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My new winter project

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    My new winter project

    It has been a few years since my cousin has been out West elk hunting and at 78yrs old he said his elk hunting days may be over. and that Pa white tails may be the best he can do. He then surprised me by giving me his 12x14 canvas wall tent complete with wood stove, floor and fly. He told me there was some dirt and a few holes from sparks from the wood burner but the tent should provide some use for me.

    After hauling the beast home I unloaded the huge ball of canvas onto the shop floor and started to unroll the thing into a shape that resembled a wall tent.
    Once I had it spread out, I found all the dirt and small burn holes which didn't pose much of a problem, an easy fix. Upon looking a little closer I found the
    "dirt" was mold in addition to two large sections of dry rot. This was not an easy fix.

    I can clean the mold but the dry rot is just too big to cut out and fix. There is plenty of good usable canvas left so I would like to reuse the canvas to make a smaller tent. I have never done anything like this and have tons of questions. I was thinking maybe a 6x8 wall tent but I am open to suggestions.

    I would love to hear from anyone with building tips or suggestions.

    Many years ago I sewed up a 9’x12’ wall tent on a treadle sewing machine. Not sure what I can offer at the moment but I’ll jump in when I can. Just before you really start I would stress test all the canvas you think is usable, if it isn’t strong anymore don’t waste any time fooling with it. I am currently on the hunt for some suitable canvas for a Whalen tent, and other projects.


      Robin could/should be consulted on reducing the size of the wall tent. I would do a search of his old posts as he has a pretty nice set up from a scaled down wall tent.
      "All I had were a few flies tucked into the band of my hat and an a old beaten-up Heddon rod, that had been on many trips." Sigurd F. Olson


        I agree Boreal Birch, watching Robin on U Tube reminded me of moose hunting camp in Canada and how comfortable and warm a canvas tent can be.
        While I have lots of questions on making my own tent, the biggest question for me right now is just how difficult is sewing this heavy canvas? I've done lots of sewing repairing small leather and canvas items but nothing on this scale. Sewing threw several layers of canvas has to be difficult. What kind of sewing machine will I need? Also, what kind of seam should I use? I have been trying to figure out how to make my cuts to use factory seams to keep my sewing to a minimum. After I answer these questions I still have to figure out what kind of frame to use.


          Sounds like you have the workings of a nice shoulder season/winter kit. I might be able to help you with a few things from my experience of down sizing my wall tent.

          Mine was an 8x10 by 6' plus high tent. It is now 7' wide x 6' deep by about 54" high. It's a light weight canvas, more like cotton. I was able to sew this with a regular sewing machine I picked up at a tag sale. I learned a bit about sewing on You tube and from my wife.I broke a bunch of needles and always worried about my fingers getting stuck with the needle. (never did stick my finger)

          I think 6x8 is a real nice size for a wall tent, not too big to transport/heat and big enough for two or 3 people.Well, two people on cots but you need to take down at least one cot during day use, 3 people if you sleep on the ground. Just my experience.

          I guess first you need to figure out how you want to use the tent. Solo, groups, car camping, on a sled/toboggan or down a lake/river via canoe. I would plan on using an interior frame here in the northeast. Finding poles in the woods here in the NE would be a huge task, and transporting them from home limits you to pretty much car camping. The interior frame material is tricky, it is fast and easy to set up but needs to be the right size for your mode of transport. I tried to use conduit with an angle kit, it was fast and easy to set up but very heavy, cold to the hands and noisy. It was strong, you could hang off it, but it just wasn't right for me. Aluminum tubes might work, if you can find the right width to match your angle kit. Probably pretty expensive. I like the wood dowels, actually closet pole from Lowes. It looks flimsy but when you put your tent on top of it and pull those guy ropes down tight it is very sturdy. It's also easy to place interior support poles for added snow load support. It is pretty lightweight and fits in the canoe nicely.

          I found that making the frame first really helped me figure out where to cut and sew the tent. I set up the new frame in my basement and then I would lay the tent over it, figuring out where to cut from there. It was a huge help.

          Mine doesn't have a floor, and I'm not sure if if I would ever want one. I'm not sure how difficult it would be to set up the tent with an interior frame and plus the weight added to the tent. I just use a small tarp and wear shoes.


            Thanks Robin for the advice for the frame. It is simple, light and easy to repair if needed. I can't see how you could improve on that. Where did you get the brackets for the corners?
            I had a nice lady in our local sewing shop give me advice about thread, needles and other tips about sewing heavy canvas so I am feeling a lot more confident, For now I have to start cutting the canvas down to a more manageable size then clean everything. I would like to get that done so after hunting season I can start putting things together. I hope to have it ready for Spring camping.


              If you just google "wall tent angle kit" there are a lot of options. Check what size opening they have and see if you can find the right size material for the poles before you buy. I'm not sure if you would need 3 rafters for an 8' span, lots of opinions on that. With 3 rafters and 3 legs on each side you could use shorter poles, less roof sag and a lot more strength, just more money and more weight