The following email discussion ensued in response to private comments from Steve Bushway:

Date: Sun, 23 Aug 2009
To: Stephen Bushway <sbushway(at)>
From: Norbert Senf <mheat(at)>
Subject: Re: your install page
Cc: various recipients

Hi Steve:


The page actually was more aimed towards next year's Wildacres 5-run workshop,
where Doug and I want to demo the speed possible with a precut brick system.
( and with dipping ;-)

Granted, with a one-off it might not be as feasible, because of the CAD time.

The precutting happens at our shop, where
a forklift, etc., make for minimized labor.
The cutting and stacking is always the same, following a cut list
and a stacking diagram for the pallet.

I use Whittaker Greer firebricks, and Alseys for the firebox liner.
Always the same bricks, always dry, no surprises, everything fits 100%
of the time.

I'm hoping that discussing the advantages and limitations of this method
will make good content for the workshop.

It is a project between Doug and myself. The 5 run was entirely designed on CAD, and
will fit 100% first time around -- something impossible to do with
pencil and paper methods. You do have to make sure that you don't run into any
issues with heights, as they are not as predictable.
Last year, the mixture of two sizes of firebricks screwed
us up, so we are not going to repeat that.

I've designed a few custom ones, and I think Alex has also, where the client gets a 3-D brick-by-brick
assembly sequence
for his mason (who has never seen a heater) to follow.
Still seems like magic to me, but amazingly, seems to work fine.
At that level, the client will usually be into it enough that he has a good mason.

Have a good one.................N

From: Eric Moshier <eric(at)>
To: Norbert Senf <mheat(at)>
Subject: Re: your install page
Date: Mon, 24 Aug 2009

Hello all,

I have been pre-cutting my heater cores for a couple of years now and 
it works wonderfully. We show up on the job with everything cut and we are 
not waiting on the job for a group of cuts.

When we travel as much as  we do I like having everything go like clockwork.
We show up and are laying the base channels within an hour.
Depending on what type of  heater,
i.e. HeatKit, bell, or custom, we make all the cuts at the shop 
and we have a pallet of extra cuts to choose from when we are building 
a bell or a custom heater so that we only have about 5% waste of our 
expensive firebrick.

I have been prebuilding my custom cores at the shop and putting them 
together dry and labeling them course by course with a picture or 2 of 
each labeled course with the cuts written so that I can see each cut 
size per course. It saves me alot of time. I have tried doing it on 
CAD programs but I am too slow on them, so now I have a real picture  
of each course when I go to build this heater on site. I file the cut list
so that I can build this heater for someone else without repeating
all the time spent on design.

I use Alseys for all my cores and I have been dipping with Sairset 
for 2 years and I would never change a thing. 

I keep a bag of dry HeatStop
in my trailer just in case one of my apprentices doesn't 
quite keep their courses level. With the HeatStop you can mix up 
what you need and to a stiffness to gain for the height mistake.  
Otherwise I absolutely hate using heatstop. I used it on 1 oven and on 
1 heater and I thought it was dreadful to use. It set up/dried up so 
fast on the brick that it was a pain. When you are building a larger 
Bell unit you can have 18 - 24 brick to lay per course and with 
Sairset you can lay the entire course and then pick up your level and 
straight edge them. You could never do this with HeatStop.

I use speed leads in all my corners so that I never have to check my plumb.
I lay the brick, wack em with my mallet and level to level them and then 
give them a quick straight edge.

A 3 guy crew can lay about 1500 firebrick on a large Bell or Grundoven 
core and shiner facing in 2 days. I have 1- 2 guys just washing the 
entire time, that seems like the most time consuming thing with 
heaters is keeping everything clean and smooth.

We travel way too much to spend extra time on the road cutting or 
designing so we do as much in the shop at home as we can. I have 
bigger, faster and more accurate saws at the shop and straight line 
rippers for cutting slabs. It makes things go really fast when we are 
on the road. We can just grab the pre-cut brick or slabs of stone and 
just lay them instead of marking them out and taking them to the saw 
and waiting......


speed leads
Here is one pic of the speed leads set up for a block/stucco veneer.

speed leads
Here are 4 speed leads set up on a double Bell core.

Patent drawings for Post Speed Lead Bracket
Patent drawings for Post Speed Lead