (which they will get).

Fresh pictures at https://www.flickr.com/photos/scr9268/albums/72157683402791421

 

scr9268's picture
scr9268

I swear I added an update  a couple of weeks ago but cannot locate it.

As of last weekend, the cladding is on the entire oven.  On Tuesday, we started making small fires with kindling -- 2-3 a day as time allowed.  Given the small fires, I have been able to test two of the four thermocouples: center hearth, center dome.  There are two others in the hearth to the right and left of center.  It was interesting to watch the temperatures on a small, inexpensive multi-meter that reads in Celsius.  Rather than the official formula, a quick ballpark calculation is (Celsius x 2) + 30.  Close works.

I took delivery of a slab of bluestone on Friday.  55" x 14" x 1 1/2".   It's about 200 pounds of rock.   I had the stone yard grind in a bull-nose on the front (top and bottom) and radius the corners to eliminate sharp edges where it counts.  I'm thinking of my head and the heads of my grandkids.

Before the weather set in today, I built a little larger fire and had the hearth up to around 300 F, dome around 150.

Also spent time cutting bricks to support the bluestone slab.  Hope to have that set and mortared in on Sunday or Monday depending on time and weather.

On that, I need to go fire up my Weber kettle grill for supper.

scr9268's picture
scr9268

Accomplished a lot over the last month.

A neighbor and I set the Bluestone slab in place.  You can see the slab at https://www.flickr.com/photos/scr9268/36397911993/in/album-72157683402791421/.

For the first time, we cooked in the oven two weeks back.  I brought the hearth up to around 500 degrees, the walls and dome to around 450.  This was the longest and hottest burn to date.  I used embedded thermocouples and a laser thermometer to monitor temps.  After about four hours, the outside top of the dome was at 150F.  Hot to the touch.  Once we're done insulating the dome with vermiculiate and completely encasing it, should have a lot less heat loss through the dome which means more heat to come back into the oven space.

Two hours of cooking and we had a fine roasted chicken.

We want the finished oven to fit in with the aesthetics of our neighborhood and our wooded property, so we opted early on to lay 100 year old brick to cover the cinder block base.  To date, the front is complete (https://www.flickr.com/photos/scr9268/36648072204/in/album-72157683402791421/) and the cinder block walls on the sides & back are almost all covered.  Should have that finished with in a day or so as time allows.

The hearth door and the bottom/storage door were built by Dan Dennis, owner & resident craftsman of Lancaster County Barn Art (lancobarnart.com), Mount Joy PA  They are built out of 100-200 yr old wood from Lancaster County PA barns.

The doors go hand-in-hand with the 100 yr old brick that we're using on the exterior.  The brick was harvested from old buildings undergoing deconstruction and comes from Drohan Brick (drohanbrick.com) in Mount Joy, PA.  The 20 mile round trip between our home in Mount Gretna and Mount Joy is through the rolling hills and farmland of South Central PA.  Very easy on the brain.

Two of our grandkids are over this weekend.  As things go, they're too young (3 & 9) to set loose with a brick saw, with mixing mortar, and with laying brick.

As work progressed on the lower walls, we decide to run the brick up and over the concrete dome. That work starts this week.

The full slideshow is on Flickr  https://www.flickr.com/photos/scr9268/albums/72157683402791421

jimbtv's picture
jimbtv

Absolutely exquisite! I love the setting.