Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Bridge We Can Burn (or an arch anyway...)

Today was a major milestone. What was originally going to take 3 weeks (mortaring in the dome of the oven - 8' wide and 10' deep) was whittled down to 2-3 days due to the new design. Even better than we thought.....14,000 lbs. of brick, 25 arches and a few finger smashes in 6 hours!! A nap and several Tylenol followed suit.

We worked very hard to get to this point in the game. We have been anticipating the arches for some time. So enough talk...here are a few photos:

And a few more...

Obviously, there are more things to get done before we get baking: chimney, insulating, framing, curing, etc. But we really turned a corner today. As far as the rest of the bakery goes, everything is coming along. Donavan and the rest of the guys are working hard to get the doors hung, the insulation in, the drywall hung, etc. The final electrical inspection will happen within the week. And we've shifted our "vision" attention to arbors off the west side of the building. It's our way to start planning the next project before the current one is even finished. It's that forward motion that keeps us moving.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

How many bricks will it really take?????

It's been another fun and exciting week. We gave a bakery tour to some friends last Sunday. Although there is no sheet rock, insulation or ceiling in the bakery we think they shared our vision. This is where our vision is the strongest in my opinion. We work great together in these situations. We both know that it will look like a whole new place in 4 weeks (and counting)! Not that we will be open for business, but we will be closer to firing the oven.

This week, the electricians made an appearance to install the wiring for the heating system. I changed my mind 4 times in the course of 5 minutes on where to install the heaters that will be wall mounted. They should know by now that we make decisions in the moment. The issue for me was...we don't want them on the Main St. wall of the bakery because that is going to be re-engineered next year to accommodate the giant windows that I bought from Habitat for Humanity. Not too close to the pastry case because it is a refrigerated one and not to install them too close to each other or on the side where we have the monster oven that the county won't consider to be a primary heat source, even if it is the largest wood-fired oven in Oregon....whatever Polk Co.!!!! Where do you think the people are going to gather when the power goes out for days?? Issue resolved and happy about it.

I made a trip to Portland this past week to get another 225 firebrick. I believe that brings our total to 1175 straight bricks and 400 arched bricks. And we thought we were ordering extras with 850 straight bricks.

Dale is happy to have the hearth done. It was a lot of work on his knees for a week. He is happy to be standing on the hearth and working at a more desirable height. He finished laying more cinder blocks around the side of the oven so we could finish the concrete pour on the sides between the firebrick and the cinder block. I believe we are 13" thick on the side walls. He laid the side firebrick horizontally instead of vertically. This gave us 9" of insulation versus 3", plus 4" of concrete.

The back of the oven is getting taller! The back wall has to be high enough to reach the first arch of bricks. I think we are almost there.

Tomorrow, Dale and I will rent a saw and cut 50-60 pie shaped bricks that will go on each side of the arches to hold the arch in place. Then we will do another concrete pour down the sides so that there is no slippage. We will start from the back of the oven and work our way forward until we install all 26 arches. If all goes they way we are planning, we should have the arches in within 3 days!

The crew will begin framing in the oven this week. It will make me a little sad because I like folks to be able to see the progress of the oven from the street as they walk and drive by. Now it will only be visible from the inside and Dale and I will work beneath the trusses and framed walls. We have a 10' clearance above us for all of you wondering how this will be done. And we will be out of the rain should it ever appear.

Our next challenge this week is to figure out how to get the epoxy cladding that will surround the firebrick once the arches are in place. Each bag weighs 500# and there are 2 bags on each pallet. I believe we are taking the llama trailer up to Portland and a large truck. That will atleast get us started. They have 30,000# of epoxy and said we could have whatever we want. We are using this instead of the typical concrete insulator because it holds heat at higher temperatures and it will allow the oven to "move" when firing and cooling happens.

