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Refurbishing a favorite old tent

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The Eureka Alpine Meadows as essentially a Timberline with a wanded center pole. That single center wand provided much more interior tent space, eliminating the side droop or damp fly stuck to the wall.

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P6160897 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Why Eureka stopped making that Timberline variation is a mystery; like much of our gear the Alpine Meadows is 20 years old and going strong.

The two-person Alpine Meadows is still the Missus favorite tent for ease of familiar set up, but only for trips where she thinks it will not rain. Hahahahaha.

Time to get that tent out and do some much needed seam sealing and maintenance work.

Eureka! Or so to speak; the fly for the Alpine Meadows was flat enough to seam seal atop the table. The secret on that less dome-shaped fly was to do one-half of each seam at a time, so it would lay clamped flat and easily brushable with seam sealer.

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P6140887 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Fly done quickly enough. In for a penny. . . .one of the vestibules on that Alpine Meadows is 10 years older than the tent, originally bought for a 2-man Timberline a several decades ago. I do not know about Eurekas current offerings, but back in the day those Timberline vestibules were built to last. One of them dates from the late 70s.

I might as well seal both of them. Wow, many years ago I really did a half arsed job of seam sealing those vestibules. In fact I had only ever bothered to seam seal one of them, the other was a stitching sealant virgin. I must be more anal in latter life; I even sealed abound the little smokehole tunnel this time.

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P6150889 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The vestibules were tricky to flatten out and do on the tabletop. Best done, like the fly, in sections. Still easier working enflat than while affixed to the erect tent.

And, finally, the most important leakage piece; the bathtub floor of the tent body. I had sealed those seams years ago. Sans any talcum powder; they were stickyicky and rain splatter dirt encrusted, so I had to clean them before sealing the seams.

The straight bathtub floor seams were easier than the fly when stretched and clamped on the table. First the two seams and bottom corners.

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P6150893 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Flipped to the other side and the remainder of the seams that are splash exposed up the corners seamed. The entirety of the outside was done.

Then an even more heartening discovery; if I turned the tent inside out I could seal the seams on the inside in the same fashion. The inside seams were worse stickyicky than the outside seams, and I had originally done a really half arsed job while crawling around inside the tent years ago, missing some areas entirely. Much more complete seam seal coverage this time.

With every seam on every piece sealed both inside and out it was time to put the Alpine Meadows up to air out. The oldest of the vestibules was getting a hint of that vomitus odor and need some air, and later a Mirazyme bath.

41977336705_408960bc8c_c.jpg
P6160898 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

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P6160900 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

While putting that tent up I discovered this was the extent of the stakes that remained; set up with both vestibules it needs 8 stakes, 10 if the two guylines are used. At least the pole connectors are there (which is itself a loaned tent story or two).


P6160895 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The Alpine Meadows has only 2 guylines, usually unnecessary but useful in windy rain. More Glowire. But, beyond a simple airing out I wanted to put it up because the ground cloth was a long battered piece of Visgueen plastic and needed replacement.

It needs a new ground cloth/footprint. We are all outies with groundsheets, although most of the tents have a thin emergency inner ground cloth. Or did, before some were sacrificially given away to folks with wet tents met along the way. That is something else to replace in each tent while I am at it, made a little bigger all around than floor of the tent so it wraps up the inside walls a few inches.

Our DIY ground cloths are thick visqueen, cut with scalloped edges and Duct tape corner tabs & grommets for stakes, just like a pricey manufactured footprint.

I have no Visqueen large and thick left enough to use, but I do have a piece of Tyvek. Why not (other than perhaps the crinkly sound when you roll over) give that a try.

Hmmm, I do not know how waterproof-ish Tyvek actually is. Time for an experiment; cup of water in a Tyvek scrap in a glass, wait a couple hours and . . . . . . yeah, half if it leaked into the cup.

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P6160904 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Add Visqueen to hardware store list. I dunno; might it be beneficial to a have a breathable, semi-permeable footprint? It would not trap windblown rain between the footprint and tent bottom, but the scalloped edges largely eliminate that infiltration.

Eh, who knows, the Tyvek will have to do for now, the scrap I have left is not big enough to do anything else with. At least I will have a footprint template for the Visqueen.

Tent atop the Tyvek scrap, with scalloped edges Sharpied on the Tyvek under the tent floor. Cut to scalloped edge pattern, with Gorilla tape tab reinforcements and grommets to match the stake locations at tent corners and center wand.

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P6160902 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The Gorilla tape wrapped top and bottom over Tyvek tabs was tough stuff; it was impossible to pound grommet hole punch through it, but the head of a 20 penny nail heated over a torch created a perfect snug grommet fit.

