Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day 24 continued

We left off yesterday with Tom starting his morning working on the chimney. As the day progressed the chimney came to life and the arch was started. It was a race to sunset as Tom tried to finish the arch. But the sunset wasn't what won the race, it was fatigue! You know the feeling, you want to finish a task and no matter how determined you are, you keep dropping things, smacking your knuckles on things and the items that you're working with seem to come to life and have a mind of their own? Well, that's what happened to Tom and before he ended up wearing more mortar on his body than was slathered on the bricks, it was time to intervene and call it a very, very successful day! I felt like a mom pulling her child away from their favorite game saying "you can play again tomorrow sweetie, it's now time to come in and eat dinner and get ready for bed"!

From the back of the oven you're able to see the courses of brick.

The 10 courses of brick that make up the chimney are complete.

The inside of the chimney is now complete. 

The arch is laid out on the jig before it's set in place.
The jig is set in place and the first brick in the arch is placed.

Tom was able to set 3 bricks before it was obvious that the end of his day had arrived.

Good night :)

 These past four days have been a blur. Tom and I keep looking at the photos so that we can see just how much has been done. Sometimes you feel like it's never going to get finished, but the photos prove otherwise.

And while the oven is coming to life, there is the whole other aspect of the BakeHouse that's going on. April is going to be absolutely the busiest month of this project. Here is just a portion of the punch list of the things that will happen while Tom works on the oven:

• April 3rd: All commercial kitchen equipment arrives. 3 bay sink, hand sink, table.
• April 5th: El Paso Electric comes to switch out our supply to our home and the electrician installs new panel.
                           Schedule inspection.
• Week of April 9th: Schedule plumbing work for commercial kitchen.
• April 9th: Order all the lumber for the BakeHouse building and have it delivered.
• April 10th & 11th: Tentative that Tom will start the BakeHouse building.

• April 13th: Call and schedule Board of Health Inspection (they requested a 2 week window)

• April 13th & 14th: Electrician returns to complete wiring in kitchen, BakeHouse & Tom's workshop.
                           Schedule inspection.
• April 16th: Proofing room condensing unit arrives.
• April 16th to the end of the month will find us getting all the last bits and pieces done. There are just too many to list here! It's our hope that all will go as planned - but getting a business ready to actually breath requires tremendous patience and tenacity at the same time. We're now having to rely on others to complete the process. This is sometimes the hardest part of the project when you've done so much of the work on your own!

So stay tuned, more to come - much thanks - Kath

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Day 21, 22, 23 & 24

Whew I'm finally getting a chance to sit down and get our blog out! Tom's been working like a mad man and making tremendous progress. Tom also took Monday off and by the end of the day yesterday, his employer suggested he take another day off since it was a tad slow at work - now THAT was a huge blessing since Tom had some good momentum going.

Day 21 was the beginning stage of closing in the baking chamber.

Tom again laid out the front of the chamber before cementing it in place.

The EasyUps proved to be a real benefit since the temps reached 90°.
As always, Tom's outdoor shop is set up for efficiency.
Note: Big blue sky and no clouds. Just another day in sunny Las Cruces :)

With the front firebricks in place, Tom cements them in place with a
high temperature mortar mix.

Here you can see the 2 x 4 that supported
the firebricks until the mortar mix is dry.
Day 22 was such an exciting day, the final firebricks are cemented in place to close in the baking chamber! I posted the announcement on Facebook and enjoyed all the "likes" we received - thanks to everyone!

You can see Tom's cabinet making skills at work in the intricate way he's
crafted the firebricks to create the corner.

Tom cements in the complete front of the baking chamber.

The final corner is done. Baking chamber is closed in!
Day 23 . . . Monday. The start of the chimney!
Now for all you Engineers out there, I know that you'll just love checking out this jig Tom's created. It's purpose is to keep a level line for each row of chimney bricks.

Note the face of the wide plank is all marked with the proper
measurements of each row of brick placement.


A visit and consultation with Dad Hester :)

Day's end. Note the moon peeking up over the oven :)
Day 24 . . . Today. This is about a live as I can get today. It's 11am MST and this is where Tom is at. 

Tom contemplating the day. I've already been to the brick yard to pick
up 25 more bricks. We bought the last of these types of Red Bricks from
the supplier - talk about cutting it close!

Stay tuned, more to come later today! Kath

Monday, March 19, 2012

Day 20

And the wind blew and blew and by the day's end, you couldn't see down the street!

That pretty much wraps up how this weekend went. Tom was able to get 4 arches completed. Although he had plans on finishing the arches on Sunday, it was impossible to even be outside with the 40 to 50 mph wind gusts! But we are excited, since this week is suppose to turn itself around and by Wednesday, we'll will be able to make up for lost time.

Saturday morning started with Tom building the template needed to create the arch. Here you see that he's laid out the first arch on the template to make sure it will be even.

Then it was time to start setting them in place. 

But the end of the day Saturday, the winds had started and you can see the overcast look to the sky. These are not clouds, it's sand! Once the 4th arch was in place, Tom called it a day. 

