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Krista, to put down on paper what we talked about today:
I looked at the Alexandra Park oven. It looks quite nice from the outside but it has two very big problems, one obvious and one not.
1. The oven is much too small to be a community oven. Not even a standard pizza peel will fit into its mouth. And if it DID fit in, there is very little room for cooking food. The pre-fab form that was used is evidently a form designed for a one-family oven (it's very rare to see such a small oven in even the old photos of family ovens).
2. If you're right and there is sand fill underneath the hearth, the oven will not work at all well because there is too much mass that has to be heated, so it will take forever to get the inside of the oven hot. Alan Scott particularly warns against this, and he has had experience with that problem.
My suggestion: ask Dave Hains to halt the oven construction immediately. He should ask the builder to take down the blocks right to the level of the hearth. If there is a whole bunch of sand underneath, open the hearth and remove the sand. The base of the oven, under the hearth, MUST BE HOLLOW. Take away the pre-fab oven shell and hire a proper bricklayer (I know one) to build a proper, community-size oven. The available hearth surface should be at least 4 feet deep and 3 feet wide. (The oven at Perth-Davenport Centre is state of the art and it works very well.)
When the dome is built (Rhonda at Perth-Davenport or I have all the dimensions, materials list etc.), the current builder can come back and re-lay the outer bricks. It's very important that he NOT fill the cavity between the inner dome and the outer shell with sand. Vermiculite works very nicely and is cheap and fireproof.
P.s. no project like this can go ahead without VERY active supervision -- it's never a good idea to just give a contractor money and let him go ahead and build an oven, unless it's just for show -- which I gather this one was not meant to be. If it's to be a community oven, it must be rebuilt differently.