It is mighty convenient to be able to stake down the ground cloth/footprint before laying the tent out. In part because once staked down the ground cloth does not blow away or fold over in the wind while I am setting up, and it provides a different unhurried visual perspective of ground slope and drainage. Or to discern the bump of a pine cone hidden in the duff that I missed while I was kicking them out of the way.

Constructed as a properly designed and dimensioned footprint, with scalloped edges that can not stick out past the edges of tent floor, corner tabs and grommets that match the corner stake locations on the tent body, so the stakes holding down the foot print can be pulled out and go back through the tent corners and foot print grommet, holding everything just so.

Someone probably makes an aftermarket footprint for the ubiquitous Timberlines/Alpine Meadows, but those on more modern tents are stupid pricey for a piece of urethane coated nylon with four grommet corners. $30 to $50 for a footprint? Are you crapting me?

Left up in blowy thunderstorms overnight the Alpine Meadows was dry inside, though a little coated nylon droopy while still damp. I need to replace the old, stretched out corner bungee with new bungee and that tent should be good for another 20 years.

41977321945_251ee8dfb4_c.jpg
P6160907 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Thoughts on using Tyvek as a ground cloth?
 
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The original Tyvek house wrap was a solid sheet of paper fabric. I used it for years s as a lightweight ground cloth under trail tarps with our scouts and it worked great. After you cut the size you need throw it in the washer with out detergent and wash in cold water. That should soften it and get rid of the crinkles. It is hard to find the original tyvek anymore many of the replacement vapor barriers for building are made out of a woven material that will not keep out water. Nice job on the s am sealing.

Mike
 
Whoever invented the "footprint" for tents was an evil genius. Probably a now-wealthy evil genius. I'm optimistic about making it to the end of my tripping days without having ever spent the additional bucks on a floor for the floor. Footprints remind me of optional faux-leather bras sold to lift and separate something at the front end of a sports car. And what, exactly? The headlights and the grille? Anyway, long live the evil geniuses of the world! And speaking of tents being given a second chance at life, I decided to resurrect a somewhat neglected blue and gold tent I bought in the mid-90's to replace my Timberline that had been badly damaged on Georgian Bay by an errant tornado. I was younger and foolisher and bought what was then the apex of post-industrial engineering: the much vaunted and I-am-cooler-than-all-others "Sierra Designs Stretch F----ing Prelude". (Actually, it was just called the "Stretch Prelude". I added the F-word for dramatic effect.) I was never sure of what new and frightening world the "Stretch" was a prelude to, but every time I set that tent up, I would marvel at its brilliant Montreal Expo '67 architectural geodesic dome-like beauty. That tent was in its element on Himalayan plateaus and in the jungles of Borneo. At least that's what the advertisements implied. The darling of summit-attacking, carabiner-dangling outdoor adventurers. Well at least the ones with sponsorships. It was a beautiful tent. It was the platonic ideal of what all tents aspired to be. Unfortunately, it was also hotter than heck in warm weather and liked to leak during the mildest of spring rains. In any case, this spring I set her up on the deck and applied a can of store-bought waterproofing spray, concentrating on the historically leakiest area: where the roof fly has a flat spot immediately adjacent to the vestibule. Water tends to pool there in spite of the efforts of the best engineering minds of the 1990's.

So why resurrect her? She was my most expensive camping investment ever. And I had plans...
 
House wrap of any variety (other than what you sometimes find in Alaska in newer builds with positive house ventilation systems) was always meant to be breathable to some extent, as anything else promotes excessive build up of natural moisture passing through the building envelope. And then having in newer homes styrofoam insulation with vinyl siding over the top...mold and rot issues on the OSB or plywood sheathing are fairly common. So, newer wraps are even more breathable to deal with mold issues and the like from older generation papers. House wrap still makes an awesome homemade bivy bag, just watch for puddle opportunities underneath.

I like the fact that you approached this project with such zeal. All of us have tents sitting in a corner somewhere more or less too worn out to be used on the front lines anymore... Every time I pick up one of these oldster tents or tarps I am reminded of some trip history...so, it's all good. I'll be doing some of this before the fall season starts for me.

Martin, I too have a 15 year old SD dome (Tiros, 4 season bomber) in great need of some waterproofing...it all went to s..t over one winter recently while two other SD tents ( I own and love) remained intact...the WP coating on the fly just crumbled off in a nasty sticky mess.
 
In Canada, we can no longer get the Timberline, which is a dang shame. I will probably be going through the same procedure with my timberline outfitter this summer.
 
Whoever invented the "footprint" for tents was an evil genius. Probably a now-wealthy evil genius. I'm optimistic about making it to the end of my tripping days without having ever spent the additional bucks on a floor for the floor.