Until next time,

Keith and John
The Bread Board
Where food culture and community intersect.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Progress and Patience

A lot has happened in 2 weeks. Although you would never know it by looking at the outside of the bakery. It actually looks worse than it did 2 weeks ago. I am confident that this is the worst it will ever look.....no windows, no doors, tarps, peeling paint, scrap woodpiles, dirt mounds scattered throughout, siding missing off the front and piles of lumber awaiting their assignment.

And back to the loving place and the vision....oooooohhhhhmmmmm.

The concrete base for the hearth was poured this week!! All 5 1/4 yds. of it. Thank you pump truck. John had a day off from work, so he and Dale built the framing which would (hopefully) support all of the concrete coming the next day. They felt sure of it that it would hold.

The next morning as Dale and I awaited the concrete truck, we laid in rebar and more rebar. The truck arrived and there was great camaraderie amongst the 2 concrete guys and us. I think mostly nerves on everyone's part. We all know what this day meant. To hold or not to hold. As the concrete was being pumped in Dale and I were screeding, the pump guy adding here and there. Dale put a light under the oven to check the supports and for leakage. The hearth is half full of concrete and Dale is sweating with fingers crossed; asks the pump guy to hold on and checks underneath.....all is okay. "Keep on pumping." This is a critical point where you cannot be short of concrete. I'm sweating now as we near the back fill. We finish off the hearth with just enough concrete and 2 wheelbarrows to spare! Now, the next hour will tell us if the supports are going to hold. We both check at least 4x a minute. Once again, John's calculations were right on (just like his dad) and we awoke the next morning to a beautifully cured hearth on which the firebrick will be laid.

The plumbers and the electricians are finished!! Plumbing inspection happens tomorrow. The water has been turned on to 404 Main St. for the first time in many, many years and John did sell a limb so that we could afford it.

We made a terrific design change with the oven at the very last minute. We had been planning to use straight brick to form the arch and had no idea that arch brick was available (or in our price range...). But before the decision was finalized, John and Dale drove a couple of hours over to Clackamas Co. where the firebrick are coming from to check it out. The guy working there actually suggested this change and already had the arch laid out when they arrived. I think "the guy" is more excited than we are and is going to drive some of the supplies down here to help out. He says, "this is the largest oven that we have ever helped build. Do you realize how beautiful this oven is going to be?"

We are using high temperature, super duty fire brick that are used in oil refineries and can handle temps. to 3000 degrees. The hearth where the fire burns and the bread bakes will be straight edge super duty fire brick. However, the dome of the oven will be arched firebrick. They are angled every so slightly and much thicker than the straight bricks. And the really amazing part...the angled firebrick support themselves without using mortar!! So, what would have taken 2 weeks to put the dome on will now take 2-3 days. We are quite possibly building the largest wood fired bread oven in Oregon folks and even perhaps on the West Coast. Everyday, we look at it and fall in love with our new oven. I even took a bread peel down yesterday as Dale was only on his 4th row of firebrick and began sliding it in and out of the oven. I just stand at the opening and smile with amazement.

Several people are stopping by now to check it out and some asking for jobs.

So the firebrick arrived last Thursday. Envision Meryl Streep in Out of Africa transporting all of her Limoges and other wares by train. Well we were a little more fortunate thanks to technology. The freighter who picked up the bricks at the supplier did not have a forklift on the truck, so instead of us unloading the bricks 2 at a time (over 1300 firebrick), we had the driver deliver the load to a local lumber yard 12 miles away where they transferred it to their truck, packed on the all-terrain forklift and then brought it to us. Each of the 5 pallets weighed over 4,000lbs. All of these bricks are being placed in an 8'x10' space.

The sinks were purchased this week (all 5 of them). Now, we are working on the lighting dilemma. No lights can be placed in the food areas that can potentially shatter. We are refusing fluorescents. (John needs appropriate lighting after all. i.e. prior post) I think we have it figured out.

The Oregonian phoned yesterday to get permission to publish an article that they had written about our bread. It is the largest paper in Oregon and we have no idea how they found us, but are glad they did. It will be out Feb./March sometime.

Until next time,

Keith and John
The Bread Board
Where Food, Culture and Community Intersect.