The oven construction continues! We wrapped the whole oven in kaowool blankets with the assistance and expertise of Bonnie Omang, a fellow local potter and a great friend. Kaowool is itchy, fibrous, snowy-white insulation used to make kilns, insulate furnaces and fireplaces, and also pizza ovens! And we used more than I have ever seen! To give you an idea, when kilns for firing pottery are built using kaowool for insulating walls, one or two layers of 1" kaowool is all that is usually used to reach temperatures over 2000 degrees. But our giant oven has up to 6 layers of kaowool on top of the refractory cast walls, then there will be two or three layers of stucco, then we are making our own ceramic tiles and applying them as the final outer layer of the oven. There is so much insulation that the outside of the oven will never even get warm, unless you count the warmth of a sunny day! Pretty cool, eh?
Stucco pictures coming soon!
Alright people, try to keep up. I only have a little time, then it's off to the shop to work the day away! I apologize in advance for the CAPITOL LETTERS, bold print, and exclamation points!!!!!! I'm THAT EXCITED!
A couple of days ago we had the good fortune to have Monte Anderson and a cement truck come to our shop and pour the concrete pad that we build the oven on. It went so well, besides the fact that there was a blizzard with 30 mph winds that made it less fun, but fun just the same. Special thanks to Specialty Concrete!
While we were waiting for it to set-up, we got the panels painted, and about half of them installed.
Then. The day I have been dreaming about finally happened! YESTERDAY WE BUILT THE OVEN! Bob Trowe is a very strong man who hefted the sections on to the trailer and made it look easy. AND THEY WERE NOT LIGHT, they had to be at least 150lbs each, probably more. The front section of the oven alone weighed somewhere around 300lbs, so we used a crane to lift that one, which was nearly more excitement than I could stand.
Now we get to put the floor in the trailer while we wait for the refractory mortar to dry and cure. Only a week until we can start small regulated fires in the oven to cure it, AND THEN... PIZZA!!!
Thanks to Pizza Carrello's good friend, Ron Eldridge, we've managed to complete the welding on the Pizza Carrello trailer. The next step is pouring the concrete pad, upon which the oven will be built. Following that, the whole thing will get a final coat of paint!
It looks like the oven construction will begin this coming week.
Bob Trowe is the principal (readas: Potentate) engineer of Pizza Carrello. Assisted by Ariane, the two of them have built the Pizza Carrello trailer from the first piece of metal to its current state. Since Christmas, this has been exceptionally challenging, as Bob's lost a majority of his vision.
Bob Trowe suffered some kind of sinus funk over the holidays which caused a bit of coughing. On two separate occasions, he coughed harder than normal and hemorrhaged a blood vessel in his eyes. His vision is now almost completely blurry, leaving him unable to read, let alone weld. With the help of some Avastin injections, Bob's vision should be restored within 6-8 weeks. We all have our fingers crossed and can hardly wait to have him back among the seeing.
In the meantime, Ariane Jimison has truly stepped it up, providing a new direction in the way this mobile unit is being assembled. Though fearful of the new direction, and new skills required to keep its momentum up, she's handled it with ease. We couldn't have come this far without Ariane's enthusiasm and glowing determination to keep the new direction alive!
Ariane has been making pizza in her home oven, ad nauseum, attempting to perfect our crust. In addition to focusing on texture and flavor, she's had to take into consideration the realities of making a realistic dough for a mobile, wood-fired pizza oven. It isn't likely realistic to create a dough that requires days or weeks to age or hours to proof. That being said, not using some kind of a sponge or starter has left our crust a bit chewy and biscuit-like in texture. The flavor has been excellent all along but the search continued for a step closer to pizza crust perfection... until last night.
Pizza Carrello's crust recipe has now been created. The crust is crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside and loaded with gluten structure. The crust has bubbles, little blisters... and truly, this is the best pizza I've ever tasted. This recipe is the Grand Pubah of pizza crust recipes.
Lookout Campbell County. I'm betting you've never had pizza this great... locally or elsewhere. It really is THAT fabulous.
We are almost ready to roll! In fact, for the first time ever, we rolled the trailer into the shop on its own wheels! Leveling jacks have been welded to the bottom of the trailer and they JUST fit between the end of the trailer and the last axle, Bob couldn't have planned it better. We also got the bottom of the trailer painted with super, heavy-duty, epoxy paint that doesn't even come off when you hit it over and over with a hammer! It's SERIOUS paint!
Next, just as soon as possible, we will weld the fenders to the frame and paint the rest. Then it's time to pour a four-inch-thick concrete slab onto the trailer that we will attach the oven to.
Big news folks, our oven is almost a reality! Bob and Briana took a trip in a really big truck to Colorado just before Christmas to pick up the kit. For some reason or another, it saved us over a $1000 to go to Fort Collins to pick it up rather than ship it all the way to Gillette. So finally at long last, we have it! We unpacked it, and marveled at how incredible heavy this oven is going to be. My back hurts just thinking about it! It's a good thing I'm about to be a full time pizza slave, because moving around really heavy stuff is highly over-rated.
We also got the axles, wheels and tires! Today we had to FLIP the trailer over and got it ready to mount the axles, we lined them up, found the balance point of the trailer, welded on all of the conduit for the wiring and got everything ready for tomorrow when we will hopefully be ready to paint the frame and the panels.
Since Bob was out of town for a few days, I decided it was high time that I finally finished the logo. I been trying to think of creative and meaningful ways to incorporate color, and after trying a few things, I remembered doing a project with my grandmother when I was little, painting vegetables on the side of the truck that she used to sell vegetables out of at farmer's markets. I decided that vegetables were definitely the way to go for our logo too! So I got out the art supplies and set up a janky light table by using a desk lamp and a glass-top coffee table. Much to my amazement, it worked like a charm! SO? What do you think?
Arrrrrrrggh! We are waiting on parts! The axles we ordered for the trailer were supposed to be here on Monday, but alas, have yet to arrive. We are waiting on possible commissary parties to call us back, but the phone just won't ring! AND our oven is on order, sort of, we are waiting for word on that as well. But fear not! We are BUSY! We have cut all the sheet metal and have begun fitting it inside the trailer, so far only four more pieces of sheet metal remain to be fitted! Other serious tasks that need to be addressed are, revising our logo, designing the "skin" of the trailer, and preparing a lot of clay for the handmade tiles that we will make to adorn the oven. That's right, we are MAKING our own tiles, AND they are going to be fabulous!
More pictures coming soon!
Taking pictures of safety equipment and sparks probably doesn't float everyone's boat, but I had a great time with the camera today! Special thanks to Rob Trowe for the use of his really nice camera. Also, on behalf of everyone at Pizza Carrello, I would like to thank Adam Odoski at The Fire Within for his contagious enthusiasm and valuable support!
Pizza Carrello is building a trailer on which to build a wood-fired pizza oven. This blog documents the progress, struggles and successes of the construction project.