Yeah, may he someday become the next Robert Kearns.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Kearns

I will never buy a manufactured footprint again. When we bought a second Hubba Hubba I just cloned the pricey manufactured footprint using visqueen, duct tape tabs and grommets. That worked so well I made DIY footprints the same way for a couple other tents as well, but somehow missed a footprint for the Alpine Meadows.

Some plastic sheeting, a Sharpie, duct tape and a grommet kit can make a functional footprint with all the conveniences for a couple bucks.

FWIW those are No. 4 grommets with a 17mm diameter hole. Once the grommet is seated that hole is too small for full sized MSR Groundhog stakes, but mini groundhogs fit fine.

FWIW 2, it seems that MSR Groundhog stakes have undergone the same price increase as Kelty tarp poles. I was going to buy some additional mini ground hogs for the tents, but not at $2.50 apiece.

Anyway, long live the evil geniuses of the world! And speaking of tents being given a second chance at life, I decided to resurrect a somewhat neglected blue and gold tent I bought in the mid-90's to replace my Timberline that had been badly damaged on Georgian Bay by an errant tornado. I was younger and foolisher and bought what was then the apex of post-industrial engineering: the much vaunted and I-am-cooler-than-all-others "Sierra Designs Stretch F----ing Prelude". (Actually, it was just called the "Stretch Prelude". I added the F-word for dramatic effect.) I was never sure of what new and frightening world the "Stretch" was a prelude to, but every time I set that tent up, I would marvel at its brilliant Montreal Expo '67 architectural geodesic dome-like beauty. That tent was in its element on Himalayan plateaus and in the jungles of Borneo. At least that's what the advertisements implied. The darling of summit-attacking, carabiner-dangling outdoor adventurers. Well at least the ones with sponsorships. It was a beautiful tent. It was the platonic ideal of what all tents aspired to be. Unfortunately, it was also hotter than heck in warm weather and liked to leak during the mildest of spring rains. In any case, this spring I set her up on the deck and applied a can of store-bought waterproofing spray, concentrating on the historically leakiest area: where the roof fly has a flat spot immediately adjacent to the vestibule. Water tends to pool there in spite of the efforts of the best engineering minds of the 1990's.

That was wonderfully told.

The sons Sierra Designs I seam sealed is, IIRC, an Alpha 3 model from around 2008. It is a freaking wonder of engineering, and became his tent because family Alpha male #1 hated that tents complexity of set up.

It too has a somewhat flattish area at the (what otherwise would be the) peak. And it needs every line and weirdo little pole crossing connector bungee doohickey tightened properly in order to not puddle rain atop the fly. On the plus side it does have enough mesh and openable nylon panels not to be a greenhouse, and in fully tightened guise is dang near windproof.

BTW, the footprint for that Sierra Designs Alpha 3, which came with the tent, was a disappointment. It lacks enough scallop on the edges not to stick out unless everything is pegged drum tight and the fly close to the ground.

I like the fact that you approached this project with such zeal. All of us have tents sitting in a corner somewhere more or less too worn out to be used on the front lines anymore... Every time I pick up one of these oldster tents or tarps I am reminded of some trip history...so, it's all good. I'll be doing some of this before the fall season starts for me.

I am taking a tent maintenance break; my zeal has begun to fade and I have not even gotten to the oldest of our tents yet.

We have not used the Big Agnes Pine Island 4 in a few years. The old first generation Hubba Hubba, which we do still use, probably has 500+ camp days on it (which is why I bought a second generation one when they went on sale). And, most suspiciously of all, the 20 year old Alpine Meadows 4 person has not even been out of the bag in several years.

I fully expect that last one to have some funk to it, and hope it is curable with a Mirazyme bath and a sunshine airing out.


I too have a 15 year old SD dome (Tiros, 4 season bomber) in great need of some waterproofing...it all went to s..t over one winter recently while two other SD tents ( I own and love) remained intact...the WP coating on the fly just crumbled off in a nasty sticky mess.

I do not know if SD changed or improved the Tiros, but tripping friends, tired of me whining about wanting a bombproof, rainproof, windproof tent back in the Timberline/Alpine Meadows days, chipped in and bought me a Tiros.

http://www.oregonphotos.com/Tiros-Tent.html

The principal agent behind that gift and I set it up together. Inside, with the directions in hand, unhurried. Unhurried was good, because it has the most complex tent I had ever seen and we had to take a couple rest breaks to decipher the WTF instructions.

Around step 57, some of which were easiest accomplished laying on the ground peering up to connect wee attachments between the tent and fly, I pulled the plug. I had visions of me trying to do this solo, in bad light, with a storm approaching. Nuh uh.

