Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Linear Tipi

Linear Tipi shelters

These are classified as frame tents, as are yerts, Viking tents, Tipis and Wigwams, but  the style I’m describing here is a bit different. I’m sure it’s not unique. But I think it's an interesting combination of the traditional Tipi with a modern A-frame. I’ll describe it and how I’ve built them for anyone interested.

1) Cut poles to uniform length, straight as possible and trim smooth. Cedar and larch are best for low weight and rot resistance, but if you can handle heavier poles, hop hornbeam (ironwood), ash, burr oak, locust or other trees used for fence posts in your area would be fine.

2) Lay two poles down on the ground in a “V” configuration with their butt ends where the shelter will begin. Pictures show 16-foot cedar poles with a base of 16 feet. Cedar doesn’t need peeling, but other woods may.

3) Attach a cross-piece at a vertical height of 7 feet above a line from one butt end to the other (ground level) to make an “A” configuration.

4) Attach short pre-cut cross-pieces of equal lengths at the top of the “A” to connect the tops.  Pictures show my pre-built caps, but he cap device is optional:  cross-pieces that extend about an inch above the top of the poles and cut to the same slope as the poles at the edges will work fine. The top cross-pieces provide a place to fasten a flat ridgeboard or pole.

5) If you have enough open area, set up as many more “A” frame members as you want for the shelter’s length. I spaced them at 4-foot intervals for a 28-foot length. Two- and four-foot spacings are handy in case you want to add sheathing for rigidity or strength near the ground for snow accumulation in northern climates, etc. I did that later.

6) Raise the “A” upright either manually or with a pulley system or come-along attached to a tree in line with the shelter.

7) Secure this first frame member in a vertical position (ropes to trees and post holes in the ground here) and continue with the rest. Boards or poles, pre-marked at the spacing distance you’ve chosen (4-ft here) should be nailed from cross-piece to cross-piece and leg to leg each time a new frame member is added to hold everything secure.

8) Frame members also can be raised with a foundation or wall as a base. The cross-members act as collar beams to limit outward force and make the structure stable wherever it's placed.  Without the collars at mid-point or lower, a wall would be forced outward. With a wall, the roof members may be shortened and the collar lowered to retain loft space. 

9) Add the top ridge board or pole after you’ve made sure all is level and everything's in line.

10) Toss ropes (I use baler twine weighted with sticks for weight) over the ridge board at tarp grommet intervals, fasten to tarp and pull a tarp up. When a tarp approaches the top, push it with poles from the ground or a ladder to help it get over the ridge board without tearing. Then do the same for the other side. Make sure they are lapped. If the shelter is not as tall as this one, one tarp may cover the whole thing.
11) Here, the first of two lapped blue tarps is up.  After the second was in place, both were covered  by a single heavy-duty silver tarp. It's still in good shape 12 years later.  Poly tarps will last many years shaded by evergreens like this.  In direct sun, use canvas or paint the tarp after it weathers for about a month. I’ve painted tarps light colors and had them last four times as long as unpainted ones.

12) Add a floor supported by the cross-members, and you’ve got a loft. The loft I made for this is 6 feet to the peak.

13) Now line the inside of the poles with tarp or canvas. The loft floor makes a ceiling to keep heat from rising to the peak when you need it in the winter.  Blue tarp works fine here. Even when below zero outside with a wood stove for heat inside of smaller versions of this that I camp in, the inner tarp never collects condensation and is warmer to the touch than a double-pane window. As with a traditional Tipi or yert, straw, grass or fresh dry leaves can be inserted to give even more insulation.

14) This last photo is one of the smaller shelters I camp in.  It's built on 4-ft walls with a 12-ft  frame on top. This also has a 6-ft loft. The window is half a glass patio door mounted lengthwise in the end-wall.

Have fun!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Rocks and Ingenuity


Rock is pretty basic stuff. It’s the firm part of terra firma, certainly. Where would we be without that?

I’m sort of a nut about rock – Not whole mountains like the Alps or Rockies, but the moderate sizes I find in hidden outcrops and boulders strewn around by glaciers, earthquakes and such.

I was in New York State last month – the part they call the Southern Tier. Found some nice rocks where natives may have camped along the Susquehanna River centuries ago. Also found several stone fences in the forest where early settlers placed stone from their fields.

It was surprising to find large amounts of flat stone peeling from some of the boulders that no one had used for building. When you consider what you’d pay for stone like that at a stone yard, it’s amazing that it hadn’t been used or sold. They call it Bluestone or Graystone there, depending on the color. It’s so abundant in the region, nobody thinks much about it.

There’s oil and gas in the Marcellus Shale there too, but that’s not being utilized, either. Makes you wonder about what they once called Yankee ingenuity. I guess a few of the environmental nuts have good intensions, but my own thought is that true ingenuity (as opposed to corporate greed for quick profits) is all that’s required for safe resource production and utilization.

To me, ingenuity means getting things done with a combination of smarts and lots of experience to determine the proper way to do things safely. Personally, I think any corporate manager or bureaucrat that doesn’t have hands-on experience in the matters he makes decisions on ought to be thrown in jail and left there. I’d rather pay for his keep there than the cost of his errors. British Petroleum management and Mr. Obama, please take note.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Blazing Star Writing Paper

This was the background for last year's Christmas letter. It's lightened and adjusted in contrast to give a soft image. Some trial and error is necessary to get a level of color that won't detract from the writing. I print in draft mode to get a lighter print than this looks here. Draft mode saves some ink, too.

The picture is of blazing star in bud. Maybe it gets the "scaly" part of its name from the bud. The rose-colored scales look like petals here, but after blue flowers grow out of the buds, the bud scales become the basal portion of the flowers.

The winter has been about average so far here in the Midwest. Plenty of snow and cold weather, but no really bad storms. If anything is exceptional, it's been all the sunny weather here. My sympathy to those in the south-east and south-central states who have gotten a lot more cold and snow than they are used to.

Burning wood has kept the heating bill down a bit, but it would be nice if fuel wasn't so high. I have a feeling that prices won't get any better, though. I've tried other things to help on energy. Had a 2 Kw windmill once, but it wouldn't keep running, and had to climb a 45-foot tower every time it needed work. Now I have a 400 w unit for charging batteries at the barn if the wind is blowing above 20 mph - that's maybe 10% of the time. It has a spruce prop, and seems to have soaked up some water on one side. Started shaking the whole barn from being out of balance. The prop is down now to dry out. I'll balance it and give it another coat of epoxy paint when it's dry.

I've had solar lights and solar battery chargers, too, but none of them lasted more than a few years. If I lived in the desert where there's plenty of sun, I think I'd give solar another chance. The newer ones may be better. Firewood is the only alternative (renewable) energy source that has had a payback for me so far.

Days are getting longer. I'm looking for spring.