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How to Install a 3,000 LB. Pizza Oven

Forno Piombo ovens weigh anywhere between 2,500 - 3,000 lb. depending on the model. There are several methods and techniques that can be employed to maneuver these wood fired giants to their final destination, and today we are going to go over some of those options.

Crane is King

Whenever possible, I will always look for the opportunity to utilize a crane for the installation of the oven. Crane installations are incredibly fast and easy, but most importantly they are safe. When you make a mistake moving something that is a ton and a half, property can get destroyed and people can get seriously injured or killed, so safety should always be the number 1 concern. Another benefit to using a crane for your installation is the fact that when you book it, it comes with a highly trained operator with years of experience. An added bonus is the crane rental comes with at least a $1 million dollar liability policy, giving your home an extra layer of protection.

So, what does a typical crane installation look like? It is actually pretty simple; we secure our custom designed crane rigging to the oven, so that the crane has the ability to instantly connect to the oven safely. Here is a video that explains exactly how it works:

The oven only had to go about 50’ so we ended up using a smaller crane for this installation. At the 3:10 mark of the video you can see how easy it is to center the oven with a crane; we hold the oven about 2” above the stand before setting it down to make sure everything is straight. You can then see us easily removing the rigging once the oven is set. Below is a video of a larger crane moving our oven about 90’ over a home.

 Crane Cost

The cost of cranes vary depending on the area you are located in as well as what size crane you will be needing. The cheapest cranes can run as low as $400, this is usually a boom truck, capable of moving the oven a good 40-60’. On the high end, cranes can run in the $2,000 range for 120’+. There are cranes that can go further, but the cost goes up dramatically from there, and is usually not a feasible option. Below is a chart that showcases the approximate cost of a crane, based on how far it can reach with our ovens. The Rig is the type of crane, Distance is how far the crane can reach from its center pin out, and Price is the cost of the specific crane. Please note that the prices below are based on the crane company we utilize for installations in the Napa, CA area. In my experience, these prices are by far and away the most expensive in the country, so I would view these prices as the high end of what you would spend for the corresponding crane.

I really want to stress here that this chart is just to give you a general idea of what the crane cost is to move an oven, so to the crane operators reading this please don’t get too upset. Additional counterweight and jibs also play a factor in the price as well as distance that a crane can move an oven. Again, this is just a generalization and meant to give you some ballpark numbers.

The best way to find out the cost of installing our oven with a crane at your house is to call us, or send an email with your address. What I will do is take a look via Google Earth, where I can accurately take measurements of where a crane could set up, to where you want the oven. Based off this information I will contact a local crane company in your area and get you a quote. This may or may not entail the crane operator coming to your home for a site inspection.

Cranes don’t always work. Some things that will make a crane installation difficult or impossible are:

  • Bad access

    • If the crane can’t get within 150’ of where you want the oven

  • Telephone wires/trees

    • The presence of these 2 doesn’t necessarily mean its a no-go, but if they are directly in the only path that the crane would need to move the oven, you may need a different option.

  • Only set up area is on driveway

    • I say this one because if for whatever reason the crane can’t set up in the street and has to go on the driveway, you will almost certainly be forced to sign a waiver by the crane company stating that they are not liable for any damaged to your driveway. Some people who may be okay with this are:

      • Those who already have cracked driveways

      • Driveway is made out of asphalt

      • Driveway is going to be redone in the near future

Crane Alternative

If a crane is not a viable option, I immediately check to see if a Gradall will work. Also know as a Skytrack Lift or All-Terrain Forklift, these machines act as a hybrid between a crane and a forklift. What I like about these rigs is that they can access hard to reach areas. At 8’ wide with large tires, they are designed to go over rough/sloped terrain and not get stuck. They can get places that cranes simply cannot. Also, the crane rigging you saw in the first video above works with them, so you have the added bonus of moving the oven with 4 straps instead of lifting with forks. We will get into why that is a good thing later.

The downside with Gradalls is that their reach with the oven is not that far (15’-30’), and they usually run a bit pricier than the lower end cranes ($1,100+). Also, not every crane company has these types of rigs in their fleet, but if they do, they will come with a skilled operator just like the crane would. Take a look at how we utilize Gradall’s for installing our ovens:

When Does A Forklift Make Sense?

When the above 2 options simply won’t work (pretty rare) you may consider using a forklift for the installation. Using a forklift can be fairly straightforward in the right situation, however there are a few things that are important to consider about using a forklift for your installation:

  • It is heavy

    • A forklift that is capable of moving the oven weighs at least 8,000 lb. Add the 3,000 lb. oven on it and you now have 11,000 lb. rolling around your backyard. If it gets stuck, good luck getting it out.

  • Difficult to set oven

    • With a crane, we have 4 points connected to one big cable. The crane operator can place it exactly where you want it, and then you can easily spin the oven by hand to center it. With a forklift, you cannot move the oven freely, you have to move the forklift to the perfect position to center the oven. This is not too bad when you are placing the oven on a stand, but can get very tricky with a countertop. Imagine lots of backing up and moving forward and several readjustments. Additionally, it can be hard to see if the oven is centered exactly where you want it when there is a big forklift in the way. One of the great things about using a crane is that you can easily see the oven where it’s going without anything blocking your view, hence making it easier to know you are placing it exactly where you want it.

  • Does not come with operator

    • When you rent a forklift, it is incredibly rare for that same rental company to offer a skilled operator to come with it. Most times, you are going to have to look elsewhere to find the person who will run the forklift.

I am not trying to scare people off from using a forklift for their installation, but I do want the risks to be known. There absolutely are situations where a crane would have worked, but I ended up recommending a forklift. A lot of times I see a client with a backyard remodel going on, and the general contractor has a forklift on site that can be utilized, as well as a trusted individual with experience who can operate it safely and effectively. The key to a successful forklift install is having that skilled individual who understands all aspects and risks associated with the installation and feels comfortable. Below is an example of a fairly straightforward forklift installation. Even though we had good access with the forklift, I would have preferred to use a Boom Truck (small crane) on this install, however we were setting the oven to close to the house so that was not an option.

Even with the good access and setting the oven on a stand (vs a countertop) this was still a time consuming installation because we had to take several tries to get it perfectly centered. There was even a few times where it looked centered, but after pulling away with the forklift we realized it wasn’t. The next video gives you an idea of what a more complicated forklift installation looks like:

This was a tricky one, it was done before we started using cranes on installations. Looking back, this install would have been a $950 crane and probably taken all of 30 minutes with a low risk factor for error. It ended up being a 3 hour long install with the forklift, and required 3 laborers (1 highly skilled) and a high risk for error. When you crunch the numbers, you probably end up paying more for the forklift install (forklift rental plus labor), and the chances of something going wrong are much higher.

Other Pizza Oven Installation Options

There are a handful of other options that you have for installing your oven, but they basically are just variations of rigs similar to the ones above. I did want to show you how you can move an oven with a pallet jack. Keep in mind that to do this, you will need the oven to already be placed on a stand, and the surface area must be level and smooth.

Final Thoughts

Crane’s and forklift’s make up the vast majority of our installations, but you aren’t limited to those 2 options. Even if you think none of options outlined above would work for you, give us a call and we will go over all of the options. It is incredibly rare that we throw up our hands and say that it can’t be done, where there is a will there’s a way and if you really want our oven we will find a way to make it work. I have a longstanding offer to all of my new clients; we will cover 50% of the costs for a helicopter install, that would be an awesome video!

Want to see some other videos of installations? Check out our Install Playlist on YouTube:

- Tony 

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