Then I read through the rest of the instructions for fully windproofing the Tiros. Instructions which included using a specific macrame of guy lines tied and tightened between interior points on the tent. Some of those windproofing guy lines blocked access to the door, so you better have brought in a piss bottle, and a wag bag.

Tying myself inside the tent? Nuh the freaking heck.

Just like with canoes, tent selection involves some compromises. Until I get around to doing a hard core expedition to the Himalayas I will make do with something faster and more intuitive to set up.

Caveat: I expect I could eventually have become proficient at setting up the Tiros, but also knew the first dozen times would have been an over lengthy Where are the instructions and my reading glasses? process.
 
"I am taking a tent maintenance break; my zeal has begun to fade and I have not even gotten to the oldest of our tents yet."

I'm increasingly aware that the ONLY time I seem to get things done these days is when zeal reaches fever-pitch. Fortunately for my wife and family, like most fevers, zeal has a mysterious tendency to dissipate even more quickly than it arrives. For me, zeal can sometimes be tricked into getting a second wind when deadlines are added that come with severe penalties when missed. In other words, Mike, some unsolicited advice: strike while the iron is hot!

"Then I read through the rest of the instructions for fully windproofing the Tiros. Instructions which included using a specific macrame of guy lines tied and tightened between interior points on the tent. Some of those windproofing guy lines blocked access to the door, so you better have brought in a piss bottle, and a wag bag."

Thanks for making me laugh out loud. That reminded me of one of the reasons I bought the Prelude. I went into "White Squall", a good outfitter near Parry Sound, Ontario, close to the roving eye of the tornado whose zeal made short shrift of my 2-man Timberline Outfitter (sold to me 11 years previously by Hap Wilson in Temagami). The sales person scoffed at the notion of using a Timberline out in the 30 000 Islands and guaranteed, yes GUARANTEED!, that no Georgian Bay wind could budge a Sierra Designs Prelude, as long as said Prelude was set up properly with the labyrinthine black shoelace meta-system reinforcing points east, west, and north INSIDE the tent. One very long look from a prone position on the tent floor up at myriad attachment points was more than enough. This was a crudely camouflaged IQ test, and yes, I failed. How mediocre I felt! I stuffed the black shoelace spaghetti mess into the adorable little tent peg stuff sack where it has remained ever since. I realized then and there that I would probably never be one of those cool outdoor guys who knew instinctively just what the heck you use carabiners for. This thread, though, has inspired me. I'm going to wait for the next bout of DIY zeal and set that f---ing Prelude up properly!
 
The sales person scoffed at the notion of using a Timberline out in the 30 000 Islands and guaranteed, yes GUARANTEED!, that no Georgian Bay wind could budge a Sierra Designs Prelude, as long as said Prelude was set up properly with the labyrinthine black shoelace meta-system reinforcing points east, west, and north INSIDE the tent. One very long look from a prone position on the tent floor up at myriad attachment points was more than enough. This was a crudely camouflaged IQ test, and yes, I failed. How mediocre I felt! I stuffed the black shoelace spaghetti mess into the adorable little tent peg stuff sack where it has remained ever since. I realized then and there that I would probably never be one of those cool outdoor guys who knew instinctively just what the heck you use carabiners for. This thread, though, has inspired me. I'm going to wait for the next bout of DIY zeal and set that f---ing Prelude up properly!

My recollection with the Tiros is that the interior guy lines not only blocked access to the door but also provided a crisscross of lines at neck level, which would be inconvenient should the tent inhabitant ever desire to actually sit upright.

Be careful in there. I would hate to read the weird news of the day Canadian Man Trapped in Tent Finally Rescued, although I am sure your statements about surviving the ordeal would be worthwhile reading.

Maybe skip the piss bottle and wag bag and just bring a bedpan for prone evacuations.

In other words, Mike, some unsolicited advice: strike while the iron is hot!


Once I get started on a project, and have all the necessary tools and materials at the ready, in this case some clean glass jars, 100% silicone caulk, Odor-less (still has some odor, especially once mixed with silicone) Mineral Spirits, 1 inch foam brushes and the expanded length shop tables, I tend to stay the course until I can put everything away.

The iron of seam sealing passion is not yet hot, but I have struck the first blow. As I suspected the Alpine Meadows 4 needed an airing out and Mirazime bath. It was not yet too far gone, not gag-a-maggot vomitous smelling, but it was starting to get a just whiff of that foreboding smell.

That odor seems worse on the urethane coated nylon parts than the plain breathable nylon tent walls. Aside from being put away damp, or getting stored in a humid area, I am convinced that having tent and tarp fabrics too tightly compressed in storage and left unused for too long is the most common cause of urethane stank.