Sunday morning was even worse. So the oven had to weather the dust storm. If you look closely, it looks like Bradley is actually going to blow away! He was barking frantically at a shopping bag that was caught by the wind.


By mid afternoon, no one was to be found out and about in Las Cruces. The windy season has officially arrived!

Today will find me out and about getting all the nuts and bolts of the BakeHouse up and running. We finally received our NM Public Regulation Commission number from the State, so I can now go to the Tax office and Accountant, as well as establish the bank account and take care of the business insurance. All these items were pending, so I'm glad that they will now be checked off the list.

It's an exciting turning point for the BakeHouse. Once the baking chamber is closed in, which should be done by the this coming weekend, we'll start to dry out the baking chamber. First with a little porcelain heater and then with small fires that I'll move around the oven floor throughout the day. 
We're looking forward to sharing the next phase with all of you!

Thanks again for checking  - Kath

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Day 19 1/2

We did it - we were able to get the walls around the baking chamber poured! We had a beautiful evening to complete the task and now we're both in need of hot showers to remove the concrete from our bodies.

I started wetting down the brick about one hour before Tom got home from work so that we wouldn't run in to any problems with the concrete. The humidity was only 12% today. This concrete is a mixture the Lumnite (for high heat), sand and gravel. This mixture will also encase the entire baking chamber once the arches are finished. This concrete mass that surrounds the baking chamber is what actually captures the heat and retains it for baking.

The sprayer that I use to add moisture when I'm baking bread came in handy
for wetting down the brick.

As Tom poured the mixture into the form, I worked it in with a short piece of re bar.
Once all the concrete was poured around the form,
we worked at smoothing it out and making it level.

So now we're all set for Saturday when Tom will start building the arches. We can't wait to share it with you. Kath

Monday, March 12, 2012

Day 19

No matter how well we laid out our plans for this weekend, no matter how many times we checked the weather on the computer, nothing was going to stop the very wet, cold and New Jersey like day we had on Saturday here in Las Cruces, NM! Tom and I are convinced that these days blow in to the sunny Mesilla Valley just to keep us both humble.

Tom was determined to work on the oven. I went out to check on him and it was obvious that having a conversation just wasn't an option. I decided that the best way I could help was to make sure that lunch and dinner were hot!

Saturday morning started out overcast and 40°. I know,  I know, all of our
New Jersey friends are laughing right now. We've become soft!
Then it started to rain. One look at Tom's face will reveal just how miserable he was.
Tom persevered and by the end of the afternoon decided that he'd accomplished all that he wanted by getting the firebricks that will act be the arch base in to place. 

The re bar that would need to be in the outer walls of the oven were also put in to place and wired together.

Sunday the bright blue sky was out and by the afternoon it was 70°! The forms that will be needed for outer walls were assembled. With the time change giving us more daylight in the evenings, we will be able to pour the walls that surround the baking chamber on Tuesday. Tom will then be ready to start the arches this coming Saturday.

The forms are now in place and held in place by the 2 x 4 bracing which is
screwed to the plywood. This will keep the walls rigid when we are
filling the space with concrete.
A view from the back.
So there you have it. Despite the chilly start to the weekend, we were able to make some good headway. Thanks for checking in, it's great to have all of you with us:) Kath

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Day 18

Las Cruces gave us beautiful weather this weekend. So much so that it we had to pull out the sun screen and the Easy Up to give Tom some shade to work in! This time of year in the Southwest is always a bit tricky. It starts out chilly in the early morning and then once the Sun rises over the mountains it's time to shed the sweatshirts and jackets. It does make me think of John Denver's song,  Sunshine on My Shoulders - it sure does make you happy:)

Tom took a 3 day weekend to make some headway on the baking chamber. Saturday began with the construction of the side walls. One trick that Tom discovered with our first oven back in 2006 was to soak the fire bricks before cementing them in place. This added moisture helped the mortar to not dry so fast. It is amazing how much water the bricks soak up once they are placed in water, you can hear them fizzing!

The key to placing the walls is to keep them level and plumb. You'll notice how a plumb line is set in place as a guide.

Tom then worked his way to the back wall. Again, making sure everything was level and plumb.

One final check before cementing the front bricks in place. 

With all the walls cemented in place, Tom could start building up the back wall of the baking chamber. 

Can you see hints of Tom's cabinet making skills evident in this picture?
The final course of bricks are placed on the back wall.
Tom could now start on the face of the oven which is red brick. This is also part of the chimney.

It was about 83° in the sun. Time to get the Easy Up assembled.
Copper and Bradley wasted no time getting in the shade.

Once the four courses of red brick were in place it was time to cut the angled fire brick that would be the starting point for each arch of the baking chamber.

Day's end.

After we cleaned up the weekends mess, we enjoyed the view that you see right here at the Day's end. It's becoming more and more real to us that the BakeHouse will have it's new home in Las Cruces. This coming weekend will find Tom making the forms for the arches and also we'll be pouring more cement around the oven walls - so stay tuned and we'll see you all next weekend! Kath