That tent was stuffed awfully tight in its OEM bag, and with the poles, stakes, lines, DIY footprint and vestibule it all barely fit. There was not a lot of fluffed out nylon breathing room left, and when it is next packed away on the shelf I will, so as to be unforgettable, attach the pole bag with footprint to the outside of the tent bag to relieve some breathing room inside.

One more note on that vomitous stank; it seems to happen faster and stinkier with urethane coated nylon than with sil-nylon. I have no empirical evidence to prove that, but it may be something else in favor of sil-nylon, besides pack size, weight and tear strength.

I should do that pole removal from the bag with the 2 man Alpine Meadows as well. Maybe with all our tents, the Hubba Hubbas are stuffed like freaking sausage casings, especially the one with the Gear Shed annex.

Baby steps. The Alpine Meadows was hung on a line overnight out in the rain. That rain rinse did little to remove the nascent odor. I have a bottle of Mirazyme, now apparently sold as Revivex.

https://www.rei.com/product/139256/gear-aid-revivex-odor-eliminator-10-fl-oz

I have use that stuff before, most often with stored too long tents, and provided the tent was not gag-a-maggot stanky it has worked well. No Mirazyme baths just yet; I need to do that tent, the 2 man vestibules and who know what else I may find as I work through our tents and tarps.

I foresee a full day of Mirazyme solution, hand laundering in 5 gallon buckets of water, followed by a glorious sunny afternoon of setting everything up to dry. What fun!

While I am at the tightly compressed stuff, my sons UL Hennessey hammock is encase in Snakeskins, and along with the OEM sil-nylon tarp and a larger aftermarket coverage tarp the stuff bag is mighty tight. Opps.

Disgorged from the tight stuff sack that hammock at least has no vomitous stank, but I might as well seal the (undersized) OEM rainfly and the (oversized) aftermarket fly. And when done pack it way less tightly compressed once done.

Again,
Dammit Boatstall, see what you went and did.
 
Can tents live forever?

I have a friend who suggests criteria for gear replacement. "Have you had and used it for ten years? Have you gotten lots of good use out of it? Is it worn or failing? Is there newer/better/lighter available? Can you afford it?" If the answer is yes, don't feel bad about replacing the thing.

This year, I replaced tents. The car-camping, big house was the Kelty Tetragon 9. It broke a pole in a wind event last year. Yes, I could have replaced the pole and restrung the worn out elastic cord, but several other pole-pieces had split and were being held together by tape, what would keep that from recurring?

My boat-camping tent was the North Face Rock 22. An aluminum tube suffered a split end, which was field repaired with some tightly wound wire. I'm sure I could have found a replacement tube, but the tent already had hundreds of uses. Through many a trip, in fair weather and foul, I had bonded with that tent. The floor was a bit leaky, but it was otherwise still a very functional tent.

Perhaps I was traumatized by the failure of another piece of gear, a Noah Tarp that was just about my favorite piece of gear. In the cool seasons of low bug activity, I just slept under the tarp. Then came a cold December night with relentless rain, including under the tarp. Rain wasn't coming through the seams, but through the tarp, everywhere. Whatever waterproofing was part of the tarp just gave up en mass, and not just in a spot or two, but all over. This led me to believe the moment of waterproofing failure will come to all gear. How far off are those moments for the Tetragon and the Rock? Replacing the poles wasn't going to do anything to delay that moment, so I replaced the tents.

What do you do with old tents? I guess I can donate them to Goodwill, but neither tent is right. At least one person told me, "just throw 'em out." Now I stumble into this thread where people are talking about fixing ancient tents. I'm not doing that, in part because I like the new tents, and in part because I just don't trust 'em.

So, want some more old tents?
 
Can tents live forever?

Forever is a very long time. I will not be around then. But we have 20 year old tents that, after some maintenance, are still sound and dry.


I have a friend who suggests criteria for gear replacement. "Have you had and used it for ten years? Have you gotten lots of good use out of it? Is it worn or failing? Is there newer/better/lighter available? Can you afford it?" If the answer is yes, don't feel bad about replacing the thing.

To answer those questions: Yes. Yes. No, not irreparably. Yes, there is always something newer/better/lighter available. And yes, I could afford a Hilleberg but have never bought one

Perhaps I was traumatized by the failure of another piece of gear, a Noah Tarp that was just about my favorite piece of gear. In the cool seasons of low bug activity, I just slept under the tarp. Then came a cold December night with relentless rain, including under the tarp. Rain wasn't coming through the seams, but through the tarp, everywhere. Whatever waterproofing was part of the tarp just gave up en mass, and not just in a spot or two, but all over. This led me to believe the moment of waterproofing failure will come to all gear.

Chip, I have one word for you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dug-G9xVdVs

OK, five words. Cooke Custom Sewing Tundra Tarp. I know they are pricy, but you already have $70 worth of Kelty tarp poles. Sil-nylon has so many advantages over urethane coated nylon. Think of it as the last tarp you will ever buy.

What do you do with old tents? I guess I can donate them to Goodwill, but neither tent is right. At least one person told me, "just throw 'em out." Now I stumble into this thread where people are talking about fixing ancient tents. I'm not doing that, in part because I like the new tents, and in part because I just don't trust 'em.



I have given a couple to in-laws and friends, after some refresh and renew maintenance work.

Failing that, with a couple too stanky to resolve urethane coated tents, I have trashed them. Even Goodwill does not want a tent that reeks like a vomitorium after a Roman feast with undercooked salmonella chicken.

But I have first cut out/off all of the possibly useful parts and pieces; saving the poles and clips and etc. Those odd tent bits have come in handy on some DIY project more than once.

So, want some more old tents?

No, but I will take the poles and clips and etc. But only if you are foolish enough not to save them for future DIY projects.
 
My recollection with the Tiros is that the interior guy lines not only blocked access to the door but also provided a crisscross of lines at neck level, which would be inconvenient should the tent inhabitant ever desire to actually sit upright.

Be careful in there. I would hate to read the weird news of the day Canadian Man Trapped in Tent Finally Rescued, although I am sure your statements about surviving the ordeal would be worthwhile reading.

Maybe skip the piss bottle and wag bag and just bring a bedpan for prone evacuations.




Once I get started on a project, and have all the necessary tools and materials at the ready, in this case some clean glass jars, 100% silicone caulk, Odor-less (still has some odor, especially once mixed with silicone) Mineral Spirits, 1 inch foam brushes and the expanded length shop tables, I tend to stay the course until I can put everything away.

The iron of seam sealing passion is not yet hot, but I have struck the first blow. As I suspected the Alpine Meadows 4 needed an airing out and Mirazime bath. It was not yet too far gone, not gag-a-maggot vomitous smelling, but it was starting to get a just whiff of that foreboding smell.

That odor seems worse on the urethane coated nylon parts than the plain breathable nylon tent walls. Aside from being put away damp, or getting stored in a humid area, I am convinced that having tent and tarp fabrics too tightly compressed in storage and left unused for too long is the most common cause of urethane stank.

That tent was stuffed awfully tight in its OEM bag, and with the poles, stakes, lines, DIY footprint and vestibule it all barely fit. There was not a lot of fluffed out nylon breathing room left, and when it is next packed away on the shelf I will, so as to be unforgettable, attach the pole bag with footprint to the outside of the tent bag to relieve some breathing room inside.

One more note on that vomitous stank; it seems to happen faster and stinkier with urethane coated nylon than with sil-nylon. I have no empirical evidence to prove that, but it may be something else in favor of sil-nylon, besides pack size, weight and tear strength.

I should do that pole removal from the bag with the 2 man Alpine Meadows as well. Maybe with all our tents, the Hubba Hubbas are stuffed like freaking sausage casings, especially the one with the Gear Shed annex.

Baby steps. The Alpine Meadows was hung on a line overnight out in the rain. That rain rinse did little to remove the nascent odor. I have a bottle of Mirazyme, now apparently sold as Revivex.

https://www.rei.com/product/139256/gear-aid-revivex-odor-eliminator-10-fl-oz

I have use that stuff before, most often with stored too long tents, and provided the tent was not gag-a-maggot stanky it has worked well. No Mirazyme baths just yet; I need to do that tent, the 2 man vestibules and who know what else I may find as I work through our tents and tarps.

I foresee a full day of Mirazyme solution, hand laundering in 5 gallon buckets of water, followed by a glorious sunny afternoon of setting everything up to dry. What fun!

While I am at the tightly compressed stuff, my sons UL Hennessey hammock is encase in Snakeskins, and along with the OEM sil-nylon tarp and a larger aftermarket coverage tarp the stuff bag is mighty tight. Opps.

Disgorged from the tight stuff sack that hammock at least has no vomitous stank, but I might as well seal the (undersized) OEM rainfly and the (oversized) aftermarket fly. And when done pack it way less tightly compressed once done.

Again,

:D I am glad that you have been able to extend the life of some well appreciated tripping gear.

It is a bit of work, but the first few times of rain pelting down, and you staying dry, should put a smile on you, and make you appreciate all the effort and hard work it took to get weathered in.

And eliminating that surprise stank is priceless, compared to discovery after a first days paddle. You have me unpacking gear that I haven't thought about recently, just to check for odors. Amazing how something that was fine when packed away can create such a foul stench. I have converted almost exclusively to hammocks and tarps, so my tents seem to rarely get used. So far only one tent needs a Mirazyme bath, but may dip some other gear just as a preventative while I have it mixed. I use a large clear plastic storage bin, so it is easy to dunk and get air out.

Mike, your posting about going through your tents and tarps has been a catalyst for me to at least think about doing the same. I can see the value, and I am sure will appreciate, having inventoried and replaced missing and worn components. All gear designed to protect and shelter needs to be 100%, to have all its potential. Parts ready, and quick to set, regardless of weather.
My preparedness seems of late, to be more of a goal, than a lifestyle, when time shrinks due to work. I am envious of those with the time.

Glad the home-brew sealer has dried up your drips. Thanks for reminding us to do the stank check. And check the stakes. And check the guys. And to put tags, etc.
 
If the choice is dumpstering a good old tent or storing it, never to be used again...consider a local Boy Scouts or overnight camp. Many of them will accept donations, but only if the tent is truly servicable (like the waterproofing is already done) and all the tent poles are included and usable. They do get, in my experience, donations, but too often they are WallyWorld quality that was pretty much junk new in the box. A good oldie can usually be used by someone.
 
Glad the home-brew sealer has dried up your drips.

If I had started down this tent and tarp maintenance road by buying two wee bottles of Sil-Net ($15) I would not have gotten far. I probably would not have gone back and bought another two 1.5 ounce bottles ($30 in seam seal and counting). And, later, another two and etc.

It would have been kinda senseless to get out the tents and tarps just to make sure they had stakes and guy lines and then put them back away without doing the seams

Thanks for reminding us to do the stank check. And check the stakes. And check the guys. And to put tags, etc.

One thing leads to another. All of the vestibules and one tent so far need a Mirazyme bath.

Some tents were missing stakes or had crappy bent J hooks, which has led me to look through our now greatly diminished stake collection, which has led the down the garden path of needing to buy new stakes. Yoikes, decent stakes got pricey.

None of the guy lines on our old tents were reflective; all will be now.

And the ID tags . . . . . I sure like having keychain ID tags on all of the tent and tarp bag drawstrings. It is easier to pull the correct gear off the shelf with just a glance at the tag. And, with the idea of storing the pole bags outside the tent bag (but attached) for more fabric breathing space, I am going to put similar tags on the pole bags, Alpine Meadows 2 Poles, Sierra Designs Alpha 3 Poles, etc just in case.

One of the funnier group trip memories was a friend who borrowed a canvas tent and poles from his sister for a trip. A large tent, with large poles. Much larger than the tent, and old school not shock corded; he borrowed a 4 man tent and the poles for a giant wall tent.

There followed hours of fun watching him try to figure out how it all fit together, with lots of unhelpful hints and suggestions from the peanut gallery.

In the end he tied ropes to the upper corners and suspended the tent misshapenly from tree branches. He also slept in the next morning, which was another mistake.

His friends each took a line, undid the knots and on the count of three dropped the damp canvas on his slumber.
 
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Another old tent, and another tarp.

I took most of the week off from seam sealing chores, but I am back at it.

The 4 person Alpine Meadows, fully seam sealed, new reflective guy lines, a couple new stakes, new custom DIY visqueen footprint.

Airing out pre-sealing, it still needs a Mirazyme bath.

P6190910 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Visqueen, duct tape and grommet footprint, just for the heck of it using a double layer of Gorilla tape for the tabs this time.

P6220935 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

P6220936 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I had forgotten how large that tent was, it really will sleep 4 adults. And how tall. Thank gawd it has that center wand for windy days.

And, in two-a-day fashion, yet another old tarp from the gear shelves. A old Guide Gear polyester tarp from Sportsman Guide. Sorta like this, but 16 x 16 with ridgeline loops.

https://www.sportsmansguide.com/product/index/guide-gear-12-x-12-tarp-shelter?a=2164424

Essentially a knock-off Kelty Noahs tarp in a lighter weight poly material. Despite 16 feet being too long for the purpose it was typically used above my sons hammock in place of the undersized Hennessey tarp for windblown rain protection.

Egads, taken out of the stuff bag every guyline was uncoiled and unsecured tangled. I spent 30 minutes untangling the guy lines; time wasted, I then took them all off.

Every OEM line was black. And despite having 5 ridgeline loops it never got a ridgeline, prussics and clips. I am definitely gonna need to order more Glowire, I was down to 50 feet of closeout Army Green and 20 feet of yellow, and used every bit of it on that tarp.

Back to the seam sealing table I go.

P6220933 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The Guide Gear tarp has 26 feet of seam. Unlike the Campmor wing it is nicely taped on the bottom, so I only sealed the topside stitching.

Like so much stuff, it came with black guy lines. I just do not understand black as OEM guy lines, even for cheap lines on an inexpensive tarp. The more obvious question may be why I went ahead and used those stupid black guy lines in the first place.

If anyone wants some black guy lines I now have plenty, free to good home. Some are probably stretchy nylon.

P6220937 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr
 
I just hurled a Eureka Alpine Meadows in the trash over the weekend. I had three old tents out in the yard, testing for water tightness. The Alpine Meadows was as good as bird netting, except that a tent made from bird netting wouldn't smell so musty inside. I did save the newer good-condition vestibule, if anyone wants it. The next one was a Sierra Designs of unknown vintage and model, but has three hoops and is slightly more generous than today's 2-persons. I think it's been used twice. I bought it used with the intention to bring it on a monthlong northern Canada trip but it too leaked like a racehorse. I tried out the 15 parts odorless mineral spirits to 1 part silicone. I just set the tent up and painted it on - couldn't see a reason not to. The next day I had lunch in it in the pouring rain. It worked great, not a drop. So the 1.5 ounces of silicone that has become a permanent part of the tent probably weighs less than the rainwater that would soak into it. The added benefit was that the treated rainfly does not sag when wet. I guess I have to keep it, though I don't know when I'll need a 7.5 pound solo tent for the winds of the barren lands again.
 
Good to know that the whole-of-tent recoating works.

I just hurled a Eureka Alpine Meadows in the trash over the weekend.

I hope you saved the aluminum poles and the fiberglass center wand. Maybe cut off the center wand clips too.

Old ferruled tent poles have a lot of repurposed possibilities. Vee sail battens, arches for spray covers, even replacement poles if you have another Eureka.
 
Hal, what size is the vestibule? If it's a 2-P vestibule I am definitely interested in it.

I used to have a 4-person Alpine Meadows that our kids somehow managed to lose years ago and I have a 2-person one now. I still have an unused 4-P vestibule in the bag and am hoping to find a nice tent to match but don't have a vestibule for the 2-P.

I have two complete sets of 2-P poles but agree with Mike that they are handy to have.

If anyone knows of a good 4-person or 6-person Alpine Meadows in search of a new forever home please let me know.

Back in the early 1980s, during a several year break between active duty stints, I was an independent sales rep in the sporting goods world. I sold Silva compasses, Camp Trails packs, Primus stoves and lanterns, Eureka tents, Wenzel tents and sleeping bags, Columbia sportswear, Jarvinin skis etc. My brother and I covered nearly 500 accounts in NY and PA back when every town had a couple little outdoor outfitters, gun shops, ski shops, hardware stores etc that sold such stuff.

Over the years I was in the Eureka/Johnson Camping store in Congdon, NY often and was out on the production floor a few times even long after leaving the sales world behind. As a family we had several Eureka tents by around 1990 and our scout troop had all 4-P and 6-P and Eureka Equinox and Alpine Meadows tents. When discussing seam sealing and re-coating fabric while at the factory one day they told me that the jars of seam sealer/fabric coating they sold were nothing but water based polyurethane and that in the quantities we were talking about to just go to the paint store and get a gallon of water based poly. It is still what I use for urethane treated tents, bags and tarps. By the way, it's the urethane breaking down that gives some older tents their distinct odor of puke.

I have two sil-poly tents, a Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo (26 ounce) and Lunar Duo Explorer (45 ounce). The Solo was factory seam sealed and the Duo was bought cheap at the 2019 Appalachian Trail Days as a demo they didn't want to schlep back to the factory or even be bothered to take down. We sealed that tent's seams with the recommended 50/50 mix of 100% silicone caulk and mineral spirits applied, as directed, to the outside of the seams. Both tents are going to get an anti-slip floor coating of 1 part silicone and 10 parts mineral spirits on the floors in the very near future. After a few days drying and a good dusting of talcum powder that should stop me and everything else in the tent (including Rosie the coonhound) from sliding down even the slightest slope and into one corner....

Best regards to all,


Lance
 
Can tents live forever?

Perhaps I was traumatized by the failure of another piece of gear, a Noah Tarp that was just about my favorite piece of gear. In the cool seasons of low bug activity, I just slept under the tarp. Then came a cold December night with relentless rain, including under the tarp. Rain wasn't coming through the seams, but through the tarp, everywhere. Whatever waterproofing was part of the tarp just gave up en mass, and not just in a spot or two, but all over.

Yes, beware of the Noah Tarps. I had the same experience with mine, and on a different trip with my brothers. Whatever the coating is, it seems to be water soluble over a few years.
 
After a few days drying and a good dusting of talcum powder

Good luck finding talcum powder. Most of the stuff sold now is cornstarch (or arrowroot) based, and perfume scented.

I did find talcum powder, on Amazon. It shipped out of England. Starting via the Royal Mail.

It arrived 8 weeks later
 
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